Major Geoffry Lee Compton Smith DSO, Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur.

Major G. L. Compton-Smith served with the Royal Welch Fusiliers in France during the First World War. He commanded 10th Royal Welch Fusiliers at the first battle for the Scarpe, 1917 and was twice wounded. He received the DSO and French Legion of Honour. After the war he served with the 2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers in Ireland where he was taken hostage by the IRA in 1921 before being shot in retaliation for the execution of IRA prisoners.

husband of Gladys Mary Peterson (formerly Compton-Smith, nee Lloyd). How Caple in Herefordshire. He was Commandant of Ballyvonare camp near Buttevant

1889 Jul/Sep. Born Kensington. Son of William Compton-Smith, of Richmond, Surrey;

1901 census living at 22, Sumner Place, Kensington

1901 census a boarder at Woodcote House, Windlesham

1911 census Shows him as 2nd Lieutenant in 1st Battalion Alexandra Princess Of Wales's Yorkshire Regiment, E Coy at British Barracks, Khartoum

1915 Jun 10. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Lieutenant Geoffry L. Compton-Smith, from Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own (Yorkshire Regiment), to be Captain.

1914 Oct 1. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Captain Geoffry L. Compton-Smith to be temporary Major.

1916 Apr 20. Engagement announced to Gladys Mary Lloyd

1916 May 29. R W. Fus.—Capt. G. L. Compton Smith relinquishes the rank of temp.

1916 Jul/Sep married at Hartley Wintney, Hants to Gladys Mary Lloyd

1916 Oct 23 . Service Battalions. L'pool R. Bt. Maj. G. L. Compton-Smith, D.S.O. (B.W. Fus.), to be actg. Lt.-Col. while comdg. a Bn.

1916 Oct 23. R W Fus. Capt. G. L. Compton-Smith to be actg. Lt.-Col. whilst comdg. a Bn.

1917 Jan 4. Mentioned in Despatches

1917 May 22 . Mentioned in Despatches

1917 Jun 4. To be Brevet Major. Capt. (actg. Lt.-Col.) G. L. Compton-Smith, R. Welsh Fus.

1917 Jul 14. Gazetted Legion d'Honneur. Croix de Chevalier. Captain (Acting Lieutenant-Colonel) Geoffry Lee Compton Smith, Royal Welsh Fusiliers

1917 Jul 17. DSO Gazetted. Capt. (actg. Lt.-Col.) Geoffry Lee Compton- Smith, R. Welsh Fus. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He commanded his battalion with the greatest skill and determination. Immediately the objective was gained he moved forward to supervise consolidation and cover the advance of another brigade. Although wounded, he remained in the position, and his personal example was of the utmost value to all.

1917 Oct 7. Special Appointment. Graded for purposes of pay as D.A A.Gs. Bt. Maj (temp Lt.-Col.) G. L. Compton- Smith, D.S.O., R.W. Fus., comdg. a Bn. R.W. Fus

1917 Dec 14. Mentioned in Despatches

1918 Mar 31. Special Appointment Class BB. Bt Major G L Compton Smith

1921 Apr 16 . Major Compton-Smith was abducted while on a Sketching trip in County Cork County. He was captured by the IRA (led by Frank Busteed) while on a train trip to Blarney, Co. Cork.  He was picked up whilst walking about a mile from Blarney. He was held as a hostage for four IRA men due to executed by the British. He was taken to an unoccupied house at Knockadul, later to Courtbrack near Donoughmore. And on April 30th taken to Donoughmore and executed the same day.

1921 Aug 24. Advert placed in Times by his fathe offering £500 reward for the conviction of his murders

1921 Oct 17 And £10000 compensation is awarded to his widow. There seems to have been some delay in paying this from the debate in Hansard in 1924 below.

His captors allowed him send two letters before he was executed. These were found after a raid on one of Michael Collins’ offices in Mary Street in Dublin. The first letter was to his wife and read I am to be shot in an hour’s time. Dearest your hubby will die with your name on his lips, your face before his eyes, and he will die like an Englishman and a Soldier. I cannot tell you sweetheart how much it is to me to leave you alone – nor how little to me personally to die – I have no fear, only the utmost, greatest and tenderest love to you, and my sweet little Anne. I leave my cigarette case to the Regiment, my miniature medals to my father – whom I have implored to befriend you in everything – and my watch to the officer who is executing me because I believe him to be a gentleman and to mark the fact that I bear him no malice for carrying out what he sincerely believes to be his duty. Goodbye, my darling, my own. Choose from among my things some object which you would particularly keep in memory of me, and I believe that my spirit will be in it to love and comfort you. Tender, tender farewells and kisses--- your own Geof

The second letter he sent was to his Regiment and read - Dear Royal Welsh Fusiliers, - I am to be shot in an hour’s time. I should ask you fellows to know that the sentence has been passed on me (two lines erased here) and that I intend to die like a Welsh Fusilier, with a laugh and forgiveness for those who are carrying out the deed. I should like my death to lessen rather than increase the bitterness which exists between England and Ireland. I have been treated with great kindness, and during my captivity have learned to regard the Sinn Feiners rather as mistaken idealists than as a murder gang. My cigarette case I leave to the mess. I carried it with the Regiment throughout the War, and shall die with it in my pocket. God bless you all comrades.

This cigarette case contains the letter written by Major G. L. Compton-Smith prior to his execution by the IRA.


1922 Jun 21. Probate granted

1924 May 19 Hansard. Sir WILLIAM DAVISON asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether the remains of the late Major Geoffrey Lee Compton-Smith, D.S.O., of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who was murdered in Southern Ireland on or about the 30th April, 1921, have yet been recovered; and what compensation has been paid to his relatives?
Mr. THOMAS As regards the first part of the question I have at present no information, but I am having inquiry made. In reply to the second part His Majesty's Government have paid the sum of £10,000 awarded by the Recorder of Cork as compensation to the widow and child, together with interest amounting to £385 and £68 costs and expenses.

Compton Smith's grave circa 1926 and in 2007 and in 2011

To the Memory of Geoffrey Lee Compton Smith D.S.O. Major 2nd Battalion Royal Welch Fusiliers Born 1889-Died 1921 He Served in France throughout the Great War During which he was twice wounded. On account of his services He was six times mentioned in Dispatches. He attained the temporary rank of Lt. Col. And was awarded the D.S.O. And Legion of Honour Tenax et Fidelis Major G.L. Compton Smith D.S.O. With love from Anne. This is a bit odd in that his wife was Gladys Mary

It took another 5 years to recover the body

1926 Mar 13 It was reported in The Cork Examiner of Friday March 5th 1926 ‘the remains were located in Barracharing wood and brought in a lead covered coffin to Collins Barracks---they will remain there pending the receipt of instructions as to their removal to England. Maj Compton-Smith’s body was found buried in a bog between Donoughmore and Blarney. When found the body was clad in a golfing suit,with knickerbockers and green stockings. There was a bullet wound to the forehead.

The remains were taken to Collins Barracks where negotiations between his family and army command went on for some time before finally on 25 March after the family (for some reason) turned down the opportunity to take the body back to England, Maj Compton-Smith’s remains were escorted to the quayside from Collins Barracks by a parade of non-commissioned officers where he was then taken by Navy launch to Fort Carlisle in Cork Harbor (now Fort Davis) and was buried with full military honours in the military cemetery near the fort. By this date his widow Gladys, lived in Italy having remarried

And Geoff Sullivan sent me this photo of a plaque in the church at How Caple, Herefordshire

British Soldiers killed in Ireland