|Mounted Photograph (Trimmed)
3 7/8 Inches by 5 3/4 Inches
(10cm x 14.3cm)
14 February, 1909
Signed by the subject “Lt. F. Smith”, this photograph had also been dated but this bit of information was almost lost when the images mount was trimmed to fit into a frame at some point
in the past. Luckily and probably at the time it was trimmed the same information was inscribed onto the back of the image and this completes the otherwise partial date as “14-2-09” or
14 February, 1909.
With the date and the subjects name and rank I was able to narrow down the possible identities to one man via the 1910 Army List – Lieutenant Francis Edgar Shingleton Smith of the
Indian Medical Service. Additional confirmation was provided by a comparison of this image of the young Smith with a later image found on a c. 1915 memorial card.
Francis Shingleton Smith (his surname is sometimes styled Shingleton-Smith) was born at Clifton Park, Bristol, Gloucestershire to Dr. Robert Shingleton Smith and the former Eliza
Mary Dawson on 10 October, 1879. He studied medicine at Kings’ College earning his B.A. in 1901 with further education taking place at Bristol Royal Infirmary and Weston-super-
Mare Hospital. He was commissioned Lieutenant in the Indian Medical Service (I.M.S.) on 27 July, 1907. Smith continued with the I.M.S. being promoted Captain on 27 July, 1911.
Attached to the 120th Rajput Infantry at the outbreak of the war in 1914, Captain Smith took part in the Anglo-Indian invasion of Mesopotamia in 1914-15, the 120th formed part of
Indian Expeditionary Force D under the command of General Sir John Nixon. Comprised primarily of Indian units the force had initial success at the Battles of Basra, Qurna and Es
Sinn before being blocked at the Battle of Ctesiphon – the site of the ancient capital of the Parthian and Sassanian empires in present day Iraq. Defeated, the force fell back to Kut al-
Imara (Kut) where after a siege lasting from 7 December 1915 to 29 April 1916 the remains of the Anglo-Indian force was compelled to surrender to Turkish forces. Captain Francis
Shingleton Smith did not live long enough to experience the Siege of Kut or its grim aftermath having being killed in action at Ctesiphon on 24 November, 1915.
Smith was apparently buried where he fell or left on the field by the as the Anglo-Indian forces withdrew from Ctesiphon. He has no known grave and is memorialized on panels 58 and 68
at the Basra Memorial in present day Iraq. For his service during the war Smith was entitled to the 1914-15 Star and the British War and Victory Medals.
It is interesting to note that given the 1909 date of the photograph Smith chose to wear the by then a slightly out of style Anglo-Boer War foreign service helmet. Given his helmet was of
the late style with the squared off rear peak, this classic piece of Victorian military couture was already being replaced by the most fashionable of officers as early as the Sudan
Campaign of 1896. In any event Smith cut a dashing figure and I personally have always felt that the earlier style helmet with its brass accoutrements made for a much more classic
Probate records of 1916 show Smith leaving effects worth £1661 5s to his father Robert which seems to indicate that he was never married nor had any children.