Sir Smith Child, 2nd Baronet

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Sir Smith Child, Bt
Born (1880-09-19)19 September 1880
Died 11 November 1958(1958-11-11) (aged 78)
Buried at Westbury, Shropshire
Allegiance British
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1900–1924
Rank Brigadier
Unit Royal Scots
Irish Guards
Royal Field Artillery
Commands held II North Midland Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
46th (North Midland) Divisional Artillery
Battles/wars Second Boer War, First World War
Awards DSO, Croix de Guerre

Brigadier-General Sir Smith Hill Child, 2nd Baronet GCVO CB CMG DSO (19 September 1880 – 11 November 1958) was an officer in the British Army and a Conservative Party politician.

Early Life and Education[edit]

Hill Child was educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford. He succeeded his grandfather, Sir Smith Child, 1st Baronet, as 2nd Baronet of Newfield Hall, Staffordshire, in 1896.[1][2]

Military career[edit]

Hill Child was commissioned as a Second lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion Royal Scots, a part-time Militia battalion, on 25 October 1899. The battalion was embodied for full-time service in the Second Boer War on 5 December that year.[3] The battalion landed at East London on 21 March 1900 and by July was engaged in operations against Boer Commandos in the Transvaal.[4] Hill Child was wounded, and returned to the United Kingdom during Christmas 1900.[5] He was promoted to Lieutenant in the militia battalion on 6 March 1901, but in July was commissioned into the Regular Army as a second lieutenant in the newly raised Irish Guards. Promotion to lieutenant in the regiment came on 1 March 1902,[6] and he was chosen to carry the colours at the first presentation of Colours to the Regiment on 30 May 1902, following which he was appointed a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO).[7][8][9] He retired from Regular service in 1909 and was placed on the Reserve of Officers in 1910.[10]

On 8 February 1910, Hill Child was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in the part-time Territorial Force and was appointed commanding officer of the II North Midland Brigade in the Royal Field Artillery.[1][11] He was in command when the brigade was mobilised as part of the 46th (North Midland) Division in the First World War and served with it on the Western Front. The brigade was later numbered CCXXXI (231). 46th Division saw its first major action at the Battle of the Hohenzollern Redoubt in October 1915. Hill Child was awarded the DSO in 1916.

At the Battle of Gommecourt on 1 July 1916, organised as a diversion from the main Battle of the Somme, the divisional artillery was allocated the task of wire-cutting: CCXXXI and another brigade formed the Left group, under the command of Hill Child. This group supported two battalions (1/5th and 1/7th (Robin Hoods)) of the Sherwood Foresters, but the German wire entanglements were in dead ground and could not been seen by artillery observers. The attack was a costly failure, and Hill Child was a member of the court of inquiry into the circumstances.[12]

On 13 March 1918 the Commander Royal Artillery (CRA) of 46th Division was wounded, and Hill Child was appointed to act in his place. A week later he was promoted to Brigadier-General and confirmed as CRA.[13]

The 46th Division had been very unlucky during the war, the infantry in particular taking appalling casualties at the Hohenzollern Redoubt and Gommecourt, but it gained revenge at the Battle of the St Quentin Canal on 29 September 1918 when it performed one of the great feats of World War I by crossing the canal and breaking open the Hindenburg Line. Careful artillery preparation and support was an integral part of this success. Hill Child had nine brigades of field artillery under his command. The bombardment began on the night of 26/27 September with harassing fire and gas shells, followed with intense bombardment with high explosive shells until the morning of the assault.[14][15][16] Every field gun was used in carefully timed barrages: 'creeping barrages' (including smoke shells) ahead of the attacking troops, with pauses at the end of each phase, including a 'standing barrage' of three hours to allow mopping-up of the first objectives to be carried out, and the second wave of troops to pass through and renew the attack behind the creeping barrage.[17] The first of these creeping barrages actually progressed at twice the normal pace while the infantry rushed downhill to seize the canal crossings; it was described in the Official History as 'one of the finest ever seen'.[16]

The attack was a brilliant success, and by the afternoon the field artillery batteries were crossing the canal by the bridges that had been captured or thrown across, and were coming into action on the far side.[18] 46th Division was prominent in the pursuit of the Germans leading to the Armistice in November 1918.

During the war Hill Child was Mentioned in Despatches, awarded the French Croix de Guerre, the Companionship of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) and, in 1919, the Companionship of the Bath (CB).[2][9]

He continued in the Territorial Army after the war as CRA of 46th (North Midland) Division from 1920 to 1924, after which he was placed in the Regular Army Reserve of Officers.[1]

Political career[edit]

He was elected at the 1918 general election as Coalition Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Stone in Staffordshire, and held the seat until he stood down at the 1922 general election.

He was also DL and JP for the county of Staffordshire between 1912 and 1949, with an interval between 1938 and 1941,[1] as well as for the counties of London and Berkshire from 1936[19] until he retired from full-time royal service.

Royal Household Career[edit]

Child was appointed in 1927 Gentleman Usher in Ordinary in the Royal Household by King George V and promoted Deputy Master of the Household in 1929.[1] He became Master in the "Year of three kings", 1936, serving King George VI until he retired from the post in 1941, but remained from 1937 Extra-Equerry to the King and, from 1952, his successor Elizabeth II.[1]

He was appointed GCVO for his personal services to the Monarch and the Royal Household in 1941, having been previously CVO in 1934 and KCVO in 1937.[1] He also received during his service foreign honours:

Grand Commander, Order of St Olav of Norway.
Commander of the Legion of Honour of France.
Commander of the Order of the Crown of Belgium.
Commander of the Order of the Crown of Romania.
Commander of the Order of Al Rafidain of Iraq.[1]

He inherited the baronetcy on the death of his grandfather, who had also been a Conservative MP. The title became extinct on his death in 1958, aged 78. He had made his last home at Whitton Hall in Shropshire by 1948[20] and was buried in the parish churchyard at nearby Westbury.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Kelly's Handbook, 1957. Kelly's. p. 478. 
  2. ^ a b Burkes.
  3. ^ Quarterly Army List, January 1907.
  4. ^ O'Brien.
  5. ^ "The War - Invalids returning home". The Times (36338). London. 29 December 1900. p. 8. 
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27430. p. 2935. 2 May 1902.
  7. ^ "Court Circular". The Times (36782). London. 31 May 1902. p. 8. 
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27440. p. 3681. 6 June 1902.
  9. ^ a b Who Was Who, 1951-1960. A and C Black. 1961. p. 207. 
  10. ^ Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1913. Kelly's. p. 373. 
  11. ^ Monthly Army LIst, August 1914.
  12. ^ MacDonald, pp. 165–8, 508, 526.
  13. ^ Becke, p. 61.
  14. ^ Priestley, pp. 39–41.
  15. ^ Farndale, pp. 298–9.
  16. ^ a b Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop, p. 103.
  17. ^ Priestley, pp. 41, 46–50.
  18. ^ Priestley, p. 73.
  19. ^ Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1939. Kelly's. p. 446. 
  20. ^ Kelly's Handbook, 1948. Kelly's. p. 458. 


External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Stone
Succeeded by
Joseph Lamb
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Smith Child
(of Newfield )
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Lord Claud Nigel Hamilton
Deputy Master of the Household
Succeeded by
Ririd Myddleton
Preceded by
Derek Keppel
Master of the Household
Succeeded by
Sir Piers Legh