Private J F Smethurst

Article relating to Private J F Smethurst, service number unknown, regiment unknown.

Article relating to Private J F Smethurst, service number unknown, regiment unknown.

Private J F Smethurst’s name was among a list of casualties of the Co-operative Wholesale Society’s (CWS) soap works in Irlam, near Manchester. The article reported that Smethurst died of his wounds on 16 August 1915.

The soap works was one of the largest employers in the local area and a significant number of employees signed up to fight. A local Justice of the Peace named George Thomas encouraged local men to enrol. He has been recorded as saying that he hoped ‘that the young soldiers would leave drink alone, that they would give a good hammering to the Germans, and that they would be able to return home to receive quite as good a welcome as the warm farewell now accorded to them.’ Sadly this was not the case for Smethurst, who died during the Dardanelles conflict, also known as the Gallipoli Campaign.


Co-operative News, 9 October 1915, page 1341 [accessed 21 April 2015]

WWI co-operative voices

This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.

Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.

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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.