Personal info

  • Name: Clement Leslie SMITH
  • D.O.B: 17th Jan, 1878
  • D.O.A: 10th Jan, 1904
  • D.O.D: 14th Dec, 1927
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Lieutenant, 2nd Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, attached to 5th Somaliland Light Infantry
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 1
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Sources & Acknowledgements


JANUARY 1901-MAY 1904

More details about:
AWARDS FROM 1902 TO 1914 

A British Protectorate was established in 1884 along the northern Somali coast around Berbera. In 1899, Haji Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, from a tribe that lived in the Ogaden, began to raid the southern areas of the Protectorate. Known to the British as ‘the Mad Mullah’, his attacks led in January 1901 to the formation of a local defence force under Lieutenant Colonel E J E Swayne. It consisted of a Camel Corps, Mounted Infantry and two Corps of Infantry. However, the Mullah continued his attacks, and in 1902 Swayne called for reinforcements and was sent 300 men of 2nd Battalion, King’s African Rifles and 60 Sikhs from Central Africa. After an action at Erigo, 6 October 1902, Swayne was invalided home and command passed to Brigadier General W H Manning of the King’s African Rifles. A more sustained campaign against the Mullah was clearly necessary and a Somaliland Field Force was assembled. Manning planned to trap the Mullah, who was at Galadi in the Ogaden, between two columns, one coming south from Berbera and Bohotle, the other, with the consent of the Italian Government, marching north-west from the port of Obbia in Italian Somaliland. By 31 March 1903 he had reached Galadi but the Mullah had retreated to Wardair, 80 miles to the west. While Manning waited for the Bohotle column he sent out Lieutenant Colonel Cobbe on 10 April to reconnoitre the road to Wardair. On 17 April 1903 a detachment of Cobbe’s force was attacked at Gumburru and effectively wiped out. Meanwhile Major Gough, who had been moving south from Bohotle to close the trap round the Mullah, fought an indecisive action at Daratoleh on 22 April. On receiving news of the disaster at Gumburru he had no option but to return to Bohotle. As had always been intended, the base at Obbia had closed on 17 April and Manning’s force therefore marched north from Galadi to Bohotle. In the meantime the Mullah and his whole force managed to move east of Bohotle back into the British Protectorate, reaching the Nogal Valley. On 16 July 1903 Major General Sir Charles Comyn Egerton took over command of the Somaliland Field Force, which now included reinforcements from India and numbered over 7,000 men. He determined to pursue his enemy into the Nogal and force him to fight. After a series of operations including the reconnaissance at Jidballi on 19 December 1903 the Mullah’s army, 7,000 strong, was defeated at Jidballi on 10 January 1904. Though the Somaliland Field Force had been stood down by June, the Mullah himself escaped to Italian Somaliland and continued to cause trouble for the British until his death in 1920.


 At the commencement of the fight at Jidballi, on 10th January, 1904, the enemy made a very sudden and determined rush on the 5th Somali Mounted Infantry, from under cover of bushes close at hand. They were supported by rifle fire, advanced very rapidly and got right amongst our men. Lieutenant Smith, Somali Mounted Infantry, and Lieutenant J. R. Welland, M.D., Royal Army Medical Corps, went out to the aid of Hospital Assistant Rahamat Ali, who was wounded, and endeavoured to bring him out of action on a horse, but the rapidity of the enemy’s advance rendered this impossible, and the Hospital Assistant was killed. Lieutenant Smith then did all that any man could do to bring out Doctor Welland, helping him to mount a horse, and, when that was shot, a mule. This also was hit, and Doctor Welland was speared by the enemy. Lieutenant Smith stood by Doctor Welland to the end, and when that Officer was killed, was within a few paces of him, endeavouring to keep off the enemy with his revolver. At that time the dervishes appeared to be all round him, and it was marvellous that he escaped with his life. 

(The London Gazette of 7 June 1904, Numb. 27683, p. 3636)

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