This photo posted on Twitter shows the memorial at Reading Cemetery to H. G. L. Smith, with the word (SLOPE) beneath the name and the inscription “Sergt Maj Princess Patricia Canadian LI. Died at Boulogne. France. Feb 2ND 1915 of wounds received in action. And laid at rest here, Aged 36. “For Honour and the Empire.”
The tweet pointed out it’s one of the rare cases of being repatriated after death. This is not a situation of the body being spirited away by the family contrary to regulations. The British government’s prohibition on exhumation and repatriation of soldiers remains only came into force the next month, March 1915.
Henry George Leslie Smith has a service file at Library and Archives Canada . He was born in London, England, worked for CN, had served in the South African War, and was medically examined in Ottawa on enlistment. His next of kin was his mother, Sarah Brown, a resident of Reading.
The word SLOPE beneath his name is a mystery. Any thoughts?
While Smith was legitimately returned from France other remains were repatriated without permission, and not just across the English Channel. According to Ottawa Citizen writer Brian Deachman, 65 war dead from Europe returned to Canada contrary to the policy of burying the dead nearby where they fell.