Smyth, William John (No. 18/132)

Smyth, William John (William) (Mill Street, Newtownards)

Rifleman

No. 18/132, 11th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Saturday 19 August 1916 (aged 24)

Buried:

Ration Farm (La Plus Douve) Annexe, Belgium (Grave III. B. 8)

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Newtownards and District War Memorial (as Wm. Smyth Mill Street)

Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s) (as W.T. Smyth)

BIOGRAPHY

In some records his surname is spelt Smith.

There are three William Smyths commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial:

Wm. Smyth Mill Street

Wm. Smyth Greenwell Street

Wm. Smyth North Street

The Newtownards and District War Memorial was unveiled and dedicated on Saturday 26 May 1934 and it was reported in the 2 June 1934 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle that the North Street address inscribed for William Smyth was incorrect and should have been Regent Street instead of North Street.

William John Smyth (No. 18/132) was born on 11 March 1892 in Court Street, Newtownards and he was a son of James and Eliza Jane Smyth (nee Whiteside) who were married on 31 October 1891 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).  James Smyth (aged 18) from Church Street, Newtownards was a son of William Smith, a labourer.  Eliza Jane Whiteside (aged 18) from Court Street, Newtownards was a daughter of Robert Whiteside, a soldier.

The Smyth family lived in Newtownards, in Court Street, Church Street, Frederick Street and at 131 Mill Street.

James Smyth worked as a general labourer and he and Eliza Jane, who was born in Aldershot, had at least eight children:

William John (born 11 March 1892 in Court Street, Newtownards)

Maria (born 31 May 1894 in Church Street, Newtownards)

Agnes (born 10 January 1897 in Church Street, Newtownards)

Robert James (born 20 May 1899 in Church Street, Newtownards)

Charles (born 21 October 1901 in Church Street, Newtownards)

Francis (born 28 June 1904 in Frederick Street, Newtownards)

David (born 11 April 1907 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

Margaret (born 7 June 1912 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

William John’s paternal grandfather, also called William John Smyth, and his maternal grandmother, Maria Whiteside, were both widowed and in 1911 they were living with William John’s parents, James and Eliza Jane Smyth.

William John Smyth worked as a blacksmith before he moved to Canada where he worked as a tram conductor prior to the outbreak of the Great War. He returned home and on 1 May 1915 he enlisted in Belfast.  He served with the 11th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division and he was killed in action on 19 August 1916.  At that time, his wife Katherine was living at 43 McNeill Street in Glasgow and his father, Private James Smyth, was on active service in Salonika with the 6th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.

William John Smyth and Katherine Machrie were married on 5 June 1916 at 4 Minerva Street, Glasgow.  Katherine Machrie (aged 24), a munitions worker, was a daughter of John and Elizabeth Machrie (nee Murdoch).

Rifleman William John Smyth (No. 18/132) was 24 when he died and he was buried in Ration Farm (La Plus Douve) Annexe, Belgium.  He left all of his property and effects to his widow, Katherine.

His parents, brothers and sisters placed a For King and Country notice in the 9 September 1916 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:

No more will the smile of his countenance brighten

The long, dreary days of the friends left behind;

For no one that knew him could ever forget him,

His ways were so loving, faithful and kind.

Rifleman William John Smyth is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial (as Wm. Smyth Mill Street) and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s) where his initials are inscribed as W.T.