Smyth, William (No. 18789)

Smyth, William (known as Willie) (Regent Street, Newtownards)

Rifleman

No. 18789, ‘B’ Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, then

11th/13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, then

12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Monday 2 September 1918 (aged 23)

No known grave

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Ploegsteert Memorial, Belgium (Panel 9)

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

Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) Roll of Honour 1914 – 1919 for

Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards

Newtownards Loyal Orange Order (LOL) No. 872 Roll of Honour

BIOGRAPHY

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 Smyth (No. 18789) was born around 1895/1896 in Newtownards and he was a son of Hugh Hamilton Smyth and Alice Smyth (nee McMorran, sometimes McMoran, sometimes McMorn) who were married on 27 June 1879 in Regent Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.  Hugh Hamilton Smyth (aged 33), a widower from Scrabo Isles was a son of Martin Smyth, a quarryman.  Alice McMoran (aged 31), a spinster from Castleavery was a daughter of Henry McMoran, a quarryman (deceased).

Hugh Hamilton Smyth’s previous wife, Eliza Smyth, died of phthisis on 17 April 1878 (aged 36) in Scrabo.

They had a daughter named Jane who was born around 1876/1877.

The Smyth family lived in Newtownards at Scrabo; in Mill Street and in Mary Street.

Hugh Smyth worked as a quarryman and he and Alice had at least five children:

Agnes Chambers (born 6 September 1881 at Scrabo, Newtownards; married Thomas Irvine on 25 January 1910 in Ballygilbert Presbyterian Church)

Mary Elizabeth (Lizzie, born 9 January 1884 at Scrabo Isles, Newtownards)

Henrietta (Etta, born 9 May 1887 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

Hugh Hamilton (born 3 May 1892 in Mill Street, Newtownards)

William (Willie, born around 1895/1896)

At least four of the children were baptised in Regent Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards.

Alice Smyth was 45 when she died of typhus fever in Newtownards Workhouse on 30 December 1896.

For a time, William Smyth lived at 48 Regent Street, Newtownards with Agnes Chambers Irvine, and her husband, Thomas Irvine, who worked as a picture framer.  In his will, William Smyth left all his property and effects to Agnes Chambers Irvine (in some records she is described as his sister, in others, as his aunt.

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War, William Smyth was working as an apprentice block printer in the Glen Printing and Finishing Works in Newtownards and he was a member of Stuart’s Volunteers Loyal Orange Lodge (LOL) No. 872 in Newtownards.

In September 1914 William Smyth enlisted in Newtownards, he served with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and in 1915 he went with 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division to France.

Rifleman William Smyth was wounded in the Battle of the Somme.  The 11th and 13th Battalions of the Royal Irish Rifles were amalgamated in November 1917 and, when they were disbanded in February 1918, he was transferred to the 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles.

Rifleman William Smyth (No. 18789) was killed in action on 2 September 1918 and afterwards the Rev J. Herbert Orr wrote to Agnes Irvine to express his sympathy.  He explained that, in an advance to capture a town held by the Germans, William’s company had been met by heavy machine-gun fire.  William had been hit in the head by a bullet and had died ‘almost instantaneously’.  Rifleman Smyth was buried on the battlefield and has no known grave.

After Rifleman William Smyth (No. 18789) died there were three For King and Country notices in the Newtownards Chronicle.  One was from Thomas and Agnes Irvine of 48 Regent Street, Newtownards; one was from Andrew and Margaret Ohlson of Folkestone, Kent and the third was from the Officers and Brethren of Stuart’s Volunteers Loyal Orange Lodge No. 872.

Rifleman William Smyth (No. 18789) was 23 when he died and he is commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial in Belgium; on Newtownards and District War Memorial (as Wm. Smyth North Street); in the PCI Roll of Honour for Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church Newtownards and in the Newtownards Loyal Orange Order No. 872 Roll of Honour.