Smyth, William (No. 6823)

Smyth, William (Greenwell Street, Newtownards)

Rifleman

No. 6823, 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles

Killed in action on Friday 19 May 1916 (aged 22)

No known grave

Commemorated:

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Arras Memorial, France (Bay 9)

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

Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)

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.

In the CWGC Debt of Honour website it is recorded that Rifleman William Smyth (No. 6823) was a son of George and Margaret Smyth who lived at 59 Greenwell Street in Newtownards.

In the Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1919 database it is recorded that Rifleman William Smyth (No. 6823) was born in Drogheda.

William Smyth was born on 27 October 1890 in the townland of Mell, Drogheda, Co Louth and he was a son of George and Margaret Smyth (nee Smith).  George Smyth worked as a street musician and general labourer and he and Margaret had at least eleven children including:

George (born around 1885/1886)

William (born 27 October 1890 in Mell, Co Louth)

Adam (born around 1893/1894 in Co Kildare)

Robert (born around 1897/1898)

Prior to the outbreak of the Great War William Smyth worked as a general labourer.  He was a member of the Newtownards contingent of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and in August 1914 he enlisted in Newtownards.  He served with the 4th Battalion attached 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles.

William Smyth went to the Front in December 1914 and three months later he required hospital treatment after being wounded in the head during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle.  He returned to the Front and on 9 May 1915 he was severely wounded in the arm during the fighting around Hill 60.  He was in hospital in England until August 1915 and, following rehabilitation, he returned to the Western Front.  Rifleman William Smyth was killed in action on 19 May 1916 during heavy enemy bombardment of the trenches.

Members of Lord Londonderry’s Own Church Lads Brigade (CLB) Flute Band placed a For King and Country notice in the 10 June 1916 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and the following week his family and his loving friend Jessie Stevenson placed a For King and Country notice which 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.

At that time William’s brother Adam was stationed at Holywood having been invalided home from the Front six weeks previously.  Adam Smyth, 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (No. 18809) was discharged from the Army on 4 July 1918 because of Valvular Disease of the Heart (VDH).

Rifleman William Smyth is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial (as Wm Smyth Greenwell Street) and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).