Smyth, Joseph (Joe)
No. 7020056, 2nd Battalion the London Irish Rifles, Royal Ulster Rifles
Killed in action between Wednesday 20 and Thursday 21 January 1943 (aged 21)
Medjez-el-Bab War Cemetery, Tunisia (Grave 2. C. 8)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Family grave headstone in Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards
Joseph Smyth was the eldest son of William John and Mary Smyth (nee Hawthorne) who were married on 24 October 1919 in First Newtownards Presbyterian Church. William John Smyth, a labourer from Newtownards was a son of Joseph Smyth, a labourer (deceased). Mary Hawthorne (aged 20) from Newtownards was a daughter of Samuel Hawthorne, a labourer (deceased).
The Smyth family lived at 112 East Street and then 24 Mary Street, Newtownards.
William John and Mary Smyth (nee Hawthorne) had at least five children:
During the Second World War Joseph Smyth served with the Royal Ulster Rifles. His brother Hugh also served with the Royal Ulster Rifles and in 1945 Hugh was hospitalised in Belfast Emergency Hospital. During the Great War their father, William John Smyth, served with the Royal Engineers and the Durham Light Infantry.
Joseph Smyth joined up in 1940 and he was 21 when he was killed in action in January 1943 at Bou Arada in Tunisia. He had landed at Algiers in November 1942 and from there gone into the Allied front line in Tunisia where there was heavy fighting during January 1943.
Rifleman Joseph Smyth (No. 7020056) was buried in Medjez-el-Bab War Cemetery, Tunisia and there is an inscription on his CWGC headstone:
DEARER TO US THAN WORDS CAN TELL
WAS THE ONE WE LOST
AND LOVED SO WELL
Rifleman Joseph Smyth (No. 7020056) is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and on the family grave headstone in Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards. Joseph Smyth had a brother who died in infancy and his brother Isaac died on 12 August 1944 (aged 18). His brother William and sister-in-law Hetty Smyth lived in Craigantlet Cottages, Newtownards.
In the years following Joseph’s death, his family placed Our Heroes – In Memoriam notices in the Newtownards Chronicle and they contained the verses:
In our lonely hours of thinking,
Thoughts of you are always near,
We who loved you, sadly miss you,
As it dawns another year.
As years are speeding onwards,
Love’s sweetest thoughts they bring,
A loving son and brother,
Fond memories ever cling.
You left behind some aching hearts,
That loved you most sincere,
That never will, nor never can,
Forget you, Joseph, dear.
Day by day we sadly miss him,
None but us his loss can tell,
But in Heaven we hope to meet him,
Where no farewell words are said.
The depth of sorrow, I cannot tell,
Of the loss of one I loved so well,
And while he sleeps, a peaceful sleep,
His memory I shall always keep.
Why should our tears in sorrow flow
When God recalls His own,
But let our hearts, in every woe,
Still say ‘Thy will be done.’
Yes, we miss him, oh how sadly,
None but loving hearts can tell,
Earth has lost him, Heaven hath found him,
Jesus doeth all things well.
Do not ask us if we miss him,
There is such a vacant place,
Can we e’er forget that footstep
And that dear familiar face.
God saw when the footsteps faltered,
When the pathway had grown too steep,
So he touched the drooping eyelids,
And gave His loved one peace.
In the bloom of life, Death claimed him,
In the pride of his manhood days;
None knew him but to love him,
None mentioned his name but with praise.
Hd we but seen him at the last
Or raised his drooping head,
Our hearts would not have felt so sore,
The bitter tears we shed.
Angels’ hands have borne our dear one
From us tenderly away,
And even though our hearts so loved you,
Nay, we could not bid you stay.
In the land where all is sunshine,
Where life’s shadows never come,
You have met the sweet reception
Of a Saviour’s welcome Home.
His warfare o’er, his battle fought,
His victory won, though dearly bought;
He slumbers now in a soldier’s grave.
A face that is always before us,
A voice we can never forget,
A smile that will linger forever,
In memory we still see him yet.
We think of him in silence,
And oft repeat his name;
What would we give to hear his voice,
And see him smile again.
Gone from us, but not forgotten,
Never shall thy memory fade;
Sweetest thoughts shall ever linger
Round the spot where thou art laid.
Yet again we hope to meet him,
When the day of life has fled,
Then in Heaven we hope to greet him,
Where no farewell tears are shed.
He sleeps in a grave, in that far-off land,
That his comrades kindly made him,
May he sleep in peace, in his narrow bed,
Where friendly hands have laid him.
The midnight stars are gleaming
On a lone and silent grave
Underneath lies one we loved,
But one we could not save.
We were not there at time of death,
Nor to hear his last faint cry,
Or yet to say a loving word,
Or even say goodbye.
Though your smile has gone forever,
And your hand we cannot touch,
We shall never lose sweet memories
Of the one we loved so much.
Times have changed in many ways,
But one thing changes never,
The memory of those happy days
When we were all together.