Second Lieutenant Samuel Leith


Samuel Leith was born on 4 December 1887 at 75 Mervue Street, Belfast, the eighth of ten children of goods porter John Leith and his wife Ellen (nee Rea). Educated at Currie Boys' School and the Belfast Technical Institute, he served a six-year carpentry apprenticeship with James Henry & Sons of Belfast to 1909.

By 1911 he was living with his widowed mother, grandmother and three sisters at Mountcollyer Street, Belfast, and working as a joiner in the ship-building industry. According to Anton Gill in Titanic: The Real Story of the Construction of the World's Most Famous Ship, Leith was employed by Harland & Wolff on the construction of tables, cupboards and cabinets for the RMS Titanic.

Following the outbreak of war, Leith joined the Queen's University OTC. On 2 March 1915 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the infantry but, preferring to serve in a cavalry regiment, sought permission to cancel the appointment.

On 10 May 1915 Leith enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim (No.1520). The following month he was disciplined with two extra stable guard duties for being dirty on Church Parade. He embarked for France on 11 January 1916 with E Squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 34th Division. Five months later E Squadron came together with A and D Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII Corps.

On 15 March 1917 Leith applied for a commission in the infantry. He left his regiment for the UK on 8 April 1917 where, after a period of leave, on 14 June 1917 he reported for duty at No.1 Officer Cadet Battalion, Newton Ferrers, Devon. On 26 September 1917 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the York and Lancaster Regiment.

On 12 November 1917 he married Mary Josephine Hutchinson at Railway Street Presbyterian Church, Lisburn.

Leith embarked for France around April 1918, where he was posted to the 1/5 Battalion, York and Lancaster Regiment. He joined the battalion on 6 May and saw action through the Advance to Victory offensive from August to November. He was demobilised on 7 February 1919 and relinquished his commission on 1 September 1921. He died at Cobermore, Comber Road, Belfast, on 29 December 1960, and is buried in the Dundonald Cemetery.