Second Lieutenant John Charles Smith


John Charles Smith was born on 20 December 1888 at Stonehouse, Edenderry, King's County, the third of five children of farmer Robert Henry Smith of Corbetstown, and his wife Elizabeth (nee Hannon). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living with his widowed father and four siblings at Harristown House, County Meath, and working on the family farm.

Smith enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Dublin on 29 May 1916, reporting for duty at the regimental base depot at Antrim a week later. He was issued regimental number 2188.

In November 1916 Smith was among 100 North Irish Horsemen who volunteered to transfer to the Royal Irish Rifles. The formal transfer took place on 7 December (Smith was issued regimental number 40918), and on the same day they embarked for France, where they joined the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, on the Somme front.

On 24 March 1917 Smith applied for a commission in the infantry, with a preference for the Royal Munster Fusiliers. He embarked for the UK five days later where, after a period of leave, on 7 June he reported for duty at No.15 Officer Training Battalion at Romford.

At around this time Smith sought a transfer to cavalry cadet training, but this did not eventuate. In August he sought permission to take two months leave of absence to help supervise the harvest at his father's 490 acre farm. According to the request approved by his commanding officer:

His father, Robert H. Smith, and his brother George are connected with the cattle sales market in Dublin which takes them from home for three days each week, and, before joining the army, the applicant always superintended the labourers, during their absence.

Despite adverse reports about Smith's eyesight, on 28 November 1917 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the 5th (Extra Reserve) Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers. His time as an officer, however, was short. On 5 May 1918 he relinquished his commission on account of ill-health. The cause of his illness is not clear. It may have been related to his eyesight. However records show that at the time of his death he was receiving an officer's pension due to 40 per cent disablement due to pulmonary tuberculosis.

After he left the military Smith returned to farming. On 1 April 1927 he married Jenifer Eleanor Millett at Castlejordan Church of Ireland Church, County Meath. He died at his residence in Richmond, Surrey, on 2 June 1967.