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Hugh John Smith - Royal Irish Regiment


Siggy63
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Hello

My partners mum recently passed away and whilst going through mountains of unseen paperwork we have found details of Hugh John Smith, volunteer WWI Royal Irish Regt, wounded on right shoulder whilst carrying out stretcher bearer duties. On discharge he went on to work for the post office in Newry and marry MA Cooney

 

Unfortunately no Regiment number or army number so am stumped on finding out more information, can anyone point me in the right direction, have left message with the Regiment website

 

Thanks

Danny

Ex Royal Navy

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Hi Siggy63 and welcome to the forum.

 

You may not be aware but the majority of other ranks service records were destroyed when German bombs hit the warehouse where they were being stored in the Second World War. Much of what is left is fire, smoke and water damaged. So while I'm not finding anything in the way of surviving service records that match the name and unit given, that is to be expected.

 

Given that he was wounded, presumably in a Theatre of War, you would have expected him to have qualified for service medals - home service only men didn't get them. However I'm not finding any match for Hugh there either.

 

Men who were honourably discharged during the war and armistice period were also entitled to the Silver War Badge, (although those who left before it was introduced in 1916 did have to put in a claim). Even men who were home service only could get the badge. But again, nothing to match the details you have given.

 

There are some other potential places to look, but before starting off down that route it would probably help forum members if you tolds us in summary what these details are that you have found in the paperwork, as it may help track him down. If abbreviations are used, please let us know - R.I.R. can mean Royal Irish Rifles just as much as Royal Irish Regiment, and it doesn't take much in the way of shaky handwriting to turn a F into an R, (and vice versa), referring to the Royal Irish Fusiliers.

 

Anything you know from the letters about his civilian life before joining up would also help - when and where born for example, parents, where living at the time he entered the Army, etc - any and all of those could help.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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This one is a possible Here

Discharged 25/4/18 due to GSW Right Shoulder. Address 4 Moores Lane, Newry. 6715 Royal Irish Rifles. Born circa 1895

This is the 1911 Irish census entry for this man’s family http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1911/Down/Newry_South/Moores_Lane/257016/

Cannot prove he is right man as cannot find marriage 
6715 was admitted to 3 Casualty Clearing Station with gunshot wound of upper extremities on 8/10/16. serving with 2nd Battalion of the RI Rifles.

Only M A Cooney I can find in Newry is here in 1911

http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/pages/1911/Down/Newry_South/Boat_Street/256390/
born c 1892

Edited by Mark1959
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There is a family tree on Ancestry which is very sparse.

It shows

Hugh John Smith b1900 d 1954

Margaret Ann Cooney b1900 d 1974

Michael John Smith b_ d 1978

Nothing of marriages, baptisms etc and all Newry

Hugh John Smith - Facts (ancestry.co.uk)

 

George

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George

Think the tree is just a suggestion. I do not think the owner has any facts. Perhaps Siggy63 has a few more facts regarding HJS that will help the identification

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Yes I would incline to agree-no references attached to it which is usually a sign.

 

Your military finds are interesting-under 4/6715, 6715, John, Hugh John. Medals, SWB but nothing to link so as you say more information from OP would/could help

 

George

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10 hours ago, Mark1959 said:

Cannot prove he is right man as cannot find marriage 

 

That is because I think you are probably looking in the wrong place.

 

After 1921 , Northern Ireland marriages, are in the NI GRO. Although they all should be there, it is one of the most horrendous sites to navigate that I know. That is where you should find the MC that should be a key to the puzzle

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This is the only Hugh Smith marriage between 1922 and 1937 in Newry District. Nothing else until 1937 and nothing anywhere to a Cooney

 

 

 

Registration number Forename Surname Surname of other party Date of marriage Registration district  
M/1928/U1/2370/6/122 Hugh Smith Doran 17th April 1928

Newry & Mourne

 

 

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10 hours ago, Mark1959 said:

Discharged 25/4/18 due to GSW Right Shoulder. Address 4 Moores Lane, Newry. 6715 Royal Irish Rifles. Born circa 1895

Two pension records at WFA/Fold3

= Pension ledger with the above address [and like details]

and

= Pension card with 4 Castle St, Newry [also indicates 4RIR]

:-) M

Edited by Matlock1418
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12 hours ago, Mark1959 said:

6715 was admitted to 3 Casualty Clearing Station with gunshot wound of upper extremities on 8/10/16. serving with 2nd Battalion of the RI Rifles.

 

From a Casualty List that appeared in the edition of The Northern Whig dated 22nd August 1916, (so presumably a separate injury), under the category Royal Irish Rifles, wounded, there is a 6715 J. Smith, and his next of kin lives at Newry. Hopefully that is a little bit more of a link to the man identified from the civil records and in the details given by the OP.

 

1433403881_NorthernWhig22August1916page3CasualtyListsourcedFindMyPast.jpg.fd6e25645090296f3f29ee0e0606a16c.jpg

(Image courtesy of FindMyPast)

 

Have had no luck so far tracking him down in the Official Casualty Lists in The Times.

 

3 hours ago, George Rayner said:

Hugh John Smith b1900 d 1954

 

Another word of caution on that information - contrary to a lot of family lore, being wounded twice while actually aged 15/16 wasn't a common occurrence in the B.E.F.. Not impossible, but should set off a few alarm bells. On the other side of the argument, it could be one potential reason why it would appear he dropped his first name, if they are all the same individual.

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

 

 

 

 

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I totally agree with Peter that a note of caution is advised given the circumstances outlined.  As he also said, it’s not impossible though, and I would add that the majority of underage soldiers that are known about seem to have enlisted in the first two years of the war during the initial rush of enthusiasm and excitement, when recruiting sergeants are known to have turned a blind eye according to a range of accounts.  From 1916 publicity and media interest led to the Army authorities having to address the matter of underage soldiers more methodically and after that cases appeared less frequently and were usually dealt with decisively. All that given, there might perhaps be some truth in the subject individual’s story, but it will probably need careful teasing out.

Edited by FROGSMILE
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All, 

Huge thanks for the information and discussions shown, your assistance is much appreciated in bringing my partners Granddad to life (so to speak). We are hoping that the RI Regt museum will be able to assist. 

 

We do know on discharge he joined the Post Office and died in 1948  aged 53 at Erskine Place but he had resided at 4 Moore Lane prior to enlisting (found funeral card in the paperwork) I believe that once he has been positively found in the records they will be looking for his medals which will be hopefully sitting in someone's collection

 

Danny

 

On behalf of Smith family originally from Newry

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7 minutes ago, Siggy63 said:

died in 1948  aged 53

 

Thanks for coming back Danny.

 

So that puts his birth at circa 1894/95 and not 1900 as shown on the Ancestry tree - a much more plausible age for him to have served in the Great War.

 

Any additional information you can supply will be a real help - a scan\photograph of any official documentation that references his unit would be a good place to start. As you can see from the responses so far, the Royal Irish Regiment part is in doubt, so there may be nothing to find out from the Museum.

 

The forum has a large number of expert, knowledgeable members, (and me!), so please make use of it by feeding in the information you do have.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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1 hour ago, Mark1959 said:

So that confirms 6715 is correct.

 

Certainly looks like it. A quick run through Medal Index cards for nearby service numbers, (he has a "4/" prefix) throws up:-

 

4/6700 Alfred Woods. Landed France 5.12.1914. Deserted but medal entitlement seems to have been re-instated. No surviving service records.

 

4/6701 William Beattie. Landed France 5.2.15. Deserted 12.3.16. No surviving service records.

 

4/6702 John Larkin. Landed France 29.12.14. Discharged with SWB. No surviving service records. Received Silver War Badge (SWB) but no obvious transcription of the Roll on FindMyPast.

 

4/6705 James Markey. Landed France 4.2.15. Discharged with SWB. No surviving service records. Received SWB but no obvious transcription of the Roll on FindMyPast.

 

4/6715 John Smith Royal Irish Rifles. Landed France 6.1.15. Discharged with SWB. FMP has a very little snippet of service record – it’s a casualty list of men transferred to Rouen (Convalescent), May 15th 1915. Private 6715 J Smith, 2 Royal Irish Rifles, had been diagnosed with Scabies. No obvious transcription of the SWB Roll on FindMyPast.

 

4/6717 William McConnell then Royal Defence Corps 80331. Landed France 29.4.15. Has surviving service records and SWB Roll entry. Born Ballymacarrell, County Down, he was aged 17 years and 10 months when he enlisted for Six Years as a Special Reservist on the 3rd February 1914 and was posted to the 4th Battalion for two months recruit training. He then had a days musketry training in May, and was present for a months camp in June. He was mobilised on the 5th August 1914 and subsequently posted to the 1st Battalion on the 27th April 1915. His next of kin on joining were his parents who were living in Belfast. His home address on discharge in February 1919 as no longer physically fit for war service was 30 Avondale St, Belfast. There is much more in the record but it relates to after his army career and that of John Smith had diverged.

 

4/6728 Robert Johnston. Landed France 24.3.15. Presumed Dead. No surviving service records. Soldiers Died in the Great War shows him as born and enlisted Newtownards. No additional family information on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site. He died 9.5.15 serving with the 1st Battalion.

 

4/6730 Patrick McKeown. Landed France 4.5.15. Discharged. No surviving service records. Received SWB but no obvious transcription of the Roll on FindMyPast.

 

Hopefully someone with subscription access to Ancestry can find the relevant pages of the Silver War Badge Roll and confirm from that the enlistment dates for Larkin, Markey, Smith and McKeown.

 

Cheers,

Peter

 

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14 minutes ago, PRC said:

Hopefully someone with subscription access to Ancestry can find the relevant pages of the Silver War Badge Roll and confirm from that the enlistment dates for Larkin, Markey, Smith and McKeown.

 

4/6702 John Larkin - UK Silver War Badge Records - Enlistment: "8.12.13"

 

4/6705 James Markey - UK Silver War Badge Records - Enlistment: "5.12.13"

 

4/6715 John Smith - UK Silver War Badge Records - Enlistment: "13/3/16"

 

As to 4/6730 Patrick McKeown, I can't find an entry with that name or regimental number in the UK Silver War Badge Records.

 

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From Ancestry-SWB for J Smith 4/6715

image.png.710af6fde8e749cf786c040ae0d5011a.png

 

George

 

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It seems most records are under John. One assumes he used the name John rather than Hugh

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8 hours ago, Daniel Cox said:

4/6715 John Smith - UK Silver War Badge Records - Enlistment: "13/3/16"

 

57 minutes ago, George Rayner said:

From Ancestry-SWB for J Smith 4/6715

image.png.710af6fde8e749cf786c040ae0d5011a.png

 

 

Thanks Daniel & George.

 

Seems in this instance the Silver War Badge Roll can't be trusted - he landed in France on the 6th January 1915 and was in a Convalescent Camp recovering at Rouen from Scabies in May 1915. That makes a March 1916 enlistment very unlikely. It's too early in the year for him to be caught under the revised Military Services Act provisions affecting time expired men and even then it would be an extension, hence retaining original service number, rather than a new enlistment.

 

So looks likely he actually enlisted as a Special Reservist between early December 1913 and the start of February 1914.

 

Cheers,

Peter

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