The Smith Brothers

I do not know as much about my great uncles as I would like. The only thing that came to me as a child was the devastation my grandmother experienced at the death of her brother Robert, who died in Flanders in WWI. Robert was only a year older than her, born in 1888. His name is inscribed on the memorial at Le Touret Military Cemetery, in France. It is one of those “erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to record the names of the officers and men who fell in the Great War and whose graves are not known.”

Robert was a Lance Corporal with the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders). He was killed in action on May 9, 1915. My grandmother had not married yet, she would marry later in November of that year. Here is a picture of the brothers c.1914

Robert, James and Sam Smith

Robert, James and Sam Smith

And Robert as a young man.

Robert Smith

Robert Smith

I have not found any WWI military records for James, the oldest brother (born in 1884) but he did serve in WWII,  after emigrating to the U.S. in 1923 with his wife Charlotte Brown. They lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he was foreman at Homewood Cemetery. There were no children. James died in 1943 at age 58 of pneumonia and was buried at Homewood Cemetery. Somehow, I see him out digging graves in bad weather and getting pnuemonia. By the way, that was a very common occupation for emigrants and veterans in those days. Here is a picture of James (2nd from the right) standing next to his brother, Sam, his wife on the left, c. 1930.

From right: Sam, James and Charlotte Smith

From right: Sam, James and Charlotte Smith

Sam Smith, the second youngest brother was born in Coatbridge in 1889. Here is a Christmas greeting card with him and his sister Marion c. 1897. Again, showing the family had enough money both for the card and the clothes the children were wearing.

 

Sam and Marion Smith

Sam and Marion Smith

In 1912 Sam married Jean McFarlane. Below a picture of the couple with Mary and James, the first two children.

sam,jeannie,mary&jim age 3, 1917

In 1923, Sam was “summoned” to work at the Cohoe Rolling Mills in New York State along with his brother in law James McFarlane. He carried this reference with him.

Letter of Recommendation for Sam 1923

 

He left his wife Jennie behind with their 4 children. It took 4 years for them to join him in New York.  Below a picture of Jennie and the 4 children, Mary, James , Marion and Daniel.

Mary, James, Marion, Daniel (bottom)

 

The family joined Sam in 1927 and the couple had one more child, Jean.  He continued the life of a working man in the mills but at days end , you could find him tending to the garden he was so fond of.  On April 15th, 1953, his heart finally gave out and he collapsed just as he was clocking into work.

The youngest Smith brother, John, was born in 1893. Like his brothers, he served in the Great War. It appears, he did not go into the steel business as his brothers did but was a carpenter (according to the 1911 census ). At the moment, I don’t have enough information to find anything on him but here is a picture of him. Handsome chap!

John Smith

John Smith

Thank you to my second cousins, Mary Beth Garrison and Karen Boarman for the pictures and information.

 

 

In Flanders Field

My mother told me many times of how it took my grandmother Jane Gartshore Smith years to get over the loss of her brother Robert who was born the same year as her. He was killed in action at Flanders in 1915. His name is on the memorial at Calais; Lance Corporal Robert G Smith, Black Watch Royal Highlanders.She left for Canada that year. It was one of the many things she couldn’t talk about. Robert is on the left in this picture with his brothers, James and Samuel.

Robert, James and Sam Smith. Glasgow 1914

Robert, James and Sam Smith. Glasgow 1914

To the many people who served in my family including two of my aunts, peace and gratefulness for your bravery. To all people who fight for what they believe in.

In Flanders Field

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae