George Frederick Edgar "Geoff" Smith and the Smiths of Ryburgh

On the Tenor bell in the belfry at Ryburgh the following inscription is to be seen:















Throughout the second half of the C19th., the name of Smith to many was arguably synonymous with Great Ryburgh. They certainly influenced the lives of a good many families in the village. It seems almost a surprise to find only H.F.E. Smith (son of Frederick  Edgar) on the Roll of Honour, but that is partly due to the ages of respective family members in relation to the War years.

Of the children of Frederick and Annie Smith who donated the bells at St Andrew’s in their memory, most were in their 50’s by the war years. Frederick (junior) had died in 1906 and Edgar “Ned” died in 1914 and the eldest George in 1917 aged only 56.

George had looked after his younger brothers Harry Jacob b. 1875 and Charles George b. 1876 and from the pages of Betty Wharton’s book “The Smiths of Ryburgh” we learn that Harry Jacob had emigrated to Tasmania around 1911 and enlisted there. His service record is held in the Australian Archives and from that we learn that when he enlisted he was married and living at the following address:





What is more he gave his occupation as professional soldier with the following service:





He saw service in Egypt, and France and returned to Australia in March 1918 for the termination of his appointment. His record showed that he applied for this both because he had been passed over for promotion several times in spite of having had a satisfactory record and because his wife had been dangerously ill.

You can access his complete service record through the National Archives of Australia  if you wish to learn more about Harry Jacob.


The most closely associated with Ryburgh, Herbert Edgar Smith was 49 when War broke out.  He lived at the Mill House after his mother died, 


The Mill House



Herbert had played his part in the South African Wars and his eldest son Malcolm was just 16 in 1914


Of Herbert’s two older brothers:  

George’s eldest son, George Frederick Edgar, known as Geoff, had been born in and lived at Wells. He died and was buried in France in 1918. Further investigation shows that George had been sent by his father to Australia in 1913 to learn about brewing. However he was working as a “Farm Hand” when he enlisted in March 1916 at Cootamundra NSW and joined the AIF, D Coy 2nd Btn. as Pte 6084 Smith G.F.E.

He sailed to Plymouth from Sydney on the “Wiltshire” arriving on 13th October 1916. He spent time at Arundel and Folkestone and was in France by Dec 18th that year. He was frequently sick over the next year with diarrhoea and by 1918 was suffering badly with septic boils on his face and head. He was found drowned in the Seine at Rouen around 3pm on the afternoon of 15th August 1918. The official enquiry attached no blame to his accidental death by drowning. He was buried at the St Sever Cemetery Extension Grave No. 5355. His father had died by this time and his mother received, along with his British War and Victory Medals his memorial scroll and plaque and a copy of the pamphlet “Where the Australians Rest”.  His will was proved in 1920 by his executors Harry Gould, F& G Smith’s Company Accountant, and George Turner Cain his brother-in-law. He is remembered on the War Memorial atWells-next-the-Sea. 

You can access his complete service record through the National Archives of Australia  if you wish to learn more about Geoff.


George’s youngest son, Edgar Ladas Smith was” Gazetted” Temporary 2nd Lieut. On 19th September 1914 on a list from the Cadets and ex Cadets of the Officer Training Corps. According to Betty Wharton’s book “The Smiths of Ryburgh”, he was  in Salonika for 3 years where he contracted a bad case of Malaria and was invalided out of the service. Malaria was recurrent thereafter until his death in 1929 by his own hand.


copyright 2015

Not on the Roll of Honour
Webpage icon Henry Charles Moy M.M.
Webpage icon Albert Fox Codling
Webpage icon Bertie John Doy
Webpage icon William John Framingham
Webpage icon William John Hall
Webpage icon Joseph Thomas Baker
Webpage icon Thomas Henry Allison
Webpage icon William Ainger Howman
Webpage icon Arthur William Allison
Webpage icon Edgar Phillip Huckins
Webpage icon Guy Wade Burtenshaw
Webpage icon 2nd Lieut. Frank Noel Tuff
Webpage icon Charles Veasey Cooper
Webpage icon Ryburgh and The Royal Bucks Hussars
Page last updated: Friday January 26th 2018 10:51 PM