George William Smail. (Ch) M 13306, Blacksmith's Mate.
Formerly Royal Garrison Artillery 18855
George was born on the first day of November 1894 in West Ashford, Kent to James and Mary and baptised early in the new year, on 6th January 1895. On the 1901 census he was the fourth of five children recorded, aged 6. He and his family lived at 139 Beaver Road, Ashford, near the railway station where his father and eldest brother worked. 10 years later, aged 16 on the 1911 census the family still lived at the same address in Ashford and George worked as a blacksmith apprentice at the Ashford Railway Yards before the war.
He joined the Royal Regiment of Artillery (R.G.A), attesting on 30th September 1912 in Canterbury and beginning his training from Newhaven on 5th October aged 18 years and 11 months old - George was noted as being 5'9" tall, having black hair and brown eyes, with a sallow complexion.
For reasons unknown he discharged himself from the Army with payment of £18.00 on 31st March 1913 and returned to a civilian life…..until the outbreak of the Great War. He chose to serve with the Navy and joined for the duration of hostilities on 29th April 1915 and falling on his normal occupation, worked as a blacksmith’s mate, training first at HMS PEMBROKE II until 12th July 1915.
He joined HMS VANGUARD, what would be his only ship, on 13th July 1915, spending 10 days in cells just two weeks after going on board. He was on the dreadnought during the Battle of Jutland until the explosion.
His Star, Victory and British war medals were claimed by his father after his death.
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England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 - FreeBMD
1901 & 1911 England Census
England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 - FreeBMD
GBM_WO97_5920_003_004 - Army Attestation - FindMyPast
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services; Class: ADM 188; Piece: 1044
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Admiralty and predecessors: Office of the Director General of the Medical Department of the Navy and predecessors: Service Registers and Registers of Deaths and Injuries. Registers of Reports of Deaths
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/10; Scan Number: 0400
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.; Class: ADM 242; Piece: Piece 010; Piece Description: Piece 010 (1914 - 1919)
WWI Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923 Western Front Association; London, England; Naval Pension Ledgers; Reference: 542931
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 Class: ADM 171; Piece: 115
Kent Messenger and Ashford Examiner - BNA