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SEAHAM & SEAHAM HARBOUR

Smith, T.M., L/Smn., 1915
Jims Private Collection.

Sub-Lieut Tremayne Left of Middle Row April 1915

History of the Royal Naval Division

The Surrender of Antwerp

Chubb Hill, Ruswarp, Yorkshire

On the Helles Memorial is the name of London Z/1018 Leading Seaman Thomas Mark Smith, serving with the Royal Naval Division, Hawke Battalion, who died 20/06/1915.

Thomas Mark Smith was born on 25th February 1892, at Greatham, Durham, the son of Thomas Smith, who was a Master Mariner in the merchant service, and his wife Isabella Smith, born, Greatham in 1865, Thomas was the eldest of three children, but one of the children died. His brother, John Forest Smith was two years younger.

Their residence address in 1901 was Greatham House, Chubb Hill, Ruswrap, Yorkshire.

By 1911 they were residing at Greatham with George Fox, aged 52, his wife Annie Margaret age 51, their daughter Frances Margaret age 17. Also at the same address was Thomas’s mother Isabella Smith, age 46 a widow, who was sister-in-law to George Fox, also Thomas’s brother John Forest Smith then aged 17. Thomas was employed as a Marine Engineer Apprentice by Messrs. William Gray and Co Ltd at West Hartlepool. He also was one of the first Undergraduates to enrol at the Imperial College at London to study for a marine engineering degree. His brother was then a medical student at St Thomas Hospital, London.

When Thomas enlisted, the family had moved to 24 Rosenthal Road, Oxford. Thomas's father had died by 1911.

Thomas enlisted in a Public Schools Battalion, around January the 8th 1915, as his name is on the Nominal Roll of the Public Schools Battalion. On the 3rd of May, he is at Blandford, [where the Royal Naval Division did its training], and from there was transferred to the Hawke Battalion ‘D’ Company. [In October 1914, a large number of men of Hawke Battalion were either captured by the Germans or crossed into Holland and were Interned for the Duration of the War, as they retreated from Antwerp].

A new Hawke Battalion was raised, 'D' Company was formed by volunteers from the 'Public Schools Battalion.' They remained in England when the Royal Naval Division sailed for the Dardanelles, finally re-joining the Royal Naval Division at Cape Helles on the 30 May 1915. The Hawke Battalion saw action at Gallipoli, from 30 May 1915 to January 1916. MEF (Mudros & Imbros) January - May 1916.

In May 1916, Hawke Battalion joined the BEF as part of 189th Brigade, 63rd (RN) Division seeing action in France and Belgium until May 1919.

Thomas's service record card reads as follows:- 8th January 1915. On the Nominal Roll of the Public School Battalion.

3rd May 1915. Hawke Battalion D Co [Company] Blandford. (Checked for disc)

3rd July 1915. Hawke Battalion, Missing 20/6/1915. RND List 180.

9th August 1915. NOK advise letter retd, marked Dead. Cabled Alex [Alexandria] R O 66 for confirmation.

23rd September 1915. MFC 17879 recvd. Nothing further reported. NOK inf [informed] 24.9.15.

20th July 1915. Recd D.O. No 3 dtd ?.7.15,-Missing (D’nelles) 20.06.1915.

28th September 1915. Enquired through F.O.

26th January 1916. Circular enquiry for further news sent to NOK.

31st January 1916. Recd, reply from NOK, saying he was last seen by A.B. Francis Glen, Tyneside Z/258, who left him alone in the trench looking after his dying officer, Sub-Lieut Tremayne.

27th February 1917. Service cert sent to C.P. Depot for entry of service at Depot and for transmission to S.C.O. Blandford.

29th March 1916. RND Missing Circular, No 1, recd from O/C 3rd Reserve Battn. gives “Killed on June 20th during an attack on the sap while operation with the machine gun.

29th March 1916 Wrote to O/C 3rd Res Battn, for full signed report.

19th June 1916. Recd reply through F.O. No news.

20th June 1916. NOK Informed.

3rd July 1917 NOK informed death accepted by Board/Authy assumed killed in action 20th June 1915 AFB 209c rendered 3.7.16.

5th July 1916. RND List no 648.

10th July 1916. R.N.D. “DD” List no 60.

16th July 1916 Recd BEF Hawke DO 73-13.7.1916-Reported Missing, Dardanelles. Death accepted for Official purposes 20.6.15. Authority:- AFB 2090C from C in C Records, R.N.D. London.

7th August 1916. AFB 209c returned from Base R.O.

22nd August 1916. A.F. 209C Passed to A.G. 9 Reg Page No 19.

17th July 1916. AFB/103 Received and Filed.

13th March 1917, D.C. no 1944 sent to NOK

13th July 1917. Duplicate D.C. sent to N.O.K.

24th February 1919. W.G [WAR GRAVE] form passed to A.G. 9B, Paid

26th August 1921, S.C passed to A.G.14 for disposal.

On the day in question that Thomas Died there were at least 18 other casualties from the Hawke Battalion.

HELLES - Following the Third Battle of Krithia on 4 June, Major General Sir Archibald Paris commanding the RND had decided to push forward a more advanced firing line into No Man's Land. It was realised that they could get forward some 100 yards reasonably easily but that in the centre of the RND line there was an advanced Turkish trench which if captured would allow an even greater advance.

The Hawke Battalion was ordered to attack on the night of 19 June. Lieutenant Douglas Jerrold left an outline of the fighting when the attack started at 00.30 on 19 June.

A dark, moonless night, and particularly quiet. The Turkish rapid fire was by now far less active, as our machine gunners learnt to keep the Turks below their parapets. Punctually at 12.30am Morgan led out his platoons from the saphead, and giving the word himself led the attack. From that moment the fortunes of this miniature battle alternated with bewildering speed. Advancing with more enthusiasm than method, and adopting the old fashioned and probably mistaken habit of cheering as they advanced, the assaulting line was seen to reach the trench; then there was a burst of firing from the enemy and five minutes' pause, broken only by a confused shouting of orders. by officers separated from their men; then a swift and inexplicable retreat. Morgan himself had reached the neighbourhood of the trench with some of his men and had there been killed. That much was certain, but the rest was confusion. Each man had found himself alone, as indeed happens to men facing death at night in the open for the first time; someone had ordered a concentration on the right; another had directed his fellows to the right; a third had heard his officer call a halt; nor had countenanced a retirement, yet the chances of war had resulted in nothing less. The attack had failed, and Sub Lieutenant Little and two men, who were the only party who had actually reached the trench unwounded, were obliged, seeing themselves isolated, to retreat themselves. But the attack had not begun. Such, at any rate, was the view of Lieutenant Horsfield, Morgan's second-in-command, who had been left out of the first assault; and a new attack was immediately planned and immediately executed. This time there was no mistake, and the trench was taken at 2.30am, Horsfield, Rush, Little, and Tremayne (Machine Gun officer), with the survivors of the first assault, reaching their objective with little loss. Now in the two hours of darkness that still remained the work of consolidation had to be completed. For a time there was peace. The Turkish garrison of the trench had fled, and silence reigned while their victorious successors filled sandbags and attempted to prepare a defensible position.

The account is then taken up by Sub Lieutenant Rush.

The trench, however, proved to be barely 4 feet deep, and was untraversed for almost its entire length, besides having scarcely any parapet or parados. It was apparent, moreover, that its position alone rendered it almost untenable. Attempts to consolidate were made by reversing the parapet, and by blocking the trench about 100 yards towards the left. Here the `machine gun was mounted and got into action, though it soon jammed. Sub- Lieutenant Tremayne was here shot through the head whilst firing over the parapet. The garrison continued to maintain a steady fire until very heavy casualties, and the fact that there the enemy offered no very clearly defined target, made active defence difficult.

Lieutenant Douglas Jerrold continues:

An hour before dawn the struggle entered on a new phase. Rifle and machine gun fire was concentrated on the position from the Turkish trenches which dominated it, and the enemy advanced to the counter-attack. Partly by fire from the captured position, mainly owing to the vigilance of the Nelson Battalion in Nelson Avenue, this was beaten off, but our losses in the trench were becoming serious, and ammunition was running out. Moreover, as it grew lighter our communications had become insecure. In the half light before dawn volunteers from D Company (among whom Able Seaman Chalkley was conspicuous) took out ammunition and rifles to the now small and exhausted garrison, and came back, for the most part, safely, (though six men of this fine company: L. W. Young, S. G. Brown, J. S. Menhinnick, L. H. Salaman, E. W. Langland, and H. W. Stoessiger were killed), it was already clear that the position would be held with difficulty. The garrison was dangerously reduced. Lieutenant Horsfield, wounded in the first assault, had been wounded again, this time mortally. Sub-Lieutenant *Tremayne, the battalion machine gun officer, had been killed. Of the original assaulting party, not more than twenty were unwounded. Sub Lieutenant Rush made his way back to Colonel Wilson, watching the situation anxiously from the saphead, and gave him a detailed account. Whatever the issue might be, it was clear to Colonel Wilson that 'A' Company must be relieved, and Lieutenant Cotter's 10th Platoon ('C' Company) was ordered up. Before this platoon had reached the front line, however, the Adjutant, who was in charge at the saphead of the digging parties and other arrangements, got a message from the garrison that another officer was wanted.

The Hawke Battalion Adjutant was Lieutenant R. H. Sheldon and he takes up the story:-

Being on the spot, I went over and found the trench, which was only about 3 feet deep, an absolute shambles. Soon after, Cotter arrived with his platoon, and as dawn was breaking, and there was about 20 yards of open ground to get over, I ordered the 'A' Company men to crawl back one by one; the Turks spotted this and turned a machine gun on to them, and it was then that Little was killed. In the trench there was no field of fire, but we kept the Turks back with bombs. When these were exhausted, the Turks crawled up and bombed us; this was at about 8am, and as we were badly enfiladed it could only have been a question of time before we would have been all wiped out. I then gave orders to withdraw one by one. Poor Horsfield was lying badly wounded in the trench, but managed, the Lord knows how, to crawl as far as the commencement of the communication trench, where Cotter and l found him and got him back to the front line; he died the next day. Of Cotter's platoon, which had held the trench for not more than half an hour, more than half had become casualties.

By 08.30 on the morning of 19 June this disastrous little operation came to an end. The Hawke Battalion had lost 29 men killed and 75 wounded.

SOURCE: D. Jerrold, The Hawke Battalion: Some Personal Records of Four Years, 1914-1918, (London, Ernest Benn Ltd, 1925), pp.67-70.

On Sunday 20th June the total casualties for the Hawke battalion were as follows :- BARCLAY, Thomas, Leading Seaman, RNVR, Clyde Z 1214 BIRCH, Edward, Petty Officer, RNVR, KP 147 CHARLTON, James, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 1284 HOLBROOK, Samuel, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 878 HUNTER, James T, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 915 JORDAN, Robert P, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 1621 KELWICK, Ernest C, Able Seaman, RNVR, KW 422 KENNEDY, Thomas, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 1469, DOW. MILNE, James, Petty Officer, RNVR, Clyde Z 1124 PORTEOUS, Thomas, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 951 REAY, Robert R, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 1448 REDPATH, Frederick W, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 1207 SMITH, Thomas M, Leading Seaman, RNVR, London Z 1018 STOESSIGER, Herbert N, Able Seaman, RNVR, ZP 1045 TAIT, William, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 1259 WHITEHEAD, Charles, Able Seaman, RNVR, KW 345 WRIGHT, Albert, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 996 YOUNG, Leslie H C M, Able Seaman, RNVR, London Z 701.

On Saturday 19th June the casualties for the Hawke Battalion were as follows:- ATKINSON, Jones, Able Seaman, RNVR, KW 416 BROWN, Stanley G, Able Seaman, RNVR, London Z/719 CRONE, William L, Petty Officer, RNVR, Tyneside Z 168 DEWS, Joseph W, Able Seaman, RNVR, KW 364 HORSFIELD, John N, Ty/Lieutenant, RNVR, DOW LANGLANDS, Edward W, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 2605 LITTLE, Howard W, Ty/Sub Lieutenant, RNVR MAIN, George C, Able Seaman, RNVR, Clyde Z 1113 MILLER, George W, Able Seaman, RNVR, Clyde Z 1128, DOW MORGAN, William W, Ty/Lieutenant, RNVR PROCTER, George, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 1210 SALAMAN, Lewis H, Able Seaman, RNVR, London Z 1180 SWITZER, Henry, Able Seaman, RNVR, Clyde Z 1134 TREMAYNE, John A, Ty/Sub Lieutenant, RNVR WEBSTER, William S, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 1214 WILKINSON, William, Able Seaman, RNVR, Tyneside Z 1004.

* JOHN A. E. TREMAYNE was a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, who died on the 19th June 1915, age 26. [The service card mentions a NCO, saying he [Thomas Smith] was last seen by A.B. Francis Glen, Tyneside Z/258, who left him alone in the trench looking after his dying officer, Sub-Lieut Tremayne.]

W. Bro. Revd. David T. Youngson, PPAG Chaplain, Northumberland gives the following:

The information given below in respect of some of the brethren is the best possible conclusions from Lodge records, Grand Lodge records, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and data in respect of merchant ship losses during the First World War


764 Harbour of Refuge
Year of Warrant 1856
Masonic Hall Seaham Harbour
London Z/1018 Leading Seaman SMITH Thomas Mark
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Hawk Battalion R.N. Division
A Draughtsman he was Initiated on the 11th November 1913; Passed 10th February 1914 there is no record of him being Raised. He died at Gallipoli on the 20th June 1915 aged 23 and is Remembered on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey, Panels 8 to 15.
Editor’s Note
There were five CWGC casualties listed with the initials
T.M. The entry above is the only one with ‘Mark’ as a second name and the Masonic records correspond with CWGC records. The Lodge Minutes record that he was “reported missing at Gallipoli. Presumed dead”

Mr. Euan Macauslan has submitted the following:
My great uncle was Thomas Mark Smith (see below).
I have been trying to find out more about him as records seem to conflict depending where I turn to – but I suspect that this is not uncommon. Thomas Mark Smith, his brother (John Forest Smith) and his mother moved to London in around 1912-1913. They moved from West Hartlepool. Thomas was an undergraduate in the first ever marine engineering degree intake at Imperial College. This accounts for him signing up in London. I have his Masonic glass wear.
His brother saw service with the RAMC in France as a medical officer and was captured. After escaping and returning to the UK he became a surgeon Lt in the Royal navy and went on to see action in Russia during 1918/19. He died in 1973.
I have looked at various war diaries on line. Thomas was killed on 19 or 20 June 1915 in Gallipoli. He was seconded from his ship to the newly formed Hawke battalion. As a leading Seaman he was a draughtsman. A shipyard in Stockton on Tees had written to the War Office to ask for his release to return to the UK to help with the design of warships. The RNVR diaries show that about 12 RNVR personnel were killed or died in the same area on 19/20 June 1915. However, in a history of the (Hawke Battalion), the only mention is of Thomas being killed along with one other on 20 June 1915. No cause of death was given.
Some sites give his age as unknown. No major action seems to have taken place on 19/20 June. Although, other sources do say that the Turks were trying to re-gain ground lost in May 1915.
Neither brother is remembered on a North-East memorial.


The CWGC entry for Leading Seaman Smith

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk