Coleshill Remembers World War 1
As a free service to the World War 1 commemoration year, ST-IT Limited have created and are hosting a free database of Coleshill connected veterans.
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Entry for Stoker 1st Class William Smith RN
Stoker 1st Class
Year of Birth
Date of Death
William Forth Smith was born on 28th February 1885 in Birmingham. On the 6th January 1892 William and his younger brother Herbert were sent to live at the St Paul’s Home, Coleshill. They were orphans and came from the Birmingham Workhouse. In May 1899 William was sent from St Paul’s to Oscott College, probably to work as a member of staff. William Smith enlisted in the Royal Navy on the 28th February 1904, having previously worked aboard Steam Ship ‘Arethusa’, probably in the Merchant Navy. He was 16 on enlistment and served as a Boy 1st class (a boy under training) until 1902, service number 217336. He served aboard a number of different ships, and worked his way up as a Signalman, then Stoker 2nd Class and reached Stoker 1st Class by August 1910. He is recorded on the 1911 census aboard HMS Argyll, a First Class Armoured Cruiser, which was stationed at Gibraltar. His work as a Stoker 1st Class would have meant he shovelled coal from a bunker to the firebox; a skilled job that needed strength and precision. Shortly before the outbreak of WW1, William Smith transferred to serve aboard HMS Goliath: a Battleship, Canopus class. The ship sailed from South Africa in February 1915, via Zanzibar, Mombassa, through the Suez canal and saw action off the Dardanelles by April 1915. On the 13th May 1915 HMS Goliath was in action with a Turkish Destroyer, the Muavenet, in the Dardanelles. HMS Goliath was torpedoed and sank quickly, with the loss of 570 men. William Smith was one of those men and his body was never recovered for burial. He was posthumously awarded the Allied Victory and British War medals, and is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, and also on the memorial in St Teresa and the Sacred Heart, Coleshill.