A Poppy
A Poppy

Memorials & Monuments
on the Isle of Wight
- People -
- Newchurch - Sam Thomas Smith -


Petty Officer Steward P/L 9610 Sam Thomas Smith, Royal Navy, H.M.S. Victory III


Biography from the Book of Remembrance, All Saints Church, Newchurch, Isle of Wight.
Biographical information

PETTY OFFICER SAM SMITH was born at Borthwood on 31st July 1899, the son of Charles and Emma Jane Smith and was the second eldest of a family of six. He attended the village school at Alverstone until he was 11 years old and then spent the three remaining years at Newchurch School. On leaving school he first worked for Mr Turton, hairdresser at Sandown, and then for Martins, the stationers on the corner of High Street and Pier Street in the same town. At that time World War I was remorselessly involving every able-bodied man and on reaching the age of 18 in 1917 Sam joined the Royal Navy as an officer's steward. He received his basic training at H.M.S. Excellent (Whale Island) and before the War had come to an end he had seen active service in the Baltic on the decoy ship H.M.S. Nirana after which he served on the cadet training ship H.M.S. Thunderer.

Sam Smith married Lilian Ryder at Christ Church, Sandown, in 1924 and there were two children of the marriage. He set up home for his family at the old Railway Station at Langbridge, then at Mersley Gardens, and finally at 'Bancroft' Sandown Road, Shanklin. He continued in regular service and after spending a period on a number of destroyers he was posted to H.M.S. Nelson on her first commission and remained a member of her crew from 1929 to 1932 when he then spent some years with the Reserve Fleet and in R.N. Barracks. He was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in 1932. Finally he served on the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Courageous from 1937 to 1939 when he retired on pension in July 1939 having completed 22 years service.

His hard-earned and well-deserved retirement lasted less than eight weeks when as a reservist he was recalled to the Service in late August 1939.

At the outbreak of War Sam Smith was posted to H.M.S. Coventry, a 'Ceres' class anti-aircraft cruiser of 4200 tons and for the next two years he saw continuous active service in home waters and in the Mediterranean including involvement in the desperate naval engagements during the evacuation of Greece in the course of which one of Sam's shipmates on 'Coventry' received a posthumous award of the Victoria Cross for outstanding heroism in the defence of the ship against fearsome attacks.

On 14th September 1942 whilst involved in operations to assist the Eighth Army in North Africa H.M.S. Coventry was attacked by German and Italian aircraft off Tobruk and was sunk. Sam was among those saved and after being returned to Alexandria he was then sent home to England on H.M. Troopship 'Orcades' (in peacetime a 23,000 ton ship of the Orient Line). The 'Orcades' was bound from Cape Town for England when on 10th October 1942 she was struck by two torpedoes from the German submarine U172, being then some 300 nautical miles west of the Cape of Good Hope. The passengers and most of the crew took to the boats but 55 volunteers tried to get the badly-damaged ship to Cape Town. However she had to be abandoned and finally sank. A total of 48 people died in the explosion when the torpedoes struck and in subsequently abandoning ship, amongst them being Petty Officer Sam Smith who had served his country for so long and so faithfully.

From the CWGC record :

Sam Thomas Smith, Son of Charles and Emma Jane Smith; husband of Lillian Rosa Smith, of Shanklin, Isle of Wight.

Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, Hampshire.

CWGC record ...


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