Garrison Artillery, 4th Highland Mountain Brigade
Rank & Number: Gunner 300719
July 1887; Fairlie
Died: 1972; Inverclyde Royal
Other: Brother of
WILLIAM MARSHALL SMITH was born 29 Jul
1887 in Fairlie,to parents James, a
shoemaker, and Mary Ann Marshall (who were married in
Largs on 02 Jun 1882). He died in Inverclyde Royal Infirmary, Greenock in 1972, aged 85.
On 26 Nov 1915 at Bath Hotel, Glasgow, William (aged
28, ships draughtsman, of 317 Onslow Drive, Glasgow)
married Catherine Mary Lawrie, and they had three children. Catherine died in 1947, and William married
Margaret Boyd McCreadie at Largs in 1954.
His grandfather was William Marshall, Largs Bellman from 1860 to 1896;
in 2013 the family presented his town crier’s bell to Largs Museum. He is also descended from Billy Marshall,
King of the Gypsies (b. 1672), whose gravestone in Kirkcudbright states he
died, “aged 127”.
After the war William lived in Old Kilpatrick, before returning to Largs
– briefly to his parents’ home in Gogo Street, and then in 1926 to 20 Allanpark
Street, Largs. After his marriage to
Margaret (Gretta) in 1954, he moved to The Tower, 38 Montgomerie Drive,
Fairlie, the home of her parents, where he lived for the rest of his life.
A draughtsman at Fife’s yard before the war, after he opened a draper's
shop in Main Street, Largs with his first wife, Catherine. He later returned to Fife’s, where he worked
until he retired. He was well known for
his daily routine, in suit, bowler hat and watch and chain, of walking the
length of Fairlie, talking to everyone he met, once before lunch and again
In the 1901 Census, William, aged 13, is living Govan
Bank, Fairlie with parents James (50, shoemaker, b St.
Andrews, Elgin) and Mary (38,
b Largs) and siblings James (17,
app. gardener) and Johanna J (13,
In the 1911 Census, aged 23 and a yacht draughtsman,
he is living Springbank, Fairlie with parents James (60,
shoemaker & repairs) and Mary Ann (48, m 28 years, 3 children) and brother
James (27, gardener)
Ayrshire Directory has William Smith, Draper, 2 Crawford Street, Largs.
DETAILS His Silver War Badge record shows he enlisted on 17 Nov 1915, and his
recruitment was reported in the Largs and Millport Weekly News on 27 Nov
1915. According to his family he served
in the Dardanelles, and was invalided from the army because of malaria. He was discharged on 14 Dec 1918 (sickness,
Silver War Badge list). His medal index
card shows he received the British War and Victory medals.
His grandson remembers William saying that he enlisted (from a reserved
occupation as a ship draughtsman) when the Clyde-build Cunard liner Lusitania
was sunk by a German U-boat on 7 May 1915 (his actual enlistment is recorded as
17 Nov 1915, but perhaps he made the decision to enlist after the
sinking?). He also recalls William
producing a small bottle of blackish liquid from his pocket – his quinine to
ward off malarial attacks, half a century later.
Extracts from the Largs
& Millport Weekly News:-
27 November 1915 Another recruit for immediate service has been obtained in the person of
Mr. William Smith, presently employed as a draughtsman with Messrs. William
Fife & Sons.
11 May 1918 Another of our service lads, Gunner William Smith again invalided home
is with us also.