.jump-link{ display:none }

Monday, 7 November 2016

The Sad Tale of Soldier Edward Ingram Stuart Smith

There were over 3 million British  casualties in the First  World War. Of the men who survived, their suffering could include  physical injury including loss of limbs, blindness, effects of gas poisoning, and shell shock (what would now be  termed post- traumatic stress disorder),  Many would not  talk about the war  or forget the scenes they witnessed  but their experiences affected their lives ever after.

One  such man was my cousin's paternal  grandfather Edward Stewart Ingram Smith (1871-1923).

 Edward Stewart Ingram Smith on the back row, far right 
with his regiment Liverpool Scottish.  

Edward's Early Life 

Edward was a man of many parts -  boy soldier,  waiter, photographer,  and upholsterer.   In this photograph of him as a 20 year old young man, he has a sensitive and artistic air about him.

Edward was born in 1871 in Ceres, Fife,  Scotland, eldest son of John Ingram Smith and Isabella (Ella) Edward.   His Ingram middle name came from  that of the minister in the Shetland Isles  who had  baptized his  father - and was one adopted by future generations of Smiths, who were very proud of their island heritage. 

In his early childhood, Edward experienced several moves across country  as his father's hotel businesses failed.   

Edward's daughter Ella  (who lived to the age of 99)  left notes relating how her father  wore the kilt until he was 17 years old, played the bagpipes and spoke Gaelic  He enjoyed art and painted in oils.  He was well educated  in Edinburgh and spoke with a soft lilting accent. 

On leaving school, Edward joined the army as a  Gordon Highlander, but did not settle and was bought out by his parents. 

By the time of the 1891 census, 20 year old Edward was  in Leeds where his father John  was manager at the Victoria Hotel.  Edward's occupation was listed as photographer. 

A further move by the family followed, as by 1901  Edward was working as a waiter at the Belvedere Hotel, South Promenade, Blackpool, Lancashire.     In 1902 at Kirkham Registrar, near Blackpool,  Edward married Lily Beatrice Jones, 13 years his junior.   

 Four children were born to the marriage - Lily Ella, Arthur Stuart Ingram, Edith Florence and baby Edward who did not survive infancy.   Edward's interest in photographer is illustrated in the many delightful portraits he took of his children - with son Arthur,  in a "little Lord Fauntleroy"  outfit and a  mop of long fair curls.
Ella, Edith and Arthur

In the 1911 census, Edward's occupation was still given as photographer, but illness struck and Edward had to give it up.   He moved into upholstery, and eventually  opened up a furniture  business in Blackpool.

Called up to Serve
In 1915 at the age of 44, Edward, as a previously serving soldier,  was called up to return to the army. Determined to maintain his Scottish links,  he joined   the kilted Liverpool Scottish Regiment.  

 A serious looking family photograph, probably taken as Edward set out for war 
 with Arthur's hair shorn of its curls. . 

The sporran that Edward is wearing in this photograph is still held by the family, 

Edward served  in France, but was gassed and injured at the Battle of the  Somme. Wounded in action in the ferocious fighting in  the Battle of Delville Wood, (nicknamed Devil's Wood),  he was invalided back to England and hospitalised.   His daughter Ella related how he went to meet her  at the school gates and she did not recognize him, as his weight had dropped from 15 to 9. 

 Liverpool Scottish soldiers at Dellville  Wood.

An Army Discharge Certificate (the first time I have come across one) and Military Award Records show that Edward received the War Medal, Victory Medal and the Silver War Badge  to denote that he had been wounded in action. 

 Edward's army discharge certificate.
It is not a good image but I had never come across such a document before 
and was keen to feature it here.  

Life Post-War
But following Edward's discharge,  family  life proved unhappy.  His mother died in July 1919 and at some point, he separated from his wife and childrenIn searching local newspapers for an item on Edward's war service, I came across this report   of 24 November 1919 in "The Lancashire Evening Post"  It made sad reading:

One cannot  help reflect that having to return to active service at the age of 44 and face the harsh physical and mental conditions of the World War One battlefields took its toll on Edward, as on so many soldiers.   He died in 1923 aged 52.    His wife Lily survived him by a further 40 years and married for a second time.  

The photograph below shows an older Edward Stuart Ingram Smith with haunting eyes and a dispirited air - a  far cry from the handsome young man of thirty years earlier.  


Sepia Saturday give bloggers an opportunity to share their family history and memories  through photographs.

 Click  HERE to see how other Sepia Saturday are commemorating 
this month's theme War and Peace.


  1. It sounds very much like Edward suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder but back then, there wasn't much help for men returning from the war with such disorders. What a sad shame.

  2. The invisible wounds are the ones that seem to affect the whole family. My father treated veterans with mental illness for his entire (2nd) career as a clinical psychologist. It was rewarding work that he loved, but I know he had patients who needed care forever. Back in Edward's time, though, there was so little help available.

  3. As I picked out Edward on your first photo, I wondered why he seemed a bit separate from the other men. Then having read your story I understood. At his age and as a family man with his own business, he must have felt like the "old man" of his company. Britain assembled its regiments around local recruiting offices so Edward probably knew his mates or their parents too. So it's no wonder that many soldiers returned from the trauma of war with scars that no one could see.

  4. Thank you all for your perceptive and thoughtful comments.

  5. Wow, just wow. You're provided a roller coaster ride for the story of his life. It's nice that the story has been told.


Thank you for your comment which will appear on screen after moderation.