Brothers seek work in the Big Apple after the Great War

Reprinted from The Packet, November 16, 2017
by Lester Green

Lorenzo and Emma Ann Smith of Island Cove spent many restless nights when their family made a significant contribution to the Great War. Their three oldest sons Leander, Stuart, and Robert enlisted in the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve.

Seaman Stuart Smith (Photo courtesy granddaughter Stephanie Ford)

Stuart was their first son to enlist with the Royal Naval Reserve. He completed his application on November 23, 1912 and spent 28 days completing basic training aboard the HMS Calypso. During January,  1914 he completed an additional 28 days. His brother, Leander signed his application on December 3, 1913 and completed basic training.

Both Stuart and Leander received the call to duty by Royal Proclamation in August, 1914 and travelled overseas together on the SS Franconia. Upon their arrival in England both were ordered to the report to HMS Virginian, an Armed Merchant Cruiser assigned to the 10th Cruiser Squadron.  They served two years together with the Squadron patrolling the water of North Atlantic and accompanying convoys on the high seas.

On November 25, 1916 they both reported to HMS Pembroke I, a naval base barracks at Chatham and served for six months before being sent back to Newfoundland to HMS Briton. They spent the next six months associated with Newfoundland’s naval base.

When they received their next transfer orders, they went separate ways. Leander was assigned to the Royal Canadian Navy where he served on three ships HMCS Niobe, HMCS Stadacona, and HMCS Seagull. Stuart travelled overseas and served on four shore based structures HMS Victory I, Excellent, President III and Vivid III with the British Royal Navy for his remaining time in the war.

Seaman Robert Smith (Photo courtesy of granddaughter Shelley Smith

Their younger brother, Robert, enlisted with three other men from the Southwest Arm region. Isaac Smith, Samuel Drover and George Hiscock all signed their application papers on May 10, 1917. Robert was assigned to the Royal Canadian Navy. He first served four months on a schooner named HMCS Albert J Lutz stationed at Sydney, Nova Scotia. He then served at the HMCS Niobe for about a year. He was assigned to the HMS Briton on December 21, 1918 and was demobilized on March 19, 1919.

The three brothers  gave 12 years of total service to the Great War effort and all briefly returned to Island Cove but due to the lack of work moved on to the United States in the 1920’s.

Leander first travelled to the Brooklyn, New York for work in 1923 and returned in 1925. He married Gladys, daughter of John and Sarah Spooner of Brigus in 1927. They both returned to Brooklyn and raised their family there. He became a citizen of the United States on February 27, 1940. Leander passed away on March 3, 1955 and is buried in New York.

Stuart married Providence, daughter of Emmanuel and Patience Smith in the summer of 1925 and also moved to Brooklyn, New York. He received his citizenship on January 2, 1941. He remained in the United States until his death in 1984 at Suffolk, New York.

Unlike his two brothers, Robert visited the United States and worked there on at least two occasions but always returned home. He married Gladys, daughter of Elisha and Annie Gregory of Queen’s Cove, on April 4, 1931 in St. John’s. They remained at Island Cove living and caring for his parents until the community was abandon and he moved his family to Queen’s Cove where he died on October 19, 1979.

Next week’s Where Once They Sailed will follow the Drover brothers of Hodge’s Cove as they enlist with the Royal Naval Reserve and are transferred to her Majesty’s ships both overseas and in the Caribbean’s. 


RNR service record of Robert Smith (Courtesy of granddaughter Shelley Smith)