Edgar and Isaac Smith, Island Cove.

Reprinted from The Packet, June 28, 2018
by Lester Green

Seaman Isaac Smith’s enlistment recorded in the Evening Telegram. Source Evening Telegram 1917-05-11

The family of Simon and Maria had two sons enlist for the Great War but their greatest sacrifice was the lost of their son, Edgar Henry, one day after the war was declared to be over. He was aboard the ketch HMS Trebiskir when it foundered off Swansea, England with the lost of all crewmembers on November 12, 1918. The news was reported in the Evening Telegram on December 14, 1918 under the heading Naval Casualty. The words written by the Acting Commander of the HMS Briton, A. MacDermott read “I regret having to inform you that the Admirality have reported that Edgar H. Smith, Seaman, Nfld Royal Naval Reserve, O.N.  1204X lost his life….”

The news was a devastating blow for a small, rural community.

For sailors of the minesweepers, the war did not end on November 11, 1918. There was no automatic switch that could turn off the unexploded mines that were scattered around the ocean.

Sadly the people of Southwest Arm region were reminded by the loss of their son. Feelings were a mixture of mourning their loss or celebrating.

Seaman Edgar H. Smith who lost his life on the sailing ketch Trebisken. (Photo courtesy of Ross Vivian)

For the family of Edgar, they could take some comfort knowing that their other son, Isaac, was safely at home. Isaac had enlisted with the Royal Naval Reserve on May 10, 1917 and his name appeared in the Evening Telegram, along with his cousin Robert Smith, Samuel Drover and George Hiscock on May 11, 1917. Their enlistment comprised 40% of the names that was listed in the Evening Telegram’s article.

A notation on his application list his brother Edgar and that allotments were to be paid to both his mother and father starting on May 17, 1917. His Naval Ships Ledger shows that he spent all of his naval service at HMS Briton. What duties did he perform during this time period are difficult to determine because there are no names of ships or schooners listed.

He was demobilized on June 1918 about five months before receiving news that his brother would not be returning home and would be forever lost on foreign soil at Swansea, England.

Seaman Isaac Smith. (Photo courtesy of Rexene Fortier)

After returning to island Cove, he married Evelyn May, the daughter of John and Rachael Jane (Dodge) Halliday of Lower Lance Cove. Evelyn was very familiar with the Great War because she had four brothers who served in the Royal Newfoundland Regiments. Her brother, Abel, paid the supreme sacrifice but Moses, Thomas and Hubert returned after serving their term overseas.

Isaac passed away at Hillview on January 22, 1954 at the age of 56. He is buried at the Island Cove Anglican Cemetery.

Medals awarded to Seaman Edgar H. Smith with Memorial Plaque at center. (Photo courtesy of Craig Smith)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Island Cove

Island Cove (Photo courtesy of Annie Smith)

The abandon community of Island Cove was located in the Southwest Arm area between Hodge’s Cove and Long Beach. It was first settled by Isaac and Robert Smith of Bishop’s Cove sometime around the 1870s. It is believed that both were married to sisters Emily and Elizabeth Barrett. Church records, census and other documents show that this community was settled largely by the Smith’s of Bishop’s Cove with the surnames Holloway, Spurrell and others arriving through marriages to the Smith families. The community graveyard can be seen by the roadside between Long Beach and Hodge’s Cove as one drives down the scenic, winding road that offers several views of Southwest Arm.

During the Great War this small community with a population of only 41 residents contributed greatly to the war effort. Approximately 17% of its total population enlisted for service with the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve. The family of Lorenzo and Emma Smith had three sons enlist. Albert and his wife, Phoebe had two sons sign up for service, while his brother, Simeon and Maria had two sons enrolled. Simeon and Maria’s family made the supreme sacrifice when their son, Edgar Henry, did not return.