Rank or Title
Date of Birth
Date of Death
30 Dec 1915
War time / or Pre War occupation
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
War Memorial Location
Soldier or Civilian
Writer Third Class Joseph Smith, M/8543, RN, was lost when the cruiser HMS Natal sank as the result of an internal explosion while in harbour in the Firth of Cromerty, on the north-eastern coast of Scotland, on December 30th, 1915. No enemy action was found to be involved, and Joseph Smith's body was not recovered for burial.
The son of Joseph, a straw hat warehouseman, and Elizabeth Smith, of 17 Chobham Street, Luton, he would have been 21 on December 31st. Before the war he worked as a junior clerk in the marine office at the Vauxhall and West Hydraulic Engineering Co, which helped prepare him for his admin role in the Royal Navy.
He joined the Navy when war broke out and was sent to Chatham barracks from where he was appointed to HMS Imperishusa for a short time before being transferred to HMS Natal as third writer. His brother Alfred was also a writer in the Navy.
Before joining the Navy, Joseph had been captain of West Ward Rangers football team for three seasons. He attended St Mary's Parish Church and was a member of the Men's Institute there. A memorial service was held at the church on January 13th, 1916, at which the Vicar, the Rev A. E. Chapman gave the address and organist Mr Gostelow played the Dead March.