Friends of the Somme - Mid Ulster Branch  
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   Major Robertson Stewart Smyth
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Dated added: 30/12/2015   Last updated: 03/06/2020
Personal Details
Regiment/Service: Royal Army Medical Corps (British Army)
Date Of Birth: 18/08/1879
Died: 05/04/1916 (Died of Wounds)
Age: 36
Summary      
Robertson Stewart Smyth, better known within the family as Robbie Smyth, was born on 18th August 1879 He was the second son of William and Jane Robson Smyth. Robertson Smyth was educated at Dungannon Royal School and then entered Trinity College Dublin where he received a Doctorate in Medicine. Robbie won three rugby caps for Ireland in 1903 and 1904. He joined the Royal Army Medical Corp on the completion of his studies in 1905. Robbie served in India from 1907-1912. Upon the outbreak of War in 1914, Robbie rose rapidly through the ranks and was promoted to Major until later that month when he was invalided as the result of gas poisoning after which he was then sent to a nursing home in London where he relinquished his commission on 22nd February of that year. Major Robertson Stewart Smyth died on 5th April 1916 aged 36 years,
Major Robertson Stewart Smyth
Further Information
Robertson Stewart Smyth, better known within the family as Robbie Smyth, was born on 18th August 1879 at 'Seaview' in Warrenpoint (possibly their holiday home), the second son of William and Jane Robson Smyth.
Robertson Smyth was educated at Dungannon Royal School and then entered Trinity College Dublin where he received a Doctorate in Medicine.
After graduation in 1905 he was appointed House Surgeon on the resident staff of Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital, Dublin
Robbie Smyth was a talented rugby player. He was a member of Dublin University's 2nd XV when they won the Junior League in the 1898/1899 season, captain of the University XV in 1903-04.
Smyth played on the Dun's Hospital Rugby team in the Dublin Hospitals Rugby Cup for six years from 1900-1905; the team won the cup on all but one of those years.
Robbie won three caps for Ireland in 1903 and 1904. He was also in the 1903 British Lions tour of South Africa where he played three games. He was part of the Ireland team that played Scotland at the Scottish Rugby Union ground at Inverleith, Ferry Road, Edinburgh on 28th February 1903.
The Ireland side that played Scotland on 28th February 1903 at Inverleith, Edinburgh. Robert Smyth highlighted
He also played for Wanderers and the Barbarians.
He joined the Royal Army Medical Corp on the completion of his studies in 1905, was commissioned as a Lieutenant on 31st July 1905 and promoted to Captain on 31st January 1909.
Robbie served in India from 1907-1912.
Medal card
Medal card
On his return from India, he was one of a group of three local men who, on 18th September 1913, welcomed and led Sir Edward Carson into Banbridge.
Upon the outbreak of War in 1914, he followed the British Expeditionary Force to France, where it is stated that he served with "rare devotion". He was mentioned in Dispatches by Field Marshal Sir John French, Supreme Commander of the British Expeditionary Force and later Viceroy of Ireland, for "gallant and distinguished service in the field."
Robbie rose rapidly through the ranks and was promoted to Major on 2nd December 1915, continuing in active service until later that month when he was invalided as the result of gas poisoning.
Major Smyth returned to active service and was again invalided due to gas poisoning on 1st January 1916. after which he was then sent to a nursing home in London where he relinquished his commission on 22nd February of that year.
Major Robertson Stewart Smyth died at 20 Endsleigh Gardens, London on 5th April 1916 aged 36 years,
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 6th April 1916:
The death suddenly occurred yesterday, in a nursing home in London, of Major Robertson Stewart Smyth, M.D., Royal Army Medical Corps, who was invalided home from the front in December last. The late Major Smyth was the fourth son of the late Mr William Smyth, Brookfield, Banbridge, and was educated in Dungannon Royal School and Trinity College Dublin. He was a former captain of Dublin University Rugby Club, and represented Ireland in several international matches. He entered the Royal Army Medical Corps in July 1905, and was promoted to the rank of captain on January 1909, obtaining his majority in October last. He went to France in September 1914, and served on the Western Front continuously until December 1915, when he was invalided home, subsequently relinquishing his commission on the grounds of ill-health. Major Smyth was mentioned in despatches by Field Marshall Viscount French for gallant and distinguished service in the field. He was a brother of Captain E F Smyth, 11th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (South Antrim Volunteers), who is at present home on leave, and a cousin of Captain G B F Smyth, D.S.O., Royal Engineers.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 13th April 1916:
Another old Dungannon Royal School boy has given up his life for the cause of King and country in the person of Major Robertson S Smyth, M.D., Royal Army Medical Corps (Banbridge), who has died in a nursing home in London.
Major Robertson Stewart Smyth was brought home and buried in Banbridge Municipal Cemetery.
Robertson Stewart Smyth gravestone
In an obituary in the Lancet, an unnamed friend stated:
'His lovable disposition and engaging personality gained him many friends. His death will be deeply regretted by all who knew him, and he will always be held in affectionate remembrance by the friends he made in his all too short life'.
The late Major Smyth was a brother of Major Edmund F. Smyth, Royal Irish Rifles.
It seems that because he resigned his commission before he died, Major Robertson Stewart Smyth is not listed in the CWGC.
Major Robertson Stewart Smyth is commemorated on Banbridge War Memorial. He is also commemorated on a plaque at the entrance to the 1937 reading room at Trinity College , Dublin. And on Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital Great War Memorial, Dublin
Major Robertson Stewart Smyth is commemorated on a plaque at the entrance to the 1937 Reading Room at Trinity College, Dublin
Major Robertson Stewart Smyth is commemorated on on Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital Great War Memorial, Dublin
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References and Links
No Link Reference Map Doc
1 National Archives UK Medal Card can be purchased here
2 Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Information on Robertson Smyth including many photos
3 Rugby History Society Sporting biography of Robertson Smyth including many photos and grave photo
4 Rugby History Society World War 1 Brief metion of Robertson Smyth
5 Smyths Of The Bann Information on Robertson Smyth and his family
Dungannon District's War Dead Acknowledgements 2015-2021