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George William Harcourt Avondale Smith

  • Served in HMS Black Prince
Person Details
10 Mar 1892
Blidworth Nottinghamshire
George was the eldest son of George William and Sarah Ann Smith (née Ward). His father George William was born in Farnsfield, Nottinghamshire, in 1867, the son of Henry Smith. His mother Sarah Ann was born in Edingley, Nottinghamshire, in about 1865, the daughter of William Ward, a farm bailiff. George and Sarah were married at Blidworth St Mary on 1 March 1892. They had eight children of whom seven survived infancy or childhood: George William Harcourt Avondale b. 10 March 1892, Noel b. 1896, Mona Sylvia b. 1898, Sarah Adelaide b. 1899, Gordon Selwyn b. 1901, Doris Caroline b. 1903 and Jack Evans b. 1905. In 1901 George William, a house decorator, and Sarah were living at 6 Brickyard Lane, Farnsfield, with their four children George (named as Harcourt), Noel, Mona and Sarah (named as Adelaide). George William had died by the time of the 1911 Census, probably in 1909 at the age of 42. His widow Sarah was still living in Farnsfield and six of her children were in the home on the night of the census; Noel a sheep boy on a farm, Mona, Sarah, Gordon, Doris and Jack. Also in the household was a boarder, Robert Henry Barton (50) a married farm labourer. George had joined the Royal Navy some six months earlier. George's mother was living at 125 Quarter Street, Farnsfield, at the time of her son's death and Quarter Street, Farnsfield, is also given as her address on the later CWGC record. Sarah Ann Smith may have died in 1928 aged 63. George's sister Mona Sylvia married Frank W Comeskey in 1919. Frank had served in the Durham Light Infantry during the Great War; he had enlisted on 11 August 1914 and was demobilised on 11 March 1919. He rejoined the Army (Royal Army Medical Corps, 7253603 Corporal) and died in Egypt on 30 July 1927. His legatee was his widow, Mona. Mona married Thomas Woodcock in 1930.
`He was a bricklayer when he joined the Royal Navy in 1910.
31 May 1916
3038538 - CWGC Website
Acting Leading Stoker
HMS Black Prince Royal Navy
George joined the Royal Navy on 13 September 1910 at the age of 18 on a 12 year engagement (5 years Royal Navy, 7 years Royal Fleet Reserve). He was described as being 6 foot tall and having a 36 inch chest, dark brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. George served in the following ships and shore establishments: Victory II, 13 September 1910-8 October 1910 (Stoker 2nd Class), HMS Renown, 9 October 1910-3 December 1910; HMS Victory, 4 December 1910-7 February 1911; HMS Hampshire, 8 February 1911-2 April 1911; HMS Avon, 4 April 1911-15 December 1911 (Stoker 1st Class); Victory II, 16 December 1911-22 April 1912; HMS Black Prince, 16 December 1911-4 August 1913; (10 days cells); HMS Black Prince 15 August 1913-4 November 1913. There was then a brief break in service until he rejoined HMS Black Prince on 25 November 1913-23 November 1915. His service record was annotated, ‘transferred to CS rating on 24 November 1915 as Stoker 1st Class vide K30288 and a second service record (K30288 late SS 110327) noted that he had previously served on a 12 year engagement, initially five years regular RN service from 13 September 1910 – 24 November 1915 (voluntary extension) and then extended his term of regular service. He then served in HMS Black Prince under his new engagement from 24 November 1915-31 May 1916. His service record is annotated ‘NP 4065/1916. DD [discharged dead] 31st May, 1016. Killed in action.' George was killed when HMS Black Prince was sunk at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916. His body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. HMS Black Prince battle cruiser (1904). Battle of Jutland: First Cruiser Squadron (Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot - killed), flagship HMS Defiance - sunk; Black Prince (Captain TP Bonham) - sunk; Duke of Edinburgh; Warrior - foundered. The circumstances surrounding the loss of HMS Black Prince were unclear for many years because there were no positive sightings of Black Prince after 17.42. Recent historians hold to the German account of the ship's sinking. Black Prince briefly engaged the German battleship Rheinland at about 23:35 GMT, scoring two hits with 6-inch shells. Separated from the rest of the British fleet, the Black Prince approached the German lines at approximately midnight. She turned away from the German battleships, but it was too late. The German battleship Thüringen fixed the Black Prince in her searchlights and opened fire. Up to five other German ships, including battleships Nassau, Ostfriesland, and Friedrich der Grosse, joined in the bombardment, with return fire from Black Prince being ineffective. Most of the German ships were between 750 and 1500 yards of the Black Prince - effectively point blank range for contemporary naval gunnery. Black Prince was hit by at least twelve heavy shells and several smaller ones, sinking within 15 minutes. There were no survivors from a ship's company of nearly 900.
The Bundeswehr Museum of Military History, Dresden: Painting, oil on canvas: ‘SMS Thueringen destroys the English cruiser Black Prince in a night battle at 2am on 1 June.’ Clause Bergen (1885-1964). Caption: 'Present given by the commander of Thueringen, Captain Hans Kuesel, to his nephew in 1921. Bergen established his reputation as a marine painter with depictions of the Battle of Jutland (31 May-1 June 1916). When the Imperial German Fleet returned home, he was in Wilhelmshaven and asked officers involved in the battle to give him detailed accounts of the events.'
Remembered on


  • Served in HMS Black Prince
    George WHA Smith - Served in HMS Black Prince
  • Nottingham Evening Post, 21 June 1916. Courtesy Jim Grundy, facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918
    George William Harcourt Avondale Smith - Nottingham Evening Post, 21 June 1916. Courtesy Jim Grundy, facebook pages Small Town Great War Hucknall 1914-1918
  • Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. (www.cwgc.org)
    George WHA Smith - Commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. (www.cwgc.org)