Major George Osbert Sterling Smyth DSO, MC

medal card G O S Smyth
gos smyth funeral OSBErT SMYTH

Came to Ireland from India to avenge the death of his brother Col Smyth at Cork Country Club by Dan Breen. His brother had commanded the RIC in Cork and was assassinated by the IRA while in his club. Major GOS Smyth was allowed to join Intelligence raids. Jerry Murland writes Reading through grandfather’s diary, it becomes clear that Osbert was making his presence felt in Dublin by hunting down Gerald’s killers. It seems he had already dispatched one of them, although no name is given in the diary, and was on the trail of the others.

1890 Jan 27. George Osbert Stirling Smyth was born at Kapurthala, Native State, Punjab, India, the youngest son of George and Helen Ferguson Smyth. His schooling consisted of a period (1903 to 1904, register number 782) at Campbell College, Belfast. From 1904 to 1908 he, like his brother before him, became a private pupil of W T Kirkpatrick before going on to Shasta House in Cheshire. Kirkpatrick was the headmaster of Lurgan College

Osbert was a tall man, with a chest measurement of 33 ins to 35 1/2ins, a weight of 9 1/2 stone and a height of 6ft 1/2ins at the age of 18 years (according to his military records). He was also a first-class interpreter of Hindustani and a proficient interpreter of Persian. He could also interpret French and became Interpreter to the 160th Brigade, Royal Artillery.

Born a son of George Smyth who was the British High Commissioner in the Punjab & Helen Ferguson Smyth daughter of Thomas Ferguson, Edenderry House, Banbridge

1907 admitted to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich. While at Woolwich his mother wrote to the Commandant of the Academy stating that she wanted her son's name changed. She requested that Stirling be replaced by Ferguson, a request that was turned down.

1909 Dec 23 Osbert was commissioned from the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich as a 2nd Lieutenant and posted to 62nd Battery of 3rd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery in India. He became ill in India with malaria, resulting in him becoming very anaemic and suffering the symptoms of asthenia. Like his brother Gerald, promotion through the ranks was rapid.

1912 Dec 23. He was promoted to Lieutenant

1914 Aug 4. Landed in France

1914 Aug 14. injured and treated at the Queen Alexandra's Military Hospital, London Whilst recovering, he was under the supervision of a physician called Ronald Ross KCB FRCS at Cavendish Square, London, before returning for duty to the front on 1st October 1914. He joined the 93rd Brigade of the 31st Division of the lst Army

1915 Oct 29 wounded.

1915 Dec 21 wounded again by shrapnel pieces in the middle of his back and in his left arm, where the metal lodged below his elbow. He was operated on the next day and suffered loss of sensation due to nerve damage for the next six months. He was unable to flex his left elbow and had a weak handgrip, namely muscular spiral paralysis which prevented him from bending his arm beyond a right angle. He was to endure this until his death, carrying his arm in a sling for a period of time, although he did gain very slight use of his arm and hand in 1919. Osbert was sent back home to recuperate, going to 'Ardnabannon', the Annsborough home of his cousin Mr J W Murland.

1915 Dec 23 promoted Captain

1916 Jun 3 he was awarded the Military Cross in the King's Birthday Honours

1918 Sep 1918 he was awarded the DSO, the citation read: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Under heavy shelling he went along the Battery and put out ammunition that had been set on fire and with three remaining guns fired on the approaching enemy with open sights, inflicting heavy casualties. Next day, by collecting men near him and machine guns, he held up the enemy for hours."

He received the Mons Star and was awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm, being decorated with his award by the President of the French Republic. He was wounded three times (twice severely), mentioned five times in Dispatches and gassed twice.

1919 Apr 19 Capt. G. O. S. Smyth, D.S.O.. M.C.. R.A. to Brigade Major and to Supern. Capts.. Bt. Maj. G. 0. S. Smyth, D.S.O., M.C.
19th Apr. 1919,

1919 Jun 3 promoted Brevet Major

1919 July posted Egypt as reinforcements for regimental duty with the Egyptian Army.

1919 Jul 19 Capt to be Acting Major. Bt. Maj. G. O. S. Smyth, D,S.O., M.C.,. whilst oommanding a Brigade of Artillery from 19th July to 14th Oct. 1919. (this was cancelled in a later Gazette)

1919 Aug 2. Capt. ((Bt. Maj.) G. O. S. Smyth, D.S.O., M.C., R.F.A., to be actg. Maj. whilst comdg. a Bty., R.H.A. (T.F.), from 2nd Aug. to 14th Oct. 1919.

1920 Jan 22. Attached to HQ units

1920 July. Distribution lists published in July 1920 stated that he was a Brigade Major serving in Egypt with the 33rd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery

1920 Jul 28. Eleven days after the murder of his brother Gerald, Osbert left his unit, sailing from Alexandria on 30th July and arriving in Folkestone on 10th August where he was posted to home establishment.

1920 Aug 11 Attached to Headquarter Units. Brig. Maj.—Bt. Maj. G. O. S. Smyth, D.S.O., M.C., R.A. Gazette There is a further Gazette entry that says "Supern. Capt. & Bt. Maj. G. O. S. Smyth, D.S.O. , M.C. (since deceased.) restored to RFA establishment" His family wrote General Tudor did have a hand in getting Osbert back to Ireland but this was little more than string pulling. Osbert had apparently had a hand in Lynch's death but I suspect it was no more than being part of the raiding party. The Lynch raid in more detail

1920 Oct 12. He took part in the raid on Prof Carolan's house in Drumcondra. Professor Carolan, lectured in the nearby St Patricks teacher-training college. The house was small, two-storeyed and had a long back garden (since built over) near Home Farm Road. There were 9 men under Lt Phil Attwood and included RD Jeune, Major Smyth, Michael ?, Capt White (who was also killed), Corporal Worth (wounded) Professor Carolan was "shot by mistake while being questioned" and died a few weeks later from the wounds. Dan Breen among others was in the house, but escaped badly injured and died in hospital. Sean Tracy also escaped, and was killed a few weeks later in Talbot Street incident. .

At 2am the raiding party went to the Professor Carolan's house, Fernside, Drumcondra, Dublin. Fernside is on the corner of Home Farm Road and Upper Drumcondra Road. It is the detached house fronting on to Upper Drumcondra Road, with a conservatory on the Home Farm Road side. The house goes under a different name to-day.

The Professor let them into his house, where they went firstly to Carolan's bedroom in which his wife was sleeping. They then went to the second flight of stairs and it was there that Osbert was shot, along with Captain A P White of the Surrey Yeomanry. There were nine witnesses to the incident. The shots were fireed from the room that contained Breen and Treacy

Breen and Treacy jumped out a side window of the house and fell through the conservatory roof, sustaining many cuts. Making their way along St. Marys Road (now Home Farm Road) they eventually separated. Treacy going to an address at Inchicore Road and Breen to a safe house at Finglas. Breen was eventually brought to the Mater Hospital for treatment and the nuns there hid him from the authorities. Treacy left Inchicore one week later and made his way to Talbot Street, but was shot dead there by the British.

A court of inquiry was held with regard to the deaths of Osbert and Captain White in the King George V Hospital, presided over by Major Harding DSO MC of the Royal Garrison Artillery. Captain R F Bridges RAMC examined the two men's bodies. The examination on Osbert's body showed that a bullet had gone through his chest, through his liver and exited from the right side of his back. The second bullet went through his back from the left side, through his right lung and then through a vertebra. Death was due to shock and haemorrhage. He had served 11 years in the Army. His body was removed from the King George V Military Hospital with full military honours and placed in a mortuary van attached to the train at Amiens Street Station from whence it was taken to Banbridge.

His will, which was read at Castle Barracks, Dublin, stated that his decorations were to be disposed of, but fortunately this did not happen and they still remain in family ownership. The rest of his effects were sent to Mr J W Murland, ' Ardnabannon', Annsborough, County Down. (a member of his family)

Banbridge Urban District Council called a special meeting at which a resolution was adopted expressing sympathy with the mother and other relatives of the late Major Smyth on their second terrible bereavement within the period of three months. Merchants and householders were requested to close their respective establishments during the passing of the funeral through the streets.

Like his brother Gerald, Osbert was taken from Clonaslee on Friday 15th and interred in Banbridge Municipal Cemetery. As the coffin was removed from the house, a guard of honour from the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, with Band and Buglers under the command of Major Ackland DSO MC, stood for the salute. Placed on his coffin was a beautiful laurel wreath with white lilies from his mother and the inscription read: "To the most devoted and loving son that ever lived." The military marched with guns reversed and preceded the gun carriage. Directly behind the gun carriage a Sergeant walked with Osbert's dog, a rough-coated terrier. After that came the main mourners from the family. Other mourners included the Police Advisor, Major General H H Tudor CB CMG, Brigadier-General Sir William Hacket Pain KBE CB (Divisional Police Commissioner for the North of Ireland) and General Boyd. The route to the cemetery was lined with thousands of sympathisers. The Band of the Wiltshire and Worcestershire Regiments played the 'Death March' from Handel's oratorio 'Saul.' Troops formed a guard of honour from the gates of the cemetery to the graveside where the Rev Charles T P Grierson BD, Lord Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore and the Rev D H Hanson from Larne, Chaplain to the Forces, conducted the final service. Three volleys of shots were fired over the grave and the 'Last Post' sounded.

GOS Smyth grave

Grave in Banbridge cemetery

British Intelligence in Dublin Castle