Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthSeptember 24, 1899
Place of BirthWonastow, Monmouthshire
CountryWales
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinFrancis and Frances Smith (parents)
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental NumberNA
BattalionRoyal Naval Volunteer Reserve
ForceNavy
BranchRoyal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Theatre of ServiceGreat Britain
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 4, 1967
Age at Death67
Buried AtMountain View Cemetery, Thunder Bay, Ontario
PlotBlock 140, Row 2, Lot 36 (Military Plot)

Morgan-Smith, Thomas Anthony

Midshipman Thomas Anthony Morgan-Smith was one of four brothers who enlisted during the First World War. He joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and served until his discharge in April 1919, at age 19.

Thomas was the youngest son of Francis Edward Smith and Frances Sarah Morgan. Francis was born in Hull, Yorkshire and his wife in Bath, Somerset. They were married in Bath in 1893 and they had four sons: Walter (b.1894 in Bath), twins Roderick and Frank (b. 1896 in West Ham, Essex) and Thomas. Thomas was born on 24 September 1899 at the school in Wonastow, Monmouthshire, where his family was living at the time. His father was a Master Mariner with the merchant marine and he was often away from home, and his mother was a certificated teacher. At the time of the 1911 census the family was living in Withycombe, Somerset.

All four boys used the surname Morgan Smith, which later became Morgan-Smith, and they all enlisted during the First World War. The twins joined infantry units and both of them died during the war, Roderick in May 1916 in England and Frank in December 1916 in France. Walter joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and in 1916 he transferred to the Royal Naval Air Service, where he became a Sub-Lieutenant (Airplane and Seaplane). He was transferred to the Royal Air Force in 1918 and he served until 1919. He survived the war.

Thomas also joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, possibly as early as 1913. In May 1918 he was promoted to Midshipman and over the next few months he served and trained on at least four different ships – the Venerable, the Imperial Queen (a trawler), the President and the Implacable. He also spent three weeks on the Victory, a naval shore establishment. He trained in the use of hydrophones, which were underwater listening devices used to detect submarines. The war ended in November 1918 and Thomas served for another five months, getting discharged on demobilization on 14 April 1919. He was 19 years old.

In the spring of 1922 Thomas immigrated to Canada. He was 22, an ex-serviceman and he was planning to make his home in Canada. After a short time in Brandon, Manitoba he settled in the town of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. He was married in Kenora on 14 October 1922 to 20-year-old Lillian Sanna. Lillian was born in Chicago in January 1902, the daughter of Charles Frank Sanna and Anna Lillian Blaha. Her family had moved to Kenora (known as Rat Portage at the time) when she was a baby.

Thomas worked as a machinist at the paper mill in Kenora and in 1928 he and Lillian moved to Fort William. They had four children: William (b. 1931), David who died as an infant, and daughters Cammie and Ann-Rae. Thomas worked for the railway for awhile and during the Second World War he was employed at the Canada Car plant. By the early 1950s he was a civil servant with the Board of Grain Commissioners. He was a life member of the Canadian Legion in Fort William and his son William served with the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps.

Thomas retired in 1964 and passed away in the hospital in Fort William on 4 March 1967, at age 67. He is buried in a military plot at Mountain View Cemetery. Lillian died in February 1989.

By Becky Johnson

Grave marker photo courtesy of Lynda Piilo.


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