Photograph of 2nd Lieut James Smyth RFC
 2nd Lieut James Smyth


2nd Lieut. James Smyth, 2 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps


Born in Ballymacarrett, Belfast in 1889, James moved with his family to England while he was a child.

Living at Plumstead, London, he was employed as a printer’s engineer before getting married and gaining employment with the Borough Engineering Company.

Although originally dissuaded from enlisting due to his occupation, James eventually joined the Royal Flying Corps and was commissioned on 1 August 1916.

After training as a pilot, he was sent to France to join 2 Squadron with whom he remained for the remainder of his career.

Whilst engaged on a photographic recconnaissance mission, James’ B.E.2d –serial number 6232 was attacked by a Halberstadt D.II of Jasta II piloted by Manfred von Richtofen. James's observer was 2nd Lt. Edward Byrne.

It was around mid-day on 11 March 1917.

Crashing south of La Folie Wood on Vimy Ridge, both men were killed instantly upon impact.

Richtofen’s 26th victory.

James Smyth and Edward Byrne are buried in Cabaret Rouge Military Cemetery, Souchez.


11 March 1917 killed in action.



Research by David O'Mara.




Bond of Sacrifice – First World War Portraits Collection - Imperial War Museum ( www. ) British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: Army Medal Office.

WWI Medal Index Cards. In the care of The Western Front Association.

The National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls; Class: WO 329

Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA), 1911.

The Monthly Army List for November 1916 - War Office 1916

Under the Guns of the Red Baron – Franks,Giblin & McRery Pub: London 1998

Commonwealth War Graves Commission ( )

Officers Died in the Great War – HMSO 1921

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