Assistant Cook on the Laurentic, George Joseph Smart, was born in 1883 in Liverpool. He was the youngest of three children born to Catherine and William Smart, a ship painter.
He was working as a printer when he joined the Royal Navy on the 1st of August 1899 – he had signed on for C.S. (Continuous Service) for 12 years, but his ‘time’ did not start until his 18th birthday, which was 17th April 1901. His first ships were the HMS Caledonia, the HMS Minotaur and HMS Agincourt, all training ships. His rank was Boy 2nd Class graduating to Boy 1st Class in June 1900. On the 17th April 1901, having reached his 18th birthday, he was promoted to Ordinary Seaman. He was then stationed on the HMS Jupiter, a Majestic-class pre-dreadnought battleship assigned to the Channel Fleet that defended the waters of the English Channel.
His last ship while in the Royal Navy was the HMS Venerable, a Formidable-class pre-dreadnought battleship serving in the Mediterranean Fleet until 1908. The Fleet was one of the most prestigious commands in the navy for the majority of its history, defending the vital sea link between the United Kingdom and the majority of the British Empire in the Eastern Hemisphere.
George left the Royal Navy but returned to life at sea as a member of the Mercantile Marine Reserve probably at the outbreak of WW1.
He married Mary Emma Griffiths in West Derby in 1910. They had three Children; Marjorie born 1910, William Robert born 1911 and Harold born 1914.
In 1911 George was living at his parents house at 64 Venmore St. Everton, Liverpool, and working as an Engineer’s Labourer. Mary Emma was looking after her great-aunt at 4 Villars Street, where she still lived when George died.
He is commemorated on the memorial at St Anthony’s RC church, Liverpool.
Memorial at St Athony’s RC Church, Liverpool
Several memorial notices were published in the Liverpool Echo in the week following the tragedy.
LOST ON THE LAURENTIC
SMART – January 25 in the Laurentic disaster, George J., the dearly loved brother of Elizabeth and Fred Clarke (At rest) – 10 Glaisher St Everton.
SMART – January 25 in the Laurentic disaster aged 34 years, George J., the dearly loved son of William and Catherine Smart, 10 Glaisher Street, Everton.
SMART – January 25, in the Laurentic disaster George J., the dearly loved brother of James and Minnie Smart, 29 Warbrook-Moor Aintree.
The Liverpool Echo February 5th 1917