Edward Glanville Smith, known as ‘Glan’, was born in 1893 in Commercial Road in London’s East End, then as now a teeming thoroughfare, where his father worked as a draper.
Business prospered, and by 1901 the family was living in a villa in the pleasant Essex suburb of Wanstead with three domestic staff. Edward was the youngest but one of seven children, and grew up in a large extended family which also included numerous nephews, nieces and cousins.1
By 1911 they had moved further out to another large house in South Woodford, Essex, which was to be his parents’ home for the rest of their lives.2
The two sons were bent on professional careers and Edward’s older brother, Norman James Kissock Smith, became a chartered accountant with Price, Waterhouse & Co in London.3 Edward went into the life assurance business and in 1911 his occupation was given as “insurance clerk”.2
There are few details of his early life, but one gets the impression of an intense, serious young man who never smiled in photographs. He was a committed Christian and attended the boys’ Bible classes held by Montague Goodman at his home in Woodford, where he became a close friend of Arthur Thompson, who would later serve alongside him in the war.4
He was also a keen sportsman, and a photograph shows him with the Old Owens football team on their tour of Paris and Rouen at Easter 1910.5 He would never have guessed that he would be back in France a few years later, but under very different circumstances.
1 1901 Census
2 1911 Census
3 With the Colours. A list of Chartered and Incorporated Accountants and their Clerks who are Serving with the British Forces on Land and Sea, 1914-1916 (Gee & Co, London 1916). Available online at
4 “Tommy” – An Appreciation of the Life of 2nd Lieut. Arthur H. Thompson. By His Friend and Bible Class Leader, M. G. Undated pamphlet in the possession of family of Edward Glanville Smith
5 Photograph in possession of family. For more on the football club, see