Back in uniform – Edward Glanville Smith with the Home Guard in the Second World War
With the coming of peace, Glan returned home to Essex and found work as a salesman, later moving to Hampstead in London where he married and had two daughters, Catherine born in 1926 and Margaret in 1930.
Initially at least, he kept in touch with his old comrades, and on December 17, 1920, he presided over a reunion dinner for ex-officers from No. 12 Company at a smart restaurant in London’s West End.
He also maintained a contact list for officers from 4th Tank Battalion, clearly working with Frank Heap as it was written on the notepaper of his family firm in Blackpool.
Like many other veterans, in the 1920s Glan made a pilgrimage to Flanders, and his photographs show the places he visited – the ruined city of Ypres, some nearby cemeteries, and the memorials on Hill 60.
At some point he made the crucial decision to record his memories of 1917, and for this we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. The Wanderings of “D” in France began to appear in the Tank Corps Journal in March 1921, and ran every month until the end of the year. The articles present a sober, factual record which betray little hint of emotion, and as we have seen, Glan did all he could to avoid being identified as the author.
In 1939, as the world again plunged into war, Glan was working as manager of the pig iron department of a metal merchants, and living with his family at Temple Fortune Mansions in north-west London,4 which was to remain their home for many years. He soon found himself back in uniform in his late 40s as a corporal in the Home Guard, but was fortunately never called on to fight again.
Like many other veterans he never discussed the Great War with his children, though it cannot have been far from his mind. He joined the British Legion (now Royal British Legion) after the Second World War, and in 1948 he took his family to France for a final visit to the former battlefields.
Perhaps there was another legacy of the war in the depression which haunted him in later life, and seems to have afflicted many others who shared such traumatic early experiences.
Glan died of pneumonia in 1970 at the age of 77 in hospital at St Albans. We are indebted to his granddaughter Catherine Piper for her recollections, for her support of the Deborah project, and for the loan of photographs and documents featured on this website.
1 Medal index card; birth, marriage and death records; 1939 Register
2 Menu in possession of Edward Glanville Smith’s family. Another version is owned by the family of Second Lieutenant James Macintosh, who was among the guests.
3 Photographs and documents in possession of Edward Glanville Smith’s family
4 1939 Register
5 Family recollections