hero Pte.Henry May page 4 of
Private Henry May,
receives his VC from G.H. Laird in the Bridgeton Council Rooms, 1915
Glasgow had more
than its fair share of heroes during the First World War but few could
boast a Victoria Cross.
Private Henry May, a Bridgeton boy, won his VC for rescuing his injured
commanding officer on the Western Front in France in 1914.
Despite withering German fire, Henry, who was 29 at the time, disobeyed
orders to carry the injured officer from no-man’s land back to the
safety of their own trenches.
he arrived home at Central Station in
July 1915 he was carried shoulder high through the streets by his
former workmates from Forrest Frew’s mill in Bridgeton. Henry May
had been the first man from the Cameronians to earn a VC for
civic reception in the Bridgeton Council Rooms, in 1915
Henry was discharged from the Army on 28th August 1915 when his regular
engagement of thirteen years had expired.
He rejoined in 1918 and
lastly served as a temporary lieutenant in Archangel, North Russis in 1919 and returned home sick frm there on 17 Oct 1919.
He was admitted to the City Hospital Edinburgh and by 30 October he was fit again and resigned his commision on 15 Nov 1919
of LORDS Dinner, 1929
Dinner at the
Royal Gallery, House of Lords, on 9th November 1929
In 1929 the then Prince
of Wales, future Edward VIII, held a dinner for holders of the
The dinner was held in the Royal Gallery of the House of Lords and was
quite a prestigious event.
Three hundred and nineteen (319) VC holders attended, including
from e-mail, 5th Feb.2003, Iain Stewart
"....I've recently been in touch,
through a friend of his, with Sergeant Ernest 'Smoky' Smith VC,
Seaforth Highlanders of Canada
who lives in Vancouver. Smokey has a photograph of the 1929 Dinner and
a mate of his has scanned it for me and has sent it to me attached to
an email. Looking at the image, I see that Henry May is very prominent
sitting on the first table. I'm sure you can pick him out - second from
the right, with the basket table decoration in front him. As far as I
know this photograph was the only one taken of the event and for
historical reasons is quite important for showing so many VC holders in
one place." Regards, Iain Stewart
(The full list of attendees can be found at Iain's website).
Webmaister: what a wonderful 1929 photograph, thank you.
from e-mail, 8th Feb.2003, GlescaPal, Charlie McDonald
"Wull...a great photo of the VC winners. A couple of year ago I was
on the Somme for the First of July commemorations which I attend every
year. I broke off from the main party and went to lay a wreath in the
small village of Authuille where I had a memorial erected to the men of
the 15th (Glasgow Tramways), 16th (Glasgow Boy's Brigade) & 17th
(Glasgow Commercials) Battalions of the Highland Light Infantry about 7
Anyway , there I was sitting in the village
pub and outside this big flash limo draws up which had Canadian flags
on the bonnet. Thinking to myself it must be some fancy dan Canadian
dignatory I just kept on drinking my beer. In comes these rather
official looking FBI stereotypes and give the place the once over and
then they stepped back out the door. I glanced out the window and out
of the limo steps this wee man with a Glengarry on his head. I thought
to myself "who is he"? Next thing I noticed was he had a Victoria Cross
pinned to his chest. I immediately jumped up and asked one of his
minders what the old guy was drinking and he replied " whisky"...I
ordered a treble. On entering the pub I was introduced to none other
than Smoky Smith the guy who posted the photo to Ian Stewart.
I had my photograph taken with him and it now takes pride of place on
my office wall. Smokey is a real gentleman.
from guestbook, 14th May.2004, Brian Seward, North Vancouver,
"Would like you to know I am the gent who has the
House of Lords photo.
Smoky Smith's late wife gave it to me many years
ago. .. and I sent a copy to the VC website... Just last week I re did
Smoky's VC group ( its my hobby) as he is off to the D Day Show.. Good
Luck to you all. I enjoy all the VC sites Cheers Brian Seward
PS. I won't give my age . I believe I was a water boy at the last
Webmaister :- I e-mailed Mr.Seward thanking him and
he kindly replied..................
Extract from his
e-mail, 12th June 2004
Webmaister Wull. Nice to hear
from you. I had a lot of interest in Glasgow as I stayed overnight a
few times in the Service Club on Argyle St/?. I was three months in
Campbelltown training RN 1944-45 and I well remember the train
rides up from Manchester. Everybody in heavy Greatcoats (they got
smelly when wet) Coaches jammed packed some wanted the window open,
some shut. Then stagger to the Service kiosk for a free cuppa and a
One had to stay overnight in Glasgow as the McBraynes Bus left either
early morn or mid afternoon. I had a good buddy from Glasgow George
Niven Brabender. Never saw him again after I got demobbed. I then
joined the MN and spent a lot of time in Glasgow, I am accused today of
being a Scotsman I was with so many- particularly those from the
Hebrides. I jumped ship in Vancouver 1955 and eventually
joined the Canadian Engineers 25 years with them grabbed a few medals
myself and now retired with a hobby of collecting and mounting medals
in my spare time.
I have mounted Smoky Smith's gongs a couple of times. It is
kinda scary having a VC in your house considering the worth!
Regards Brian Seward,
By the way I think I fell in love with a couple of Scots lassies up
from guestbook, Aug.2005, GlescaPal Ian Robertson, North
........Sergeant “Smoky” Smith, a brave veteran of World War
II, was given a full military funeral.
He was also a veteran of the Korean War. He died this last week at
age 92 and received the highest awards for bravery
including the Victory Cross, presented by the Queen in 1944.
This was the first Victoria Cross awarded to a non-commissioned officer
for uncommon bravery when he single handedly knocked out German tanks
and killed Nazi soldiers, who rushed at his position. He fought and
killed them with his Tommy gun and the rest retreated, thus saving his
own men of the Canadian Seaforth Highlander regiment.
“Smokey” came from Vancouver
and was a proud volunteer of the Seaforth Regiment, who’s armory is
just 15 minutes walk, down the hill from where we live. His body was
flown back to Ottawa and given the highest honours given any soldier in
almost half a century. He was returned to Vancouver and his coffin lay
for a day in his old regiment hall where it was viewed by the many
hundreds who came to honour him. His family members stood by the coffin
while mourners greeted them.
Afterwards, his coffin was carried by an honour guard of fellow
sergeants of the regiment. His body was then taken in an open carriage
with military regiments from all over Canada, marching behind the flag
draped coffin. He was then honored in a military church service and
praised by senior military officers as being a special but ordinary
soldier, whom he said, was just doing his duty. “Smokey” always said
that the real heroes were those of his friends and others who died in
action and never came back.
A Canadian Air force Squadron flew
over “Smoky’s” last parade in a missing plane formation in his honour,
and the Canadian navy did their part by taking his remains out in the
Pacific where his ashes were scattered in the off shore waters of his
beloved Canada. On this special day, “Smokey Smith” was a very special
reminder to all who witnessed this 60th anniversary end of WW II
hostilities of those many heroes from Canada, America, Britain,
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Commonwealth. They do not
receive such military funerals. Nevertheless, All these veterans of war
deserve our recognition. Lest we forget.
This date in August will become a permanent day of
celebration/remembrance throughout Canada for all our veterans living
and dead. Its about time.
“Smoky’s” VC and his many other medals could have been sold by his
family to collectors for many thousands of dollars. But they did as
“Smokey” would have done. They gave it to be displayed in his beloved
Seaforth Highlander regimental hall and armory. Its what he would have
wanted, because, real heroes don’t count the cost.
has given me great pleasure pay tribute to Bridgeton's war hero Henry
May and through his webpages I have learned about Sergeant 'Smoky
Smith' ... its been a real joy for me working on these webpages