His father, Eustace Smith, and mother, Ellen Gertrude (née Hawkes), married around 1888.
Eustace Smith was the son of Thomas Eustace Smith (1861-1902), JP, barrister, Liberal politicion and wealthy managing director of Smith's Dock on Tyneside. This company eventually became the Swan Hunter shipyard. The family had a home in London, Gosforth House in Newcastle and the Manor House at Whalton. Thomas' father was William Smith of Benton, a ropemaker.
Ralph's elder brother, Philip, joined the Regiment in 1913 and travelled abroad with them in 1914. For his part in the War, Lt. Col. Philip Eustace-Smith was awarded the Military Cross and the Croix de Guerre. Philip married Eleanor Clayton in 1912, lived at Rothley Crag and died in 1935.
Two other brothers, Capt. Gerard Eustace-Smith was Adjutant in the Hussars from 1924-26 and Lt. Col. Sir Thomas Eustace-Smith (1900-1971) later commanded the Regiment. He was a shipbuilding expert and chairman of Smith's Dock Company.
In the previous year, the 1911 Census shows Ralph Eustace Smith (age 21) was a visitor at Rothley Crag Hall, his occupation given as 'rope maker'. He was a guest of Florence Octavia Clayton (nee Cadogan, b.1862), widow of John Bertram Clayton of Chesters (1792-1890), and her two daughters, Eleanor (24) and Diana (20).
The Clayton family had owned substantial property in Heddon, which is the likely reason for the inclusion of Ralph's name on the village war memorial. The property was sold to James Knott in 1918.
Lieutenant Ralph Eustace Smith, Northumberland Hussars (attached Royal Flying Corps, as it was then named), was the second son of the late Eustace Smith, Esq., of Benton House, Newcastle-on-Tyne, the first chairman of Smith’s Dock Company, Ltd. He was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne on August 28th, 1889, educated at Remenham, Henley-on-Thames, and at Marlborough College, and married, on April 28th, 1914, Florence Muriel, daughter of Edward Joicey, Esq., of Blenkinsopp, Northumberland. He was a director of T. & W. Smith, Ltd., and of Smith’s Dock Company, Ltd. On the outbreak of war he received a commission in a battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers, was later transferred to the Northumberland Hussars, with whom he served in France. In the autumn of 1917 he became attached to the Royal Flying Corps and was killed whilst flying on the Flanders front on the night of April 18th-19th, 1918. A Memorial Service was held at Whalton Church, Northumberland, on the anniversary of his death, when an organ screen, erected to his memory by his mother, was unveiled. Amongst the large congregation present on that occasion were most of the directors and principal officials of Smith’s Dock Company, Ltd.
based at Famechon.
On 23rd April 1918, he was flying in a FE2b aircraft (number A6408FE2b) with Captain J A Middleton (who was injured). It a new machine with a total flying time of only 11 hrs 20 mins but crashed in acton at Dommartin around 23.50 and was later shelled and unsalvable. Ralph was 28 years old.
Cemetery: Longueau British Cemetery
Unit: Royal Air Force and Northumberland Hussars.
Force: Royal Air Force
18th April 1918. Age 28. Son of Eustace Smith and Gertrude Hawks his wife; husband of Florence Muriel Smith (nee Joicey) of Blenkinsopp Hall Haltwhistle Northumberland.
IV. B. 2.
He sought for valour and found the glory of God.
Details of the memorial screen in St.Mary Magdalene Church, Whalton can be found on the website of the North East War Memorials Project.