The Kent History Forum

Life Stories and Personal Memories => Personalities and Biographies => Topic started by: johnfilmer on January 24, 2021, 06:26:55 PM

Title: Frank Smitherman M.B.E.
Post by: johnfilmer on January 24, 2021, 06:26:55 PM
 From Luton Road to H.M. Abassador

Frank Smitherman (1913-1993) was, I'm told, my mother's favourite cousin.

His father was Harold Clifton Smitherman (1891-1981), one of the seven children of Francis Thomas and Jane Smitherman, who lived at 152 Luton Road, Chatham. This house is the one next to the empty space on the corner of Castle Road, that was the family's woodyard at the time of his birth and for many years after.

Harold went into the army, and in the 1911 Census was a Sapper (electrician) stationed on Malta.

He married in 1912, and Frank was born in Bombay in 1913.

During his service in WW1 Harold went first to Mesopotamia and then India, being promoted through the ranks and then being commisioned as a second Lieutenant in 1917.

He and his wife and two younger children went back to India in 1924, leaving Frank living with his Grandparents. On the passenger list they gave their home address as 152 Luton Road. Frank attended the Math School – the fees a perk of Harold's Indian Army posting?

In 1933 Frank left for Rangoon to join the Indian Police. He married Frances Calvert.

As yet it is unclear to me what his movements were after the war, but his wife and two children returned from Bombay in 1945, and then travelled to Hong Kong in 1949 probably to meet him, as he was appointed The King's Vice Consul to Amoy in early 1949.

His MBE is mentioned in the Confirmation by the Queen of his 1949 posting taken from the London Gazette of 1953.

Another gap in my knowledge is when and why he was awarded the MBE – any help out there?

His subsequent postings include Rome (1955), Khartoum as Consul to the Republic of Sudan (1958), Consul-General for parts of France, based at Bourdeaux (1967), a spell of Admin at the Embassy to USSR (1969), and finally Ambassador to Togo and Dahomy (West Africa) in 1970.

His daughter Ann Frances married in Sudan in 1960 to Sir Jocelyn Charles Roden Buxton. They went on to have three daughters.

Harold retired from the Indian Army as a Lt-Colonel.


Title: Re: Frank Smitherman M.B.E.
Post by: castle261 on January 25, 2021, 11:01:53 AM
Interesting - a Filmer owned the wood yard - I remember the wood yard well - as a boy.
Living at the top of Castle Road - I used to walk sometimes into Chatham that way.
I have often wondered why the wood yard site - has never been built on - any ideas ?
On one of my journeys Mr. Augers cows were driven from his farm at Snodhust Bottom,
to the slaughter house behind Luton Road, to the now fish shop. (along the broad alley
between Luton Road & Henry Street - its still there) - Now Smitherman - there was a shop
of that name in castle Road - opposite the STEPS -  ? - any relation ?

I left Castle Road in June 1940 - for Wales - never to return to that area.
Title: Re: Frank Smitherman M.B.E.
Post by: johnfilmer on January 25, 2021, 06:05:23 PM
I’ll do a proper piece under a different heading, but Filmer Francis Smitherman, gate and hurdle maker, worked for his father in the woodyard. He was Harold’s elder brother, and my grandfather.

He and his wife Ada had a greengrocers shop at 168 Luton Road between about 1905 and 1922. They then moved to 205 Castle Road, using the ground floor of 207 as a small general shop, and letting the upstairs flat.

Filmer died in an accident in 1932. Ada kept the shop until her death in 1944.

Small world.
Title: Re: Frank Smitherman M.B.E.
Post by: castle261 on January 25, 2021, 06:54:18 PM
It has grown smaller. I was talking to my daughter - about that vacant land at Castle / Luton Road.
She said ` they are building on it now - maybe a block of flats `.
Title: Re: Frank Smitherman M.B.E.
Post by: johnfilmer on May 03, 2021, 04:17:13 PM
A brief update.
After trawling through the copius lists published on Wiki, I finally found Frank Smitherman in the New Year Honours 1952. Simply mentioned as having fulfilled the role of Acting Consul-General at Amoy. I presume he stepped into the role for whatever reason, and given that he only started his Diplomatic career in 1949, must have impressed.
Another little mystery solved.
Title: Re: Frank Smitherman M.B.E.
Post by: grandarog on May 03, 2021, 07:53:30 PM
I note that Frank was awarded the MBE 10 January 1949. That was before he took up the appointment of Vice Consul at Amoy on 24 February 1949.
I would assume he was awarded the MBE for service in the Indian Police.

I also found this and wondered if it was him.
Frank .Smitherman, Esquire, M.B.E., to be Her
Majesty's Consul for the State of (Florida, with
]the exception of that part west of the Apalachioola
River, to reside at Miami (18th October I960);
Title: Re: Frank Smitherman M.B.E.
Post by: johnfilmer on May 04, 2021, 03:23:02 PM
Not quite right grandarog.
The London Gazette of 7th July 1949 shows his appointment (by the King) to be Consul at Amoy from 24th February, but he is plain Frank Smitherman Esquire in that listing.

The next mention is the Gazette of 8th December 1953 when HM The Queen confirms a list of people to be members of Branch B of H.M. Foreign Service from the dates following their names. Frank's is 10th January 1949, which is when the King apponited him, now confirmed by his successor, The Queen. This latter notice includes the MBE, which was awarded in the 1952 New year Honours, Civil Division (Overseas). Wiki screenshot attached.
I had also assumed that he was awarded the honour in regard to Police work in India/Burma which is why it took me so long to find him in the huge listings that were issued after the war.
There is a passenger list for him and his wife on the Queen Mary between Southampton and New York, leaving 10th June 1960 - Cabin Class. More interesting was their previous residence of Sudan, which tallies with his postings, and even more impressive the address that they gave as their last UK one - 17 Carlton House Terrace, SW 1. I presume a Foreign Office address.
Hope all that helps, the Gazette entries are not the clearest.
Title: Re: Frank Smitherman M.B.E.
Post by: grandarog on May 04, 2021, 06:08:50 PM
My apologies johnfilmer. I should have researched more thoroughly before going off at halfcock.
Title: Re: Frank Smitherman M.B.E.
Post by: johnfilmer on May 04, 2021, 09:36:47 PM
No problem grandarog, the Gazette is confusing, and often refers to events years before as if current.

 The difference between Luton Road and Carlton House Terrace is worthy of note, such is the social mobility in the time.