The AIF Project

Claude Lester SMITH

Regimental number6363
Place of birthCowra, New South Wales
SchoolPublic School, New South Wales
ReligionRoman Catholic
OccupationLabourer
AddressSurry Hills, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation19
Height5' 7"
Weight131 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs H C Smith, 408 Bourke Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date25 October 1916
Place of enlistmentSydney, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name17th Battalion, 18th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/34/4
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A29 Suevic on 11 November 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll17th Battalion
FateKilled in Action 9 October 1917
Place of death or woundingZonnebeke, Belgium
Age at death20
Age at death from cemetery records20
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 17), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
84
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: George and Hannah SMITH, 61 Fitzroy Street, Surry Hills, New South Wales
Family/military connectionsBrothers: 3886 Pte Arnold Joseph SMITH, 30th Bn, killed in action, 8 August 1918; 6362 Pte Ernest Joseph James SMITH, 17th Bn, returned to Australia, 30 January 1918.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 11 November 1916; disembarked Devonport, England, 30 January 1917, and marched in to 5th Training Bn, Rollestone. Proceeded overseas to France, 3 May 1917; joined 17th Bn, in the field, 9 May 1917.

Killed in action, Belgium, 9 October 1917.

Handwritten note on Form B103: 'Buried in the vicinity of Broodseinde Sheet 28 N.E.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, SMITH Claude Lester

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