The AIF Project

Francis Norman SMITH

Regimental number2642
Place of birthGraman, New South Wales
Place of birthInverell, New South Wales
SchoolCopeton Public School, New South Wales
ReligionChurch of England
AddressCopeton via Inverell, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation23
Height5' 9"
Weight141.5 lbs
Next of kinFather, Francis Cornelius Smith, Copeton via Inverell, New South Wales
Previous military serviceNil
Enlistment date9 August 1916
Place of enlistmentInverell, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name33rd Battalion, 5th Reinforcement
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/50/2
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board SS Port Napier on 17 November 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll33rd Battalion
FateKilled in Action 8 June 1917
Place of death or woundingMessines, Belgium
Age at death24.7
Age at death from cemetery records24
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 23), 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
Miscellaneous information from
  cemetery records
Parents: Francis and Susan SMITH, Copeton, Inverell, New South Wales. Native of Inverell, New South Wales
Family/military connectionsBrother: 2641 Pte Archie Thomas SMITH, 33rd Bn, died of wounds, 7 April 1918.
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 17 November 1916; disembarked Devonport, England, 29 January 1917; marched in to 9th Training Bn, 30 January 1917.

Proceeded overseas to France, 5 April 1917; taken on strength, 33rd Bn, in the field, 28 April 1917.

Killed in action, 8 June 1917.

Note, Red Cross File No 2540904: 'No trace Germany[.] Cert by Capt. Mills. 10.10.19.'

Statement, 2417 Pte T.J. SCOTT, D Company, 33rd Bn (patient, 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth, England), 10 September 1917: 'At Messines on the 8th June 1917, evening, coming on dark in the advance, Smith was hit in the body and head by an H.E. shell and was killed at once. I was 30 yards to the right of him and saw him killed. I cannot tell where he was buried, as I was wounded next day.'

Second statement, 2641 Pte A.T. SMITH (brother), 33rd Bn, 14 February 1918: On returning to my unit 33rd Battalion on July 8th/17[,] I was informed that my brother 2642 Pte. F.N. Smith, 33rd Bttn, had been killed in action on 8.6.17, and had received a Christian burial.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, SMITH Francis Norman
Red Cross File No 2540904

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