The AIF Project

William Stanley SMITH

Regimental number950
Place of birthParramatta, New South Wales
ReligionPresbyterian
OccupationLabourer
AddressLake View, North Guyra, New South Wales
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation18
Height5' 6.5"
Weight116 lbs
Next of kinMother, Mrs Alice Smith, address unknown. Guardian, Mrs Ursula Sanders, Guyra, New South Wales
Previous military serviceServed for 'about 4 years' in the Compulsory Military Training scheme.
Enlistment date28 February 1916
Place of enlistmentArmidale, New South Wales
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name33rd Battalion, C Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/50/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A74 Marathon on 4 May 1916
Rank from Nominal RollPrivate
Unit from Nominal Roll33rd Battalion
FateKilled in Action 11 June 1917
Age at death from cemetery records19
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
110
Other details

War service: Western Front

Embarked Sydney, 4 May 1916; disembarked Devonport, England, 9 July 1916.

Proceeded overseas to France, 21 November 1916.

Reported Missing in Action, 10 June 1917; subsequently reported Prisoner of War.

German Death Report, 17 June 1917, reported Smith killed in action, 11 June 1917.

Note, Red Cross File No 2570701: 'Reported died[.] Cert. by German Death list dated 7.8.17'.

Statement, 801 Pte W.J. KELLETT, C Company, 33rd Bn (patient, Edmonton Hospital, London, England), 11 October 1917: 'I saw Smith go over the top with Capt. Linklater on June 7th. They neither of them returned. Lieut Fletcher heard from Capt. Linklater from a German camp and he said Smith was still with him, presumably as batman.'

Second statement, 1514 Pte C. ELLIS, 33rd Bn (patient, No 11 Stationary Hospital, Rouen), 22 April 1918: At Messines towards the middle of June, but I cannot remember the exact date, we were on distance support and Smith, whom I knew well, was close to me. I did not actually see him killed, but I saw his dead body, and could make no mistake as I knew him so well. We were in a dug out and he was evidently killed by the shock. He was buried close beside the road leading off Messines Road to Curry Dump. I don't know whether a cross was put up to him or not.'

Third statement, 950 Pte J. LUNN, C Company, 33rd Bn, 24 April 1918: 'It has been in orders that Capt. Linklater and Smith, the above named, were taken prisoners.'

Fourth statement, 725 Pte J.H. CARTER, C Company, 33rd Bn (patient, No 4 Australian General Hospital, Randwick), 29 April 1918: '[T]hey both belonged to "C" Company, No. 10 Platoon, Smith being runner to Captain Linklater. About the 8th or 9th June 1917 the Battalion was over Messines Hill to the left of Warneton holding the line which had only recently been captured. A Platoon had been sent out to capture a German position. The post was captured but the Platoon was so long in returning that Captain Linklater became anxious about them and went out with Smith to ascertain their whereabouts. Neither Captain Linklater nor Smith were ever seen afterwards although [a] search was made for them during the next two days. The foregoing particulars were communicated to Informant by Captail Linklater's Batman whose name was Wm. Longley.'

Fifth statement, Captain W.J.C. DUNCAN, C Company, 33rd Bn (patient, 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth, England), 30 April 1918: 'On the morning of June 11th/17 at Messines Ridge he went out with Capt. Linklater to visit an advanced post, neither he nor the Capt. ever returned. Great search was made without result, for them. From the Australian Red X we have since learnt that both of the above names appear in a German list of about Aug. 5th 17 as "Dead". It is presumed that they were killed instantaneously. I was afterwards president of the Court of Enquiry about Jan. last and the decision was that he was killed in action on that date.'

Letter, Red Cross Bureau, to Orderly Room Clerk, C Company, 33rd Bn, 20 November 1917: '[W]e regret to inform you that he is reported on a German death list dated 7.8.17, as having died, no further details being given. We fear as nearly six months have elapsed since his casualty occurred - during which time there has been no news of him, that this news from Germany must be true and that either Pte. Smith was found dead by the Germans or he succumbed to his wounds very soon after being taken prisoner.'

Letter, Secretary, Australian Red Cross Bureau, to Orderly Room Clerk, C Company, 33rd Bn, 26 April 1918: 'We have also received a statement from Lieut. Fletcher of the same unit respecting Capt. Linklater, most of which equally applies to his runner - Pte. Smith. He stated that the two runners sent back by Lt. Thomas[,] finding themselves lost[,] hid in a shell hole 30 yards from a German post to await daylight and while lying there saw two figures approaching from the direction in which they themselves had come. When these two figures were about 20 yards from the post they were challenged in English and two shots were fired. Bombs were then thrown from the German lines and in the flare of a Veery Light about 10 Germans were seen searching the ground where the two figures had disappeared. No one else (but Capt. Linklater and his runner) were out from the 33rd Battalion lines at the time and it was concluded that the same fate befell both.'

Letter, Captain C. MILLS, Australian Red Cross Society, Berlin, to Australian Red Cross Society, London, 7 August 1919: 'We have found a card for the above named soldier.'

Medals: British War Medal, Victory Medal
SourcesNAA: B2455, SMITH William Stanley
Red Cross File No 2570701

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