Thursday, April 21, 2016

A.4. Anzac Tribute Bald Hills Military Medals Smith and Williamson

Every April, Australians gather to remember the sacrifices made by brave men and women, who 100 years ago, put their hands up, undertook training, and then left on ships for foreign shores.

According to the Australian War Museum, 57,705 Queenslanders joined to fight during 1914 to 1918.  Many of them had associations with the Bald Hills District.  More than 60,000 Australians died, their names can be found on Memorials all over the country.

The members of the Bald Hills Sub-Branch of the RSL, dedicated a memorial board honouring  servicemen who served in both wars, and which hung in the Bald Hills Memorial Hall.

Amongst the names are two who won the Military Medal.  

Clarence Leslie Smith and Harry Williamson's medals were deservedly granted by their peers,  to be forever remembered by their family and their community.

Harry Williamson lived at Bald Hills and in 1913 was listed in the electoral roll as a labourer.  Harry was born in 1891, the son of William Williamson and Charlotte Godwin.  He enlisted in 1915, and was in the 25th Battalion then transferred to the 9th Battalion.  His Service Number was 2469.  He fought on the Western Front and was awarded the Military Medal in 1917. 

He was promoted to Acting Corporal in 1918, and he was wounded.  He reverted to Lance Corporal when he was evacuated to England wounded.  Harry returned to Australia in 1919.

In 1903, William Henry Spence Williamson and Charlotte Williamson lived in Dixon Street Bald Hills, and he was a labourer.

Harry Williamson
Service Number: 2469A
Rank: Lance Corporal
Unit: 9th Australian Infantry Battalion
Service: Army
Conflict / Operation: First World War, 1914-1918
Award: Military Medal
Date of Commonwealth of Australia Gazette: 25 July 1918
Location in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette: Page 1588, position 86
Date of London Gazette: 23 February 1918               Location in London Gazette: Page 2435, position 31

The Citation reads:

9th Infantry Battalion Private Harry Williamson
For conspicuous gallantry and courage during the operations from 1/5th November 1917 at Passchendale Ridge, East of Yprs.

Noticing movement in a shell hole from an apparently wounded man, Private Williamson went forwarded with the intention of rescuing him. On reaching the spot he found it was occupied by a party of the enemy; he engaged then single-handed armed only with a revolver and accounted for two of them.  He returned for bombs and again made his way forwarded and engaged the enemy post, causing many casualties.  After his supply of bombs was exhausted he returned t our limes safely though under heavy fire from enemy snipers.

Clarence Leslie Smith lived at Strathpine. 
He was the son of John Thomas Joseph Smith and his wife Eliza Amelia Hickman.   They married in 1886
John and Eliza had a large family:
Isabella Jane                        1887
George                                1888
George Alfred                      1891
Oscar Oliver                        1895
Clarence Leslie                    1898
Victor Donald                      1901
Hannah Isabel                      1904
Jack Allen                            1906

In the 1903 Electoral roll the family were living at Strathpine and listed as farmer.

Clarence (Clarry) enlisted when he was 18 years old.  His Service Number was 7051.

Clarence Leslie Smith
Service Number: 7051
Rank: Private
Roll title: 15 Infantry Battalion - 1 to 23 Reinforcements (December 1914 - November 1916)
Conflict / Operation: First World War, 1914-1918
Date of embarkation: 25 November 1916
Place of embarkation: Sydney
Ship embarked on: HMAT Beltana A72

He was awarded the Military Medal in 1919


Deservedly won, these Awards are not awarded lightly, to not recognise their contributions would be sacrilege.

The Citation reads:

41st Battalion A.I.F.  Private Clarence Leslie Smith 7051
For conspicuously good work as a stretcher-bearer during October operation.

He repeatedly went out to the most exposed positions under intense artillery and machine gun fire and attended to and brought in wounded to the R.A.F.

He has acted as a stretcher-bearer during the operation from March to October 1918, and has always carried out his duties without thought of personal safety.

On 12th August 1918, North of Proyart, this man was most assiduous in bringing in wounded during a daylight attack.

By his bravery and devotion to duty on this day, he was responsible for the saving of the livies of six men.


Meanwhile in South Australia another family was seeing their sons and brothers off to serve for their country.

Those were the sons of Frederick Smith and Margaret Hume.  Frederick and Margaret lived in the country and had a large family.

Alfred Ernest                      born 1889   Norwood
Errol Victor                        born 1895   Clare
Florence Hume                    born 1886   Norwood
Herbert William                  born 1886   Norwood
Frederick Walter                 born 1887   Norwood
Clarence Leslie                   born 1893  Clare
Aubrey Lyall                      born 1897   Frome

Alfred Ernest Smith died at Yongala on 7th July 1892  and is buried at the Yongala cemetery

At the time of his enlistment in World War I Clarence Smith was married to Ada, and had a child.  He was aged 23.

SMITH FAMILY: Six brothers who were thought to have died in WWI

Published by News Corporation  24th April 2014  Ian McPhedran National Defence Writer   News Corp Australia

NINETY-NINE-YEAR-OLD Lottie Hooper went to her grave grieving for six brothers whom she believed had died in World War I.

The only daughter of a humble South Australian rural family even set a place at the dinner table for the missing boys for years afterwards.

For half-a-century her great grandson Chris Fox has paid homage to a stamp handed to him by Lottie when he was a boy. On the back are written the words, “I go out to return, Jack” — a final message from the front from her favourite brother whose nickname was Jack.

His uncle and Lottie’s grandson, Nick Hooper, has been the custodian of the family history and he holds a set of precious photographs of the brothers in their military uniforms as well as wartime letters written to Lottie.

Such is the fog of war and the secrets contained in families that two other branches of the Smith family have stepped forward to say that at least two of the brothers Lottie had presumed dead had in fact returned from war, but never made contact with their grieving sister.

                                                                                  WWI soldier. Alfred Ernest                                                                                                       Smith. Source: Supplied
WWI soldier ... Herbert William Smith. Source: Supplied    4633

Another relative, Marcia Nicholl, has researched the family history and she believes that none of the Smith brothers died in the war.
Her grandfather was Herbert William Smith who according to official records died in Adelaide in 1916.
The war history of the brothers is not clear, but Ms Nicholl said the official records clearly show where they died and where they are buried.
“It was a time when details were hidden and families had secrets,” she said.
“Lottie might have been trying to protect the family from some of those secrets.”
Military historian Professor Peter Stanley said research conducted by the Great War Forum supported claims that the brothers did not die.
“Family history is often murky, but in Australia we have more complete military records than any other nation,” he said.

WWI soldier ... Clarence Leslie Smith MM. Source: Supplied

WWI soldiers ... Herbert William Smith (seated) and Frederick Walter Smith. Source: Supplied
“While aspects of the Smith brothers’ post-war lives might be obscure, that’s the point — they did not die in the war.”
Mr Fox said he was told by Lottie that she had waved her brothers off to war and that they never came home.
“The photos and writings are from my great uncles during the war,” Chris Fox said.

WWI soldiers ... Clarence Leslie Smith (Military Medal) (seated) and Errol. Source: Supplied

“The stamp is our family’s most treasured possession and when given to me by Lottie it was done so with great significance to her.”

Lottie was so affected by her loss that she even banned her own son Ronald from serving in World War II.

Like an episode of the television genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are the story of the Smith brothers published by News Corp Australia on Anzac Day has unearthed a complex family story.

It has also revealed that at least two brothers who fought returned home.

Mr Fox said it made no sense why such loving boys, who wrote tender letters to their only sister, would cease contact after the war.

“They were clearly close as a family and to cut contact is illogical.”

Adding to the mystery is the family of South Australian liberal politician and former SAS officer Martin Hamilton-Smith whose grandfather Clarence was one of the brothers.

Mr Hamilton-Smith said there was always an understanding in the family that four of the Smith brothers had died in the great war.

Complex family ... The Smith brothers from South Australia with young Lottie Smith. Her brothers Herbert, Frederick and Alfred are pictured here. Source: Supplied

His uncle, also called Clarrie, remembers a man who returned from war terribly damaged by the wounds he sustained at Bullecourt. Clarence deserted the family and went “walkabout” for 10 years.
“There was never any talk about what happened to the other brothers,” he said.

“There must have been a family breakdown.”

Further deepening the mystery is the fact that two or three illegitimate Smith boys also turned up and one of them assumed the name of a dead brother.


What would this story about these Smith boys have in connection with the Bald Hills Memorial Hall?

Clarence Leslie Smith born in South Australia, married to Ada, with small child was NOT awarded the Military Cross.

There is a clear case of mistaken identity.  News Corporation and the researchers, should have been able to distinguish between Clarence Leslie Smith, 7031, born in Strathpine, enlisted at age 18, 26th Battalion, and awarded the Military Cross

.And Clarence Leslie Smith, 6588, from South Australia, 10th Battalion enlisted at age 23.

They didn't


Both men returned to Australia, both men then had the misfortune of regularly featuring in newspaper articles, in their respective States.

Clarence Leslie Smith SA and his wife divorced due to his being in a relationship with another woman.

Ada Olive Alfreda Smith, of Goodwood road, Colonel Light Gardens, against Clarence Leslie Smith, soldier, of Adelaide, on the ground of adultery with Hazel (or Pat) Barry, of Melbourne street, Lower North Adelaide.
Undefended Divorce Cases  Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954) Thursday 23 December 1943 p 21 Article


Clarence Leslie Smith Qld, married a lady, in good faith, and then she was arrested for marrying him bigamously.  He also divorced his wife. 

In 1936 he married Priscilla Blanche Melba Werda.

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