Norman Robert SMITH

SMITH, Norman Robert

Service Number: 5070
Enlisted: 27 March 1916, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 27th Infantry Battalion
Born: Whitwarta, South Australia, 28 August 1891
Home Town: Bowmans, Wakefield, South Australia
Schooling: Bowmans Public School
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Killed in Action, France, 5 November 1916, aged 25 years
Cemetery: No known grave - "Known Unto God"
No known grave, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux, Picardie, France
Memorials: Adelaide National War Memorial, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Balaklava WW1 & WW2 Memorial, Port Wakefield Bowmans Methodist Church & District WW1 Roll of Honour, Port Wakefield Memorial Arch, Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australian National Memorial - France)
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World War 1 Service

27 Mar 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 5070, Adelaide, South Australia
24 Jun 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 5070, 27th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1, --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '15' embarkation_place: Adelaide embarkation_ship: HMAT Bulla embarkation_ship_number: A45 public_note: ''
24 Jun 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 5070, 27th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Bulla, Adelaide
5 Nov 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 5070, 27th Infantry Battalion, 'The Winter Offensive' - Flers/Gueudecourt winter of 1916/17

Help us honour Norman Robert Smith's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Robert Kearney


First Generation

On 30 January 1901 Edwin John Smith left his wheat farm in Whitwarta and enlisted in the South Australia Imperial Bushmen’s Rifles as Trooper number 441.  Ten days later, he sailed for South Africa.  After landing in the Cape Colony, he served with his fellow Bushmen at the Defence of Graspan and the charge at Grootviei. He survived the South African War, returned to Adelaide to marry Martha Maud Milton and together they raised four children.

He was the first of four generations of Smiths, descendant from William Hall Cockerill Smith of Yorke Peninsular, South Australia, to serve their nation.

The next was 22 year old Oscar Vivian Thomas Cockerill Smith, Edwin’s cousin, who was among the first to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on 19 August 1914, just days after the outbreak of World War 1. Oscar had previously served as a gunner with the 3rd Field Artillery, Citizens Military Forces. In the rush to raise the AIF, many recruits with previous military service were appointed to positions of leadership. Subsequently, Oscar was enlisted as a Sergeant, service number 2764, in the Divisional Ammunition Column, 3rd Brigade Field Artillery. He sailed for Egypt in November 1915. 

Oscar’s record highlights that he served at Gallipoli, was evacuated to the General Hospital in Cairo in Dec 15, rejoined his unit to serve in France in 1916 and was promoted to Battery Sergeant Major in 1916, deployed to the Artillery School England in 1917 but marched himself out of the School to rejoin his unit in France before returning to Australia as one of the ‘originals’ in Oct 1918.

Perhaps one of the reasons for Oscar to return to France was the arrival of his older brother, service number 26104 Gunner Albert Victor Thomas Cockerill Smith.

Albert had been a railway apprentice, but at the age of 25 he enlisted in Adelaide on 17 Jan 1916 and sought to join his younger brother as a reinforcement in the Field Artillery.  He left Australia in Aug 1916 and commenced training in England in Sep.  He deployed to France in Feb 1917 and served in the 5th Division Artillery on the western front.  He was wounded in action but remained at duty on 4 Oct 1917.  He took leave in England in Feb 1918 then returned to France. He received a serious gunshot wound to his right leg on 23 Oct 1918 and was admitted to the 6th General Hospital but died of his wound on 1 Nov 1918.  He is buried at the St Sever Cemetery Extension Rouen, France.

Meanwhile, Edwin’s younger brother, service number 5070 Norman Robert Smith, aged 24 years determined to volunteer enlisted on 27 March 1916. He joined 13th batch of reinforcements for the 27thh Infantry Battalion and sailed for England on 23 Jun 1916, leaving behind his wife Ethel with one child (Leonard?) and a second on the way (Norma?). After a short period of training in England, he joined the 27th Battalion in Belgium on 2 October 1916.  He was reported missing in action on 5 Nov 1916 during the battle of Fleurs and declared killed in action on 22 Nov 16.  The Australian Red Cross Society Wounded and Missing Enquiry indicates that Norman was killed by machine gun fire at Fleurs Bayonet Trench. His body lay in no mans land for some days before it was recovered and temporarily buried by Reverend Hume Robertson.


Second generation


Edwin’s three sons all volunteered for service during the Second World War.  Edward Lyle Smith served as a radio operator on Thursday Island from 1943-45.


Third generation


Edwin’s grandson, Bernard Lyle Smith, enlisted in the Regular Army in 1958.  He served with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment during the Malayan Emergency 1959-1960.  He was an original member of the 5th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment when it was formed out of 1 RAR in 1965.  He served with 5 RAR as a Corporal Recon Patrol Commander during their first tour of duty in South Vietnam in 1966.  After a period as an instructor at the Office Training Unit at Scheyville, he rejoined 5 RAR as a Platoon Sergeant. He deployed with the Battalion for their second tour of duty in South Vietnam and was killed in action in March 1969.


Fourth generation


Edwin’s great grandson, and Bernard’s son Major General Stuart Lyle Smith AC, CSC,  enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in 1981 and retired from the regular army in August 2017.