Robert SMITH CMG, DSO+Bar

SMITH, Robert

Service Number: Officer
Enlisted: 24 March 1915, Melbourne, Victoria
Last Rank: Brigadier General
Last Unit: 5th Infantry Brigade Headquarters
Born: Richmond, Victoria, 6 September 1881
Home Town: Geelong, Greater Geelong, Victoria
Schooling: Melbourne Scotch College
Occupation: Wool merchant
Died: Natural causes (stroke), Geelong, Victoria, 14 July 1928, aged 46 years
Cemetery: Geelong Eastern Cemetery, Victoria
Memorials:
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World War 1 Service

24 Mar 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Major, Melbourne, Victoria
10 May 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Major, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
10 May 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Major, 22nd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ulysses, Melbourne
5 Sep 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Major, SN Officer, 22nd Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
24 Feb 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 22nd Infantry Battalion
23 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Lieutenant Colonel, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières
1 Jan 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Colonel
15 Feb 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Brigadier General, 22nd Infantry Battalion, German Withdrawal to Hindenburg Line and Outpost Villages
3 May 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Brigadier General, 22nd Infantry Battalion, Bullecourt (Second)
18 Oct 1918: Discharged AIF WW1, Brigadier General, 5th Infantry Brigade Headquarters

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Biography contributed by John Edwards

"Robert Smith (1881-1928), soldier and wool merchant, was born on 4 September 1881 at Richmond, Melbourne, son of Victorian-born John Smith, tanner and later wool merchant, and his Scottish wife, Janet, née Anderson. He attended a state school before entering Scotch College and then joined his father in a wool-scouring business at Abbotsford. On 12 June 1906 at Wesley Church, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, he married Eliza Caroline Clemenger; they had three children.

Smith's militia service began with three years as a private with the Victorian Scottish Regiment. In 1910 he was commissioned in the 5th Australian Infantry Regiment, in April 1913 was promoted captain in the 60th Regiment and in August 1914 major. On 24 March 1915 he joined the Australian Imperial Force and was appointed second-in-command of the 22nd Battalion which was being formed. The unit sailed from Melbourne in May.

On 5 September the 22nd landed at Gallipoli. From its arrival until the evacuation, the battalion held trenches at Johnston's Jolly and Lone Pine. For a period during November-December Smith had temporary command of the battalion, which was one of the last to leave Anzac on 20 December.

Smith was promoted lieutenant-colonel, with command of the 22nd, on 24 February 1916. The battalion arrived in France in March and in July moved to the Somme, where it fought at Pozières and Mouquet Farm. The dreadful Pozières fighting was the most costly experienced by the 22nd during the war, the battalion suffering nearly 800 casualties. Smith was recommended for the C.M.G. for his service during the battle; instead he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his command of the battalion since March and especially his determination, energy and planning during the unit's assault on the Old German trenches at Pozières on 4-5 August. In November the 22nd experienced the beginning of the Somme winter in 'the mud and wretchedness of Flers'. During late November and December Smith temporarily commanded the 6th Brigade.

On 1 January 1917 he was promoted colonel and temporary brigadier general, with command of the 5th Brigade. In April the Germans attacked the Australian line at Lagnicourt. Smith, whose headquarters was about 400 yards (366 m) from the fighting, personally directed under fire a spirited counter-attack; his battalions pushed the Germans back for more than two miles (3 km) and took over 250 prisoners. He was awarded a Bar to his D.S.O. Only a month later, however, his brigade fought poorly during the 2nd battle of Bullecourt. Smith has not escaped criticism for his part in the battle..." - READ MORE LINK (adb.anu.edu.au)

"FUNERAL OF GENERAL ROBERT SMITH. Full Military Honors.

GEELONG, Monday. — The funeral of Brigadier-General Robert Smith, C.M.G., D.S.O and Bar, C de G., V.D., A.D.C., to the Governor-General, which took place at the Eastern Cemetery this afternoon, was one of the largest seen in this district. The burial was carried out with full military honors. The Queenscliff Garrison Artillery Band and St. Augustine's Band were in attendance and also a firing party of the Queenscliff Garrison Artillery. Members of the permanent forces marched with arms reversed. The Rev. Alex Simms, of St. David's Presbyterian Church, Newtown, conducted a service at the house, "Mossgiel", Noble street, Newtown, and later at the graveside. The General, who was 46, was a spectator at the Geelong - Melbourne football match on Saturday, when he was seized with a heart attack, and died at 9 p.m., on Saturday. He left a widow, two daughters and one son." - from the Melbourne Herald 16 Jul 1928 (nla.gov.au)

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