Frank SMITH MC, MiD

Poppy

SMITH, Frank

Service Number: 595
Enlisted: 18 August 1914, Blackboy Hill, Western Australia
Last Rank: Captain
Last Unit: 51st Infantry Battalion
Born: Geraldton, Western Australia, March 1891
Home Town: Mullewa, Mullewa, Western Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Barman
Died: Gun shot wound, Villers-Bretonneux, France, 25 April 1918
Cemetery: Adelaide Cemetery Villers-Bretonneux
Memorials: Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

18 Aug 1914: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 595, Blackboy Hill, Western Australia
2 Nov 1914: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 595, 11th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Ascanius, Fremantle
2 Nov 1914: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 595, 11th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
25 Apr 1915: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 595, 11th Infantry Battalion, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli
15 Aug 1915: Promoted AIF WW1, Lance Corporal, 11th Infantry Battalion
26 Jan 1916: Honoured Mention in Dispatches, 'ANZAC' / Gallipoli, See copy of official letter. London Gazette 26/1/1916 Supplement number 29455
29 Feb 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Sergeant, 51st Infantry Battalion
12 Mar 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Second Lieutenant, 51st Infantry Battalion
14 Aug 1916: Honoured Military Cross, Mouquet Farm
26 Aug 1916: Promoted AIF WW1, Lieutenant, 51st Infantry Battalion
15 Aug 1917: Promoted AIF WW1, Captain, 51st Infantry Battalion
25 Apr 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Captain, 51st Infantry Battalion, Villers-Bretonneux

Summary Frank Smith

Frank Smith was born in a small country town called Mullewa near Geraldton. T
At his time of enlistment in August 1914, he listed his next of kin as his mother, Mrs Margaret Smith of Elizabeth Street Geraldton. He listed his occupation as Barman residing in Boulder on the goldfields of Western Australia.

He commenced training at Blackboy Hill, east of Perth in September 1914 with 11th Battalion, he was attached to E Company.

Frank embarked from Fremantle aboard HMAT Ascanius A11 on 31st October 1914, however the troop ship anchored in Gage Road for 2 days before sailing for the Middle East on 2nd November 1914. Arriving in Alexandria, Egypt in December 1914, the Battalion moved to Mena Training Camp near Cairo.

On 1st March 1915 the battalion embarked aboard HMT Suffolk, sailing for an ‘unknown destination” with sealed orders to be opened at sea. Destination was to be the Lemnos Island in Aegean Sea, arriving on 4th March 1915 and taking up anchor.

From this location they were a short distance from their battleground. The 11th Battalion, a West Australian battalion was to be one of the first to land on the now infamous beach called Gallipoli.

Battalion diary records “Landed 4.30am on beach 1 mile south of Fisherman’s Hut Gallipoli Peninsula. Landed under heavy musketry and machine gun fire and stormed the cliffs about 300 meters high. Push back the Turks and occupied the positions. Occupied forward ridge about ¾ miles from beach and intrenched”

Frank survived the initial assault and in July 1915 was appointed Lance Corporal. Never far from action, he received gunshot wounds to his face. Recorded as “splinters”. This was resulting from actions in assaulting a Turkish Trench called Leane’s Trench on the night of 31st July 1915. He was transferred to a hospital ship HS Gelaka which sailed for Alexandria.

Whilst recuperating he was promoted to Corporal, returning to the Gallipoli Peninsula to rejoin his battalion in August 1915. By October 1915 he was promoted to Temporary Sergeant.

In December 1915 Frank was recorded as been Mentioned in Dispatches with the Army Corps Commander writing in the battalion diary, thanking the following officers, NCO’s and men whose names have been bought to his notice for the gallant and good work they performed on the night of Jul 31/Aug 1 in connection with the taking of a Turkish Trench, named 595 Lance Corporal Smith in this diary.

By December 1915 the Gallipoli campaign was over with the battalion evacuating the peninsula returning back to Alexandria. In January 1916 Frank was promoted to Sergeant.

By now new battalions where being formed in preparation for the Western Front and in February 1916 Frank was transferred to the 51st Battalion, B Company. The following month of March he was promoted to Second Lieutenant, conducting a machine gun course. In June 1916 Frank sailed with his new battalion to arrive on the new battlefields of the Somme.

By the 1st of July 1916 the Battle of the Somme had begun. The Australians did not have long to wait before entering this battle and the 51st Battalion was soon amongst the action in and around the village of Pozieres. In August 1916 the battalion was involved in one of many assaults on Mouquet Farm, a place that was to claim many 51st boys, some who are still lay there today in unknown graves. Frank lead one of these assaults and was promoted to Lieutenant in the field.
For his action at Mouquet farm he was recommended for the Military Cross, the citation reads;

For gallantry and leadership on the night of August 14th, 1916. During an attack on Mouquet Farm. He managed to get 5 Lewis guns through a heavy machine gun fire. Being compelled to dig in, he did so about 60 yards from the enemy trench where he organized and linked up several parties. Later he assisted several wounded to get away. Early on the morning of the 15th August his party was called upon to surrender by about 60 Germans. These he boldly mowed down with 2 guns. Finally, he extricated his party in daylight after holding out for 12 hours and brought all his guns away.

Frank attended Buckingham Palace to receive his Military Cross and whilst in England received further training, rejoining his battalion in January 1917.

April 1917 the battalion was sent to Noreuil near Bullecourt France, before been sent to Belgium, Messines in the May and by July involved in the Third battle of Ypres at Zonnebeeke near Polygon Wood.

In the August 1917 Frank was promoted to Captain again returning to England on leave to return to France in November 1917.

By April 1918 the Battalion was now involved in the Battle for Villers Bretonneux. A counter attack on the village was set for 10.10pm 24th April 1918, the eve of the third anniversary of the Gallipoli landings.

Captain Frank Smith was Company Commander for B Company. Frank with his men were in reach of their objective, Monument Wood when they where pushed back by German machine gunners. The company dug in near the road from Villers Bretonneux to Hangard. This position was under constant machine gun fire.
It is recorded that Captain Frank Smith was standing on the parapet of the trench when he stood up above the trench line and was struck in the chest by machine gun fire.

Red Cross File states; “During the afternoon, Captain F Smith momentarily climbed onto the parapet of his company’s trench and a machine gun fired a burst, which struck him in the chest. Smith died almost immediately. Lieutenant Roy Earl was informed and assumed the command of ‘B’ Company”.

His death is recorded as “Killed in Action 25th April 1918. Three years to the day that he stormed the beaches of Gallipoli. His body was buried on the battlefield with all the other casualties from the battle.

Captain Smith’s body was recovered and re interned into Adelaide Cemetery after the war.

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