William Leney (Len) SMITH

SMITH, William Leney

Service Number: Q103639
Enlisted: 11 June 1941, Unit: 105 Reserve Motor Transport Company
Last Rank: Corporal
Last Unit: General / Motor Transport Company/ies (WW2)
Born: Allora, Queensland, Australia, 6 August 1912
Home Town: Caboolture, Moreton Bay, Queensland
Schooling: Maryvale State School, Queensland, Australia
Occupation: Farmer
Died: Heart failure, Caboolture, Moreton Bay - Queensland, Australia, 5 March 1993, aged 80 years
Cemetery: Privately Cremated
Ashes scattered at Heifer Creek Queensland
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World War 2 Service

11 Jun 1941: Involvement Corporal, Q103639
11 Jun 1941: Enlisted Private, Q103639, Unit: 105 Reserve Motor Transport Company
26 Sep 1941: Promoted Corporal, Unit: 105 Reserve Motor Transport Company
20 Aug 1942: Transferred Corporal, General / Motor Transport Company/ies (WW2)
6 Feb 1943: Promoted Corporal, General / Motor Transport Company/ies (WW2)
10 Apr 1943: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Corporal, Q103639

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Biography contributed by Sue Smith

William Leney Smith, known as “Len”, was my father-in-law and it is my honour to write a brief history of his war service and life.

Len was born on the 6th August 1912 in the town of Allora QLD, the second child and second son to William and Ellen Smith.  Len was the first baby to christened at the Allora Methodist Church and over the following 14 years the family increased to include 6 more brothers, Joseph, Frank, Ron, Milton, Lindsay, Aubrey and 2 sisters, Estelle and Dorothy.  The family lived at Maryvale on a stud jersey farm called “Eldon” from 1912 to 1921 so Len’s primary schooling was at the Maryvale State School.  In 1921 the family moved to Allora and remained there until 1930 when they were forced to move again after the family home burned down.  From 1930 till 1941 the family owned a farm at Flagstone Creek called “Greencliff.” 

On the 11th June 1941, aged 28, Len enlisted at Clifton in the AIF having served in the Militia for 4 months prior to enlisting.  His service number was Q103639, his rank a Private and he’s described as being 5ft 7½ tall with blue eyes and fair hair.  He commenced his training with the Australian Army Service Corps at Enoggera 3 days after enlisting and was promoted to Acting Corporal 3 months later.  He commenced full time service in December 1941 being posted to the 105 RMT Company. (Reserve Motor Transport)  

In April 1942 Len attended courses at the Northern Command Training School at Cabarlah near Toowoomba and also at Bundamba.  An entry in his service records states that In June 1942 he was reprimanded by Captain Pratt for having neglected his duties then just 5 days later was admitted to hospital at Redbank with dengue fever.  He took sick leave for several days and rejoined his unit in early July.  In mid August Len was transferred to the 113 General Transport Company at Chermside.

On the 9th September 1942 Len married Margaret Joyce Slaughter, known as Joyce, at the Palmwoods Methodist Church.  Their first home was at Sandgate Road, Virginia.  Len was granted home leave several times from October to December.  In early February 1943 Len was promoted to Corporal before being discharged 2 months later on the 10th April 1943.  The reason for his early discharge was because he was a farmer.  He was told that the farmers needed to stay at home and serve their country that way rather than serve in the armed forces. 

Over the ensuing years Len and Joyce expanded their family with the births of 6 children…Lenelle, Lois, Ian, Graham, David and Margaret.  The family moved regularly from place to place including Helidon, Grantham, Nambour, Sandgate, Brighton and Caboolture twice.  Len had several occupations over the years.  Besides being a farmer, he also worked as a real estate agent and a school janitor.  He had a passion for growing orchids and when he retired that became his full-time occupation.  He not only loved doing this but he was very gifted at it winning numerous awards over the years.  When Len’s son Graham and myself were married in 1975, the bridal bouquets and the flowers in the church were orchids grown by Len. 

In August 1992 Len celebrated his 80th birthday and a month later Len and Joyce celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with their friends and family which now included 24 grandchildren.  Just 6 months later on the 5th March 1993, Len passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack.  Len’s wish was to have his ashes scattered in the area where he grew up so that was done by his eldest son, Ian, at Heifer Creek in the area of Flagstone Creek on the Darling Downs. 

Len had two brothers who also served in WW2.  Milton was in the RAAF and was killed in a flying accident in England in June 1944.  Thirteen days later he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross having flown 30 combat missions over Europe.  The other brother Ron was in the Australian Army serving in New Guinea in the very first Australian Special Forces Commando Unit, the 1st Independent Company.  He went missing in early February 1942 and was later presumed dead as he was never heard of again.  No one knows exactly what was his fate.  His unit was based in Kavieng New Guinea when the Japanese invaded the town.  The Australian troops were overrun but a small number of them managed to flee into the jungle, some were captured, over 100 were executed, and the rest drowned when the ship that was taking them as POWs to Japan was mistakenly torpedoed and sunk.  I’ve been able to confirm that Ron was not on the ship that sank nor was his name on the list of those who were executed so we can only hope that he was one of the few who managed to escape into the jungle. 

Joyce went on to live another 19 years before passing away at Beaudesert, aged 95, on the 10th September 2012, the day after their wedding anniversary.  A memorial plaque was unveiled at the Beaudesert Cemetery remembering Len and Joyce with 5 of their 6 children and their spouses present at the simple ceremony held on 28th February 2017 on what would have been Joyce’s 100th birthday. 

The “Leney” name is a family name and the tradition had been to pass that on as the middle name to the second son.  Like his father, Graham’s middle name was “Leney”.  Graham and I wanted to keep the “Leney” name going but we didn’t want to risk waiting for a second son so we gave the “Leney” name to first son, Christopher.  He is our only son so it was just as well we didn’t wait for the second son.  He in turn did the same thing and passed on the “Leney” name to his only son Caden.  So…the name and the tradition live on…as does Len in our hearts. 

This biography was written on 6th August 2020 on what would have been Len’s 107th birthday.

William Leney Smith was awarded the Australia Service Medal 1939-1945, the Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939-1945 for service in WW2.

Respectfully submitted by Sue Smith August 2020