William SMITH (1885-19..)

9th Infantry Brigade AIF


Teralba War Memorial


Private: 1251 William SMITH.  Prisoner of War

Born: 1885. Glasgow, Scotland.


Wife: nee:.


Father: John Smith.

Mother: nee:.


William Smith enlisted with D Company, 35th Battalion AIF on the 3rd January 1916 and was an original member of the Battalion, he embarked onboard HMAT A24 "Benalla" on the 1st May 1916 and disembarked at Cape Town on the 9th June. Whilst at Cape Town on the 28th of September, William was Charged 1: Breaking out of General Hospital. 2: Overstaying Leave from 4:00pm 14/09/16 till 10:00pm 14/09/16. 3: Resisting Escort. Award 14 Days Detention By Commanding Officer, Australian Depot, Cape Town. Forfeit 15 Days Pay.

William embarked Capetown onboard HMAT A15 "Port Sydney" on the 4th October 1916 and disembarked at Plymouth, England on the 29th of October. William was marched to the 9th Training Battalion at the Durrington Army Camp at Lark Hill before proceeding overseas for France onboard the S.S."Invicta" on the 4th of February 1917 where he rejoined his unit and was marched to the lines. William was Wounded in Action on the 14th of March after a Heavy Bombardment opened on locations 5-6 and 7 with location 6 badly damaged- over 900 Shell fired into area. William received a Contusion of the Back after being blown up due to an explosion

William was treated by the 11th Australian field Ambulance and evacuated to the Australian Rest Depot before rejoining his unit on the 1st of April and went into the line for the next offensive at Messines.


7th June 1917

The 3rd Australian Divisions first major offencive was at Messines Ridge on the 7th June 1917. The Australian 3rd Division was a part of the II Anzac Corps which was allotted to the first assault. The 25th New Zealand, 3rd Australian Division with the 4th Australian Division in reserve. The 4th Division were battle hardened troops who had fought many major battles.The 3rd Australian Division were having problems getting to the "jump off" point. The day before the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades were bombarded by German Gas-Shells around Hill 63 and Plugstreet Wood. Many of the Aussies were not wearing gas masks, but dispite this they pressed on even though they received 500 casulties.

They made it to the "jump off" point but only just with some of the men from the 9th and 10th going straight over the top without stopping. The mines went up and the attack commenced behind a protective barrage. The II Anzac Corps were attacking on the right with their objective being the southern shoulder of the ridge which included Messines, the Dover and St Yves areas as far south to the east of Plugstreet Wood.

Major General Sir John MONASH's 3rd Division had to contend with a tricky 3 mile approach out of Plugstreet Wood and after the German gas attack, but they were not detered. The 9th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General A JOBSON and the 10th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General W R NICHOLL had just made the jumping off point but some of the men did not stop, going straight into the assault from the approach march.

Their objective lay between St Yves and the Douve. The mines at Trench 127 and Trench 12 at Factory Farm were laid to aid this task. The explosions erupted a few seconds before zero hour and created craters of 200 feet in diameter, completely obliterating the German defence line as the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades went over the top. The mine crates forced the 9th and 10th Brigades to veer to the left and right which caused some confusion with the main assault. It is testimony to the quality of training that every man knew the ground, tasks and objectives so well.

Private: 1804 John CARROLL 33rd Battalion, rushed the enemy's trench and bayoneted four of the German occupants. He then noticed a comrade in difficulties and went to his assistance, killing another German. He then attacked single handed a German Machine Gun Team, killing all three of them and capturing the gun. He later rescued two of his comraded who had been buried alive by German Shell Fire, and in spite of heavy shelling and machine gun fire he dug them out alive and saved them from certain death. John was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The German foward zone was completely engulfed and taken by the main assault. The two supporting battalions of each brigade then passed the leading battalion to continue the advance. The men were constantly re-supplied and the ridge was taken. There were many German prisoners taken during the offencive. The 3rd Division was well ahead with the 9th Infantry Brigade pushing on beyond Grey Farm, and on the right the 10th Infantry Brigade were veering left towards Septieme Barn north of Douve.

The German resistance was heavy but was generally brushed aside by tanks and artillery before the infantry had to become too involved.The 4th Bavarian Divisions Artillery had made little impact, but as the day wore on the 3rd Division and later the 4th Australian Division received many casulties from German artillery. (70% of all casulties during WW1 were from artillery).

By 9:00am nearly 6 hours after the assault began the Germans were in dissaray, but there was a major problem as the Australians received less casulties as anticipated and when ordered to dig into the ridge they had so many men, that some could not find shelter. the 35th battalion were dug in around Seaforth Farm.

The second phase of the operation was to take the Oosttaverne Line. The 3rd Australian Division would now be in reserve with the 4th Division attacking. The 9th Infantry Brigade (33-34-35-36Bn) were near Thatched Cottage facing Warneton. The river Lys was to their right and the Plugstreet Wood was now behind them.

Once their objectives were taken the troops consolidated. A barrarge to stop and counter attack was shortnened and caught three battalions which had to retire. By 9:00pm this part of the Oosttaverne Line was abandonded. At 10:45pm General Godley ordered the 3rd and 4th Divisions to retake it. This they did by the early hours of the 8th of June.

The Battle for Messines Ridge during May-June 1917 saw 35 officers and 1,631 other ranks loose their lives.

9th Infantry Brigade Casulties.
33rd Battalion. AIF 8 Officers 382 Other ranks
34th Battalion. AIF 10 Officers 378 Other ranks
35th Battalion. AIF 5 Officers 431 Other ranks
36th Battalion. AIF 9 Officers 421 Other ranks
9th Machine Gun Company. AIF 2 Officer 17 Other ranks
9th Light Trench Mortor Battery. 1 Officer 2 Other ranks

26th July 1917

MESSINES Relieved 33rd BN in front line, Captain: Hugh John CONNELL was buried by a shell in the front line 28/07/17 and evacuated. On night of 28/07/17 enemy placed a heavy barrage on the 35th Bn front line (Douve River to Steicnvast Farm) and finally attempted to raid our Right Company "A Coy" on the River Douve. They were successfully repulsed with considerable loss to themselves. Our counter barrage, both Machine-Gun and Artillery being excellent. Captain: Henry Charles Dight CADELL was in command of A Coy. Our trenches were badly damaged but no entrance was affected, our men though very tired and worn fought splendidly.

35th Bn AIF was relieved by 41st Bn (Brigade Relief) 35th moved back to Douve River Camp. Casulties during 27-30/07/17, 41 including 13 killed. This month was the most strenuous in the history of the Battalion (not including the big offensive of June) as the new ground in front of Messines was in a very wet and muddy state, and hastily constructed trenches combined with long tours in the line and the natural desire of the enemy to prevent us settling down made conditions very trying for all ranks.

(35th Battalion War Diary)

William was Wounded in Action; 2nd occassion on the 4th October 1917 where he received Abbrasions to his nose and was treated by the 11th Australian Field Ambulance before being transfered to the 2nd Canadian General Hospital.

William was granted leave to England on the 29th of January 1918 till the 2nd February 1918 when he returned to his unit in France and trained for the next major offensive at Villers-Bretonneux.


4th-5th April 1918

The Strength of the 9th Infantry Brigade was about 2,250 but their casulties during the 2 days of fighting numbered 30 Officers and 635 men either killed in action or missing.

9th Infantry Brigade Casulties.4th-5th April 1918
33rd Battalion. AIF 3 Officers 82 Other ranks
34th Battalion. AIF 5 Officers 120 Other ranks
35th Battalion. AIF 9 Officers 282 Other ranks (including 44 missing)
36th Battalion. AIF 12 Officers 133 Other ranks (including 1 missing)
9th Machine Gun Company. AIF 1 Officer 18 Other ranks (including 4 missing)

William was reported as Missing in Action on the 5th April 1918 after the action after the two days of fighting at Villers-Bretonneux. He was officially peported as a Prisoner of War Certified by War Office List 15, from A.I.F. Headquarters 14/05/1918.

William was repatriated to England on the 25th of November 1918 just 14 days after the Armistace was signed on the 11th of November. He embarked onboard the "Plassy" for Australia on the 17th March and returned to Australia on the 3rd of May and discharded from the A.I.F. on the 17th June 1919.

Teralba War Memorial


Family Information

William was a single 32 year old Miner from James Street Teralba, N.S.W. upon enlistment.

Military Records

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Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia)

Under Construction; 14/07/2012-31/08/2016.

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