25 March 2020

Frederick Douglas Smith

For the last couple of years I have allocated a significant amount of time to this search. Even though the family name is Smith, I thought I would have a reasonable straight forward search based on the first and second names that this family used. I also felt rather compelled to put in extra effort because of the medals. This WWI trio are in mint condition, they have never been mounted for wear and the original ribbons are pristine, which isn't bad for something more than 100 years old.
These medals were awarded to 2086 Frederick Douglas Smith. Fred was Killed In Action on 25 July 1916 at Pozieres. The Red Cross reports about Fred's death are quite detailed.
Fred's father was Charles Hunt Smith and one brother was William Hunt Smith. Based on this these names I thought that the search might not be to difficult. Indeed it wasn't, up until 1995 and then I couldn't move forward.
William (Bill) Hunt Smith as served in WWI. After the war he was a carpenter and was easy to follow through the Victorian electoral rolls. Bill even did a recorded interview with the AWM which is online. I had his wife's name and date of death in 1995 but no information about children or even if they had any.
Fred's sister was Lily Toghill Sydes but I had difficulty following her.
The youngest brother in this family was Alexander Roy Smith, born in 1900. Alexander also enlisted for WWI but this was on 11 October 1918 and he was quickly demobilised. The Smith family lived in Victoria but after his discharge, Alexander moved to South Australia. Alexander also died in 1995 but, as I've mentioned several times in the past, public records from SA are difficult to access.
I then turned to the South Australia Genealogy Face Book page and as it turns out one of the members, Michelle, is distinctly related to the Smith family. What Michelle was able to provide me was the name of Alexander's son. It took a couple of more steps, but last week, thanks to Richard Maurovic, I was able to confirm the address of Alexander's son whose name is Mike. I wrote to Mike and today he called me.
To clarify the family connections, Mike is Fred's nephew and was able to give me some great insight's in to the Smith family. Fred was the adventurous one of the family while Bill was not the type to hurt anyone. However, once Fred was killed, Bill enlisted to avenge him. Bill did have a daughter and that branch of the Smith family has Fred's Memorial Plaque. 
It was a quite extraordinary to talk to Mike and get his memories that were so closely related to the medals that I will soon send him.
Thanks go to Sharon G, who sent me the medals, Michelle and Richard.
The returned medal tally is now 2441.

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