Profile

SMITH, James
(Service number 36495)

Aliases Born as James Smyth; known as Jim
First Rank Rifleman Last Rank Private

Birth

Date 21 August 1889 Place of Birth Ireland

Enlistment Information

Date 20 September 1916 Age
Address at Enlistment C/o W. J. Clark, Levels, Timaru
Occupation Farm hand for WJ Clark, Timaru
Previous Military Experience
Marital Status
Next of Kin Mrs A. YOUNG (sister), Cloughan, Drumsurn, Londonderry, Ireland; [&] W.J. Clark (friend), Levels, Timaru
Religion Presbyterian
Medical Information

Military Service

Served with NZ Armed Forces Served in Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation New Zealand Rifle Brigade
Unit, Squadron, or Ship Reinforcements, G Company
Date 19 January 1917
Transport Waitemata
Embarked From Destination Plymouth, Devon, England
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With Canterbury Regiment

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European 1917-1919
Service Medals British War Medal & Victory Medal (WWI); 1939-45 War Medal & New Zealand War Service Medal (WWII)
Military Awards

Award Circumstances and Date

No information

Prisoner of War Information

Date of Capture
Where Captured and by Whom
Actions Prior to Capture
PoW Serial Number
PoW Camps
Days Interned
Liberation Date

Discharge

Date 16 June 1919 Reason Discharged on the terminal of period of engagement

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

Post-war Occupations

Death

Date 10 June 1968 Age 79 years
Place of Death
Cause
Notices
Memorial or Cemetery Timaru Cemetery
Memorial Reference Services Section, Row 126, Plot 3
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

James (Jim) Smyth was born in 1889 in Ireland to William and Mary Smyth (nee Stuart). James left Ireland with his brother when he was only 14 (around 1902). At some point, sick of correcting the spelling his name, he started going by the spelling Smith.

At the time of his enlistment in World War One Jim was working at Levels as a farm hand for his friend WJ Clark.

Jim was initially posted to G Company of the 21st Reinforcements in September 1916, and with them no doubt underwent his initial training.

In March 1917 he was taken on strength with the 5th Reserve Battalion, NZ Rifle Brigade at Sling Camp, England, where his final training prior to heading to the front would have taken place. Two months later (May 1917) he marched to Codford before proceeding overseas (to France) with the 3rd Battalion Canterbury Regiment’s 1st Company.In March 1918 Private Smith joined No.2 Company of the Entrenching Battalion, serving with them until the end of August, when he went on leave in the UK. In September, on his return, he joined the 2nd Battalion Canterbury Infantry Regiment, where he was posted to the 2nd (South Canterbury) Company.

Jim was discharged in New Zealand on 16 June 1919, having returned to New Zealand on the SS Carpentaria in April. He stated his intended address was ‘C/o WJ Clarke, Levels, South Canterbury”. He had served overseas for 2 years and 121 days, plus 149 days in New Zealand. In recognition of his service he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal, sent to him (care of his friend W J Clarke at Levels) in 1924.

Between the wars Jim married a Scottish woman, Jessie Dunbar Smith, whom he had four children with.

During World War Two Jim again served his country, this time with the 18th National Military Reserve, part of the Southern Military District. At the time of his enlistment on 10 October 1940 Jim, now 52, was living in Burgess Street, Pleasant Point. He was by now working for the Timaru branch of the Public Works Department. He was found fit for home service, but appears to have remained largely inactive until January 1942. In April he was promoted to temporary corporal, which was confirmed the following month. In February 1943 he was transferred to Burnham, where he served with the 7th Canterbury Regiment where he appears to have been assigned to 2” mortars. In April he returned to Timaru, on leave without pay, in order to return to his normal employment, but remained “on strength”. Jim was finally discharged on 6 May 1943, no doubt as part of the de-escalation of forces within New Zealand resulting from the reduced threat from Japanese invasion. His service of another year and 117 days was recognised with the award of the 1939-45 War Medal and the New Zealand War Service Medal.

Jim Smith died on 10 June 1968 in Timaru, and was survived by his wife Jessie.

Sources

Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [30 December 2016]; Timaru Cemetery headstone image (Timaru District Council) [02 January 2017]; ilitary service records (Archives New Zealand); SCROll submission by P Smith

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