Profile

SMITH, Thomas Peter
(Service number 2/690 (NZ); 4026 (AUS))

Aliases Enlisted in Australia as Peter SMITH; also known as Thomas Pollock SMITH.
First Rank (1) Driver; (2) Private Last Rank

Birth

Date 3 April 1885 Place of Birth Waimate

Enlistment Information

Date (2) 24 September 1915 Age (1) 29 years; (2) 30 years
Address at Enlistment (1) October 1914 - Central Hotel, Palmerston North; (2) September 1915 - Commonwealth Savings Bank, Melbourne, Australia
Occupation (1) Bushman; (2) Carpenter
Previous Military Experience (1) 9th New Zealand Contingent South African War; (2) South African War 5 months, New Zealand Garrison Artillery - 3 years
Marital Status (1) Single; (2) Single
Next of Kin (1) Miss Annie SMITH (sister), 22 Clifton Street, Addington, Christchurch; (2) Miss Annie SMITH, Carew School, Ealing, South Canterbury
Religion (1) Presbyterian; (2) Roman Catholic
Medical Information (1) Height 5 feet 7½ inches. Weight 161 lbs. Chest measurement 35-38 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes blue. Hair dark. Sight & hearing both normal. Colour vision doubtful. Limbs well formed. Full & perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart & lungs normal. Teeth good. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, Haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated. Good bodily & mental health. No slight defects. Scar front right thigh. Fit. (2) Height 5 feet 6½ inches. Weight 11 stone 7 lbs. Chest measurement 38-40 inches. Complexion fresh. Eyes blue. Hair dark brown. Free from scrofula; phthisis; syphilis; impaired constitution; defective intelligence; defects of vision, voice or hearing; hernia; haemorrhoids, varicose veins, beyond a limited extent; marked varicocele with unusually pendent testicle; inveterate cutaneous disease; chronic ulcers; traces of corporal punishment, or evidence of having been marked with the letters D. or B.C.; contracted or deformed chest; abnormal curbature of spine; or any other disease or physical defect calculated to unfit him for the duties of a soldier. Can see the required distance with either eye. Heart & lungs healthy. Free use of joints & limbs. Not subject to fits of any description. Vaccinated left arm. Scar right upper leg.

Military Service

Served with (1) NZ Armed Forces; (2) Australian Imperial Force Served in (1) Army; (2) Army
Military District

Embarkation Information

Body on Embarkation (1) Main Body (NZ); (2) 9th Reinforcement (AUS)
Unit, Squadron, or Ship (1) New Zealand Field Artillery; (2) 23rd Battalion
Date (1) 16 October 1914; (2) 8 February 1916
Transport (1) Arawa or Limerick; (2) Warilda
Embarked From (1) Wellington; (2) Melbourne, Victoria Destination
Other Units Served With
Last Unit Served With

Military Awards

Campaigns Western European
Service Medals
Military Awards Military Medal

Award Circumstances and Date

These soldiers [Private Peter Smith and four others] volunteered to form a rescue party on the morning of 3rd. July, 1916, and brought in, in full daylight (4 p.m.) from NO MAN'S LAND 2 wounded men of the 14th. Battalion who had fallen near the German lines. A number of Wounded of the 14th. Battalion Raiding party had previously been broght in by the bearers of the 23rd. Battalion during darkness. Near BOIS GRENIER. 25 July 1916. [From Personnel File] “I have much pleasure in forwarding herewith copy of extract from First Supplement, No. 29731, to the London ‘Gazette’ of September 1st, 1916, relating to the conspicuous services rendered by your brother; No. 4026, Private Thomas P. Smith, 23rd Battalion: ‘His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the under-mentioned soldier: No. 4026 Private Thomas P. Smith.’” [Letter to his sister from the Base Records Office. Melbourne]

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 (1) 24 June 1915; (2) 20 August 1919 Reason (1) As a deserter; (2) Demobilised in London

Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses

4 August 1916 - gunshot to shoulder; admitted to 37th Field Ambulance, transferred to 1st Canadian General Hospital at Etaples, invalided by Hospital Ship Brighton to England. 17 October 1916 admitted to 1st A.D.H. Bulford with VD. 10 December 1916 - sick to Fargo Hospital (influenza). 18 March 1917 burns to hands & face; embarked for England per Hospital ship St David & admitted to Royal Victoria Hospital at Metley. 5 August 1917 in France to hospital sick. 10 August 1917 & 12 September 1917 hospital - scabies. 16 September 1917 returned after wounding from England. 4 October 1917 wounded in action at Boulogne - gunshot wounds to left leg & shoulder; admitted to Norfolk War Hospital at Norwich. 17 October 1917 admitted to 1st A.D.H. Bulford - 24 days VD. January 1918 - wounded. 7 September 1918 admitted 2nd Australian Field Ambulance - influenza, to 1st Australian General Hospital at Rouen on 17 September. 11 April 1919 scabies, to England. 17 October 1919 admitted to Bulford with VD.

Post-war Occupations

Death

Date 9 September 1953 Age 68 years
Place of Death Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia
Cause
Notices
Memorial or Cemetery
Memorial Reference
New Zealand Memorials

Biographical Notes

Thomas Peter Smith was born on 3 April 1885 at Waimate, the youngest son of Robert Pollock Smith and his wife Janet née Ward, both of whom hailed from Scotland. There at Waimate, Robert was an engineer. Young Thomas was educated at the Waimate District High School. Known sisters were Ellen Pollock Smith (born about 1876), Jane Pollock Smith (Jean, born about 1881) and Annabella Pollock Smith (born in 1884), and brothers James Pollock Smith (born in 1877), Donald Brook Smith (born in 1880), and possibly Robert Smith junior. Between 1900 and 1906, after about thirty years engaged in dairying and farming in the Waimate district, Robert and Janet Smith moved from Waimate to the Duvauchelle-Akaroa area, and seemed also to have a town residence. Mrs Smith died in early 1913, leaving four sons and three daughters. Mr Robert Smith died in July 1916 while living with his eldest daughter Ellen Vogan, at which time his son T. Pollock Smith was serving with the Australian forces in France. Both Mr and Mrs Smith are buried in Duvauchelles Bay Cemetery.

Thomas Peter Smith served in the South African War – Service Number 7814 with the Ninth Contingent. Drafted from Rangiora, Canterbury, he signed up on 17 February 1902 at Dunedin. He was a carpenter, and gave his address as 22 Clifton Street, Addington. He gave his age as 19 years 11 months, whereas he was only 16 years 10 months, and was described as being 5 feet 5½ inches tall, weighing 9 stone 11 pounds, and having a chest measurement of 36½ inches; of fair complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. His nominated next-of-kin was his father, Robert Pollock Smith of 22 Clifton Street. Private T. P. Smith was discharged on completion of service and after 160 days service abroad. On 10 June 1904, in the same very well formed handwriting evident on enlistment, Thomas Peter Smith, No 7814 (late) 9th Contingent, wrote from Ohingaite, North Island, that he had been unable to attend when the South African War medals were presented to the Canterbury troopers and asked that his medals be sent to his sister. A week later Annie acknowledged receipt of the Imperial South African War medal and the clasps for Transvaal and S.A. 1902. For some reason, details of his South African service and medals were certified on 18 May 1936.

Thomas was a bushman residing at the Central Hotel in Palmerston North when he first enlisted at Awapuni in September1914, soon after the outbreak of war. He had been a bush labourer at Cambridge since returning from the South African War. He nominated as his next-of-kin his sister Annie (Annabella) Smith, of Christchurch. In September 1914 Miss A. Pollock Smith visited Timaru and was hoping to catch up with old friends. Thomas Peter Smith again put his age up, whether intentionally or not is not apparent. He was single, Presbyterian, and fit, although there was some doubt over his colour vision. He was 5 feet 7½ inches tall and weighed 161 pounds, of dark complexion, with blue eyes and dark hair, and a scar on his front right thigh. Driver Smith, 2/690, embarked with the New Zealand Field Artillery on 16 October 1914 at Wellington and reached Egypt on 31 December, one of about 8,500 New Zealanders.

Thomas was confined to barracks for seven days in January 1915 for absence and drunkenness on active service and forfeited one day’s pay in February for absence. T. P. Smith, 2/690, was discharged as a deserter on 14 June 1915. In July he was posted as a deserter – absent over 21 days – by a Court of Enquiry. He was not entitled to medals, and no parchment certificate of discharge was issued.

Come 24 September 1915 and Peter Smith enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force. Very likely he went to Australia to avoid being sent home to New Zealand in disgrace. He gave his address as Commonwealth Savings Bank, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. His next-of-kin was again Miss Annie Smith, then of Carew School, Ealing, South Canterbury. And Peter, this being his name on enlistment, was now a carpenter and Catholic, but his age (31 years) was less inflated and he was still single. He stated, moreover, that he had never been discharged from any part of His Majesty’s Forces, with Ignominy, or . . . . He had served for 5 months in the South African War and 3 years with the New Zealand Garrison Artillery. He signed with the same well formed handwriting. His physical description was little changed – 5 feet 6½ inches tall, 11 stone 7 pounds in weight, with a chest measurement of 38-40 inches, of fresh complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair, and the scar still visible on his upper leg. Miss A. Pollock Smith was instrumental in organising her pupils to raise funds for the war effort, and she herself contributed songs and recitations at fund-raising concerts.

Private Smith, 4026, embarked on 8 February 1916 from Melbourne per the “Warilda”. He was attached to the 23rd Battalion of the 9th Reinforcement. He was awarded 4 days Confined to Barracks for creating a disturbance after “Lights Out” at Etaples on 9 April 1916. On 25 May he incurred 120 hours of Field Punishment for being late on working parade. On the night of 29/30 June 1916 he took part in a raid on enemy’s trenches. Miss A. Pollock Smith, then teaching at Carew School, received a letter written by her brother on 9 August 1916 from the No 1 Canadian Hospital. He had been wounded in the shoulder on 4 August, but not severely, whilst on duty in France, and he was hoping to rejoin his regiment before too long. He was first admitted to the 37th Field Ambulance, then transferred to the 1st Canadian General Hospital at Etaples before being invalided to England.

What’s more! Private T. P. Smith had been awarded the Military Medal for bravery in action – this on 10 August 1916 at the Somme. Although he had enlisted as Peter Smith the New Zealand newspapers were referring to him as Thomas P. Smith, perhaps as advised by his sister. His sister received the following letter from the Base Records Office, Melbourne: “I have much pleasure in forwarding herewith copy of extract from First Supplement, No. 29731, to the London ‘Gazette’ of September 1st, 1916, relating to the conspicuous services rendered by your brother; No. 4026, Private Thomas P. Smith, 23rd Battalion: ‘His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the under-mentioned soldier: No. 4026 Private Thomas P. Smith.’” The following is an extract from his Personnel File - These soldiers [Private Peter Smith and 4 others] volunteered to form a rescue party on the morning of 3rd July, 1916, and brought in, in full daylight (4 p.m.) from NO MAN'S LAND 2 wounded men of the 14th Battalion who had fallen near the German lines. A number of Wounded of the 14th Battalion Raiding party had previously been brought in by the bearers of the 23rd Battalion during darkness. Near BOIS GRENIER. 25 July 1916. Miss A. Pollock Smith received further insight into her brother’s award when she received a souvenir history of the Battalion by the mail in July 1918. The following is an extract, giving an account of how Private T. P. Smith won his Military Medal — “On the night of June 29th our patrols, under Captain Cull, did excellent work in maintaining command of No Man’ s Land. A raid eventuated, which was a complete success, about eighty of the enemy were killed, and identification and information secured from the seven prisoners who were brought back. It was in this operation that the courage of the men was particularly brought out. In returning, some men of the 14th Battalion lost direction, and became entangled in our wire. A number of our men from A Company, in spite of the dawn light, and heavy rifle fire and machine-gun fire, moved out from the trenches into No Man’s Land and rescued them, most of whom were wounded. Brigadier-General Monash sent a very appreciative letter of the rescue, and Sergeant Bradshaw, Privates T. P. Smith, Nuttall, and McChcyne, received Military Medals in recognition of their courageous work.”

The Press (18 January 1917) reported “At the outbreak of the war he joined the Royal Marines. He was with the force that escaped to Holland, but later, on his return to England, was sent out to Gallipoli. He was on one of three barges that was sunk at the famous landing, but managed to scramble ashore. However, the following day he received a shell wound in the leg, and was sent to hospital at Egypt. The surgeons wanted to take his leg off, but this he would not allow. Whilst limping about, prior to receiving his discharge, he slipped and sprained his ankle. He returned to hospital, where he was operated on, and a piece of shell removed from his leg, and it got quite well. On his recovery he transferred to the Australians, and landed in France in March 1916. He won the Military Medal in July, and in the following August received a shell wound in the shoulder, groin, and the leg. The last letter from Private Smith was written from Woodstock Convalescent Hospital, England. He was doing well, and hoped to be back in the trenches before Christmas.” This Royal Marines and escape story is not possible time-wise and may well be a guise for his discharge from the New Zealand forces for desertion.

The Waimate Daily Advertiser of 19 January 1917 wrote ‘A Waimate “boy,” young Smith, son of the late Robert Pollock Smith, Christchurch, has been award the Military Medal. It is a good many years since the family left Waimate. Old residents recollect young Smith as a “bit of a handful,” and are delighted that he has “turned out so well.”’

T. P. Smith embarked on 18 August at Calais for England per the Hospital Ship Brighton for treatment of the gunshot wound to his shoulder. A month later he was granted Furlough. On 17 October, after he had reported back from Furlough, he was admitted to 1st A.D.H. Bulford with VD. Influenza resulted in another spell in hospital in December 1916. It was January 1917 when he proceeded overseas again from Folkestone per the Princess Clementine and rejoined his battalion in France. Two months later (18 March) he suffered burns to his hands and face, embarking per hospital ship St David for England, where he was admitted to the Royal Victoria Hospital at Metley. Annie Pollock Smith received word in May that her brother, Private T. P. Smith, had been badly burned about the face and both hands, through an explosion in a German dugout. It was reported that he was progressing as favourably as could be expected. Four months passed before he proceeded overseas to France again. In the meantime he had been awarded 10 days detention and forfeited 20 days pay for being absent without leave for some nine days.

Just a couple of weeks after returning to France he was admitted to hospital sick. And again, on 19 and 22 August 1917, he was punished – 28 days Field Punishment and forfeiture of 28 days pay (£7) for using improper language to an N.C.O. and for making a false statement. He was hospitalised twice (August and September 1917) for treatment of scabies. Another injury scare occurred on 4 October 1917 at Boulogne - gunshot wounds in the left leg and shoulder, which necessitated admission to Norfolk War Hospital at Norwich. And he was again admitted to 1st A.D.H. Bulford for 24 days with VD. The advice in December was that he was fit to go on furlough. In January 1918 Thomas Peter Smith again proceeded overseas to France, only to be wounded almost immediately. 22 August 1918 – arrested and awarded 7 days Field Punishment and 9 days pay forfeiture for Absence Without Leave in the Field in France. On contracting influenza again, he was admitted to the 2nd Australian Field Ambulance on 7 September 1918, and transferred to the 1st Australian General Hospital at Rouen on 17 September. Another instance of Absence Without Leave occurred from midnight 11 October 1918 until 9 a.m. 19 October, when Pte Smith rejoined his unit. This offence was first investigated on 20 October and a Court Martial was held in the field on 31 October 1918. Although Pte Smith pleaded not guilty he was found guilty and sentenced to 35 days Field Punishment and forfeiture of 51 days pay.

After 2½ weeks leave Peter Smith rejoined his battalion on 13 March 1919. Another bout of scabies in April 1919 resulted in transfer to England. On 6 May 1919, while stationed at Sutton Veney Camp, 4026 Pte Peter Smith, M.M., 23rd Battalion, applied for special enlistment in the North Russian Relief Force (Machine Gun Corps Regiment). Along with three other soldiers, he passed the medical examination and was approved as a recruit. His description read thus – age 35 years 2 months, born at Waimate, New Zealand, carpenter, 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 156 pounds, chest measurement of 35-38½ inches, and fit. He was classed ‘A’ in medical category, had 10 entries on his Conduct Sheet, had served for 3 years 10 months with the A.I.F.; and £61.18s. deferred pay was due. Two weeks later he reported to the Repatriation and Demobilisation Department in London for Discharge in the U.K., in order to join the Russian Expeditionary Force. It was certified that he had no dependents in Australia and that he could maintain himself in U.K. or elsewhere if discharged. There was no objection to his discharge in U.K.

On 20 August 1919 in London, T. P. Smith was discharged from the Australian Imperial Force, demobilisation effective from 20 May, and was issued a Parchment Certificate of Discharge. He had given 3 years 239 days of service with the Australian Imperial Force and been awarded the Military Medal. He was also awarded the Silver War Badge. The (AIEF) practice of including a statement of character or special qualifications on the discharge certificate was discontinued as from 1st January 1918. His address on discharge was – Russian Relief Force. He signed that he had no longer any claim on the Commonwealth Government for a free passage from England to Australia at any time. Subsequent to discharge he served with M.G.C. Imperial Army. On 6 November 1919 Annie Pollock Smith (then at Aranui School, Christchurch) signed the receipt for a consignment from the Australian Defence Department – the effects of No 4026 Private P. Smith, the effects being his Military Medal. It was reported that Thomas Peter Smith served two years with the British North Russian Relief Expedition and that he had been further decorated for bravery in Northern Russia, with a Bar to the Military Medal. Overall a military record peppered with casualties, misdemeanours, and acts of bravery.

Sometime during or after the war Thomas married Rose Gertrude, who died at Auckland Hospital, aged 41 years, on 21 February 1934, when the family was living at 49 France Street. She is buried in the Hillsborough Cemetery in Auckland, where the burial record gives her birthplace as Hull, England. Mr T. P. Smith arrived back in New Zealand per the Rotorua in early May 1923. The passenger list for S S Rotorua includes - Smith Mr T, 37 years, married, Carpenter, and Smith Mrs R, 26 years, married. They had embarked at Southampton and were to land at Lyttelton, the ship being due at Wellington on 5 May 1923. Thomas Peter and Rose Gertrude Smith were living in Avondale, Auckland in 1928. Thomas was a drainer, the occupation he followed in New South Wales and prior to his death. In 1930 they were in New South Wales and in 1933 specifically at Sydney. It appears that they came to New Zealand for a brief period about 1934, as Annie wrote [see below]. In 1936 Thomas Peter was back in Sydney, a drainer. With him in 1943 was Walter Thomas Smith, an engineer – was this his son? It appears so. Walter Thomas Smith was born at Wellington, New Zealand in 1925 or earlier.

In August 1928 Peter Smith acknowledged receipt of the R. S. Badge from Victoria Barracks, Melbourne. This was in response to his notification, written from 11 Harris Street Pyremont, NSW, that he had lost his Returned Soldiers Badge at Wellington, New Zealand, when he was driving cattle. Every effort had been made to find it but to no avail. In December 1929 Peter Smith, of No 5 Botany Road, made another statuary declaration that he had lost his discharge badge, “in Sydney harbour when swimming ashore from a overturned boat I had to discard coat with badge attached to enable me to get ashore. It has not been left with any creditor, nor passed by me into the hands of any other person.”

A letter dated 28 November 1940 and addressed Mr Peter Smith, M.M., 109 George Street, North City, Sydney, N.S.W., was sent from the Officer in charge Base Records. It concerned Peter Smith’s recent representations on the loss of his Returned Soldier Badge. It was noted that he had been issued with duplicate badges on two previous occasions, in addition to the original on his discharge from the Force, that none other could be made available. It was also pointed out that his sister, Miss A. Pollock-Smith of Central School, Whangarei, North Auckland, New Zealand, had written to Base records in August 1939, seeking his address. At that time the office had no record of his whereabouts. It was hoped that he would communicate with her directly if he had not already been in touch. This letter was in response to a Statutory Declaration sworn by (Thomas) Peter Smith on 21 November. He declared that the said badge “came out of my coat while coming out of the pictures in Sydney a month ago” and that to the best of his knowledge and belief the badge was not in the hands of any other person. In 1939 the State Secretary of the Returned Sailors & Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, Sydney, also wrote that the branch had no records of the whereabouts of 4026 Pte Peter Smith. He had been a member of the City of Sydney Sub-branch in 1932 but the organisation had lost all trace of him since then. It was believed that he had been resident in New Zealand but had returned to Sydney in June 1935, and joined the Returned Soldiers League. On 24 February 1934 Mr Smith’s address with the Australian Repatriation Commission was given as – 49 France Street, Auckland, N.Z. In her letter of 31 August 1939, Annie wrote that he came to New Zealand during the slump; that his wife died while here; and that he returned to Australia in June 1935, taking his son, a boy of ten years of age, with him. She thought that he went to Sydney and joined the Returned Soldiers Association there.

Thomas died on 9 September 1953, Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia, aged 71 years. A year later the Public Trust in Sydney administered his estate. No Will was held by A.I.F. Base Records. He was a retired licensed drainer, his address Kings Cross. In addition to the Military Medal, he was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

His brother, Donald Brook Smith, died in 1955 at Featherston. He left all his estate to nieces and nephews, the children of his eldest sister Ellen Vogan. Donald is buried with his parents at Duvauchelles Bay. Annabella Pollock Smith, his sister and next-of-kin, died in 1962 at Masterton. She left her Featherston house property (named Airdrie, the birthplace of her father) to her niece, the daughter of her sister Jean Bimler. When the home was no longer required, the proceeds of sale were to be divided among three nieces. Annie is buried in Featherston Cemetery – “Our aunt, Annabella”. Annabella had gone to Featherston to care for the children after the death of her sister.

Sources

Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [x 2] [22 May 2018]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK 18805 W5515 0005214) [21 & 22 May 2018]; Attestation Paper for Australian Imperial Force (National Archives of Australia) [31 May 2018]; Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser, 14 July 1908, 11 July 1916, Press, 22 February 1913 [x 2], 15 & 27 July 1916, 25 September 1916, 18 January 1917, 28 May 1917, 6 November 1917, 10 December 1917, 16 July 1918, 9 May 1923, Lyttelton Times, 22 February 1913, Dominion, 26 February 1913, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 19 January 1917, Manawatu Standard, 14 May 1923, Auckland Star, 21 February 1934, New Zealand Herald, 22 February 1934 (Papers Past) [21 & 22 May 2018; 16 June 2018]; NZ & Australian Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [May 2018] ]; NSW Death Registration; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [22 May 2018; 19 June 2018]; New South Wales, Australia, Index to Deceased Estate Files (ancestry.com.au) [31/05/2018]; Probate records for brother & sister (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [31 May 2018]; Cemetery records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG records) [May 2018]; Shipping list ‘Rotorua’ 1923 (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [18 June 2018]

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Researched and Written by

Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG

Currently Assigned to

TS

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