My Mum's maiden name was Smith. One of her uncle's once said to me it's not a common name, just popular and here is the story of my popular Smith's who as far as I know came from Neston in Cheshire, England.
1. Henry SMITH.
He married Mary GRIFFITHS. Children:
2 i. William.
2. William SMITH (Henry, 1). Born, circa 1796. Died, 27 Sep 1867, in Neston, Cheshire, England. Christened, 18 Sep 1796, in Neston, Cheshire, England.
He married Catherine WALLEY, daughter of James WALLEY and Ann, before 1823, in Cheshire, ENG (?). Born, circa 1793, in Neston, Cheshire, England?. Christened, 23 Jun 1793, in Neston, Cheshire, England?. Children:
3 i. William.
ii.Emily. Born, 6 May 1825, in Neston, Cheshire, England.
iii.John. Born, 1 Jun 1827, in Neston, Cheshire, England.
iv.Ann. Born, 13 Sep 1835, in Neston, Cheshire, England. Died, circa 1909, in Neston, Cheshire, England. She married John Caleb LLOYD, 1870, in Parkgate Pres., Cheshire, England.
v.James. Born, 30 Jun 1837, in Neston, Cheshire, England.
3. William SMITH (William, 2). Born, 23 Mar 1823, in Great Neston,
Cheshire, England. Died, 16 Oct 1881, in Ararat, Vic. Burial: 18 Oct 1881, in
Wiliamstown, Cemetary, Vic. Occupation: Joiner.
He married, first, Mary PARRY, 7 Aug 1842, in St Nicholas, Liverpool, Lancaster, England. Born, circa 1820.
He married, second, Ann WRIGHT, daughter of Thomas WRIGHT and Lucy BROOKER, 15 Jan 1854, in Melbourne, Vic. Born, circa 1838, in Chertsey, Surrey, Eng. Died, 5 Apr 1917, in Melbourne, Vic. Christened, 21 Jan 1838, in Chertsey
Surrey, Eng. Children:
i.Emily. Born, 14 Feb 1857, in Vic. Died, 28 Dec 1938, in Vic.
4 ii. Annie.
5 iii. Thomas.
6 iv. John.
7 v. Lucy May.
8 vi. William.
vii.Mary Elizabeth. Born, 16 Dec 1869, in Williamstown, Vic (VBI 6110/1870). Died, 15 Aug 1949, in Vic. She married Garibaldi CARTER.
viii. Lizzie Wright.
10 ix. Henry James.
11 x. George Robert.
xi.Catherine Fanny. Born, 5 Jun 1877. Died, 13 Dec 1931, in Vic (VDI 16944/1931).
12 xii. Charles Edward.
13 xiii. Chester Hamilton Whalley.
My great great Grandfather William SMITH was born circa 1823 at Great Neston, Cheshire, England, according to his son Henry James' birth certificate.
According to his Death Certificate (VDI 9265/1881), William's parents were William SMITH and Catherine WALLER.
I know nothing of William's early life, but by 1850 he had arrived in New South Wales where he was to spend three years. It was whilst living in Albury that he married Annie WRIGHT. According to his son Henry James' Birth certificate their marriage date was 15th January, 1851, but this is yet to be confirmed.
Recent information from Gladys RAVENSCROFT, 57 Monash St., Ascot Vale (1992 address) states that William and Annie arrived in Victoria in January, 1854, aboard the vessel Poitiers. I have yet to determine whether this is true or not. Further information from Paula SMITH, 12 Hayes Rd., Strathmore (1992 address), that William had run away to Australia with Annie and left a wife and two children behind in England. She says that one of William's grandsons, Robert (Bob) ALCOCK, tried to locate some of the family whilst on a visit to England and was given a very cool reception.
For most of his time in Victoria William worked on the railways but on his son, Henry James' death certificate, William's occupation is listed as slate layer.
On 26 May, 1878, William wrote a letter from Ararat to his daughter Annie who was then working in Daylesford and staying at the Wesleyan Parsonage
I hope this will find you well, it does not leave your mother & myself very well, we have both got bad colds, the rest are pretty well. Still in Ararat no signs of a house in Hamlion [Hamilton?] and what do you think wonders will never cease. Your mother myself, and Lucy & Mary are invited to Mary's wedding I am to give her away. Your mother Lucy, and Mary are to be Brides Maids or some other kinds of assistants. I think you will laugh to yourself to think of seeing your father draped up with white kids and a white roseett, lavender neck tie and white vest with mother draped Lamb Fashion. Your sister Mary is to be first on the list of Bridesmaids with her hair in ringlets and powdered with Gold Dust. Oh Annie if you colud only see the turn out I know you would enjoy it but putting jokes on one side we are invited to go and I think
will do so as Mary wants me to act the part of a Father to her. Tom complains that you did not answer his letter but I told him to day that you had so much to do that he must excuse you. But you must try and write a few lines to him as soon as you can also your mother says that if you can write a few lines, a nice letter to Mary Rode, wishing her all the happiness and the rest upon her approaching wedding like a good cousin forgetting all about the door being shut in your face, blessed are those that forgive it is more honourable to forgive than be forgiven I have no doubt that you will have an answer from Mary. You must not be surprised some day if you see your mother heaving in sight under a heavy prep of sail we will let you know when we go to Wmtown. The weather is not so very cold here as it is in Dalesford according to Mrs Halls account. Mother and myself are glad to here that Mrs Adamsom and Baby are getting on well and the other Mr S Nip and sonney boy, you must remember us to Mr & Mrs Adamson and accept our best love yourself and the love of your brothers and sisters, and may God keep you from all evil and make you his Annie, From Your Loving Father & Mother, W & A Smith"
William died of pnuemonia on 16 October, 1881, aged 57 years whilst working as an inspector on the railways at Ararat. Phillip SMITH also says that William was the brother to the Captain of the 'Titanic's' sister ship the Olympia. My research shows that the Captain of the 'Titanic' was in fact an Edward SMITH who bears some resemblance to William's son Tom. However, it would seem more likely that this information has been confused with the husband of William's daughter Lucy, George ALCOCK, who was a Captain on the White Star Line.
The IGI shows an Ann WRIGHT baptised at Chertsey, Surrey, England on 21 January, 1838. Her parents were Thomas and Lucy WRIGHT. The IGI shows that Thomas WRIGHT and Lucy BROOKER were married at Chertsey on 15 April, 1837 and also shows a baptism for a son, also Thomas, on 24 May, 1840. I beleive this is my family. The VDI shows that Thomas WRIGHT died at Beaufort in 1888 (VDI 4644). It therefore seems that at least he and his sister Annie both came to Melbourne but I still don't know if they came with their parents.
4. Annie SMITH (William, 3). Born, 5 Sep 1860, in Vic. Died, 2 Oct 1946.
She married Frank WOOD. Children:
i.Molly. She married Norman PITT.
5. Thomas SMITH (William, 3). Born, 30 Sep 1862, in Wyndham, Vic. Died, 23 Nov 1930, in Williamstown, Vic (VDI 15913/1930). Burial: 25 Nov 1930, in Williamstown, Vic. Worked as an engine driver for the Victorian Railways. At the time of his death he was resident at 130 Osborne St., Williamstown.
He married Lucy BURROWS, circa 1885, in Williamstown, Vic. Children:
i.Gertrude Ethel. Born, circa 1886, in Vic.
14 ii. Sarah.
iii.Myrtle Annie. Born, circa 1889, in Vic.
iv.William Thomas. Born, circa 1891, in Vic.
v.Fanny. Born, after 1891, in Vic. Died, before 1930, in Vic.
vi.Harriet Lucy Wright. Born, circa 1897, in Vic.
vii.Lillian Lucy. Born, after 1897, in Vic. Died, before 1930, in Viv.
15 viii. Howard.
6. John SMITH (William, 3). Born, 26 Oct 1864, in Werribee, Vic. Died, 19 May 1943, in 19 Verdon St, Williamstown, Vic (VDI 4601/1943). Burial: 20 May 1943, in Williamstown, Vic. Occupation: Railway worker.
He married Sarah EMOND, circa 1891, in Kensington, Vic. Children:
i.Dorothy. Born, circa 1902, in Vic. Died, Feb 1988. She married Hector JOEL.
16 ii. Ernest Walter.
7. Lucy May SMITH (William, 3). Born, 11 Aug 1866, in Parish Truganina, Werribee, Melbourne, Vic. Died, 13 Feb 1942, in Vic.
She married George Alfred ALCOCK, son of Robert ALCOCK and Eliza CLARK. Born, 10 Jun 1868, in Aberdeen, Scotland. Died, 13 Sep 1928, in Williamstown. Occupation: Seaman. Children:
i.William Smith. Born, 20 Jul 1897, in Vic. Died, 20 Oct 1908, in Vic.
17 ii. Robert Alfred.
iii.Annie Lloyd. Born, 24 Apr 1902. Died, 15 Oct 1903 (twin of Dora, died aged about 18 months).
iv.Dora. Born, 24 Apr 1902. Died, 17 Sep 1903 (twin of Annie, died aged about 18 months).
8. William SMITH (William, 3). Born, 19 May 1868, in Wyndham, Vic (VBI 20602/1868). Died, 21 Jun 1892, in Echuca, Vic. Burial: 24 Jun 1892, in Williamstown, Vic.
Circa 1887, William married Margaret SCOTT and they came to live in Echuca. Tragically William died aged only 24 years on 21 June, 1892, and left Margaret to raise their two children Florence Eva, aged 4, and John Morgan, aged 2. William died of Pthisis Pulmonalis form which he had suffered for two years.
He married Margaret SCOTT, before 1888. Children:
18 i. Florence Eva.
19 ii. John Morgan.
9. Lizzie Wright SMITH (William, 3). Born, 1 Mar 1872, in Wyndham, Vic (VBI 13120/1872). Died, 3 Nov 1942, in 45 Victoria St, Williamstown, Vic (VDI 12059/1942, aged 70 years). Burial: 4 Nov 1942, in Williamstown, Cemetery.
She married William David MORGAN, 1 Jun 1892, in Williamstown, Vic. Born, 21 Apr 1870, in Ross Creek, Vic (VBI 11678/1870). Died, 26 Nov 1947, in Vic (VDI 12673/1947, aged 77 years). Burial in Williamstown, Cemetery. Children:
William MORGAN worked as a Controller of Stores for the Victorian Railways. According to his nephew David SMITH (son
of Chester SMITH and Alice HAMMOND), he could write different sentences simultaneously with each hand and the writing was of such quality that it was impossible to tell which was his weak hand.
20 i. Eveline Millicent.
21 ii. Emily Maud.
22 iii. William Alfred Smith Cardiff.
iv.Gwendolyn Annie. Born, 14 Dec 1904, in Williamstown, Vic (VBI 7075/1905). She married Stan NILSSON, 30 Apr 1952, in Wesleyan Church, Lonsdale St., Melbourne (Harrow MORGAN, pers comm 22/11/1992).
10. Henry James SMITH (William, 3). Born, 17 Mar 1874, in Williamstown, Vic (VBI 12972/1874). Died, 28 Aug 1942, in Melbourne, Vic. Burial: 29 Aug 1942, in Fawkner, Vic. Occupation: Engineer.
He married Mary STUART, daughter of William STUART and Maria EDWARDS, before 1897, in Vic. Born, 9 Aug 1879, in Buckland, Vic. Died, 16 Jul 1947, in Melbourne, Vic. Children:
23 i. Annie May.
24 ii. Maria Edwards.
25 iii. William Thomas.
iv.John Charles. Born, 1904, in Cassilis, Vic. Died, 1904, in Cassilis, Vic.
v.Harry James. Born, 1904, in Cassilis, Vic. Died, 1904, in CassilisVic.
vi. Charles Chester. Born,1908, in Vic.
26 vii. Jessie Ellen.
27 viii. George Robert.
Henry James SMITH was born at 2.30 a.m. on 17 March, 1874, to his 30 year old mother Annie SMITH (nee WRIGHT), and his 51 year old slatelayer father William. The ninth of eleven children he spent the first years of his life in Williamstown, Victoria. By 1879 however, he had moved with his family to Ararat where his father was working as a railway inspector.
By the mid 1890's Henry had found his way to Cassilis, a gold mining town near Omeo in eastern Victoria and was working as either a blacksmith or an engineers fitter probably at the King Cassilis or Queen Cassilis mines. Some time around 1895 he married Mary STUART who was then living in Cassilis with her parents William and Maria STUART.
Henry was a big man, over six feet tall and in later life up to 18 stone in weight. This contrasted greatly with Mary who barely reaached five feet. They were to have eight children, but according to my Grandmother Lily SMITH (nee WOOLLEY), the twins JOhn and Harry, were born early one morning, cried all day and died within minutes of each other on the day of their birth.
The boom years for Cassilis were the late 1890's and early 1900's. It grew to be a town of several thousand people, but by 1910 the gold output had begun to decline and the main Cassilis mine closed in 1916. After the boom years Henry, Mary and their family moved ot Melbourne and settled in the Brunswick/Coburg areas.
Phillip SMITH wrote to me of some of his childhood memories of his grandparents
When they lived in Coburg I used to go with Dad when he went up on Sunday, he used to dink me on his bike. Grandad was a big man, 6ft tall and about 18 stone. Very stern, never went crook at me but if he said jump you did, bit like Dad. He worked through the Depression at Cameron Tobacco Coy. before W.D. and H.O. Wills took over. I think that's where the engineer comes into things. He was very good with animals, better than a vet. He had maggies and kookas as pets in the backyard and a lot of other animals.
Nana was only small, about 5ft or a little taller but was a bit fat. She was very quiet, whatever Grandad said, it was right. She was very good in her own way, a bit jealous of Granny WOOLLEY. She would say I don't suppose I cook as good as her and things like that.
She used to go into the city or up to Sydney Road and see a young bloke carrying his swag, she would tell them to come to her place and she would give them a feed and help them on their way. Don't know if she gave them money or groceries."(pers. comm. 1988)
Dinner at the SMITH's was a solemn affair dominated by Henry's presence. He would sit at the head of the table with a cane if they spoke out of turn or interrupted someone.
Henry died of acute pulmonary odema and cardiovascular disease at and swipe at the kids his home at 368 Moreland Road, Brunswick, on 28 August, 1942, aged 68 years. He was buried the following day at Fawkner Cemetery and Uncle Phil who was in the army at the time was granted leave to attend his Grandfather's funeral.
11. George Robert SMITH (William, 3). Born, 28 Nov 1875, in Williamstown, Vic (VBI 26655/1875). Died, 25 Jul 1956, in 61 Commercial Rd, Footscray, Vic (VDI 08559/1956). Burial: 27 Jul 1956, in Footscray, Vic. Occupation: Engineer.
He married Lydia Ann WHITE, 17 Dec 1898, in Footscray, Vic. Born, 28 Apr 1877. Died, 8 Jul 1974. Children:
28 i. James Leslie.
ii.George Garibaldi. Born, 5 Dec 1901, in Vic. Died, 27 Nov 1952, in Newport, Vic (VDI 14098/1952, aged 51). Burial: 1 Dec 1952, in Williamstown. He married Queenie Irene REECE.
iii.Hilda May. Born, circa 1904, in Vic.
29 iv. Thelma Annie Lydia.
v.Emily Catherine Emmeson. Born, circa 1910, in Vic.
30 vi. Gladys Edith.
12. Charles Edward SMITH (William, 3). Born, 1 Aug 1879, in Ararat, Vic (VBI 13302/1879). Died, 27 May 1950.
He married Violet BUGG. Children:
31 iii. Jean.
13. Chester Hamilton Whalley SMITH (William, 3). Born, 5 Feb 1882, in Williamstown, Vic. Died, 28 Apr 1959, in Williamstown Hos, Vic. Burial: 30 Apr 1959, in Williamstown Cem, Vic. Occupation: Salesman.
He married Alice Margaret HAMMOND, circa 1906, in Ballarat, Vic. Children:
i.Charles Hammond. Died, 1937, in Heidelberg, Vic (VDI 418/1937, aged 29 years of multiple sclerosis). Burial: 19 Feb 1937, in Williamstown Cem, Vic.
ii.Frank Wright. Died, 1920, in Vic (died of diptheria within 24 hours of his sister Florence). Burial: 2 Mar 1920, in Williamstown Cem, Vic.
32 iii. David Whalley.
iv.Florence May. Born in Vic. Died, 1920, in Vic? (of diptheria within a day of her brother Frank). Burial: 2 Mar 1920, in Williamstown, Vic.
14. Sarah SMITH (Thomas, 5). Born, circa 1887, in Vic.
She married William BROWN. Children:
15. Howard SMITH (Thomas, 5).
He married Ivy THORPE. Children:
16. Ernest Walter SMITH (John, 6). Born, 1906, in Vic. Died, 1989, in Vic.
He married Paula VERRAN, 1940, in Vic. Born, 1916, in NEW ZEALAND (SOURCE: Paula SMITH, 12 Hayes Rd., Strathmore, 3683 (1992 Address)). Children:
i.Alexander John. Born, 1941, in Vic. He married Heather Marise JOSEY.
ii.Stuart Norman. Born, 1944, in Vic.
33 iii. Paul Walter.
17. Robert Alfred ALCOCK. Born, 12 Dec 1899, in Forest Gate, Essex, England. Died in Williamstown, Vic.
He married Emily Maud MORGAN (21), 11 Apr 1942, in Vic. Children:
i.David Churchill. Born, 27 Oct 1941, in Vic (Adopted).
ii.Robert Barry. Born, 26 Nov 1947, in Bendigo, Vic (Adopted). He married Pamela PIGGOTT.
18. Florence Eva SMITH (William, 8). Born, 1888.
She married Richard GAUDION. Children:
34 i. Richard Stanley.
35 ii. William Lloyd George.
iii.Florence Joyce. Born, 11 Jan 1921, in Leongatha, Vic. She married Ern TRUEMAN.
iv.Margery Jean. Born, 7 May 1924, in Leongatha, Victoria. She married, first, Peter LAWLOR. She married, second, R R (Dick) MATTHEWS.
v.Frederick Noel. Born, 16 Dec 1927, in Leongatha, Victoria. He married Isla FELMINGHAM.
36 vi. Reginald Frank.
19. John Morgan SMITH (William, 8). Born, 1890.
He married Edith SIPTHORP. Children:
20. Eveline Millicent MORGAN. Born, 5 Oct 1892, in Essendon, Vic (VBI 32249/1892). Died, 6 Nov 1972, in Vic.
She married Arch JOEL, 14 Oct 1920, in Wesley Church, Melbourne, Vic.
37 i. Eveline.
21. Emily Maud MORGAN. Born, 19 Apr 1895, in 68 Rennie St, Williamstown, Victoria, AUSTRALIA (VBI 16927/1895). Died, 9 Jun 1976, in Vic. Burial: Jun 1976, in Williamstown.
She married Robert Alfred ALCOCK (17).
22. William Alfred Smith Cardiff MORGAN. Born, 17 Dec 1899, in 46 Electra St, Williamstown, Vic (VBI 7428/1900). Died, 10 Nov 1983. Burial in Williamstown, Vic.
He married Catherine JONES, 30 Nov 1927, in Methodist Church, Electra St., Williamstown, Vic. Born, 12 Nov 1901, in Williamstown, Vic. Died, 4 Feb 1970, in Williamstown, Vic. Burial in Williamstown, Vic. Children:
38 i. Harrow.
39 ii. Mary Catherine.
40 iii. Robert William Cardiff.
23. Annie May SMITH (Henry James, 10). Born, 1897, in Cassilis, Vic.
She married, first, Thomas HAYES, son of George William HAYES and Amelia WATSON, 17 Feb 1919, in St Andrews Manor, Carlton, Vic. Born, circa 1898, in Carlton, Vic. Died, 10 Jul 1927, in Vic. Children:
i.Ruth. She married, first, Bruce HENDERSON. She married, second, Eric DARLESON. She married, third, Ern RITTER.
She married, second, Ernest Charles AUSTIN, son of Maurice Charles AUSTIN and Annie May ARLOW, 20 Oct 1941, in Methodist Parson, age, 636 Lygon St., Carlton, V. Born, circa 1898, in Albert Park, Vic. Occupation: Nurseryman.
Annie May and Ernest Charles established a flower nursery at 368 Moreland Rd.,
Brunswick, and a florist shop in Bell St., Coburg. They later moved to
O'Shannesy St., North Melbourne, then Princes Hill and finally Barry St., South
Yarra, Victoria (AUSTIN, John, pers. comm. 22/02/1993).
24. Maria Edwards SMITH (Henry James, 10). Born, 1899, in Cassilis, Vic.
She married James SMITH. Children:
41 i. Moira.
25. William Thomas SMITH (Henry James, 10). Born, 13 Nov 1901, in Cassilis, Vic. Died, 5 Jun 1978, in Melbourne, Vic.
He married Lily WOOLLEY, daughter of Phillip Carvis WOOLLEY and Janet MCCART, 15 Nov 1924, in St James Manse, 101 Gore St., Fitzroy, Vic (VMI 12652/1924). Born, 10 Apr 1907, in Echuca, Vic (NSWBI 10291/1907). Died, 27 Apr 1988, in Melbourne, Vic. Children:
42 i. Phillip (Billy).
43 ii. Myra Phyllis.
44 iii. Nancy.
When she was about seven years old, Lily became quite ill with some sort of eye disease. The doctor told her mother and father that she would have to go to Bendigo for treatment. So Phillip borrowed a bullock team and dray and drove for two days before arriving at Bendigo. Lily remained in Bendigo for the treatment and whilst there lived with her Aunt [not known who] in a flat above a shop owned by a Chinese tailor, Mr. LING. He was very kind to Lily, and she would spend some time talking to him seated in his shop whilst he worked on the clothes. Lily's half sister Vera CARROLL had tragically burnt to death in 1906, the year before Lily was born. Her mother Janet, had told her that Vera was buried in her favourite velvet frock and fur hat. It had been quite expensive for a poor family and Vera was only allowed to wear it to Church. When she died her mother could not bear the thought of having anyone else wear it. Lily had been told of the dress and dreamed of owning one like it and as her friendship with Mr. LING developed she told him of the dress.
"What colour do you like Lily?" he asked her.
"I like red", she replied.
After a month her eyes had recovered and she went downstairs to tell Mr. LING that she could go home the next day.
"You've been a good girl Lily and I've got a present for you."
Lily opened the package and there to her delight was a red velvet dress and fur lined hat. She went home to Echuca "like a princess" (SMITH, Lily nee WOOLLEY interview with her Grandson Laurie JOYCE, 25 April, 1987).
The WOOLLEY family shifted to Melbourne around 1920 and lived in Bouverie St., Carlton, and it was there that Lily met her husband to be Bill SMITH who used to visit his relatives nearby. His grandmother Maria STUART (nee EDWARDS) had been living at 53 Cardigan St., Carlton, at the time of her death in 1919, so it is likely that it was this address that Bill was visiting when he met Lily.
Lily was only 16 years old when she married and had her first child Billy at 18. From the time he was born until just after the Second World War her mother and father and several of her brothers and sisters, Bob, May, Phil, Billie, Claude and Jean, lived with her and her family.
At some time in the late 1920's or early 1930's, Lil's father, Phillip Carvis WOOLLEY, broke his leg. It never healed properly and he was unable to work. Lily tells the story "If my father had used his head, he'd have been a contractor because he used to get work for Danny Vaughan's, for his trucks and everything. And different ones said to him why don't you go out on your own, but he was a man who wouldn't push himself. So unless you have that push well you've got no hope of doing anything. Well he worked all that time, then up till he had a bad accident and went out one morning to get soem fresh bread and he didn't come home. Of course me mother said to me 'I don't know where your father is', she said. 'He's never been out this late before.' Well all day we kept waiting, thinking, we'd decided then, well he must've went and had a few pots with his mates. But at 6 o'clock at night, me brother came over and I said to him, 'I don't know, I've got a terrible feeling that something happened to Dad.' He said 'Why?' I said, 'Well he's never been this late...Do you think we should ring the hospital?' So we rang up the Melbourne Hospital and as it panned out that was where he'd been taken. He'd been knocked over coming from the bakery across the road, and they rushed him there, well thenhe was in there 13 weeks in the Melbourne Hospital all told and he never worked no more. That was the finish of his work" (SMITH, Lily nee WOOLLEY, interview with Laurie JOYCE, 25 April, 1987).
The only one with a regular income at that time was Lil's husband Bill who at that time was driving horses and later trucks for a company called Daniel VAUGHANS, which later sold out to Yellow Express. Until his accident Phil WOOLLEY would help his son in law driving the horses.
During the Depression Bill SMITH went on the dole. During that time the dole had to be worked for so he spent some time away in Eaglehawk building roads. Fortunately he was able to gain some part time work back at Vaughan's and was eventually put back on full time.
Lil's son Billy wrote "There did not seem to be any difficulties with living as far as us kids were concerned as Granny WOOLLEY [Janet nee MCCART] used to work at the A.J.C. in the fruit season and Grandad WOOLLEY use to go to the Vic Market and go through the spec bins and bring home fruit and vegies so we had plenty of fruit and vegies. Us kids and Dad had butter but every one else had to have dripping on their bread or have jam."
"We always had a good meal for tea as Granny WOOLLEY done the cooking and she always made sure us kids were fed first, after tea we could listen to radio, but we did not have one till I was about 7 years old...Granny used to do anything we wanted like make chips or cakes or anything else we wanted as kids. She used to take me to the Pictures every Friday night. On the way home we would call in to the Pie Shop and get pies that had just been made 2d each or crumpets with honey for 1d."
"Grandad used to take me to the Vic Market with him sometimes to go throught the spec bins and anything else we could find when we lived in North Melbourne. When we went to Brunswick he used to go to Coburg Lake to get yabbies. You never went by tram, you had to walk. He used to drink, he would go missing for weeks and then come home and would not have a drink for months which was great for everyone. Granny used to say to Dad 'Throw him out Bill'. So Dad would put him out the front door and then would bring him in the back"
(SMITH, Phillip, pers comm 1988).
Lil was a keen punter all her life. Billy wrote "Well Mum started betting when she was about 15 or 16, she backed a Melbourne Cup winner at about 20 1. So from then on she used to bet all the time, but Dad thought it wass only Saturdays. She used to get Ray FRY to go and pawn things for her and put her bets on till I was 8 and I would put them on when I was home from school, had to put them on every Saturday; that was in North Melbourne and Kensington, then we moved back to Bruswick where the bookie used to come to our place" (SMITH, Phillip, pers comm, 1988). It was an arrangement that suited the bookies because with the lanes at the back of the house there were plenty of escape routes if the police got wind of where the S.P. was.
Prior to leaving his birthplace at Cassilis for Melbourne, Bill SMITH worked as a Dray driver hauling timber from the surrounding forests. He moved to Melbourne with his family around the time of the First World War. His son and daughters believe he may have served in the Navy during those times having put his age up, but if he did it was under an assumed name because neither the Army nor Navy have any record of this service.
On 6 August, 1940, he went to enlist in the army with his brother in law Laurence MAYHEW. He was aged 39 and gave his wife Lily as his next of kin and his address as 25 Davison St., Brunswick. His hair was dark, his eyes blue and both arms were tattooed.
The intention was for he and Laurie to join the same unit and serve together but for some inexplicable reason when the recruits were lined up and told to step forward if they could drive trucks, Bill stepped forward and Laurie didn't. So they separated, Bill to the Middle East and Tobruk, Laurie to Rabaul where he was killed in action.
On 03/09/1940 Bill was posted to the 26th Brigade Head Quarters in Albury. On 16/11/1940 he had returned to Melbourne and there embarked for the Middle East where he remained until 31/01/43. Whilst in the Middle East Bill wrote a number of letters, some of them written to his cousin Dot have survived and are transcribed here
19/07/1941 "Dear Dot, Just a few lines in answer to your ever welcome letter which I received a couple of days ago & I am pleased to hear from you & all at 19 Verdon St. You say that Mum & Dad are both well & also Ern and his wife & family well give them all my regards & Best Wishes to Mum and Dad & tell them that I am in the best of Health & spirits & every thing is fine & Dandy up to the present. The only thing is the Jerry pays us a visit sometimes & gives me a bit of a run to the slit trench but I always manage to beat him to it & a lot of my mates too. I tell you he has got me as thin as a whippet pup so don't go telling me that you are long & lean if you could only see me now I think that you could just about give me a couple of stone & that is only through running to the trench so if I am over for a couple of more years I think that I will just about fade out. Well Pal I suppose you want to know something about the place. Well to tell you the truth I could sum it up in about 1/2 Doz words but of course I will have to skip those words and do my best to explain it to you. The very first thing that greets you in the morning is sand, dust & flies of course. Flies are the first thing as they come in to the dugout just at day break & start crawling all over you until you have to get out of the flea bag, that is what I call the blankets as no matter what you do to them you cannot get rid of the fleas out of the blankets & when you start after them they just dodge around the other side. Oh that is getting away from the subject now so I had better go back to the flies. Well when you get out it is as I have told you, sand, dust & flies & then the work starts. Attend to my truck & then have breakfast of bacon out of the tins * be around to the ordley room for to take the boys down to the beach for a swim in the old Medi. In fact I am writing this letter on the beach waiting for the boys to come out of the water & return again to camp, have lunch out of more tins, you can guess what we all have, the good old stew & not bad either. Then another trip down to the beach with some more & back again for tea & some bully beef this time out of tins again. So now you have the army menu & know what a good cook we have here with us in the form of tins. Now Pal you should almost be able to guess what I would like for the shape of a parcel hat. You ask me to tell you what I would like of course I am leaving it all to you Dot to do the packing of it & as regards to woollens well you can put in a pair of mittens as they are the only things & lng sox that we wear over here. At present there is no use for the mittens but during the winter it gets very cold. So just pack what you think I would like most. The only thing I have not received your parcel yet & I am counting the days when it will arrive so I can chamge my diet a little. I am sorry that I was unable to get down to see you & Mum & Dad before I sailed as I suppose Dad told you all about firm claiming one & it was a busy week for me but when I can get leave I will have my photo taken and send you one of them that is if you would have it. Well if you should see Auntie Lizzie tell her I hope that she is alright again &give them all my regards & anyone else that cares to write to me & don't forget Bob & Ern if he is not working too hard. Now I hope you can read this letter O.K. as paper is scarce & these are the only thing that I can get in Libya so the first chance I get I will write you a long & interesting letter about the places I have seen since I have been over here. There is a lot of places I have seen & I would like to tell you about but I am unable to cram in to this letter as the space is not big enough to tell you all so you had better be contented with this for the time being Pal & if you should happen to see Mum or Dad ask them what has happenned that I have not got any mail from them for over 3 months & I have wrote a lot to them in the past month. Well Dot I think I have come to the end of my letter for news as well as to the end of my paper so I will close this short note hoping to hear from you again , I remain your loving cousin, Bill. P.S. Remember me to all in Williamstown & all at home I hope to see them all in the near future & don't froget Ern & Paula & Little Alex give him this for me XXXXXX."
On 21/10/1941 he wrote "Dear Dot, Just a few lines in answer to your ever welcome letter that I received a few days ago but owing to the things that was coming my way in the form of work & other things I have no had much time to answer it before & I tell you Pal if I answer them all today I will finish with the writers cramp. I have just finished one to Mum & Dad & one to Lil so you can see that I am flat out like a lizard drinking & now before I forget it Pal I must thank you for that parcel you sent I thoroughly enjoyed everything that it contained in fact I have the sox on at the present & they are keeping the old feet real warm as it is pretty cold in Palestine at present, raining like the devil outside & what a picture it is after the dust, flies, fleas, etc. Not only that where I am now the hot showers are great. I was down this morning & I laid under them until the water soaked right through me & was it great (I'll say). So I think those knitted bands that you wa telling me about will not be wanted now not for the present anyhow they might come in handy later on you never can tell. Well Dot, you say that you have only received one letter from me well you should have more by now as I have written straight back again as soon as I have received them all bar this one & the reason for the delay I am not at liberty to tell you but you can understand that I hope so you will have to except my excuse for this one & you say that you have been having a tussel with a jumper for Dad that someone knitted for him & made it big enough for three of us to get into well it must be a size as I have got a snap of both Mum & Dad in their last letter & he looks about 19 stone although you cannot judge a book by its cover he might be just as he always is in the winter chocked up with his old complaint & have Mum going with the mustard plasters as they are only things that seems to do him any good but anyway Dot I am glad that he is OK again & was able to hold that wool for you. Now Dot you ask me the name of the chap that I met over here well to tell you the truth I forgot his name but he was a chap that used to serve you with green vegetables he said that he was a mate of Erns perhaps Ern would know him. He would be about Ern's build with fair hair incline to be ginger that is about all I can tell you about him for the time being but if I can see him again I will remember you to him & get his name & now Dot I have sent you along a few papers from over here the A.I.F. News is what it is called so let me know if you get them after you have finished with them you can give them to Dad to read. Now Dot I think that I have run out of news for the present so I will draw to a close hoping this finds you & your Mum & Dad just like me right in the pink & in the best of spirits. So cheerio Old Pal hoping to hear from you again, I remain your cousin Bill XXXX P.S. Remember me to all in Williamstown & to Ern & Paula & wee Alex & all at home & tell them all that I am in the Pink as I have told you before with no cares or worries for the time at any rate may be a longer letter next time Pal. For wee Alex XXXXX."
From Egypt on 28/07/1942 he wrote "Dear Dot, Well old Pal here is a few lines to let you know that I am still in the Land of the Living although it is quite a while since I have had any word from you I know that you all are wondering how & where I am. Well Pal I know that by the time that you get this note you will or should at least know that I am back among the flies, fleas, dust & sand that is blowing all over my face as I am writing this to you so if their are some mistakes & blotches in it Please forgive me for them all. Well Dot as I have said before I am still in the land of the living & in the best of health& spirits as it has always been said the latter is always hard to break in us Aussies & that goes for all our loved ones at home as well as I know that Lil has not let her dear old chin drop yet & my God never let her & every one else at home for I think that If ever the boys over here that are left were to think that they had, well god help them I don't know what they would do for I tell you Pal they are doing a wnoderful job & at present deeds I know they will never be told until we get home, if ever. I mean if god wills it. I suppose this sounds like a moan to you Pal well to tell you the truth it is when you sit & read in the papers & also your letters about this one & that one getting home, some only a few months away & all us boys being 2 years or more away & been through what we have in the desert. To come back to it I tell you Dot it hurts like H but still i suppose we have got to take it & do what others are doing, just carry on what do you say, well lets forget about it & get on to another subject. I had a letter from Lil the other day & she tells me that she has got to work long hours & that every 3 weeks she has got to start at 3 O'Clock on Sunday & finish at 11 O'Vlock the following Saturday & by the time she finishes she is too tired to go out anywhere so I think that is the reason why she has not been down to see you so please excuse her won't you Pal & as regards Billie well she tells me that she has not heard from him for quite awhile since he has been drafted out to his unit somewhere in N.S.W. & I have only received one letter from him since he joined up but I know that he won't forget me or his mother & sisters no matter where they send him. Well old dear how is Mum & Dad keeping as well as yourself. I hope that you are all enjoying all the best of health & also Ern & Paula & wee Alex remember me to them all & give Alex this from me XXXX & do the same to all in Williamstown & give Bob & Emily my regards & wish them all the best of heaalth & happiness & tell them both I hope that all their troubles will be little ones. Well Pal, there was a bonza one put over one of my mates the other day. he received a letter from his wife & in it she tells him that we are known only as the 9th Div at home as the Tobruk rats are all home. Now I ask you PAl, would that not be enough to break your heart without having to come into it for a second lick. The only thing I hope & pray for is that when they think fit to take us out of it again they take us right home & march us, what is left of us, through the streets of Melbourne & other citys & I think that their will be a lot of blank files to be filled & I hope that they will not be filled with those said same heros of Tobruk that is home there now, as there are a lot of things that I can say about them that I cannot put on paper as that man the censor has a very sharp knife & he likes to play around with our letters sometimes so I don't like to give him any chances with my letters if I can help it. Well Dot, I am camped at present close to the old medi & I tell you I make use of it every chance I get the first thing in the morning & the last thing at night & it sort of cleans one up for a good nights sleep for there is no chance throught the day for the flies & of course the night well after you get going & catch a few of your bed mates you can get a bit of a sleep until their family comes along looking for the ones that you have already caught & then away you go & course them through your blankets & get rid of them & by that time it is time to get up as your mates the flies have started & so life goes on in the Desert, one damn thing after another & then along comes Mr. Wind & covers you & your blankets & everything he can find with ust & Dirt including your eating gear & by the time the meal time comes along & you go for dinner or tea as the case may be your temper is frayed to a frazzle & the old cook gets a bit of your mind & he starts after you with a knife or axe or anything he can put his hand onto as his temper is worked up a bit higher than yours & he starts chasing you around, you finish up with more sand in your Dixie than stew not that their was not enough got in when he was getting it ready without more blowing in when he was serving it out & so it goes on day in & day out it makes one disatisfied with everyhting & everyone around about you. There is only one thing that you have not got & that is a lot of wogs about asking you for Buckshees & other things. Thank god for that much. I think that what stops them more than any thing is the Boom Booms as they call the shells. I tell you Dot, they have the wind up properly. I often sit & think what would happen to Egypt if it was left to them to defend & then they sit around & talk about you when you are not listening to them & they ask you if you speak Arabic & of course you say no until you hear them say something that they should not say & then it is the boot for them & pretty hard too & that is the only way of stopping their wagging tongues. Well Pal, I think that I have come to the end of my tether as regards news so I will have to close this for the time being & try & get rid of some of this sand out of my dugout. Perhaps I had better be like a rabbit & go a bit deeper& see if that will stop it from getting in. In fact I only wish I was like a snail sometimes so that I could crawl in & pull a door in after me to close things up tight enough to stop it. Well Pal I will have to say cheerio until next time, I remain your loving Cousin, Bill P.S. Remember me to all at home & all in Williamstown as I have said before & another thing Pal I am still waiting for that photo of yourself & let me know if you know that chap by the name of E.J. RILEY that I was asking you about in my last letter to you Pal so you had better give these to Wee Alex XXXX & these are for yourself XXXXX, Bill"
12/09/1942 "Dear Dot, Just a few lines to let you know that I am in the best of health & sparking on all six & I hope & pray that you & Mum & Dad are the same as well as Ern, Paula & wee Alex & all in WIlliamstown give them all my regards & tell them that I am still alive & kicking & hope to remain the same for a long time to come yet the only thing that I am wild about is that I am still over here in this godforsaken desert but it has its good faults as well as its bad ones the one good thing about it is it is the right place to fight a war in no women or children to suffer or make homeless like there is in other parts of the world & nothing to hurt as regards the growing of crops or anything that goes with farming only a great sandy waste no matter where one looks now & again in the distance you can see a hill or two & that is all for the life of me I cannot see what they want to fight over it for of course when you get down on the other side of Cairo & get into the Nile Valley you can understand why & that great piece of work the Canal they are the things that the Jerry wants we all know & as far as the wogs are concerned they have it they don't seem to care just who wins they say they will be alright of course they are not all alike there are some of them that would give us anything but most of them all they think about is to try & rob you if they can not get their hands into your pockets they rob you when you go in to the shops to buy anything so I have just been thinking of leaving all my buying until I get home ( of course that is if ever I do) not only that Pal the mail question is so uncertain of getting there now as I know that letters are not getting home & it is not right to try & send parcels now is it I know that the postal people are not to blame or the boys that are doing their best on the boats but it is those slant eyed mugs with their tin fish that is causing the trouble but it won't be for long now that the boys that are doing such a good job over there are starting to get into their stride I think that there is a hot time coming to them what say you & it is coming to others as well & not far off either. Well Pal while I am writing this to you their & a big flight of our planes going over to pay Jerry a visit & Oh Boy do they look nice I'll say. I tell you Dot they are a sight for sore eyes to see them eighteen & twenty one at a time I amthankful that that I am not on the receiving end. There are all sortswith fighter escorts they are like a lot of poodles around one big St Bernard but can they do their stuff I'll say. Yanks, tommys & Aussies all in together it is a great show after being up here before seeing nothing but Jerrys over you all the time I can hardly believe my eyes for the start the only thing is the sound of the engine the Hun plane seems to say when he is going over is (where you will have it) over & over againbut ours is just a straight out purr with it that is the only way that I can tell which is which unless they are low of course you look for the markings then & if you see a big white cross on them then it is legs do thy duty & dive for a slit trench no matter who beats you to it in you go on top of them & if you are underneath you fell safer as you get the impression that he cannot see you but still it puts a nasty feeling in your mouth. Say dear here is a bit of news for you while I am writing this it has started to rain the first I have seen since I was in Syria & the first in the Desert since last March 12 months ago not much but a little & that is something by the look of the sky I think that it has blown right over us & gone down south for I am camped on the beach but I hope that it lands in the right place & lays the dust a bit for these boys that is out in it what say you. There has just been two more flights gone over eighteen in each of them how's that good work I should say. I think I spoke too soon about the rain as the sun has come out hotter than ever & brought more flys than ever with it I was wondering where they had got to the last couple of Days they have not been so thick about as they have been but they sure making up for it now they are getting like swarms of bees again so I am in for a bad time I suppose. Oh that reminds me Pal before I forget it I must thank you for that parcel that you sent me in June I enjoyed every thing that you snet in it received it in the right place in the Desert & I sent you a cable right away & have just received yours in answer so that is not bad is it I send Lil one every fortnight I think that is the best thing to do as it keeps her from worrying so much over me as I know that she does a good bit of that & over Bill as well but I hope by the time that you get this that he is out of it & if so that will take some of the worry off her. Don't you think. I suppose some people will have something to say about him but 16 is a bit young for him to be in the army but it shows that he was game to have a go at it & that is one thing in his favour Don't you & say Dot how is Bob getting along I suppose he is an old married man by this give him & family my kindest regards & also Uncle Bill & Auntie Lizzie & also the rest of the family. Well Dot old Dear I think that I have run right out of news for the present other than Don't go & sell all the eats at the Dug out save a little for the 9th Divvie when it gets home. Of course I don't know just when that will be after it is all over I suppose as it looks that we are what I told you in the last letter the M.A.F. (Men Aust. forgot) what do you think or at least that is what we are called over here & we have changed our name from the Tobruk rats to Ali Barbers Morseheads Twenty Thousand Thieves as the other name was taken by someone else so I will draw to a close with tons of love & kisses XXXXX to you & Mum & Dad, I remain your Cousin Bill P.S. Remember me to all over there & give Wee Alex these for me XXXX Paula XXX tell Ern not to get jealous, Bill XXXX"
01/10/1942, Egypt, "Dear Dot, Just a few lines in answer to your ever welcome letter I received yesterday. You wrote it on the 26 7 42 & I am pleased to hear that you are all well over there & enjoying the best of health just as I am here. Of course that is in health I mean, as one can not enjoy being in this place too longafter spending all the time that I did in it before, but I suppose I should not complain but thank the good lord for small mercies after the way things have turned out over your part of the globe but how we would all like to be over there for all that. Well Pal I have had some bad news since I received your cable a couple of weeks ago of which you should know all about but I suppose we have all got to go that way some time or other but I only wish it had not occurred until I had got home & then I would have been able to have shared the trouble with Mum & perhaps taken a big load off of her shoulders but I suppose the Lord has laid it down that way & that is all there is to it so I will only have to grin & bear it just like others have done that are over here with me. But for all that I would have liked to have known just what the complaint was if it was the old one or not which I think it was judging by what you tell me the weather is like over there & it always played up with Dad you know & you say that it is playing up with your Dad as well. Lets hope that the shock of losing his brother does not hurt him any as I know that he will worry a lot knowing that there is only 3 brothers left now. You know that Dad & Uncle Jack were the only ones that used to stick together. The others, ah well I have no need to tell you anything about them as you know more about the happenings than I do as Dad was not one to tell me much about the happenings down home. He was what you call an oyster where they were concerned but I suppose it was better that it happenned while I am over here. But I will miss him when I get back again more than anyone will ever know. Well Dot you ask me if I get the papers that you sned over to me, well Dot to be truthful I have only received about 4 balls of them other than what you put in the parcels. I may say that perhaps they may go to the hospitals as a lot of them do if papers happens to go to the wrong unit they never readdress them like they do the letters but pass them around to the boys in the unit that they happen to go to. I think that the last lot of papers that I got from you was in Palestine & I wrote & thanked you for them but never mind Pal if I don't happen to get them someone else does just the same as us boys in my unit gets someelses & hands them around the camp. But as you ask me Dot about them I have got to tell you I know that it is hard for all you good people to got the the trouble that you do in sending them over & not to reach the ones that they are intended for but that is the way that they have in the army & that is the way we have got to abide by for if the postal people were to readdress them they say that they would be carting papers around all the time & while I am on the subject I must thank you for that last parcel that you sent. I thought that by sending the cable thanking you for it it would be quicker than by letter that is the reason for me doing so as I know that you always want to know that I get them O.K. & it is nice to know what pleasure that it gives me to get them & to tell you the truth Dot did I go to town on all those nice things that you sent. It reached me in the right spot in the desert & if all goes well I may be able to show you one of these days before I get some for by the look of things I think that it will be a long time yet before I see Aussie's sunny shores agian. It is almost 2 years now since I left them & god knows when I will see them again but to tell you the truth it can not be quick enough for me as I am sick of it all & I miss Lil & the kiddies more & more each day I am away from them God blees & keep them safe from harm while I am over here & also your Dad & your Mum. Well Dot, you say that Alex is beginning to get to that mischievous age now & getting stuck into all the trouble about the place well he wouldn't be a Smith if he didn't as they are always into all the mischief about the place. At least I was & by the way you speak I think that he must take after Ern as he used to do his share when he was young I'll bet yes & you as well and you say that he is having a go at the bread tin well what is wrong with that, a Smith failing, you must look after the inner man you know so why worry over that while he eats like that it is better than paying out a big Dr's Bill isn't it at least I think so & I'll bet his grandad thinks so too & you say that he has had a tumble that will do him good, make him hard for when he starts playing football for that mug football team Williamstown Ha ha, one to me. But I am sorry to hear that he burnt his hand the way he did & I am glad to hear that he got over the gastric flu alright as that knocks the stuffing out of the kiddies when the weather is so cold like you say it is over there at present & I know just how cold it can be in Melbourne at this time of the yeear but over here it is perfect, a bit cold at night but during the day all I walk around with is a pair of shorts & my boots & sox on as it is too hot for anything else in fact Dot if some of those Beach Sheiks were to see any sun tan they would give me a thousand pound for it in fact some of my mates call me the wog. The only thing is I talk English too good to be one of them but I think that if us boys are over here much longer & get much blacker the heads of Aussie will be asking for our permits to land there for I think that we will be all taken for wogs & we'll have to apply for naturalisation papers as they won't know us. Well Dot I done as you ask as regards A.J. REILLY but he did not know you by name but when I showed him you snap he remembered you & he sends his regards to you in return he said I did not know that you had a cousin working there I said now Jack you did not know that I existed until I joined this unit did you but I knew what he menat just the same for when one is with men for over 2 years they think that they know you all your life & you all become like brothers instead of mates & that is what the Army does to you when you are in it long enough & now Dot I will have to finish this letter tomorrow as I have just heard the bell ringing for tea did I say Bell I meant the cook going crook at me for not hurrying up, if I don't I will miss out. Well Dot here I am again having another go at this. You will notice that I could not carry on until this morning owing to the black out & no electric light in my house over here but I expect to have it on any time now of course that is if Jerry will allow us for as soon as it gets dark he starts his taxi service & makes things very uncomfortable for us but not as bad as he was in Tobruk but almost it looks as if he has the wind up to come out in the daylight or when any of our planes are around as our boys have a Hoo Doo on him for our boys are just giving him H over here now as regards his air force. Of course they pay us a visit through the day sometimes but they are that far up that you cannot see them with the naked eye & you take no notice of them until the eggs start whistling down & then it is legs do thy duty for the slit trench & (Oh boy do I go I'll say) but I think that I am getting too old for I am nearly always last so I think that I will have to go into training again what say you. Well old pal I see by the papers that there is quite a number of cases over there of young girls & women being molested in the streets at present what is wrong with them why haven't they got a lot of men that is unfit for the services patroling the streets to try & protect you women from that sort of thing Dot. I think that it would help the police for they must be very busy at present with a lot of other things that is appearing in the papers & I think that it would not hurt to try it anyway do you if they were to give them permission to give them a real good hiding with a strap or something it might have a lot to help & clean up that sort of thing & then a respectable young girl or married women could walk about with safety don't you think as there is no mistake a woman when she has been working in a factory or business of any kind does want a little fresh air sometimes. And now Dot as regards the papers that I spoke about in this letter I must say that the postal ordley has just handed me a page of them so I think that I spoke a bit too soon when I said that I never received them but never mind Pal, I am pleased that I received before I had finished this letter so now I think that I have just about run right out of news for this time so I will close hoping that this finds you & all at 19 Verdon St right in the Pink & in the best of spirits, Your Cousin Bill P.S. Remember me to all in Williamstown & tell them that I am still alive & kicking & remember me to Ern & Paula & give wee Alex these for me XXXXXXXXX Bill. Yourself XXXXXXXX."
Egypt 04/11/1942 "Dear Dot, Just a few lines in answer to 2 of your welcome letters I received yesterday & also the card of the day out. They were dated 6 9 42 & the 13 9 42 so they were not too long in getting over to me although by the dates that you gave in your letter about mine well they have certainly taken there time in getting to you. There is a few in between April & July's letters but lord only knows just where they are perhaps the fish are trying to read them by now, if so God help them if they can understand my writing & spelling as you know that I am not too good at either but anyway Dot I do my best & that is the main thing. Well Pal, I am glad to hear that Mum & Dad & yourself & all In Williamstown are enjoying the best of health & sparking on all six just the same as I am over here as well as can be expected but the spirits are at a low ebb after the blow of losing Dad. he was a great Pal & Father to us all & I tell you Dot I will miss his smiling face more than anyone will ever know. All the others will have got over it by the time I get back, all but Mum & I but I think that I can take it on the chin for her sake what do you think. I must thank you for telling me all about his sickness but Lil (God bless her) sent me a cable telling me that he had passed away so all the letters that came after was not so hard to take but by the way that Lil spoke in her letter she was not going to tell me until I got home but I am glad that she did as it would have been worse then than it is now, what do you think. A funny thing I received her letter the same day as I did yours but as usual I had to open hers first & yours next so they both came together but as I said before I will miss him a lot. There will be no more games of crib & no more football matches with him like there used to be & no more tug of war contests with him but never mind I suppose we all have got to face it some time or other it is something that we all cannot miss & when it comes my turn I will know that he will be waiting for me there with all the Aunties & Uncles that have gone before him. The only thing is that I hope that Mum gets over it alright. I only wish that I had been along side of her when it happenned as I know that is what Dad would have liked more than anything in the world but god willed it that it must happen while I am away so I hope that Lil took my place with her like I know that she would as she knows that it would be my wish that she did. How did your Dad take it? O.K. I hope, as they thought a lot of one another in fact they all did for that matter, but they seemed to be different to the others somehow what do you think & Uncle George & Aunt Polly & Lizzie. I hope they are all O.K. but tell Dad from me to take the greatest of care of himself & now with that part over I think that I had better get on to some news thanking you once again for all you have done although I know that you do not want thanking for it. Now Dot what is this I see in your letter that you have been on the sick list. That is not right, look come over here in the desert with me & I bet you will not get sick again. All I can get here are a few wog sores I think had better explain that no matter when you knock a piece of skin off your hands they seem to fester & no matter how you look after them you cannot heal them I think that it must be caused through the snad & flies but the climate is wonderful it is supposed to be winter here now but through the day all I wear is a singlet & shorts sometimes no singlet but at night that is the time that you want the clothes on for it gets like an ice box towards morning & is it cold, I'll say. A cold day in Melbourne has nithing on the nights here & you say to take care of myself now I ask you did you ever see a Smith that did not take care of themselves if not here is one that will & I don't mean maybe so don't worry over that part but leave it to me. You know what Lord Haw HAw said about us in Tobruk He said that we were 20 ft under & still digging well I am still the same, can't get low enough in the ground when his planes come humming around which is not very often now thanks to the boys in the air. The only time we hear them now is at night. They are not game to come out in the daylight they have got the wind up properlky so don't worry over me not taking care of myself when I know that Lil & the kiddies & also all you down home are praying for my safety how can I do anything else.
And so you have met that big son of mine & you do not know just who he is like. Well Dot I can tell you & I have not seen him for 2 years. When I left home he was getting more like Dad every day but of course he can alter as he gets older & by the way you speak he must be but if he only follows in his footsteps I will be pleased & grow up the man his Grandad was, that is all I want & I think that he will as he promised me that he would look after his Mum & sisters until I got back & by the way that Lil writes I think that he is doing it now that he is out of the army.
Well Dear you say that dog & horse racing is being cut down well it is about time for by the A.I.F. News that we get over here with all the latest news from home there seems to be a lot that could be doing something to help win this war other than visiting those places & the same goes for the football as well. When one sits & reads about the players the same names that was playing before the war started & still going & younger men than me by far it makes one sit & think if they have any conscience at all or are they just sitting back & waiting or trying to get as much money as they can while others are protecting them. I do not mean those that are doing their bit in the munitions or any other work but those that arejust waiting for the call up instead of hopping in and doing it will not do any harm if they were to cut them out all together now would it & as regards the beer question well that has gone beyond me for their is not any Aussie beer to be had by us boys over here. All that we can buy if we want it is Yankee beer or local & the yankee costs 2/3 per bottle & the local costs 1/6 per bottle. So the only thing to do is to go without. If it was Aussie that you could get it would be O.K. then you would know that the money was going home again. But I think that the Canadians and the Yanks are getting enough now & the same goes for the wogs. So myself; well beer & I have had a falling out for some time past in fact for over 12 months now for that reason so it won't hurt those at home to go without now. Well Pal since starting this letter darkness overtook me so I had to leave it until today 5 4 42 so I had better get going if I want to try & catch the mail so here I go.
Just get an earful of this the time is 10:30 a.m. & one of my mates has just bought me over a big mugful of cocoa & is it any good (I'll say) some of mutual stores all the way from Melbourne & am I going to town on it. Well I will leave that to you to think what I would be doing with it, the only thing is that I have got to eat army biscuits with it & that is not too good but my mate has a good name for them, Desert Creams, all you have got to do is to close your eyes & you think that you are eating bricks they're that hard, but still why growl, they are better that having none at all, what do you think. The only thing that worries me is that I don't break my plate on them. Now Dot you say that young Alex is in tp all the mischief about the place, tell you what, get him some Desert Creams & see if they will keep him quiet. I'll bet they will, but never mind he is better like that than being sick & regards that offer for that air raid shelter. I am afraid that you will ahve to contact my mate Stan as he has been lucky enough to be taken home with the Commanding Officer as Batman driver the reason is that he has been driving him for the past 18 months, not only that his wife has been very sick she has been operated on twice for her spine and the officer knows all about her so he got permission to take him with him. So as I was saying you had better get in touch with him & get him to do it for the war may be over by the time I get home & you won't want it so that will let me out in fact I think that you should try & get in touch with him. He is a great scout. He was just like a brother to me & I miss him a lot I can tell you although I still have Tom here with me but Stan was different somehow. If I wanted any advice would go to him & he would do the same to me that is how him & I got along over here together all through everything from the start & then home he goes, but good luck to him as he deserves it for if his poor wife has what I think she has he will be needed there. Here is his address Dot, his private one I mean, Mr S BIGGINS c/o Mr J BIGGINS (Northfield) 16 Elizabeth St., Malvern SE4, Melbourne. That is the address that he gave me so if you was to get in touch with his fatherhe would be able to tell him all about him. I don't want you to think that you are a stranger to him because you are not as I have shown your snap to him, in fact I have read your letters out to him so do try & contact him for my sake & he will be able to tell you all about me over here he may take a walk into the dugout & ask for you as he knows that you spend a lot of time there. If he does just tell him to fix the shelter & save me doing it O.K. Well old dear (that sounds like the lady with the shawl that used to follow Richmond AH AH) this Rats of Tobruk question. Let us forget all about it & the (MAF) as well. I did not mean that we would be forgotten by our loved ones but by the heads of the country as they don't worry as long as there hides are safe that is all they want & the rats part of it, well if you see Stan Ask him what he thinks about it & he will tell you as his views is the same as mine. Oh By the By i have sent you a book that is being printed by the government called Soldiering On. it deals with the war at home & in the M.E. it is not much Dot but love the giver just the same. Well old Pal I think that I have come to the end of my tether as regards news so I will close thanking you for all those kind words & everything you have done for me in my sad loss. They cheered me up a lot & made it a bit easier for me to bear I can tell you so give my love to Mum & DAd & my regards to all in Williamstown & tell them that I will do as you say take care of myself never fear & wish them all a Merry Xmas & a Happy New Year for me, not forgetting Ern, Paula & wee Alex, so I will say Cheerio until next time, I remain your Cousin Bill P.S. Remember me to Uncle George & family & give them all the compliments of the season for me & give Alex a big hug for me & tell him that I hope to see him soon as this strife is over so Cheerio once again, Bill
Give these to Alex XXXXXX Mum & Dad XXXX thanks a lot for the photo of the dugout I think you you are the one up."
He arrived back in Melbourne on 25/02/1943 after the battle for El Alamein. On 16/07/1943 he was given a 'B' medical rating which classed him as fit for only restricted duty and so he was assigned to 2nd Aust Corps which at the time was in Ravenshoe or Ravenswood on the Atherton Tablelands. On 09/03/1944 he was discharged after a total of 1209 days service of which 832 days were spent on active service abroad.
His was awarded the 1939/45 Star, the Africa Star with 8th Army Clasp, the Defence Medal, the War Medal and the Australia Service Medal.
On returning to Melbourne he found his only son Billy had also joined up and so went in to Vic Barracks where he kicked up a "helluva stink" in an effort to get him out. By that time however Billy was somewhere in the Owen Stanley Ranges in Papua New Guinea. Bill was convinced to leave him in.
His first job after his discharge was as a truck driver with Yellow Express Carriers Ltd. He later worked as a wharfie.
26. Jessie Ellen SMITH (Henry James, 10). Born, 1913, in Carlton, Vic.
She married Richard Harry MAWSON, before 1937. Born in Vic. Died in Vic.
i.Richard Harry. Born, 20 Mar 1937, in Vic. Died, 23 Mar 1937, in Vic.
45 ii. Edward James (Teddy).
46 iii. Douglas Charles.
47 iv. Dorothy (Dotty) May.
48 v. Jean Lorraine.
27. George Robert SMITH (Henry James, 10). Born, 4 Jan 1917, in Vic.
He married Kathleen. Children:
28. James Leslie SMITH (George Robert, 11). Born, 21 Sep 1899, in Vic. Died, 28 Jan 1966.
He married Lucy Victoria KNIGHT. Born in Tas. Children:
49 ii. Lexie Thelma.
29. Thelma Annie Lydia SMITH (George Robert, 11). Born, 25 Dec 1907, in Vic. Died, 8 Mar 1979.
She married, first, Bertram John Nicholas SYMONS, 23 Oct 1929. Born, 9 May 1900. Died, 28 Jul 1948. Children:
50 i. Milton John Ward.
She married, second, Harry MORROW.
30. Gladys Edith SMITH (George Robert, 11). Born, circa 1914, in Vic.
She married John Herbert RAVENSCROFT. Born, 5 Mar 1916. Died, 7 Feb 1983.
i.Wendy Joy. Born, 14 May 1954. She married Neil Douglas MCFADZEAN, 7 Apr 1979.
ii.Ian John. Born, 28 Feb 1956. He married Phoebe RAMOS, 21 Oct 1990.
31. Jean SMITH (Charles Edward, 12).
She married Jim WALKER. Children:
i.Wilma. She married David RITCH.
32. David Whalley SMITH (Chester Hamilton Whalley, 13). Born, 5 Apr 1913, in Williamstown, Vic.
He married Jessie DOBSON. Children:
51 i. Pamela Hammond.
52 ii. Roger David Charles.