Missing in action – Alfred Henry Smith

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Private Alfred Henry Smith at the time of enlistment, September 1914.

Alfred Henry Smith, born in South Australia and educated in Claremont, enlisted for the AIF at the age of 21. He nominated his mother, Mary Smith of Albert Street Claremont as his next of kin. Smith joined the 11th Battalion and after training at Blackboy Hill, embarked at Fremantle on 2 November 1914, leaving his sweetheart, Ivy Gunn.

Arriving in Egypt, he trained with the 11th Battalion until required to serve in the Gallipoli landing on 25 April 1915. Alfred was killed in action at the landing but was declared missing and presumed dead, along with many others on that day.

Over the next year his mother sent letter after letter asking for information about her missing son. She even lobbied the premier to seek information. His name was never amongst the lists of missing soldiers. All that time Mary Smith held a secret hope that her son was still alive.

A Court of Enquiry held in France in April 1916 declared that Alfred Henry Smith had been killed in action on 25 April 1915, one year before. A few weeks after that decision his mother received a package of her son’s personal effects. However she still had questions. What was the nature of his casualty? And where is his last resting place?

Mary Smith’s questions were never answered. In 1918 she lost another son, Walter Leslie to
the War.

Postcard of 11th Battalion marching from Blackboy Hill before departure from Fremantle. Alf has marked a cross in the card to ensure that his sweetheart can locate him in the picture.

Postcard of 11th Battalion marching from Blackboy Hill before departure from Fremantle. Alf has marked a cross in the card to ensure that his sweetheart can locate him in the picture.

Postcard from Alf Smith to his sweetheart Ivy Gunn from the 11th Battalion training camp at Blackboy Hill, late 1914.

Postcard from Alf Smith to his sweetheart Ivy Gunn from the 11th Battalion training camp at Blackboy Hill, late 1914.