3137 Pte. James Smith was born at Kyneton in 1879 to David Smith and Elizabeth Gardner Smith. He was a farrier and was a second cousin of the Forrest family of Phillip Island. He was a farmer on Phillip Island when he enlisted on 5th July 1915 with the 10/6th Battalion. He embarked with his chum Allan McFee on the Osterley on 20th September 1915. He was taken on strength with the 6th Battalion at El Kebir, 7th January 1916.
“After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the battalion returned to Egypt where they received reinforcements and carried out defensive duties. During this time the AIF was reorganised and expanded as fresh divisions were raised. In order to spread experience across the new units, the existing units were split up and the 6th Battalion provided half its experienced officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) to the 58th Battalion. In March 1916, it sailed to France and deployed to the Somme, where it was sent to a quiet sector near Fleurbaix. Its first combat came on 12th June when the battalion launched a trench raid on the Germans opposite their position. Their first major action in France came later, however, at Pozières in July 1916, during which time they lost 102 men killed. Later the battalion fought at Ypres, in Belgium, before returning to the Somme in winter, during which time they undertook defensive duties as well as patrols into no man’s land.”
James died on 14th September 1916 at No. 3 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, Belgium from wounds received in action at Ypres. He was buried at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium.
James’ half brother 2950 Pte.George Hubert Vincent Smith, 7th Battalion, was killed in action at Ypres on 4th October 1917.
James Smith is commemorated on the Cowes Obelisk, the Phillip Island RSL Book of Honour and the Phillip Island RSL Roll of Honour.