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Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 7 years, 10 months ago

Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington, 1914-1918


The marriage of George Smail, back right, and Olive Davey, front right, at Christ Church Fulham,

London, 15 December 1918.  At back left is George's brother Ernest Smail. George is wearing his silver

service badge on his lapel. Courtesy of Trevor Wilson.


 Smail G S     Pte    2485    George Stanley             2 Pioneer Bn    25    Engineer    Single    C of E        

Address:    Ascot Vale, Ormond Rd, 28    

Next of Kin:    Smail, George Patterson, father, 28 Ormond Rd, Ascot Vale    

Enlisted:    15 May 1916        

Embarked:     A32 Themistocles 28 Jul 1916  


Relatives on Active Service:




Private George Stanley Smail




George Stanley Smail was born in Moonee Ponds in 1891.  He joined the AIF on 15 May 1916, aged 25 years.   He gave his occupation as 'engineer' on his attestation form.  He was sent to Seymour for training and embarked on the Themistocles on 28 July 1916 with the 4th Reinforcements of the 2 Pioneer Battalion.


George's service record is sparse on details of his service, but he was not eligible for the Victory Medal, which means that he never served in a theatre of war, and had done his entire army service in England.  He disembarked at Plymouth on 11 September 1916.  He was probably training at Perham Downs when he was detached for duty at the AIF Kit Store.   His brother Ernest had been attached to the AIF Kit Store on embarkation on 1 August 1916.  As an older brother he could apply for his younger brother to be in his unit, and this may explain how they both came to be located at the Kit Store at 110 Greyhound Road, London.  During his service there, George's address was Men's Hostel, Archery Road, Eltham, London.


The following year George was discharged from the AIF in order to take up work as a Munitions Worker.   A letter dated 24 July 1917 from the Officer in Charge of the Australian Munitions Workers to AIF Headquarters intimated that Smail was a satisfactory workman at the Woolwich Arsenal, and requested Smail be discharged from the AIF.   This took place on 20 July 1917, after one year and 43 days' service.   He was living by this time at the Drill Hall, YMCA, Beresford Street, Woolwich.


No longer in the army, George wore civilian clothes to work, which made him a target for harassment from people who considered an apparently healthy man of his age ought to be in the army, and he applied to the army for a Silver War Badge which would indicate to anyone who saw him that he had served in the army and had been discharged being no longer fit enough to serve.   There was some quibbling over his eligibility, with one stickler saying that badges were for those who had been discharged as 'permanently unfit for all services' rather than 'permanently unfit for general service' which was shown on George's discharge certificate.    There is nothing on his file to say whether the stickler was wrong, or eligibility had changed, but George was awarded his Silver War Badge on 24 April 1918, allowing him to walk unmolested in the streets.


The Silver Badge was even more important when walking out with his future bride, Olive Ella Davey, whom he married in December 1918.   His brother Ernest was present for the happy occasion.  Both the bride and groom gave their usual residence as "The Nook Garage", Sandilands Road, which still exists as a garage in 2016.   


By 1921 the young couple were back at the Smail family home in Ormond Rd, Ascot Vale, and by 1930 they were dairy-farming at Stoker's Siding, Murwillambah, New South Wales.






The members and friends of St. Thomas Harriers assembled at Mr. Smail's residence, Ormond road, Ascot Vale, on Monday evening, 24th July, to say au revoir to his son, George, who is leaving for the front. Mr. T. Cook, vice-president, in making the presentation, eulogised the good qualities of the guest. In responding, the recipient thanked the members for their kindness to him, and expressed the hope that he would be able to give a good account of himself. It is pleasing to know that 30 members of the club have joined the expeditionary forces, and several have already distinguished themselves in the fighting line. During the evening, musical items were rendered by the members and their friends, and altogether, a very enjoyable time was spent, everybody feeling greatly indebted to Mr. and Mrs. Smail for allowing the function to take place at their home, and also for supplying refreshments. The company, before leaving, sang Auld Lang Syne, giving three hearty cheers for Mr. and Mrs. Smail.


The roll of honour, which is to be hung up in the Sunday school, will be unveiled by Rev. Canon W. Hancock, M.A., on Saturday afternoon, 12th August, at 3.30 p.m., at which the parents and friends of the boys, who have given their services for King and Country, are earnestly requested to be present.


PRESENTATION. (1916, August 3). The Essendon Gazette and Keilor, Bulla and Broadmeadows Reporter (Moonee Ponds, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), p. 1 Edition: Morning. Retrieved February 4, 2012, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74593619



War Service Commemorated

Essendon Town Hall R-Y

St Thomas' Anglican Church

Essendon Gazette Roll of Honour With the Colours

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