Next

Harry MERCER-SMITH


Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Lance Cpl 795 21y10m 29/08/14 17/06/15 DW 5

Lance Corporal Harry Mercer-Smith (1892 - 1915)

Booklet

Family background and early life

Harry Mercer-Smith was born at Brisbane on 23 October 1892, son of Sidney Mercer-Smith and Amy Maud (nee Robjohns). His parents were married by the bride’s father, the Rev. Henry T. Robjohns, MA, a Congregational minister and author.

Harry’s father, then Navigating Lieutenant on HMQS Gayundah, the main unit of Queensland’s old naval defence organisation later became Captain Mercer-Smith, Commander, Royal Australian Naval Reserve in the Port of Brisbane.  Harry’s mother, like her father, was a writer.  The family included an older sister Frances and three sons – Harry, Sydney and Victor.  Sir Charles Kingsford Smith was their cousin.

As a student attending Brisbane Grammar School in 1908, Harry was a member of the School Cadet Corps.  After apprenticeship in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, he became a telegraph and telephone engineer.  While working in Townsville he was a member of the Rifle Club.

Enlistment and service

Harry received an early service number 795, enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 31 August 1914.  He joined the 9th Battalion and embarked from Brisbane on HMAT A5 Omrah on 24 September 1914.  Early in 1915 he was appointed Lance-Corporal and he took part in the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April. 1915.

Died of wounds - Gallipoli

In May, he was severely wounded twice and was evacuated for medical treatment to Valetta Hospital, Malta where he “died of wounds received in action” on 17 June 1915.  Lance Corporal Smith is buried in the Pieta Military Cemetery, Malta.

Harry’s two younger brothers also served in the Great War of 1914 – 1918.  In a letter to the Department of Army, Canberra, in March 1967, Harry’s sister, Mrs Frances Bowerman of Mackay, Queensland, claimed the Anzac Medallion and Badge “about to be issued”.  She wrote: 

“My parents died many years ago and I am the eldest of the family, only one younger brother also survives.”

The 9th Australian Battalion Memorial in Anzac Square honours the hundreds, Harry Smith among them, who gave their lives:

“IN EVERLASTING MEMORY

OF 45 OFFICERS AND 1049 OTHER RANKS

OF THE 9TH BATTALION  A.I.F.

WHO LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES

IN THE GREAT WAR 1914 – 1919

FOR KING AND EMPIRE.

THIS MONUMENT IS PLACED

IN THE CAPITAL CITY OF THEIR LAND

THAT WHAT THEY DID

MAY NOT BE FORGOTTEN

BY THEIR COUNTRYMEN.”


Bibliography

•    National Archives of Australia, war records
•    Brisbane Grammar School Archives, The Golden Book
•    The Brisbane Courier, 25 January 1890, page 4; 17 August 1933, page 20
•    Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour and other records


Prepared by Noel Adsett, Brisbane.  July 2014.

 

 

 

SLQ Historypin – Linking our digital stories to the world.

The Lives, Links and Legacy Stories are being shared through the State Library of Queenland's QANZAC 100: Memories for a New Generation Historypin Hub. Visit this site:


Know anything about this person or want to contribute more information?

Please contact us at staheritage@gmail.com