The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (324) Private Frank Stanley Smiles, 19th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Albert Bapaume Area, Flers
Accession Number AWM2016.2.38
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 7 February 2016
Access Open
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Craig Berelle, the story for this day was on (324) Private Frank Stanley Smiles, 19th Battalion, AIF, First World War.

Speech transcript

324 Private Frank Stanley Smiles, 19th Battalion, AIF
DOW 2 December 1916
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 7 February 2016

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Frank Stanley Smiles.

Frank Smiles was born in Albury, New South Wales, in 1883. He was one of ten children born to Thomas and Bridget Smiles. Thomas had been born in Queanbeyan, and began working with a newspaper in Tumut before moving to Albury, where he established a distinguished career as a printer and sports writer for the Albury Banner. Frank Smiles attended St Patrick’s Boys School in Albury and went on to become a tradesman.

Frank enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in February 1915, following some months after his younger brothers Len and Pearce. He was posted to the 19th Battalion, and after period of training left Australia on the troopship Ceramic in June 1915.

Smiles arrived on Gallipoli in August 1915. Little is known of his experience there, although he probably participated in the last action of the August Offensive at Hill 60. His youngest brother, Len, was wounded on the day of the landing and died a few days later in hospital in Alexandria. His brother Pearce wrote:

we gave the Turks something to remember, and we will give them plenty more before this war is over. The casualties were heavy, but the Australians that landed in that terrible hail of lead made a name for themselves that will never die.

Frank Smiles came through Gallipoli unscathed, and was sent to France in March 1916.

The 19th Battalion fought its first major battle on the Western Front near the French village of Pozières in July and August 1916. During this period Frank’s brother Pearce died of wounds he suffered as the result of an artillery blast. Frank’s battalion was fortunate to avoid the heavy casualties suffered by others in its division, and was sent to the quieter “nursery sector” while the other battalions recovered.

By November 1916 the 19th Battalion was back on the Somme near the village of Flers. On 14 November it attacked a German trench: it was successful in capturing its part of the objective line, but suffered more than 370 casualties as a result.

One of those missing after the operation was Private Frank Smiles. A later investigation revealed that he had broken both of his legs during the attack, and had had to be left behind. The Germans confirmed that Smiles had died of his wounds on 2 December 1916 while a prisoner of war.

The names of Frank Smiles and his brothers are listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died during the First World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Frank Stanley Smiles, and his brothers Privates Leonard Kerry Smiles and Ernest Pearce Smiles, who gave their lives for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section

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