The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (3661) Private Leonard Ernest Smart, 26th Battalion, First World War

Place Europe: France, Picardie, Somme, Albert Bapaume Area, Gueudecourt
Accession Number PAFU2015/007.01
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 January 2015
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
Description

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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (3661) Private Leonard Ernest Smart, 26th Battalion, First World War.

Speech transcript

3661 Private Leonard Ernest Smart, 26th Battalion
KIA 14 November 1916
Photograph: P05469.002

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Leonard Ernest Smart, who died during the First World War.

Leonard Smart was born in Hobart in 1896, the youngest child of parents George and Louisa. He attended school in Hobart, and was working as a tinsmith when war was declared on 4 August 1914. Perhaps influenced by his time in the Senior Cadets, Leonard enlisted in the AIF in October 1915 at the age of 18.

Leonard was assigned to the 8th reinforcements of the 26th Battalion, and left Melbourne on HMAT Afric on 5 January 1916. After spending some time training in Egypt, Leonard was sent to France and the Western Front in March 1916, where he was taken on strength of his battalion one month later.

Leonard’s first major engagement was at Pozières in late July 1916. As part of the 2nd Infantry Division, the 26th Battalion went into the trenches at Pozières to relieve the exhausted men of the 1st Division. From 27 July until 6 August, the 2nd Division launched multiple attacks on enemy positions at Pozières. Leonard suffered a gunshot wound to his back during the first of these attacks. He was first treated at a Casualty Clearing Station, but was then admitted to the 26th General Hospital in Etaples. Leonard was one of some 6,800 casualties suffered by the 2nd Division during its time at Pozières.

Leonard returned to his unit in late August as it rested in the Ypres sector. Three months later the 26th Battalion was back on the Somme battlefield, this time involved in a series of attacks near the village of Gueudecourt. Heavy rain and muddy ground caused appalling conditions and high casualties. On 14 November 1916, Leonard was part of a second attempt to take the enemy position known as the Maze to the west of Gueudecourt. The 26th Battalion war diary described the attack:

Attack launched as ordered. The left wing of Battalion partially held up by enemy fire. Centre and right obtained a temporary footing in portion of the Maze Trenches … eventually strong enemy rifle and bomb fire drove the whole line back.

Leonard was killed during this attack. The exact particulars of his death are unknown; the report compiled by the officer commanding the 26th Battalion simply stated Leonard had been killed in action in the field. He was 19 years old.

After the war, Leonard was commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France. This Australian National Memorial was unveiled by King George VI in July 1938, and commemorates over 10,700 Australian servicemen who died on the French battlefields and who have no known grave.

Leonard Smart’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour to my right, along with the names of more than 60,000 other Australians who died fighting in the First World War. His photograph is displayed today by the Pool of Reflection where is seen seated on the right.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Leonard Ernest Smart, and all those Australians who have given their lives in the service of our nation.

Kate Ariotti
Historian, Military History Section

Sources:
NAA B2455 SMART LEONARD ERNEST

AWM4 23/43/16: 26th Battalion War Diary for November 1916

Roll of Honour Circular Card

C.E.W. Bean, Official history of Australia in the war of 1914–1918: volume III – the AIF in France in 1916 (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1929).

Commonwealth War Graves Commission website: www.cwgc.org

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