Albert James Smith was born about 1868 at Wallington, Surrey, England. He was the fourth son of parents Edmund Hamilton Smith and Mary Ann née Death, with three younger sisters. At the age of 13, his occupation was listed as fishmonger boy on the England census. It is not known when he arrived in Australia. Records indicate that Smith married Agnes Jessie Dale at Wilcannia, New South Wales, in 1897, a marriage that was also registered at Paddington in Sydney during the same year. A son, Alan John Dale, was born in Sydney during 1898.
Before he enlisted, however, Smith composed the song titled “The Anzac Marseillaise”. The publication of this song was announced in the Brighton Southern Cross newspaper on 12 August 1916. Smith later composed another song, sometime between 1917 and 1918, titled “Give me dear Australia”, after enlisting with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).
Reports at the time of his enlistment gave Smith’s age as 44 years old, rather than 49, when he enlisted in the AIF on 23 March 1917. It is believed that he changed his age in order to meet the age requirement of 45 years. He had been living at 291 Bay Street, Brighton, Victoria, with his wife, Jessie Agnes Smith, since 1916. The electoral roll for 1916 shows his occupation as grocer and he enlisted with the occupation of baker.
Smith embarked from Melbourne aboard the HMAT Nestor with the Australian Army Medical Corps (AAMC) on 21 November 1917. During January 1918, he was admitted to hospital, for reasons unknown, and joined the AAMC Training Depot located at Park House. Smith departed England via Southhampton on 4 October 1917 and joined the 12th Field Ambulance in France on 14 October 1918. He was granted leave to London between 23 March and 6 April 1919, and left Belgium on 23 March 1919. He returned to Belgium on 7 April 1919, and returned to his unit which was stationed there at the time. He left Belgium on 21 April 1919 to return to Australia and arrived in France on 29 April. He returned to England from France on 30 April 1919 and was stationed at Hurdcott and Fovant during the following months.
Smith departed the UK on 23 July 1919 aboard the troopship HT Main. He arrived back in Melbourne on 11 October 1919 and is believed to have continued to reside at the Bay Street residence in Brighton. Smith and his wife, together with their son Alan, a painter, moved to a new residence in Rosebery Avenue, North Brighton, sometime before 1922.
Albert James Smith died on 22 August 1938.