The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Thomas Ernest
- Nick Name:
- Jerry (Tom) to his family
- Regimental #:
- Section Orderly
- ‘B ’ Company, No. 8 Platoon
- Place of Birth:
- Norseman, Western Australia
- Father's Name:
- Thomas William Smith
- Mothers's Name:
- Sarah Jane Smith (nee Leighton)
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Epitaph, Labuan Memorial, Panel 19, Age 32.
- Selarang Camp and Barracks Changi
- ‘E’ Force Borneo
- Cause of Death:
- Pulmonary Tuberculosis and Beri-Beri
- Place of Death:
- Sandakan No1 Camp
- Date of Death:
Above: Ern or ‘Jerry’ Smith
SMITH, Private, THOMAS ERNEST, WX8731, A.I.F. 2/4 M.G. Bn., Australian Infantry. 18 December 1944. Age 32. Son of Thomas William and Sarah Jane Smith, of Grass Patch, Western Australia. Panel 19.
Labuan Memorial, Malaysia.
Thomas Ernest born 1912 is younger brother to Robert (Bob) Leighton Smith WX8736 born 1908. The brothers enlisted 23 October 1940 and joined 2/4th’s ‘B’ Company, No. 8 Platoon.
Bob Smith was KIA 11 February 1942 at West Mandai Hill where 8th Platoon was fighting. Bob was one of 4 men from 8th Platoon to lose his life that day, the others were – Sgt. Richard Sandilands Second- in -Charge, WX7325 Ray Carruthers and WX7240 and Don Day who died of wounds.
Thomas William (Will) Smith born 1874 Victoria married 1904 Eaglehawke, near Bendigo to Sarah Jane Leighton who was born 1885 Victorian Goldfields.
Tom and Sarah moved to Norseman where their seven children were born, one daughter and six sons.
William Alfred born 1905
Robert Leighton born 1908 – 2/4th KIA 11 February 1942
Myrtle Jean born 1910
Thomas Ernst born 1912 – 2/4th died Sandakan December 1944
James Henry born 1914
Leonard Richard born 1916
Edward John born 1918 – WX11520 2/28th Battalion, died 9 September 1943, Busu River, New Guinea. Ted was one of 13 soldiers ‘missing’, (drowned) at the flooded and treacherous Busu River crossing when his Battalion was being pursued by Japanese. Being a Goldfield’s boy he was possibly unable to swim and was swept away. His body was never found.
Tom’s father and miner, Thomas William (Will) died 1920 of Pneumoconiosis at Wooroloo Sanatorium aged 58 years. His mother Sarah was left with 6 children at that time, whose ages ranged from 2 years to 15 years.
Sarah remarried in 1924 to George Blythe Jones. Sadly George died four years later in 1924 aged 42 years in a shooting accident.
Sarah died at Norseman in 1963 aged 78 years, having never left the goldfields of WA and surviving many hardships and personal tragedies.
She had to endure the news her three sons would not be returning to Australia from WW2 – Bob KIA February 1942, youngest son Ted drowned September 1943 New Guinea and Tom died illness Sandakan, Borneo December 1944.
Thankfully, James Henry and Leonard Richard who enlisted with 2/28th, did survive to RTA.
- Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore
- Sandakan - Borneo ***
- Lintang Officers Camp, Kuching - Sarawak