The Soldier's Details

First Name:
Robert Leighton
Nick Name:
Blucher or Bob (or 'Spud' to his family)
Regimental #:
‘B’ Company, Platoon 8
Place of Birth:
Norseman, Western Australia
Father's Name:
Thomas William Smith
Mothers's Name:
Sarah Jane Smith (nee Leighton)
Pre-war Occupation:
Truck Driver
Kranji War Cemetery, Collective Grave, Plot 6, Row E, Grave 13-16, Age 33.
Cause of Death:
Killed in Action
Place of Death:
West Mandai Hill
Date of Death:

General Description

WX8736 Bob Smith
WX8736 Bob Smith


Bob Smith farewell at Noresman
Bob Smith farewell at Noresman
Bob Smith (5th from left) & mates Adelaide
Bob Smith (5th from left) & mates Adelaide
8th Platoon marching in Perth
8th Platoon marching in Perth


Smith Robert L


Bob was KIA 11 February 1942 when fighting with 8th Platoon under the command of Lt. MacKinnon.
Bob was one of four men from this platoon to tragically die that day, the others were – Sgt Richard Sandilands who was second-in-charge, Don Day and Raymond Carruthers.

To read further about this sad incident 

Also please read the Fall of Singapore Service 2021

Bob’s brother Tom, was also in 8th Platoon.  Younger brother Tom went with ‘E’ Force to Borneo, died of Pulmonary Tuberculosis and Beri-Beri December 1944 aged 32 years.
Thomas William Smith born 1874 Victoria married 1904 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 – oldest brother Bill was only son not to enlist.
Robert (Bob) Leighton born 1908 – 2/4th KIA 11 February 1942
Myrtle Jean born 1910
Thomas Ernst (Tom) born 1912 – 2/4th died Sandakan December 1944
James Henry born 1914 WX13475 – also 2/28th survived the same crossing September 1943 at Busu River by being pulled across by a mate who was a stronger swimmer.  He RTA.
Leonard Richard born 1916  WX26648 – Enlisted Dandarragin, also with 2/28th survived the war and RTA.
Edward John (Ted) born 1918 – WX11520 2/28th Battalion, died 9 September 1943, Busu River, New Guinea. Ted was one of 13 soldiers ‘missing’ at the Busu River crossing. Being a Goldfield’s boy he was unable to swim and was swept away. His body was never found.
Bob’s father Thomas William died 20 March 1920 at Wooroloo aged 46 years.  There was a Sanatorium at Coolgardie for TB Patients however it closed about this time and patients with silicosis were relocated  to Wooroloo.   The Coolgardie Sanatorium had been the first in Western Australia to treat TB Patients.


Pte Robert Leighton “Bloocher” Smith (WX8736) –
by Ron Badock WX8729
Ron was 21 when he enlisted with family friend “Bloocher’ Smith. Ten years older than Ron, Bloocher told Ron’s mother Effie that he would look after young Ronnie and see that he safely returned. Ron and Bloocher were assigned to 8 Platoon B Company of the newly formed wholly Western Australian raised 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion.
Bloocher was killed in action on 11 February 1942 at Mandai in the eight day Battle for Singapore. According to Ron, Bloocher was taking cover and poked his head around the corner of a village hut and was shot between the eyes by a sniper. Death was instant. While obviously tragic for Bloocher, Ron said that he would never have survived being a POW as befell the 2/4th and the thousands of other Allied personnel from February 1942 to August 1945. Bloocher was a big man and was not one to easily take orders.
Bloocher Smith was one of three brothers who did not return after the war.
Ron Badock returned home after the end of war.



Bob’s widowed mother was left with 6 children 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.
Sarah died at Norseman in 1963 aged 78 years, having never left the goldfields of WA.
She had to endure the news her three sons would not be returning to Australia from WW2 – Robert KIA February 1942, youngest son Edward drowned September 1943 New Guinea and Thomas Ernst died illness Sandakan, Borneo December 1944.



Read further the story of Sarah Smith and her family