Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Digger Smith and the First World War

Over the next week or so I’m going to follow the wartime experiences of a number of Smith families with links to Coburg. Smith is the most common surname in the English-speaking world so the experiences of the various Smiths (and Smyths and Schmidts) will give a good idea of what everyone was going through, at home and on the Front.

My inspiration for this bit of research was Peter Stanley’s book, Digger Smith and Australia’s Great War, Pier 9, Millers Point, NSW, 2011.

If you want an overview of the impact of the First World War on Australian society, I recommend this beautifully produced book. 

In turn, Peter Stanley took as his inspiration, C.J. Dennis’s Digger Smith. This, too, is well worth a read, if only to remind yourself of Dennis's mastery of the Australian vernacular. 

Click here to read Digger Smith by C.J. Dennis. 


  1. That's a good project, and as I like Peter Stanley's books, I will certainly hunt that one out.

  2. It's well worth a read. If only Smith were an easier name to research!

  3. What a great idea Cheryl! Just love it. An innovative way to tell the story of the Great War.

  4. I hope so. Peter Stanley's book is a real inspiration. It must have taken great determination to trawl through all the Smith records to get the information together!

  5. I'd like to find a copy as I'm the grand son of Robert Charles smith there is 38 pages on him ww1 from Anzac cove to France with all his brothers

  6. Thanks for getting in touch. As you are probably aware, I'm working on the huge task of putting together as much material as I can on Coburg servicemen and it would be wonderful if you were willing to share the stories of your Smith relatives.

    1. yeah well brother Cyril and Robert never spoke again until the 1960's if that helps

  7. I think that must have been a very common experience. Men returned, put their war experience behind them and tried to build a new life. Then there was the Depression and the fight to survive, followed by another war. No wonder they didn't talk about the war. Your family's experience must have been shared by many other families.