The toll on those left behind!

As we mark Remembrance Day, it is also important to note the suffering of the loved ones left behind. Many families kissed and hugged their sons goodbye only to never set eyes on them again.

Remembrance Day commemorates the signing of the Armistice to end World War I at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

In WWI alone between 1915 and 1918, more than 2800 sets of Australian brothers perished at Gallipoli, Palestine and on the Western Front.

One of the most well-known families were the Smiths of Yongala in South Australia. Six of seven brothers were killed in action during World War I. The Smith boys included the two youngest, Errol and Aubrey, who used false names to avoid their parent’s consent as they were under 21.


The brothers who died were Herbert William, Frederick Walter, Alfred Ernest, Clarence Leslie (Military Medal), Errol Victor and Aubrey Lyall. The lone survivor was the oldest brother Francis Hume Smith who died in 1923.

More than 150 families lost three sons and at least five more lost four, but no other family’s sacrifice comes close to Frederick and Maggie Smith of Yongala (population 240).

Great War historian Professor Peter Stanley from the Australian Defence Academy said the Smith brothers story was unique. In 2015 he said thousands of men enlisted under false names and hundreds of those simply disappeared without trace after being killed in action.

Additional information courtesy The Herald Sun.

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