The First A.I.F.
Citations & Awards
Life in the Trenches
Bullecourt - Bert’s death
Stories from the Front
More Stories from the Front
Extracts from C.E.W. Bean
Extracts from H.R. Williams
"Red & White Diamond"
Capt. V.E. Smythe notes
Royal Australian Navy
Family who served our country
Letters, cards, papers
Conclusion - Post War
The Next Generations
These pages were written by Margaret Johnston with help from her family and friends.
Chapter 21: Conclusion - Post War
These two poems were written by Percy Smythe after the war.
OUR FALLEN by Percy Smythe
The wild thyme grows on steep Gallipoli,
Soft breezes fan the plains of Palestine,
The sun glares hot on Egypt’s sandy sea.
In France the poppied fields with scarlet shine.
Our Children marched away
In martial glamour,
Past is the passioned day,
And stilled its clamour.
They fought for Freedoms cause,
Guarding the morrow,
Dear bought was the victory,
Hearts droop in sorrow.
Our freedom they have won,
But oh, the price!
Paid with our children’s blood –
O Thou who knowest dread war’s futility,
Teach all mankind to love their fellow man,
Give tolerance for hate and jealousy.
That war might not the world embroil again.
Let the sad lesson burn,
Deep in each mind,
Give men broad sympathy
For all mankind.
May the war’s chastening scourge
Be for our good,
Make of the nations all
If thus the nations can
Love’s wisdom gain
Then our children’s blood
Not shed in vain.
Calm shines the sun on steep Gallipoli
O’er Egypt’s sands, and plains of Palestine.
White crosses mark our dear dead children’s graves.
In France the poppied fields with scarlet shines.
The following verse written by P. E. Smythe was published in the Bulletin – date unknown but it must have been quite a long time after the war.
Backward I look. It’s like a waving dream
With colours melting in a misty haze,
Like tempests lulled in languid peace they seem,
Those far-gone, fearful days.
Backward I look, the Hell of thunder-roar,
When men were torn and crushed in hideous Death,
Sinks, from the clamouring horror long since o’er,
To a fitful breath.
Backward I look, shuddering to think that man
Smote man in warfare’s reeking flame, And yet –
Soothed by the soft grey hand of time, I can
THE SMYTHE BOYS AS I REMEMBER THEM
Before I enter my comments about my uncles Bert, Viv, Percy and Vern, I am writing a few things about their wonderful mother and my grandmother. My grandfather died soon after the war ended and Grannie was the heart of the Smythe clan. The family home at Ramsgate was the hub where the immediate and expanded family gathered periodically. There were twenty-five grandchildren that would often give rise to a crowd of adults and children having friendly times together, as families should do. For my grandmother, this provided her with some happy times in her life to cope with past sadness.
When we visited, there were often others staying, just leaving or arriving in the small home. Irrespective of the numbers involved, my grandmother never seemed to be ruffled by children playing inside and out (although banging doors was a no-no) or the sudden arrival of more family. No one was ever made to feel unwelcome or unwanted.
My memories are of her happy, welcoming, smiling face, her regal, proud bearing and no sign of the responsibility for so many that she often proudly carried on her shoulders. She always had many anecdotes and stories to tell us of her childhood and the family at Jerilderie.
She had the Irish gift for this and though we heard some of them over and over again, we were never tired of crowding around her on the bed in the evening, to hear them again. I loved and always respected her but I also was a bit in awe of her because she was GRANNIE. I am so glad I have no memories of her ever being angry with me, though she spoke sternly to me at times but always justified, as I was not always an angel.
Grannie aged about 18 Grannie as I remember her
BERT: I only know about Bert from written and oral recollections of family members. However, I really feel that he was a part of my life from my earliest years. My mother and his other siblings talked about him a lot and all family members had that wonderful picture of him (with the peripheral ‘heavenly’ type decoration around him drawn by his younger brother and fellow Digger - Percy) on the walls in their homes or with their collection of photos.
I do not ever remember my grandmother speaking about him, my grandfather or her son Lionel, who was born in 1896 and died the same year. Perhaps it did not register with me, as she died when I was eleven but she may well have had such deep and abiding sorrow that she felt unable to discuss these deaths with anyone without getting upset. The photo that she had on her wall of Bert was the largest one that I saw. She refused to have a calendar in the house due to the many sad dates that she did not want to remember, so I was told.
Bert’s youngest brother Gordon (Beau) was very like him and I spent a lot of time with him. He had the same fair wavy hair, bright blue eyes and was very likeable and charming. He teased all his nieces and nephews (as well as susceptive adults including his wife) and always had time to play card games with us. All my cousins who knew him thought he was very clever and he showed us lots of tricks.
I lived with him and his family for short periods and really enjoyed my stays with them and like Bert, he had nicknames for some of us and his two children. Therefore, because of uncle Beau, I had a chance to get a ‘glimpse’ of the ‘real’ Bert.
VIV was allocated a Soldiers’ Settlers Farm after the war and my family lived there for a period of time, when my father was working on his property in the country and I was able to get to know him. He was a kindly man and his wife was like him and they both ‘turned a blind eye’ to minor childish misbehavior. That suited me very well, as their children and I were adventurous and sometimes needed and should have been scolded over some misdemeanors.
Viv was involved with the R.S.L. and he and his wife were part of other social activities in the district. There was a tennis court at the back of their home that was used a lot. They were great neighbours and always very willing to help others around them in times of need.
When the family moved to Sydney before the war, I visited their home, especially during the holidays. After he enlisted in W.W.II, he visited my mother when he had leave and we were very proud of this dapper gentleman in his uniform with his swagger stick. He looked every inch a Major and it is not difficult now for me to picture him as an officer in the line during W.W.I.
Viv at an All Services Dinner in 1968
PERCY went to the University of Sydney, graduating and becoming a teacher after the war. Later, he opened a business - The Oxford Coaching College in Margaret Street, Sydney. He wrote some text books and what were called ‘crib’ books. His ones on Shakespeare’s plays were a great help to me at High School and my son Stephen also found they assisted him in the last few years of his High School English studies.
He kept up with drawing and painting and some family members have some of his works that were found after he died. I am lucky enough to have two oil paintings given to me by his daughter.
His family lived very near my grandmother and was able to 'keep an eye on her welfare'. When my family was in Sydney (and that was often), I spent a lot of time with them, as his daughter Betty (my cousin) is about my age. We stayed with Grannie when my father was looking for work and a place for us to live during the Depression.
Percy was always very kind to me but looking back I believe he thought my parents were remiss in letting me get away with being argumentative and standing up for what I believed were ‘my rights’ at a very young age. He did not have to deal with my behaviour, so we had no problems. He appeared to me to be a typical schoolmaster and was rather serious most of the time, unlike his brothers Viv and Vern.
He had a Model T Ford car and we would all squash into it and he would drive us to picnics at local beaches, Cronulla and the Royal National Park. I have wonderful memories of these outings and he seemed enjoy treating us to these pleasures when we were there. After Grannie died, the family moved to the North Shore and I stayed with them sometimes during the holidays.
Percy c. 1938
VERN studied after he came back from the war and became an Accountant, insurance adjuster and finally Secretary to the Atlantic Union Oil Co. in Sydney. I did not see him often as a child but during the war, after I enlisted we met and had a long talk at a family gathering and I felt the kindred spirit and liked him very much. He seemed pleased that he had a niece in the W.A.A.A.F. and had no problem with women as part of the Armed Services. He was a real charmer, had a ‘way with the ladies’ and when I saw him he always had a happy, smiling expression on his face.
He was not tall but he definitely had what I would now call a ‘presence’ and like my thoughts on Viv, I can imagine him walking on the edge of that trench at Fromelles and in action at Polygon Wood without any difficulty. Each Christmas following that time, he sent me an interesting book and I particularly remember Robert Ruark’s “Something of Value”. The quote in the front of it impressed me a lot.
When we take away the customs, culture and religion of a people, we better replace it with "something of value."
He lost his son Bill, an only child, who died at Samarai, New Guinea in 1961 and that was a great sadness in his life. He was lucky that he had two grandchildren.
Vern visited France sometime after 1965 but had told my cousin Clyde he would not visit the Battlefields, as he had lost too many good men there. I believe he did not join the R.S.L. but marched sometimes on Anzac Day and attended 56th Battalion Reunions.
Vern c 1950
In the years since that followed after my grandmother’s death, when the grandchildren had finished having their families, most of us met at birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, house-warmings, book launches and sadly at funerals.
These occasions brought us (as a large extended family) closer together and resulted in my research to find a large Family Tree Record, my cousin Dorothy’s book about the history of the Smythe family and my pages on the history of the Smythe boys, my father and other relatives at war. These are now all on the Smythe Family Website www.smythe.id.au together with Perce’s Journal, his diary of W.W.I.
This is the end, after so many years of sifting through papers, pages of information, reading C.D’s and searching the Net. The assistance of many family members and friends who contributed their memories, personal records and photographs is very much appreciated. I would be pleased if my efforts will start others in recording the war history of their family members and ancestors. This is very important and I personally am very sorry I did not ask my relations a lot more questions about the past, before it was too late.
* * *
WRITINGS – BOOKS/ BOOKLETS by Percy Ellesmere Smythe (Most were printed by The Oxford Press)
A literal translation (with difficulties explained) of Virgil’s Aeneid (1933)
At Home and Next Door (a critical survey) (1959)
A literal translation of Horace: Odes 111 (19--)
A complete paraphrase of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1958)
A complete paraphrase of King Lear (1966)
A complete paraphrase of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (19--)
A complete paraphrase of Shakespeare’s King Henry 1V Pt.1 (1956)
A complete paraphrase of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (1966?)
A critical analysis of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner with a synopsis of the story (19--)
A critical study of Conrad’s Youth and Typhoon (1965)
A critical study of selected poems (1958) from A Background Anthology of English Poetry (with exercises) 1958)
A critical study of Australian short stories (1966) (with exercises) (written with J. Callaghan) ( 1966)
A critical survey of Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (1960?)
A critical survey of essays selected from Eight essayists (1958)
A critical survey of Goldsmith’s play She Stoops Conquer (1964)
A critical survey of poems selected from A Galaxy of Poems old and new (1964/66)
A critical survey of poems selected from Poets Quest (1963)
A critical survey of poems selected from the Poet’s world (1965)
A critical survey of poems selected from the Poet’s world with (with exercises) (1963)
A critical survey of Richard of Bordeaux (1965)
A critical survey of selected essays (1959) from Points of View (with exercises) (1959)
A critical survey of selected essays (1960) from Essays Old and New (1960?)
A critical survey of selected essays (1962) from Essays Old and New (1962?)
A critical survey of selected essays from It Seems to Us (with exercises) (1961)
A critical survey of Sohrab and Rostum (1961)
A critical survey of the History of Henry Esmond (1964)
A critical survey of the Kon-tiki Expedition (with exercises) (1959)
A critical survey of The Man of Property (1961)
A critical survey of The Passage (197?)
A critical survey of Twenty Poems from the anthology Poets Quest (1960)
A critical survey from twenty poems from the anthology Representative English Poems (1961)
A critical survey of twenty poems selected from A Book of Poetry (1964)
A critical survey of twenty poem selected from the anthology The The Poet’s World (with exercises) (1962)
A critical survey with exercises of the History of Mr. Polly (195?)
A translation from Caesar’s Gallic War Book V (1933)
Fire on the Snow: a critical survey (with exercises) written with A.M. Gallagher (196?)
A guide to the study of Chaucer’s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales (1965)
A guide to the study of essays old and new (1964)
A guide to the study of essays selected from Eight Essayists (1965)
A guide to the study of essays selected from the anthology They Came to Australia (with exercises) (1962?)
A guide to the study of essays selected from the English essay with exercises (193?)
A guide to the study of essays selected from the Spoken Word (1964)
A guide to the study of essays selected from topics and opinions second series (1963)
A guide to the study of King Henry IV Pt. 1 with exercises (1956?)
A guide to the study of King Henry V (with exercises) (1958)
A guide to the study of King Lear (1966)
A guide to the study of Richard III with general comments and exercises (1966)
A guide to the study of modern short plays with exercises (195?)
A guide to the study of Orwell’s Animal Farm (1965)
A guide to the study of points of view with exercises (1957)
A guide to the study of Romeo and Juliet (with comprehensive exercises) (1966)
A guide to the study of selections from the English essay with exercises (1966)
A guide to the study of the English essay: with exercises (1963)
A guide to the study of the Merchant of Venice (with exercises) (1960?)
A guide to the study of the Taming of the Shrew (with exercises) (1962)
Julius Caesar: critical notes, appreciation and exercises (19??)
A literal explanatory translation of Livy Book XXX (19??)
A literal explanatory translation selections from Ovid (1959)
A manual of good Australian speech, setting forth the most desirable qualities of our Australian pronunciations (with
The Merchant of Venice: a complete paraphrase (1957)
A translation of Cicero’s Fourth Verrine: with some useful hints on the translation of Latin. (1932)
Silas Marner: a critical survey (with exercises) (195?)
A simple remedy for depression and other economic ills (1932?)
Still lighter essays: critical notes, explanations and appreciation (1938?)
A guide for The Nigger of Narcissus (1965)
A study of France and the French people compiled by P. E. Smythe (c. 1964)
A study of the French people (edited by P. E. Smythe) (1958?)
Twelfth Night: critical notes, appreciation and exercises (1956)
Application for Letters Patent for an invention by Percy Ellsmere Smythe titled "An inexpensive engraving plate for making and reproducing designs in imitation of intaglio processes, obviating the necessity of après for printing".
We recently acquired a copy of "Still Lighter Essays" which was sent to us by Col Fullager who came upon it whilst going through some of his cousin's old papers.