39484 Gunner Hector William Smedley WIA
103rd Field Artillery (Howitzer) Battery 3rd Field Artillery Brigade
1st Australian Imperial Force 1914-1919

This file last updated 29 August, 2018 13:43


Image if available

The following information and chronological table Gunner Hector William Smedley, brother of Leo Thomas Smedley is an amalgamation of information gleaned from the Australian War Memorial, his Embarkation record, the RSL Virtual War Memorial and his World War 2 Enlistment, supplemented with some information gleaned from postcards sent home by Hector during WW1. One gave his address as the 103rd Howitzer Battery.

Service Numbers were allocated on a Unit basis and are therefore not unique to an individual.

Hector's complete enlistment and service details will remain unknown until I can unravel the mysteries at the National Archives.

His World War 1 record under the serial number 39484 contains a cover sheet only, referring to amalgamation of that file with his World War 2 file under number N 191652.

The National Archives record of his WW2 enlistment states that he served in the 1st AIF and that he had sustained a shrapnel wound to his left chin during that service.

There are summary records in the War Memorial that have him elisting in the Army on 14 Jan 1918 and embarking for overseas service on 30 Apr 1918 aboard SS "PORT DARWIN" with the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade 27th to 35th Reinforcements, November 1917 to Jun 1918. He returned to Australia on 23 Jul 1919.

Prepared for Margaret Anne Wine, great-neice of Hector William Smedley by Clive Mitchell-Taylor - 9 July 2018.

Hector William Smedley's Embarkation Record, deployment with the 34th Field Artillery Brigade

Enlistment Details

Service Number



Hector William Smedley

Born at

Talangatta, Victoria

Date of Birth

4 Apr 1899

Trade or Calling

(Later) PMG Acting Line Foreman

British Subject

Natural born

Marital Status


Next of Kin

Father - Mr William Smedley

Previous Military Service

Discharged with Ignominy


Attested at

Sydney, NSW

Date of Enlistment

14 Jan 1918


5 Foot 9½ [176.5cm]


10 stone [140 pounds or 63.5 Kg]


32 -34½ inches [81 - 87.5 cm]





Religious Denomination

Church of England


103rd Field Artillery (Howizter) Battery
3rd Field Artillery Brigade

Chronological Events






Enlisted at Sydney

14 Jan 1918


Embarked for service in France with the 3rd Australian Field Artillery Brigade as a member of the 34th Reinforcements aboard SS "PORT DARWIN".

20 Apr 1918



Wounded in Action (WIA), shrapnel wound to left chin



Returned to Australia for discharge

23 Jul 1919

Medals and Dress Embellishments

British War Medal 1914-1920, Victory Medal, one Wound Stripe, one Long Service Stripe, one Overseas Service Chevron. Use the hyperlinks or scroll down to see further information on the badges.

Other Accoutrements

World War One medal set

L to R - 1914-15 Star, War Medal 1914-1920, Victory Medal

Unit Shoulder Patch
3rd Division Artillery
103rd Field Battery RAA Shoulder Patch

Rising Sun Badge
1st and 2nd AIF

[Not entitled to wear]
ANZAC 'A' on Shoulder Patch

Some Government Issued Badges

Nearest Female
Relative Badge

War Widows
Guild Brooch

Silver War Badge

Discharged Returned
Soldier Badge

Government issued badge in enamel
and sterling silver issued to the wife,
mother or nearest female relative of
a serving soldier. Additional bars
were suspended below for further

Membership badge of a Kookaburra
in sterling silver, issued by the
Government to the widows of men
who lost their lives due to their
service. Numbered on the reverse.

Awarded to service personnel who
sustained a wound, or contracted
sickness of disability in the course
of the war as a result of which
they were invalided out, or to
soldiers who had retired during
the course of the war.

First issued in 1916. Slight variations are indicative of a number of makers. 267,300 were issued. Numbered on the reverse but the numbers have no link with length of service or Service Number.

[Badge information collated from Australian War Memorial, "Australians Awarded" by Clive Johnson and en.wikipedia.com]

Background - 3rd Field Artillery Brigade
[Information from https://rslvirtualwarmemorial.org.au]

The 3rdst Field Artillery Brigade formed in Australia prior to embarkation in October 1914 to support the newly raised 1st Division. It was reallocated in early 1917 to army level control.

  • 3rd Field Artillery Brigade comprised:
    • 7th Field Artillery Battery
    • 8th Field Artillery Battery
    • 9th Field Artillery Battery
    • 103rd Field Artillery (Howitzer) Battery
    • 3rd Brigade Ammunition Column

Napoleon Bonaparte famously described Artillery as "the God of War" because of the effect that its fire can bring to bear on the battlefield. In WW 1 on the Western Front, artillery dominated and defined the battlefield. In concert with the weather, it turned the terrain into the pulverised devastated quagmire that is so synonomous with that period and place.

Artillery inflicted the most casualties and battle space damage and instilled the most fear among opposing forces. Its effect was both and psychological, with the term 'shell shock' coming into general use early in the war. Artillery required a Herculean logistic effort to keep ammunition up to the guns from manufacture to the gun line. It was also a very dangerous occupation, attracting the attention of the enemy, the general result of which was 'counter battery fire' designed to neutralise and destroy gun positions and ammunition.

At the outbreak of the War, Australian Artillery was in short supply in both quantitative and qualitative terms. The standard 'fire unit' of artillery is a Battery comprising variously four to six guns described as light medium or heavy depending on the equipment, calibre and weight of shell.

The standard field gun was the British 18 pounder (so-called because of the weight of the high explosive shell). When the AIF embarked, its artillery was light-on indeed. As it turned out the scope to use it at Gallipoli was extremely constrained anyway so it mattered less than had the AIF gone straight to Europe, where artillery was the definitive feature of the battlefield.

At ANZAC, guns were deployed singly purely becasue of a lack of suitable fire positions. The 18 pounders were the first into action but later an improvised heavy Battery was formed with two 6 inch (150mm) howitzers and a 4.7 inch (120mm) Naval Quick Firing gun.

Artillery units had arguably the least intuitive structure and organisation of any of the major Corps in the AIF. This in part reflected changing priority and availability of equipment. As the war progressed, concentration to facilitate command and control at the highest level, became a defining characteristic of the structure of artillery units (generally and somewhat confusingly called Field Artillery Brigades, - rather than the contemporary term 'regiments' - which were aggregations of like Batteries).

Specialised sub units (Batteries equipped with specialised weapons like Siege Artillery, Heavy Howitzers and Medium and Heavy Mortars) were raised and allocated across the AIF generally at Division and Corps level. The allocation of their fire support.was similarly controlled.

The standard organisation of Field Artillery took on the form of the Field Artillery Brigade which were formed to support infantry divisions. In 1914 and 1915 the First and Second Division each had three brigades (initially corresponding to the Brigade numeric designation) equipped with 12 x 18 pounder field guns. On arrival in France, the artillery was reorganised with each field artillery brigade having 12 x 18 pounders and 4 x 4.5 inch howitzers. There was initially a lack of howitzers available to meet the establishment.

Each Brigade generally comprised three Batteries of four 18 Pounder Mk 1 or II guns. With a range of about 6,500 yards (almost 6km) they fired a range of ammunition natures including High Explosive fragmentation, Shrapnel, Smoke, Gas, Star (illumination) and Armour Piercing projectiles.

In March 1916 a fourth battery of four 18 pounder field guns was added. At the same time a Howitzer Brigade was raised for each division with 12 x 4.5 inch howitzers each.

In January 1917, batteries were increased in size to 6 guns each in order to economise on headquarters structures and the number of Field Artillery Brigades in each division was reduced to two.


The brass letter 'A' to represent service related to Gallipoli (ANZAC) was authorised to be worn 'over unit colour patches on both sleeves of the service dress jacket and greatcoat" by Military Order 354 of 18 Aug 17 and AIF Order 937 of 6 Nov 17, as amended in terms of qualification by Military Order 20 of 19 Jan 18 and by AIF Order 1084 of 25 Jan 18.

The size of the letter 'A', introduced as one inch in height (AIF Order 994 of 30 Nov 17), was reduced to three-quarters of an inch by AIF Order 1012 of 11 Dec 17.

Provision for wearing the brass letter 'A' was also included in General Routine Order 0.815 of 17 Dec 43 and GRO 310 of 7 Dec 45.


Wound Stripe

Army Order No.204 Headquarters, 1st A.N.Z.A.C., 9th August, 1916. (slightly amended for layout)

Wound Stripes

The following distinction in dress will be worn on the service dress jacket by all officers and soldiers who have been wounded in any of the campaigns since 4th August 1914 :

  • Stripes of gold Russia braid No.1, two inches [2.5cm] in length sewn perpendicularly on the left forearm sleeve of the jacket to mark each occasion on which wounded.

  • In the case of officers, the lower end of the first strip of gold braid will be immediately above the upper point of the flap on the cuff.

  • Warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men will wear the gold braid on the left forearm sleeve, the lower edge of the braid to be three inches from the bottom of the sleeve.

  • Subsequent occasions on which wounded, will be placed on either side of the original one at half inch interval.

  • Gold braid and sews will be obtained free on indent from the Army Ordnance Department; the sewing on will be carried out regimentally without expense to the public.

Long Service Badges

A.I.F. ORDER No.470, 24 January 1917 (slightly amended for layout)

The question of the issue of a badge to members of the AIF who have completed a certain period of service has received consideration, and approval has been given for the issue of a badge for long service combined with good conduct, subject to the following conditions.

  • The badge will consist of an inverted single chevron of service braid to be worn on the left forearm - the point of the chevron to be 3 inches [7.6cm] above the edge of the cuff.

  • Warrant and non-commissioned officers and men, will be eligible for the badge, which will not carry an increased pay or allowance.

  • One chevron will be worn for each complete year's service in the Australian Imperial Force from the date of embarkation in Australia.

  • No badge will be issued to any man who, during the 12 months, has incurred a regimental entry (i.e. an entry involving forfeiture of pay) in his sheet.

  • Time absent from the unit in hospital or elsewhere on account of wounds or sickness, not the result of misconduct, will count as service towards earning the badge.

  • A man in possession of a badge will forfeit same on being convicted of any offence involving a forfeiture of pay , but will be eligible to regain the badge after 6 months good conduct, from the date of forfeiture.

  • The illegal wearing of this badge will be a crime under A.A. Section 40.

Overseas Service Chevrons

[Image from http://www.diggerhistory.info]

Australian Imperial Force Order No.1053, January 1918 (Slightly amended for layout)

His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of chevrons to denote service overseas since the 4th August 1914.

  • Chevrons of two colours have been approved.

    • The first chevron if earned on or before 31st December 1914, will be red.

    • If earned on or after 1st January 1915, it will be blue.

    • All additional chevrons after the first will be blue.

  • The chevrons will be worsted embroidery, 1/4 inch [0.63cm] in width, the arms 4 inches [10.2cm] long. They will be worn inverted on the right forearm:

  • In the case of officers, the apex of the lowest chevron will be 1 inch [2.5cm] above the upper point of the flap on the cuff.

  • In the case of warrant-officers, non-commissioned officers and men, the apex of the lowest chevron will be midway between the seams and four inches [10.2cm] above the bottom edge of the sleeve.

  • The red chevron will be worn below the blue one. They will not be worn on greatcoats.

  • In the case of Australians, the first chevron was earned the date the individual left Australia. Additional chevrons were awarded for each successive aggregate period of 12 months service outside Australia.