Ernest John Smith was born in 1883, one of seven children to John Smith and his wife Sarah Jane. John was a coal merchant, and the family lived in the Somerset town of Bruton. When Ernest initially left school, he worked as a farm labourer, but at some point, a sense of adventure caught him, and he emigrated to Australia. Sadly, details of his travels are not available, but he left England at some point before 1915.
When war broke out, however, he was still keen to do his bit. He was living in Queensland when he enlisted on 26th October 1915, and was assigned to the Australian Army Medical Corps.
Driver Smith’s battalion left Australia for Europe in March 1916, and served in France for the duration. He was dogged by ill health, catching pleurisy a couple of times, and had a number of fibromas operated on.
In October 1918, he was appointed Lance Corporal, but was shipped back to England later that year with ongoing fibroma issues. He was admitted to Torquay Hospital as dangerously ill in December of that year, and spent most of the next nine months in hospital, initially in Torquay, but then when he was able to be moved, he was transferred to the 1st Australian General Hospital near Warminster.
Sadly, the cysts Driver Smith has developing were malignant, and he passed away on 8th October 1919. He was just 36 years old.
Ernest John Smith was brought back to his home town for burial, and lies at rest in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Bruton.