George Frederick Edgar "Geoff" Smith

Ryburgh Remembers

Pte. 6084 George Frederick Edgar “Geoff” Smith

2nd. Btn. 19th Reinforcements

Australian Imperial Force


14th April  1891- 15th August 1918

George Frederick Edgar, known as Geoff, had been born in and lived at Wells. He was the 

eldest child of George Frederick Smith and Florence Wood who ran the Wells Branch

of F & G Smith. Maltsters, the Ryburgh firm that his father and Uncle George began in

the late 1850’s

Geoff’s parents:


Geoff with his siblings:



Information from Betty Wharton’s “The Smiths of Ryburgh” tells that George was

educated at Bishop’s Stortford School and that he “had great difficulty working with his

father” who finally sent him to Australia to learn about brewing in 1913. It has to be

assumed that things didn’t work out perhaps as his father had hoped as he gave the

occupation “Farm Hand” when he enlisted on March 20th 1916 at Cootamundra New

South Wales and joined “D” Coy. 2nd. Btn. of the Australian Imperial Force, as Pte.

6084 Smith G.F.E. He is described thus in his service record if you can picture him

from the 1907 photo above!


The service record gives a comprehensive account of his time with the A.I.F. and from

that we know he sailed to Plymouth from Sydney on the “Wiltshire” arriving on 13th.

October 1916. He spent time at Arundel and Folkestone and was in France by Dec

18th that year. By March 1st 1917 he was in the care of the Field ambulance “sick”

being admitted and transferred from 1st Divisional Rest Station to 1/1 S.M. Casualty

Clearing Station. By the 21st of the month he was transferred to the 11th Stationary

Hospital and by the 29th he had embarked at Le Havre for England and admission to

the 2nd Eastern General Hospital in Brighton. This was located in a boys’ grammar

school and several elementary schools in the town.

He remained there until May 2nd 1917 when he transferred to the 1st Australian

Auxilliary Hospital at Harefield Park in Middlesex. This was owned by Mr and Mrs

Charles Billyard-Leake, Australians resident in the U.K. and offered in 1914 for use as a

convalescent home for wounded soldiers of the A.I.F. He was granted 2 weeks furlough,

when he would have had time to return to Wells and from there to the Convalescent

Depot until mid Feb 1918 when he joined the Overseas Training Brigade. One month

later on March 15th he was back in France. Throughout this time he had been

suffering with “diarrhoea” and “ICT (Inflammation connective tissue) Body”


By May 25th he was back in hospital with Influenza but returned to his Unit (2nd Btn)

days later. On July 5th he was again in hospital suffering from this recurrent I.C.T.

described further as “septic sores to face and head”. He was discharged to the

Australian Infantry Base Depot on July 27th and the record ends “accidentally drowned

between 10th-15th August”

His body was found in the Seine at Rouen around 3pm on the afternoon of 15th.

August 1918 and he had been in the water for some time. The post mortem was

carried out the following day and reported no evidence of cause of death except

immersion in water. The official enquiry stated that he was “not in performance of

military duty” but attached no blame to his accidental death by drowning.


He was buried at the St Sever Cemetery Extension, Headstone No. 5512. His mother

paid 11/- 1d. For the following inscription on his headstone:




It is not clear from the records if he ever went into battle since most of his war seems

to have been fighting battles with his own health, one which he ultimately lost.

As his father had died in 1917, his mother received, along with his British War and

Victory Medals, his memorial scroll and plaque and a copy of the pamphlet “Where the

Australians Rest”.

His will was proved in 1920 by his executors, Harry Gould (F & G

Smith’s Company Accountant) and George Turner Cain his brother-in-law who had

married his sister Jessie and had served with the RFC/RAF as a Flying Officer. His

effects amounted to £4819-18/-11d.

He is remembered on the War Memorial at Wells-next-the-Sea and in St Nicholas' church

where he is remembered along with his father, brother and sister Jessie:



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Page last updated: Monday 3rd December 2018 1:50 PM
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