48683 Private Victor Jubilee Smith - Auckland Infantry Regiment   

1887 was the Jubilee Year for Queen Victoria. In Pauhatanui[i], New Zealand, Richard George and Mary Jane Smith
named their son who was born that year, Victor Jubilee Smith.[ii]

Richard George and Mary Jane Smith farmed in the Horokiwi Valley, close to the Abbott’s farm at Battle Hill.[iii] Richard’s brothers Joseph and Thomas (Tom) also farmed in the area.[iv]

Richard George Smith was born in Ireland arriving in New Zealand in the 1840-50’s. By the 1880’s he was a prominent
sheep farmer in Pahautanui area and was appointed as a Justice of the Peace (JP) for the Hutt County in 1884,[v]  
however in 1888 Richard was accused of stealing sheep.[vi]  The result of the prosecution was not reported but it is
possible that it lead to his early death in 1889, at 42 years old. Richard George Smith[vii]  was buried in a family plot in the Pahautanui Public cemetery.  The family plot also contains his older brother Thomas and Thomas’s wife, Ann and the headstone also carries an inscription to Victor Jubilee Smith. [viii]

At the time of his death Richard George and Mary Jane had a young family with their youngest son, also
Richard George Smith, born six months prior to his father’s death.[ix]The family farm was put into trust and leased to a number of tenants during the next 20 years. It was not until the youngest child Richard reached his maturity in 1909,
that the farm was sold with a large portion of it being purchased by the Abbott Brothers.[x]

In 1916 Victor Jubilee Smith was living in Hamilton and was employed by Booth McDonald and Co as the Secretary for
the Hamilton branch of the company. Victor had volunteered for active service in March 1916 but was rejected as he had
a bullet wound in the left thigh that made him unfit for the army. Victor was selected in the ballot in late 1916 and given
the need for men at the front was classed as A - Fit, the doctor noting:

“The injury to the left thigh caused three years ago by a bullet wound – there is no loss of bulk
in the muscle, any incapacity he complained of now is largely due to take and excess of exercise
without previous preparation.” [xi]

Victor appealed the decision as reported in the New Zealand Herald:

“The Military Services Board resumed its sitting to-day. Victor Jubilee Smith, branch secretary to
Messers, Booth McDonald and Co., applied for an extension of time. Appellant had twice voluntarily
enlisted, and had been rejected. He entered into financial transactions which necessitated time to
arrange. Since been drawn in the ballot, he had been busy instructing a returned soldier in the duties
of his position and had been unable to attend to his personal business. An extension until March 4
was granted.”[xii]

The Waikato draft that would make up the 26th Reinforcement left Hamilton
on 7 March 1917 for Trentham Camp.

“The draft from No. 4 group left yesterday amid the usual scenes of enthusiasm.
The men were addressed by the Mayor and other prominent citizens, and at
4 p.m. they marched to Frankton, headed by the Frankton Municipal Band,
being loudly and enthusiastically cheered on route.”[xiii]

48683 Private Victor Jubilee Smith, A Company, 26th Reinforcements,
Auckland Infantry Regiment joined the train at Palmerston North. He had visited
his younger brother Richard George Smith of Woodville and his sister
Camellia Ethel Anderson’s family of Clareville. Richard and
Archibald (Arch) Edward Anderson were the executors of the will Victor
prepared prior to leaving for camp.

48683 Private Victor Jubilee Smith 1917 wearing collar and cap badges
of the 26th Reinforcements. 

The 26th Reinforcements completed basic training in the three months spent at Trentham Camp and on 9th June 1917 embarked for overseas service. The reinforcements were shipped to Sling Camp in England for intensive training,
arriving on 18 August 1917, where Private Smith was attached to the 4th Reserve battalion, Auckland Infantry prior to shipping to the Western Front. In France on 11 October 1917 48683 Private Smith was posted to the 2nd Battalion,
Auckland Infantry, for active service in the front lines. 
In late November the New Zealand Division was moved up to a quiet sector of the Ypres Salient in the Polygon Woods
sector. Trenches and fortifications were strengthened in the sector in anticipation of a major German assault as the
German troops released from the Russian front became available in France. On 24th February 1918 the Division was
relieved and moved to the rear, but in the three months spent in this ‘quiet sector’ 3000 casualties resulted with 470 men killed.[xiv]

On 21st March 1918 Operation Michael, the anticipated German Spring offensive, was launched. The Germans had initial success and a gap developed between the British IV and V Corps in the Ancre Valley and the New Zealand Division was quickly moved from the rear to plug this gap. The 2nd Brigade group, which included the 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry, moved to defend an area from west of Hamel to North-West of Beaumont-Hamel,   consisting of the old British lines that existed before the 1916 Battle of the Somme. The 2nd Brigade was subjected to a number of strong assaults, but by
the 28th March 1918 the threat had been reduced. Rain started to fall in the afternoon of the 28th and continued through
to the end of the month contributing to no major enemy attacks, but there were fighting patrols in the area and the threat
of German artillery strikes. The military records of Private Smith simply indicate that he was killed in action on 30th March 1918 and was buried 6 miles north of Albert in the Southern Avenue Cemetery. Private Smith was reburied in the Euston Cemetery grave IV.B.10.[xv]

​48683 Private Victor Jubilee Smith’s grave – Euston Cemetery
Colincamps, Somme, France

Victor Jubilee Smith was 31 when he was killed in action, his medals were
sent to his brother Richard and the later memorial plaque and scroll were
sent to his mother at Te Horo.[xvi]

Victor Jubilee Smith is also remembered
on his father’s grave in the
Pauatahanui Cemetery.

Papers Past Online
Pauatahanui - a local history: Helen Reilly
Archway Archives New Zealand:Military Files

1917 – 48683 Private VJ Smith : Auckland Cenotaph
2014 – Grave 48683 VJ Smith : The War Grave Photographic Project (TWGPP)
2014 – Grave Smith family - Pauatahanui : Allan Dodson

[i] Pahautanui was the spelling used in newspapers and documents up to 1955.
[ii] Birth - Victor Jubilee Smith – BDM 1887/1531
[iii] 1909 auction of land Horokiwi near Pahataunui – Evening Post 09 August 1909. 
[iv] Charges against a well known Pahautanui settler – Evening Post 1 June 1888
[v] New Justices of the Peace – Grey River Argus 29 February 1884
[vi] Charges against a well known Pahautanui settler – Evening Post 1 June 1888
[vii] Richard Smith – Pahautanui Cemetery Records
[viii] Marriages Mary Jane Smith / Joseph James Ashdown – BDM 1903/5559
[ix] Birth - Richard George Smith – BDM 1889/4931
[x] 1909 Auction of Land Horokiwi near Pahautanui – Evening Post 09 August 1909.
[xi] 48683 Private Victor Jubilee Smith – Military files, Archives New Zealand
[xii] Cases at Hamilton – New Zealand Herald 27 January 1917.
[xiii] The Twenty Sevenths - Waikato Draft Leaves – Auckland Star 7 March 1917
[xiv] The New Zealand Division – The Ypres Salient – An Encyclopaedia of NZ 1966
[xv] Private VJ Smith – Commonwealth Graves Commission
[xvi] 48683 Private Victor Jubilee Smith – Military files, Archives New Zealand  

Auckland Battalion in Fleurs Trench