Jan 172013
Leslie Smith & David aged 3

The 2013 Australia Day Challenge  is to tell the story of your first ancestor to come to Australia.

I have chosen to do both the male and female sides which will be in two posts.

On my Father’s side I have a very short Australian pedigree.

David Smith came to Australia in 1949 with his mother Lilian Maud Smith aboard the Asturias.  The exact date and name of ship was discovered in two days searching at what was the New South Wales Archives office at the Rocks going through every microfilm passenger list for 1949 (and there were quite a few of them!) Then the trek out to Kingswood to get a copy of the card file with two photos.

They came as Ten Pound Poms!  

It was a major change of life for David. He had come from a time of rationing, to on board the ship, where he saw white bread for the first time AND he could have as many helpings as he wanted! It got tot he stage the waiters just gave him double helpings. He had very fond memories of that voyage!

David and Lilian were sponsored by Lilian’s brother-in-law Frank who had himself emigrated to Australia in 1934 aboard the Largs Bay.

I found Frank’s shipping details from FindMyPast passenger lists leaving England. Luckily Frank’s address in England prior to the voyage was listed so that I was able to determine this was in fact the correct Frank Smith which is not an uncommon name! These passenger lists leaving England are now also available on Ancestry.

Leslie, Lilian and David

By arriving in June 1949 they were not automatically made Australian citizens, you had to arrive in Australia prior to Australia Day 1949 for this to occur. David however believed that he was an Australian citizen, served in the Army and became a Justice of the Peace. It wasn’t until he applied for an Australian passport in 1990 that he found out he was not an Australian citizen. In reality this did not cause him any issues to that point and only caused a issue in the late 1990s when he was on an invalid pension and Centrelink said they were revoking his pension as he had a gap in electoral enrollment and thus was not eligible. This gap was found to be a mistake on their part.

I have written about David before and the work he and Lilian did to survive and their trip back to England in 1954.


  8 Responses to “2013 Australia Day Challenge: David Smith”

  1. I love the bit about the bread. 🙂

  2. Helen, this is a great idea to write about the earliest ancestors on both your father's and your mother's families.

  3. Yes, after the rationing in England he loved white bread and as much as he wanted! He pretty much refused to eat non-white bread for the rest of his life.

  4. Thank you. Both lines are equally important. I am a first generation Australian on one side and a I think sixth generation on the other side.

  5. Great researching Helen!!! … I smiled to read about your dad automatically being made an "Australian Citizen". Although I haven't checked the family story yet, to gauge it's veracity, my dad who arrived in Oz in 1928 was OUTRAGED that he was made an Australian Citizen without his consent.
    Fantastic story and thanks for sharing. Is making me think that, despite other matters demanding my attention, I may just be able to take up this challenge 🙂 … Cheers, Catherine.

  6. Hi Catherine

    I believe it was quite an emotive issue for people. I don't know whether you were allowed to have dual citizenship. I'd be delighted if you were able to participate in the challenge.


  7. An interesting story Helen, and it made me compare his voyage with its white bread with the 1948 story of the post-war refugees/DPs in the book I just reviewed. How intriguing that he was unaware of his citizenship status for so long. My Oz Day post is written and will go live on 26th.

  8. Thanks Helen… as you would now know I did take up "the challenge" and managed to get my post in on Australia Day 2013. Your encouragement helped more than you could ever know. 🙂
    As for "dual citizenship"… all I can remember is my dad bellowing "I'm BRITISH and proud of it!!!" Seems he had some sort of Australian identity forced upon him without his consent. It's on my l-o-n-g list of matters to research further 🙂 Thanks again. Catherine.

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