HISTORY: Lismore First World War soldiers David Laing Clark (left) and Samuel Stanley Smith at the Clark family’s Bexhill dairy farm before they enlisted.
HISTORY: Lismore First World War soldiers David Laing Clark (left) and Samuel Stanley Smith at the Clark family’s Bexhill dairy farm before they enlisted. Contributed

Letters from Lismore WW1 soldier to be turned into book

THE story of First World War Lismore soldier David Laing Clark was one his granddaughter Tracey Colley wanted to write for almost three decades.

After taking a year off to piece together the letters, Ms Colley was able to have her book With Love to All from Davy published this year.

During his four years of service, Private Clark wrote home to his family in Bexhill almost every week.

He was the eighth child of a farming family of eleven and on October 20, 1914, at 23-years-old, he enlisted in the fifth Light Horse Regiment.

For Ms Colley, the purpose of turning the fading letters into a book was threefold.

Firstly, to preserve the records of her grandfather's service for the future.

"Secondly, it would be comforting to think that the great loss of human life from WW1 had meant that, as a world, we had learnt something about how to respect and preserve human life," she said.

"And lastly, I hope that other people will continue where I have finished, to solve some of the mysteries which still remain."

Ms Colley said she was fascinated by how few details her grandfather included in some of his letters.

"The fact that he provided so little detail about what was actually happening … (he) seemed to want to protect them from how awful things were," she said.

"He seemed to be very connected to his family, even though the letters took weeks to get there."

Now, Ms Colley is trying to get in touch with family members of her grandfather's best friend and service mate, Samuel Stanley Smith, to mark the 100th anniversary of his death. Trooper Smith, who enlisted with Clark in Lismore, was killed in November 1915 in Gallipoli and is buried at the Shell Green cemetery on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.

"Pop never forgot his mates," Ms Colley said.

"Even when he was really old, he lived to 99, and suffering from dementia, he still remembered the war, and said that they had gone off to fight the war because they thought it would be the war to end all wars. As I am going to Gallipoli for the 100th anniversary of Sam's death, it would be great if I could make contact with his family to give them a copy of the book and see if they want me to do anything special."

Family or descendants of Samuel Stanley Smith can contact Ms Colley via email traceycolley@gmail.com



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