Banks-Smith, Air Mechanic Class I Sydney Harold (2884)

No 8 Training Sqn AFC

Sydney Banks-Smith was born in Taree, NSW, and was a Mechanical Engineer in Cundletown, NSW, when, aged 23, he enlisted in the 5th Field Ambulance at Queen’s Park, Waverley, NSW, on 31 March 1915, before departing Sydney on HMAT A31 Ajana on 31 May. The 5th Field Ambulance landed at Gallipoli on 20 August, and it was there that Pte Smith-Banks had his first encounter with the military discipline system, when he was awarded 7 days Field Punishment for neglect of duty and insolence towards an NCO.

At the end of the Gallipoli campaign, he was transferred to the 15th Field Ambulance, where he received 4 days Field Punishment for being absent from duty in March 1916. After the 15th FA arrived in France, Pte Smith-Banks was transferred to the 5th Division Headquarters, and from there he joined the AFC in November.

In January 1917 he became an Officer Cadet with the RFC, a short-lived promotion that ended in May when he was charged with drunkenness and resisting the escort sent to apprehend him. His term as an Officer Cadet was terminated, and he was sentenced to 14 days detention, after which he was returned to the AIF with the recommendation that he be transferred to the Infantry, but he was posted to the 8th Field Ambulance.

In September 1917 he again transferred to the AFC as an Air Mechanic. After a number of postings within the AFC he graduated from an Armament Course in January 1918 and was posted to No 8 Training Squadron, where he again fell foul of the authorities by neglecting to obey an order in March, for which crime he forfeited 5 days’ pay. He was promoted to Air Mechanic Class I in June.

He was killed in an aircraft accident at Leighterton on 3 July 1918 when flying as a passenger in RE 8 E140 with Lt George Robert Thompson, who was also killed.

AMI Sydney Banks-Smith is buried at Leighterton Church Cemetery, Gloucestershire, England. He is commemorated on the Pambula, NSW, War Memorial, though his name is spelt as Bank-Smith.

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