Smithy's Anniversary

Charles Kingsford Smith
1897 – 1935

This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the death of one of Australia’s most famous aviators – Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. Many recognize him as the face on the A$20 note but few know of his time in the AIF as one of the original Anzac Diggers.

Photo: Charles Kingsford Smith (left) 26 April 1915
Broadmeadows Victoria
[AWM DA08452]

Charles Kingsford Smith was eighteen years old when he enlisted in the AIF. The Australian War Memorial describes his time in the AIF after his enlistment as:
after a brief period in the artillery, was posted to the 2nd Division as a signaller. He served on Gallipoli and then in Egypt and France as a dispatch rider. In October 1916, as a sergeant, Kingsford-Smith transferred to the Australian Flying Corps. In March 1917 he was discharged from the AIF and commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps. Having been promoted to flying officer, he was posted to No. 23 Squadron in France in July 1917. Shot down and wounded a month later, Kingsford-Smith was awarded the Military Cross, having shot down four German aircraft in his first month of operational flying.
Kingsford-Smith was promoted to lieutenant in April 1918 and served as an instructor for the rest of the war.

His Service Record can be viewed on line at the National Archives of Australia by clicking here.

Charles Kingsford Smith’s time in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) marked the start of a history making partnership with Australian aviation, including:

  • Record flight around Australia (June 1927) – 10 days 5 hours
  • The first flight across the Pacific Ocean (June 1928) – 83 hours
  • First non stop flight  across Australia (August 1928)
  • The first ever flight from Australia to New Zealand (September 1928) – 14 hours
  • The first flight from New Zealand to Australia (October 1928) – 23 hours 
  • Record flight from Sydney to London (July 1929) – 12 days 18 hours
  • First flight across Atlantic Ocean east-west (June 1930) – 31 hours
  • The first man to circumnavigate the globe in the same plane (July 1930)

 To read about his life and work click on the following links:

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s final flight took off on 6th November 1937 in an attempt to break another aviation record but his plane along with airman J.T. Pethybridge, was lost into the sea off the coast of Burma.


The Families and Friends of the First AIF applauds the joint Australian–UK decision, to conduct a full DNA testing program on the remains of Australian and British soldiers found in mass graves at Pheasant Wood (Fromelles), and for their continuing commitment to identify as many of the fallen as is possible. We also thank the Australian, UK and French governments for affording dignified individual reburials for these soldiers, buried by German soldiers following the Battle of Fromelles on 19/20 July 1916, in the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery.  

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