The Smith brothers’ grave is situated in a prominent position adjoining the Bishop Short Memorial Garden alongside the century-old Chapel of the Resurrection at North Road Cemetery. Also buried in this large gravesite are their parents Andrew and Jessie Smith, and Lady Anita Smith, the widow of Sir Keith.  Their younger brother, Colin Macpherson Smith, who was killed in action at Passchendale during the First World War, is also mentioned on the memorial. 

Sir Ross Smith

Following Sir Ross’ tragic death in England on 13 April, 1922, his body was returned to Adelaide aboard the SS Largs Bay, arriving at Outer Harbour on 14 June. He lay in state at St Peter’s Cathedral on 14 and 15 June, where the public were able to pay their last respects to this great aviator. 

Adelaide came to a standstill for Sir Ross’ funeral on 15 June 1922. Stores were closed, and flags hung at half-mast. The route from St Peter’s Cathedral to the North Road Cemetery was lined with over 100 000 people as the gun carriage containing the coffin, draped with the flag, made its way through the streets.

The Funeral Service, which was led by Archdeacon Hornabrook, included a choir, pipe band, and Army and Air Force contingents. A forty gun salute was fired by the Air Force, followed by a lone bugler playing ‘The Last Post’. Newspapers reported that a large eagle flew over the gravesite during the service. It was the largest funeral ever seen in South Australia.

Sir Keith Macpherson Smith

Sir Keith Macpherson Smith’s funeral in 1955 was a much smaller affair, as was his wish. His memorial is a simple tablet alongside his brother’s elegant Calvary Cross.

Other notable aviators buried at the North Road Cemetery

The cemetery is also the resting place of other famous aviators, such as Harry Butler, whose airfield at Northfield was used as the landing site for the  Vickers Vimy, and Jimmy Melrose, the young flier who was the only solo competitor in the MacRobertson’s Air Race of 1934. Both of these airmen also died at young ages as a result of aircraft accidents. Fred Custance, who made the first powered flight in Australia is also buried in the cemetery.   

By Helen Stein, Cemetery Historian

Uploaded 12 December 2018

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Image: casket being unloaded by crane from a ship
Image: People gathered within a chapel as a funeral takes place
Image: Two soldiers standing guard next to a casket
Sir Ross Smith's flag-draped casket passes by as mourners look on
Mourners lining the streets to witness Sir Ross Smith's casket passing by
Image: People lining the street as the funeral procession passes by
Image: Mourners are gathered around the grave site of Sir Ross Smith
Image: Mourners gathered outside the chapel
Image: large group of people, men in uniform lined up with guns pointing to the air.
Image: Floral tributes rest against a large palm tree
Mourners inspect a large wreath and floral tributes at the funeral of Sir Ross Smith
Image: large white cross surrounded by garden and other graves
Image: large white cross next to smaller white tablet
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