Well-known throughout the Australian military history scene, Neil was a member of the Australian Army for over 20 years, and as such has an intimate understanding of all the military jargon, abbreviations and the various organisational and recording systems that the Forces use.
Combining his knowledge of the military with a love of history, he established the “Mostly Unsung Military History Research and Publications” business, which he runs with his wife.
When Neil isn’t busy with his military research, writing or selling, he does like to pursue his own family history.
NAME: Lieutenant Colonel Neil C SMITH, AM
HOMETOWN/COUNTRY: Raised in Western Australia, lived all over with the Army and settled in Bayside area of Melbourne, Victoria
DAYTIME JOB: Military researcher, historian and writer (of which genealogy is only part).
Q1. Think back to your childhood … now what is your favourite memory from that time?
The freedom and adventure of life as an only child with loving parents in a rural environment.
Q2. There’s always ‘something’ that sparks an interest in genealogy/history? What was it that sparked your interest?
Whilst serving in the UK I acquired some old medals and found a passion in researching the recipients.
Q3. How old were you when you developed an interest in this hobby?
Q4. What countries across this big wide world did your ancestors come from?
I never knew my birth parents but my adopted parents came from the US and UK.
Q5. Is genealogy/history your main job?
Yes (Military of course although I undertake research for family historians on a daily basis).
Q6. Do you have a genealogy mentor or idol? Someone who has deeply influenced you in your research along the way?
Q7. We all know that you family history can reveal some amazing things. Have any of your discoveries resulted in a life-changing experience?
Q8. What do you find most challenging about research?
Sorting family myths from fact.
Q9. If you had a time-machine what relative (past, present or future) would you most like to meet?
None! My present existence and family is totally consuming and satisfying.
Q10. Still using that time machine, you’ve been propelled into the future five years, what do you see yourself doing?
The same. I couldn’t be happier with my (second) career.
Q11. What value do you think social media plays in genealogy these days?
Obviously significant for many but tends to detract from doing the ‘hard yards’ in original or filmed records, books etc and even interviewing old folk. ‘Everything is on the net’ – well, it isn’t.
Q12. What do you do when you aren’t doing genealogy or history?
Travel, squash and jogging. If I ever retire than I might sort out my stamp and coin collections. Maybe even my memoirs if my children have their way.
Q13. What do you hope to get out of a genealogy cruise?
New business and net working.
Q14. Share with us a few (up to five) of the genealogy websites that you tend to spend the most time on?
National Archives of Australia
The National Archives
Department of Veterans’ Affairs (Vietnam, Korea, WWII Nominal Rolls).
Australian War Memorial
Q15. Do you have any wise words for those just starting out in genealogy?
Don’t assume you have an authoritative start point (Like correct names, DOB etc) and think laterally.
For those of you who are going on the 4th cruise, here is a list of topics that Neil is expected to be speaking on, based on the Preliminary Program:
– Australia’s Military Heritage: Overview and Introduction to Resources
– Tracing Australia’s British Garrison Redcoats
– Understanding Your World War One ‘Digger’
– Researching World War Two Service Personnel
– Researching Australia’s Minor Conflicts
YOU CAN CHECKOUT NEIL’S WEBSITE AT:
AND YOU CAN FIND NEIL ON …