About this objectThe Abney level is a surveying instrument designed by William de Wiveleslie Abney (1843 -1920) in the 1870s. Abney attended the Royal Military Academy and joined the Royal Engineers in 1861. He devised the instrument while he was working at the School of Military Engineering at Chatham, England. Abney, is mainly known for innovations he made in the field of photography.
The level comprises a bar containing a telescope. Above the bar at one end are a vernier scale and a spirit level. The other end comprises a compass with a sighting mechanism. The body is blued brass. Within the bar is a small telescope with a crosshair at one end.
One side, is stamped with the maker’s name
MADE BY F BARBER & SON
SOLE AGENTS IN EGYPT
F DAVIDSON & OTHERS
An Abney Level such as this could give bearing, grade and distance with an accuracy needed for military reconnaissance. The clinometer scale is, graduated to degrees and read by vernier. (Smithsonian Natural Museum of American History).
As far as it can be determined, the level was used in reconnaissance in the field, while DWA Smith was serving in Gallipoli and North Africa in WWI. A level such as this is used for calculating the height of objects or geographical features. It was, commonly used in the making of topographical maps.
Dudley Wallace Arabin Smith was 29 and a captain in the 9th Light Horse when he appears on the nominal role for the Australian Imperial Force in World War I. His next of kin was his wife, Edna Annette, who at the time of his enlistment was living at Gamboola Cabonne Molong. He enlisted on the 27 August 1914.
The Smith family have a long history around the Molong area. Smith’s grandfather, John Smith worked as a manager on the Molong run before starting his own stud at Gamboola in 1843. John Smith married Mary Tom, the eldest sister of William Tom Junior. John Smith’s son, Wallace inherited Gamboola. Wallace had twin sons, Kenneth and Dudley Wallace Arabin, and four daughters. Dudley worked as a veterinarian in Orange until 1912, when he built the homestead Gamboola Cabonne on the property of that name. He moved his veterinary practice to the property.
From the early years of the century Dudley was a member of the Molong Half Squadron of the 9th Light Horse and he held the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. This is the rank that he enlisted with in 1914 and was promoted to Captain on 8.9.1914.
During the First World War he served in Gallipoli, where he first distinguished himself, then in Egypt and North Africa. He was wounded in the right arm at Bir-el-Abd and spent time in hospital in Giza. He then returned to the 1st Light Horse.
In June 1917 Major Smith was admitted to the Egyptian Expeditional Force Hospital for neurasthenia (a nervous debility or exhaustion from overwork or prolonged mental strain). His appointment was ended and he was sent on leave. Two weeks later he left for Sydney on the HT Port Sydney.
After Smith’s return to Sydney and to good health, he re-enlisted and embarked to the Suez on the HMAT Wiltshire. He was not there long when Armistice, was declared. By the June 1919 Smith was back in Australia and his service with the AIF was terminated on 23 June.
Major Smith continued his connection with the army. May 1921 saw him as commanding officer of the 6th Light Horse until 1926 when he transferred to the Unattached List and to the Reserve of Officers after 27 years service. In 1943 Smith was placed on the Retired List with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Dudley Smith began working for the Australian Jockey Club (AJC) in 1923. He worked as the race judge at metropolitan meetings.
Dudley Smith died suddenly in 1950 at his home at Bayview Sydney.