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The Airmen's Stories - P/O A J Smith


Arthur Joseph Smith was born on 8th November 1920 in New Barnet, one of three sons of 'Joey' Smith, British and European Lightweight Boxing Champion. He was educated at Denmead School, Woking and King Edward VI Grammar School, Guildford where Smith won the school's boxing championship in his second year.

Smith entered the RAF on a short service commission on the 15th June 1939. After initial training he was posted to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 28th April 1940 to convert to Hurricanes.



Above: 74 Squadron

F/O Bird, P/O HM Stephen, F/O JC Mungo-Park, P/O BV Draper, P/O PCF Stevenson, P/O DG Cobden, P/O AJ Smith, P/O JHR Young, WO Mayne, P/O D Hastings

F/Lt. AG Malan, S/Ldr. FL White, F/Lt. WEG Measures

Sgt. EA Mould, F/O DHT Dowding, F/O JC Freeborn




He then arrived at RAF Uxbridge on 15th May to await a posting to France.

However once there his train was bombed by Stukas and he made his way ahead of the German advance to Cherbourg, from where he was evacuated by ship.

Back in the UK he was sent to 7 OTU Hawarden to convert to Spitfires and from there he joined 74 Squadron at Coltishall on 30th September 1940.
At the end of October Smith was posted to ferrying duties for a few months and was then allocated to flight testing duties. On 9th April 1942 he had just taken off from a Scottish airfield when his engine cut, almost certainly due to water contaminated fuel. He crashed into the trees that bordered the airfield. Smith was taken to hospital, so badly injured that his family was sent for.

He endured months of operations, resulting in him losing two inches in height due to the removal of leg bone.

Smith went on to ground duties for the rest of his service and was released in 1946 as a Flight Lieutenant. Owing his recovery to his treatment by osteopaths he embarked on four years of self-financed study at the British School of Osteopathy in London. Once qualified he took up a practice at Leicester and Derby. Smith became highly experienced and was the first to treat racehorses. He lectured extensively, subsequently being appointed President of the Osteopath Association of Great Britain.

Smith died on 22nd December 2004.

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