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The Airmen's Stories - F/Lt. W A Smith


William Alexander Smith was born in Lucknow, India on 18th November 1915. He was educated in Scotland and read Engineering at Edinburgh. He left before obtaining his degree and joined the RAF on a short service commission, beginning his initial training course on 24th May 1937 at 5 E&RFTS Hanworth.

Smith went to 3 FTS South Cerney and after completing the course joined 2 AACU at Lee-on-Solent on 26th March 1938.


He was posted to 66 Squadron at Duxford on 1st February 1939. On 13th May 1940 Smith probably destroyed a Ju88 and damaged a Ju87 and over Dunkirk on 2nd June he damaged a Me109.

Smith joined 229 Squadron at Digby on 11th June 1940 as 'A' Flight Commander, as an Acting Flight Lieutenant.

He shared in the destruction of a He111 on 11th September, damaged a He111 on the 15th and probably destroyed a He111 on the 26th.

The next day Smith attacked some Ju88's, damaging one but being hit himself by cross-fire. He made a forced-landing at Linfield, writing off Hurricane P3603. On the 30th he damaged a He111.

On 6th October Smith made a crash-landing in Hurricane P3716 near Leatherhead after a routine patrol, out of fuel and with the radio not working. He damaged a Do17 on the 24th.

In May 1941 229 Squadron went to the Middle East. It flew its Hurricanes off HMS Furious to Malta on the 21st, refuelled and flew on to Mersa Matruh. The pilots were attached to 73 and 274 Squadrons in the Western Desert.

On 15th July Smith destroyed a Ju87 and probably another. On 1st September the squadron began to operate on its own account and in October Smith took command.

On 23rd November he destroyed a Ju87 and probably another, on the 29th damaged a G50, on 3rd December damaged a SM84, on the 14th destroyed a Me109 and on the 27th destroyed a Ju88.

Smith was shot down and wounded on 9th January 1942. He rejoined the squadron on 7th February and left six days later to command the Air Fighting School. When this was expanded to be No. 1 MFTS El Ballah, he was made OC of the Air Fighting Flight.

He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 17th March 1942). On 10th September 1942 Smith was posted to Air HQ Egypt and was there until 22nd December going then to Air HQ Malta.

He took command of 1435 Squadron at Luqa on 3rd January 1943, shot down a Z1007 on 17th February and led the squadron until 10th March when he went to HQ Middle East in Cairo.

In June 1944 Smith returned to the UK and was at HQ Transport Command. He went to 17 SFTS Cranwell for a twin engine course on 26th July and moved to 105 (Transport) OTU at Bramcote on 19th October.

Smith joined 11 FU on 1st January 1945, serving with it until 8th August when he was posted to 108 (Transport) OTU to convert to Dakotas. He joined 187 Squadron at Merryfield on 5th September 1945. This unit was disbanded in December 1946 and Smith went to 53 Squadron.

In the post-war RAF Smith held a series of appointments and commands prior to his retirement on 24th November 1962 as a Wing Commander.

Smith died in the RAF Hospital Ely on 21st November 1990.


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