The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. E C Smith
Eric Claud Smith was born on 16th February 1920. He joined 600 Squadron Auxiliary Air Force at Hendon on 5th November 1938 as an Aircrafthand. He was employed as an optical lens machinist in East Barnet.
He was called to full-time service on 24th August 1939, remustered as an Airman u/t Air Gunner and after completing his training rejoined 600 Squadron.
On 9th August 1940 Smith was gunner in a Blenheim which developed engine failure during night operations off Margate. He and the pilot, F/O SP le Rougetel, baled out.
Smith swam ashore at Westgate. The aircraft, L8679, crashed nearby. Le Rougetel was fortunate to be picked up by the Margate lifeboat, a crewman spotted the luminous dial of his wristwatch, given to him a short time before by his fiancee on their engagement.
Smith was posted to the newly-formed 256 Squadron at Catterick on 16th December 1940 for night-fighter operations on Defiants. On 22nd October 1941 Smith shot down a Ju88. He was then a Flight Sergeant.
Commissioned from Warrant Officer in April 1945, he stayed on in the RAF and retired on 3rd June 1966 as a Flight Lieutenant.
Smith later settled in Australia. He died in 1992.