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Ernest(Smokey) Smith VC Biography

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Ernest(Smokey) Smith VC

Birthdate:   3 May 1914
Website: http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/general/sub.cfm
Category: Military

Ernest Alvia 'Smokey' Smith, VC, CD, was born in New Westminster, B.C. in 1914 and educated in elementary and technical schools there. He left his work with a contracting firm to enlist in the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada in March 1940, joining the regiment overseas a few months later. He was a private when he won the Victoria Cross at the Savio River in Italy on Oct. 21-22, 1944.

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada were the spearhead of the attack across the river, which torrential rain had caused to rise six feet in five hours, making it impossible to get tanks and anti-tank guns across to support the rifle companies.

The right forward company was suddenly counter-attacked by three Panzer tanks, supported by self-propelled guns and some 30 infantry. Private Smith led his PIAT (projector, infantry, anti-tank) group of two men across an open field and left one man on the weapon. Crossing the road, Private Smith obtained another PIAT. An enemy tank attacked and wounded the man on the first PIAT. Smith fired his own and put the tank out of action. German infantry jumped from the tank and attacked him but Smith drove them back with his tommy gun. Obtaining more tommy magazines which had been abandoned in a ditch, Private Smith steadfastly held his position, and later gave aid to his wounded comrade.

"No further immediate attack developed and as a result, the battalion was able to consolidate the bridgehead position so vital to the success of the whole operation, which led to the eventual capture of San Giorgio Di Cesena and a further advance to the Ronco River," reads the citation in part.

'Smokey' Smith left the army for a short time after the war, but rejoined and served until August 1964, when he was released with the rank of sergeant. On August 3, 2005, Smokey Smith passed away in Vancouver as Canada's last surviving recipient of the Victoria Cross; Canada's highest award for valour.


In 1996, Smokey Smith was named a Member the Order of Canada.

In 2002 he received the Order of British Columbia.

His honours, decorations and medals include: The Victoria Cross, the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia, 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, Defense Medal, Canadian Voluntary Service Medal, 1939-45 War Medal, Queen Elizabeth Coronation Medal, Canada Centennial Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, Canada 125 Medal, Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and the Canadian Forces Service.

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Posted by: Hyack      Last updated: 10-09-07      Hits: 10738