The Airmen's Stories - P/O D N E Smith
Denis Norman Evelyn Smith was born at Woodford in Essex on 10th June 1916. He learnt to fly whilst still a student and obtained his 'A' flying licence at the Northamptonshire Aero Club in November 1933. Smith subsequently obtained a second 'N' certificate at the Airwork School of Flying in September 1938 and also his 'B' commercial pilot's licence No.6124.
When in June 1940 he was granted a commission in the Royal Air Force it was recorded that
"prior to entry into RAF he had carried out 2050 hours solo flying including, during 1937, 800 hours flying in the Spanish Air Force" *
No mention, however, of Denis Smith has been found in the Index to the Foreign Office Archives or in contemporary accounts. It is known that he flew as a pilot with British-American Air Services at Liverpool (Speke) Airport immediately prior to joining the RAF in 1940 and that he listed flying experience on de Havilland DH90, DH84, DH86, DH89 and Fokker FXXII in his application for a commission in the RAF.
He joined the RAF with a Direct-Entry commission on 1st June 1940. His first posting was to 24 (Communications) Squadron at Hendon. This squadron was equipped with a variety of aircraft and he may have been sent there for assessment of his flying skills. The result was a posting to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 22nd June for conversion to Spitfires. He then went to 74 Squadron at Hornchurch on the 20th July 1940.
Smith was killed in combat with Me110's over Convoy 'Booty' thirty miles east of Harwich on 11th August. His Spitfire R6962 came down in the sea and his body was washed up on the Belgian coast.
He is buried in Ostende New Communal Cemetery.
* Information on Smith's Spanish service courtesy of 'The Flyers' by Brian Bridgeman