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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R H Smyth


Ronald Henry Smyth was born on 24th December 1920 in Croydon, his father died when Ronald was twelve. The family moved from Croydon to North Cheam and he won a scholarship to Sutton High School. He passed the civil service examination, going straight into a post in the Stationery Office in London.

Smyth joined the RAFVR on 8th May 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called up at the outbreak of war, he went to No. 1 ITW Cambridge on 7th September 1939, moved to 10 EFTS Yatesbury on 5th December and on to 3 FTS South Cerney on 27th April 1940.



With the course completed Smyth was posted to 5 OTU Aston Down, converted to Blenheims and joined 25 Squadron on 19th August 1940. Two days later he was transferred to 111 Squadron at Debden. Smyth returned to 5 OTU to convert to Hurricanes after which he rejoined 111, then at Drem, on 19th September.

He went to 249 Squadron on 2nd October and to 615 Squadron on 19th November. Smyth went to CFS Upavon on 8th May 1941 for an instructors course.


Above: with 615 squadron

On wing: Sgt. RH Smyth, Sgt. AR Moore

Standing: Adj. GC Perrin, F/O DGA Stewart, F/Lt. JRH Gayner, P/O NJ Wheeler, P/O JJ Walsh, F/O CN Foxley-Norris, F/O PH Hugo, F/O A Eyre, P/O LN Landels, S/Ldr. JR Kayll

Kneeling: Adj. R Mouchotte, Sgt. ET Cosby


On 13th June he joined the staff at 9 FTS Hullavington and was commissioned in August. In October Smyth was posted to No. 1 Glider Training Squadron at Thame, a newly-formed Development Unit, allied to the Airborne Forces to train instructors and Army pilots to fly Hotspur gliders. Smyth instructed, as a Flight Commander, at No. 1 Glider Training School, Croughton until April 1943.

He was then posted to 3 School of General Reconnaissance at Squires Gate, under Coastal Command, qualified for his 2nd Class Air Navigators License and moved to 8 OTU Dyce on 22nd June 1943 for photographic-reconnaissance training on Spitfires.

Smyth went to the Benson PRU in September and after returning from a trip to Tunis he joined 541 (PR) Squadron on 15th December. He commanded the PRU in Gibraltar from 9th March to 12th September 1944, when the Unit returned to Benson.

Awarded the DFC (gazetted 27th July 1945), Smyth ferried communications during July and August between London and Churchill at Biarritz and Atlee in Berlin, for the Potsdam Conference.

He left 541 Squadron in September 1945 and his final flying duties were high-level meterological flights at Tain in October.

Smyth was released from the RAF in January 1946 as a Flight Lieutenant.

Soon after VE Day Smyth had married Pauline Edwards, a fellow civil servant whom he had met in 1939. Through the war she had stayed at her job and endured the Blitz as a night firewatcher. They had two daughters, Daphne, who became an ambulance service press officer, and Hilary, a health service administrator. The family lived in London, then followed the Stationery Office when it transferred to Norfolk.

Smyth became a systems analyst and worked on government computer contracts. He retired in 1980 and the couple moved to Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Pauline died in 2008 and he is survived by his daughters.

Smyth died on 26th October 2017 aged 96.


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