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The Airmen's Stories - F/O J D Smith


James Duncan Smith was born on 17th March 1914 in Winnipeg, Canada. His parents William and Alexandrina Smith were Scottish immigrants.

He was educated at local schools and St. John’s Technical College. He worked at manual jobs for the next four years while serving in the Winnipeg Light Infantry. He applied to join the RCAF in 1934 and served as an apprentice until September 1937 when he joined the RAF on a short service commission.

He was posted to 10 FTS Tern Hill on 11th December and joined 87 Squadron at Debden on 9th July 1938.

Smith was serving with 87 Squadron in France from the outbreak of war until he was posted to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge, where he arrived on 13th May 1940. He was posted to PDC Uxbridge on the 15th for allocation to a squadron in France and joined 73 Squadron there soon afterwards.



On 5th June he shared in destroying a Do17. The squadron was withdrawn from France on 17th June. Smith claimed a Me110 destroyed and another damaged on 11th September and a Me109 destroyed on the 15th.

73 Squadron moved to Castle Camps in September and left there on 11th November for deployment overseas. It embarked on HMS Furious on the 16th with its aircraft and flew off to Takoradi on the 29th. The squadron flew in easy stages to Heliopolis, via Lagos, Accra, Kano, Maidugari, Khartoum, Wadi Haifa and Abu Sueir.

During December, the pilots were attached to 274 Squadron in the Western Desert. On the 14th, 16th and 18th Smith destroyed SM79s and got a probable CR42 on the 16th.

In early January 1941 73 Squadron began operating on its own account. On 14th April the squadron took off to intercept CR42 and G50 fighters attacking Tobruk. Smith single-handedly attacked five G50s and shot down two and damaged a third before being shot down and killed.

He was 27 and is buried in Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Acroma, Libya.

He received a Mention in Despatches (gazetted 1st January 1942).

His portrait was made by Cuthbert Orde in 1940 (below).




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