William Thomas Smith

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William Thomas Smith
Born 21 October 1896
Lambeth, London, England
Died October 1994 (aged 97–98)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Royal Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Years of service 1914–c.1918
Rank Flight Sergeant
Unit Royal Engineers
No. 45 Squadron RFC
No. 104 Squadron RAF
Battles/wars World War I
 • Western Front
World War II
Awards Distinguished Conduct Medal
Military Medal

Flight Sergeant William Thomas Smith DCM, MM (21 October 1896 – October 1994) was a British World War I flying ace credited with five aerial victories.[1]

World War I[edit]

Smith enlisted into the Royal Engineers in 1914[1] with the rank of pioneer, and on 9 December 1916 was awarded the Military Medal "for bravery in the Field".[2]

He then transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, serving in No. 45 Squadron RFC. He gained his first aerial victory on 11 August 1917 by shooting down in flames an Albatros D.V over Deûlémont from a Sopwith 1½ Strutter piloted by Captain J. Pender. On 19 October 1917 Smith was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.[3] His citation was published on 25 January 1918 and read:

48027 Pioneer W. T. Smith, Royal Engineers, attached Royal Flying Corps.
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty whilst acting as aerial gunner to an officer. Having shot down an enemy machine, his own pilot was wounded, and fell forward insensible on to the control lever. Pioneer Smith then climbed forward along the plane, pulled the pilot off the lever and got the machine under control. The officer then partially recovered, whereupon he remained standing on the side of the fuselage shouting words of encouragement to him, and the machine was eventually landed without much damage, entirely owing to his exceptionally gallant and prompt action."[4]

It would be exactly a year after his first that his second victory was gained, and by then he was serving in No. 104 Squadron RAF, part of the Independent Air Force, flying in an Airco DH.4 piloted by Captain Jeffrey Home-Hay. In five days the pair accounted for four Albatros D.Vs; the first, on 11 August 1918, was driven down out of control over Karlsruhe. On 13 August they destroyed and drove down two more near Corny, and finally on 15 August drove down another at Château-Salins.[1]

Later career[edit]

Post-war, Smith emigrated to Australia and was living in St. Kilda when he joined the Royal Australian Air Force at Melbourne on 11 April 1940. He served in the RAAF throughout the war and was eventually demobbed on 24 October 1946 with the rank of Flight Sergeant.[5]


  1. ^ a b c "William Thomas Smith". The Aerodrome. 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2016. 
  2. ^ "No. 29854". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 December 1916. p. 12052. 
  3. ^ "No. 30346". The London Gazette (Supplement). 19 October 1917. p. 10868. 
  4. ^ "No. 30495". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 January 1918. p. 1332. 
  5. ^ "Service Record: Smith, William Thomas". World War Two Nominal Roll, Department of Veterans' Affairs. 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2016.