Lieutenant Colonel Desmond Smallman-Tew was the son of Frederick and Hypatia C Smallman-Tew, and husband of Mary G Smallman-Tew, of Pyrford, Surrey. He served with the Royal Corps of Signals and was attached to 6th Airborne Divisional Signals as Commanding Officer.
In mid-1944, 6th Airborne Divisional Signals took part in glider insertion to Normandy, during Op Overlord. Lt Col Smallman-Tew, encouraged each man to plait himself a lanyard from the camouflaged rigging lines of parachutes still scattered on the DZs. This would ensure that each man had in his possession a length of strong cord which might be useful in any future attempt to escape capture by the enemy. All soldiers carried out their Commanding Officer's wish and the lanyard was worn by all ranks.
Some weeks after the landings, Lieutenant Colonel Smallman-Tew, although wounded in the arm by a piece of shrapnel, elected to remain at duty and took it upon himself to take a newly joined officer, Lieutenant Mutch, to his Brigade Signal Section (K) at Le Mesnil. On 22 July 1944, on the journey by airborne jeep, Lieutenant Colonel Smallman-Tew, Lieutenant Mutch and their driver were killed when a German mortar shell hit their vehicle near Escoville. Lieutenant Colonel Smallman-Tew was extremely popular throughout the Regiment and the lanyard continued to be worn after his death in accordance with his wishes.
Lieutenant Colonel Smallman-Tew died on 22 July 1944, aged 34 years old. He is now buried at Ranville War Cemetery, Normandy.
Profile compiled with assistance from Phil JennettRead More