Private John R Smith

18 Sep 1944

  • France and Germany Star medal

John Robert Smith, the son of John Robert and Violet Smith; husband of Florence Smith, of Grantham, Lincolnshire, originally enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry in 1941.

He volunteered for Airborne Forces in 1943 and was on parachute course 70, July 1943, at RAF. Ringway. Upon completion he was posted to the 2nd Parachute Battalion.

By September 1944 he was in 3 Platoon, A Company under the command of Lieutenant A J McDermont.

On Sunday, 17 September 1944 he took off from Saltby airfield in a U.S.A.A.F Dakota aircraft bound for Drop Zone ‘X’ in Holland, as part of Operation Market-Garden. As they approached the D.Z. there was a problem with Private Smith’s equipment.

Private Smith’s Section Commander, Sergeant. R Dennis, stated, “Smith got entangled with his static line and rifle attachment on reaching the door and thereby caused considerable delay, which of course took the a/c off the D.Z. before Smith dropped. I persuaded the pilot to make a fresh run-in, which he did, but I have heard nothing and did not see Pte Smith again.

Private Smith is officially listed as Killed in Action on Monday, 18 September 1944, aged 22.

“From the moment [Private] Smith left the plane and till his death it is unknown what exactly happened to him. But, his field-grave was found at the Coach house of castle Ruurlo, DOD [date of death] says 18th., Castle Ruurlo was occupied by S.S. General Harmel and his staff, but also by a German field hospital. After the liberation of the castle a Canadian Army Medical Unit used it.” [1]

Pte Smith was first buried near the coach house of Castle Ruurlo, Ruurlo, The Netherlands and now lies at rest at the Canadian War Cemetery, Holten, The Netherlands.

[1] Information supplied by Joop de Lange, Holland. 28 September 2014.

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Service History

John R Smith

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Group photos_1

  • Group photograph of A Company, 2nd Parachute Battalion, Easton Hall, Lincs, June 1944.

    Group photograph of A Company, 2nd Parachute Battalion, Easton Hall, Lincs, June 1944.

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Maps and Diagrams_1

  • Map indicating drop zone and burial location for Pte J R Smith.

    Map indicating drop zone and burial location for Pte J R Smith.

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