Dambuster of the Day No. 86: Edward Smith

Smith 240913

Sgt E C Smith
Flight engineer

Lancaster serial number: ED936/G

Call sign: AJ-H

Second wave. Aircraft badly damaged and mine lost, flying low over sea on outward flight. Returned to base.

Edward Clarence Smith was born in Cambridge on 26 August 1919, the middle of the three children of Clarence and Annie Smith. He joined the RAF in 1937 as ground crew, trained at the No 3 School of Technical Training at RAF Manston and served in various squadrons until 1942.

It was then that the new category of Flight Engineers was introduced, and Smith volunteered for this position. After training he crewed up with Geoff Rice and his team at 1660 Conversion Unit in October 1942. They joined 57 Squadron in December.

The crew had flown on nine operations before being posted over to the new squadron being formed at the same base to undertake training for a special mission.


On the Dams Raid, AJ-H took off from Scampton at 2131 but had to turn back after flying too low over the Waddensee and losing their mine. Smith played an important role in bringing the aircraft home safely to Scampton when hydraulic power for the undercarriage had been lost.

Smith flew with Rice and the rest of his crew on the operations they completed in the period from July to December 1943. When they were shot down over Belgium on 20 December 1943 Rice survived. Smith and the rest of the crew were killed and they were buried in Gosselies Communal Cemetery, near Hainaut, Belgium. More than 100 British and Commonwealth servicemen lie there, nearly all aircrew who died in the vicinity.

Edward Smith had married Evelyn Tyrell in Cambridge in 1942.

More about Smith online:
Entry on Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Page about Rice crew burial site, Gosselies cemetery

KIA 20.12.1943.

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources:
Nigel Press, All My Life, Lancfile Publishing 2006
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
John Sweetman, David Coward and Gary Johnstone, The Dambusters, Time Warner 2003

The information above has been taken from the books and online sources listed above, and other online material. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further information in the comments section below.

Further information about Edward Smith and the other 132 men who flew on the Dams Raid can be found in my book The Complete Dambusters, published by History Press in 2018.

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