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Thankyou, Smokey.

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Silver

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Last surviving Canadian winner of Victoria Cross dies

Ernest Alvia (Smokey) Smith, Canada's last surviving winner of the Victoria Cross and the only Canadian private to win the honour in the Second World War, has died at his home in Vancouver. He was 91.


Ernest Alvia (Smokey) Smith.
In a statement Prime Minister Paul Martin called Smith a man who "stood for courage and resolve at a time of great need."

"We are a better nation because of men like Sgt. Smokey Smith. He was and will always be a much-respected and remarkable Canadian hero," said Martin.

Smith received the award for his heroics during a critical battle in Italy in October 1944.

He is credited for single-handedly fighting off German tanks and dozens of troops on a road beside the Savio River.

Smith led his three-man, anti-tank group across an open field under heavy fire. He and a fellow soldier ended up in a ditch with a Panther approaching and firing.

When the Panther was less than 10 metres away, he jumped out of the ditch and fired at the tank, scoring a direct hit and disabling the vehicle.

Ten German troops jumped off the tank and charged, but Smith killed four of them with a tommy gun. The rest ran off.

Another tank opened fire as more of the enemy began to close in on Smith's position. Smith grabbed more ammunition and "steadfastly held his position," said the Victoria Cross citation.

He fired another round at an approaching tank, forcing it to turn away. As each German neared him, Smith fired at them. The rest eventually turned and withdrew "in disorder," the citation said.


Ernest Alvia (Smokey) Smith.
Last fall, Italians and Canadians gathered beneath the walls of an 800-year-old castle in Cesena, Italy, to honour Smith.

"Smokey Smith was a wonderful Canadian whose friendship I was delighted to have," Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson said in a statement. "Every Remembrance Day he came for tea (and Scotch!) and was a vivid reminder of our country's heroism in World War II."

"His courageous acts in 1944 at Cesena, Italy, were extraordinary and stood out against the dignity, bravery and perseverance of our Canadian Forces," she said.

A military funeral is being planned for Smith, who was from New Westminster, B.C.

He is survived by his children David and Norma-Jean, his grandchildren, Dan and Amanda, and his great granddaughter, Jewele.


smith_smokey_young.jpg
 

nr

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What an incredible story of turning tanks away! :shock: Anyone would have said "impossible". Just goes to show....
 

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