The Real John Smith?
Corporal John Graham Smith Royal Engineers
John Graham Smith
The Man John Graham Smith, known as Jack was born in about 1917. He was described by his great-niece as “a very tall man, over 6 feet but very spare in his figure and clean shaven, although he had a moustache before he enlisted into the Army.” Jack as educated at a Grammar School somewhere in East London and possibly lived in Leyton, close to Lea Bridge Road. On leaving school in 1934, aged 17 Jack became a Solicitors Clerk in the City but didn’t really enjoy the job and for a bit of adventure he joined the Territorial Army in 1937, enlisting into the Royal Engineers, service number 317990. At the outbreak of World War II his unit was called up and Jack embodied, spending until 1941 in England when he was sent with a unit of the RE to North Africa as part on the 8th Army. Jack fought throughout the North Africa campaign and was wounded twice, though not seriously enough to be sent back to England. His unit then transferred to Italy, after the 8th Army had moved on from Sicily. He was present at the third siege of Monte Cassino and subsequently moved on into Austria, remaining there at the end of the war as part of the Army of occupation. He remained in Austria until 1951, marrying an Austrian girl whilst serving there and returning to the United Kingdom in 1951. He was them employed in various army training establishments, and de-mobbed in 1952. His wife followed him to the UK in the same year. Following his de-mob Jack got a job with a haulage company, first as a lorry driver out of East London, then as a mechanic with London Transport Buses. Jacked lived in the family home in Leyton until 1978 when, aged 61 he took retirement and moved to Bournemouth and selling up his old family home. Jack was a member of the local Royal British Legion and a regular bowls club player. He died unexpectedly of a stroke in 1987, his wife having pre-deceased him some years before in Austria.
The Story The group of medals awarded to John Graham Smith were acquired from e-bay in October 2012. Not a particularly special group and unfortunately the Mention in Despatches cannot be verified, and no detail of birth or death has been located on ancestry.com. However the letter enclosed with the lot from the recipient’s niece makes up an interesting, albeit brief biography and together with a reasonable photocopied portrait picture ensure this man is not completely forgotten.
- 1939-45 Star: Unnamed as awarded.
- Africa Star: Unnamed as awarded.
- Defence Medal: W56924H H J VENTER
- War Medal 1939-45: Unnamed as awarded.
- Efficiency Medal: 317990. CPL.J.G.SMITH. R.E.
This page last updated 13 Dec 14