WALTER JOHN SMITH (1141900)
BOMBER COMMAND 1942/46
12 & 463 SQUADRONS
Born in the quiet village of Walesby in Nottinghamshire, Wally was only 17 years old when the war broke out. By then he was already terrorising the locals with his high speed exploits on his own re-built Norton and Velocette motorbikes.
Wally, just prior to joining the RAF, on one of his many beloved motor bikes
As the only son of the local grocer it was assumed he would work in the family business but his love for all things mechanical led him to join the R.A.F.
When asked later in life why he chose the R.A.F instead of the Army or Navy he replied by simply stating he hated water as much as walking so there was no choice to be made!
In 1941 Wally volunteered for duty with the R.A.F just three weeks before his 20th birthday.
So on February 8th 1941 Wally set off for the R.A.F recruitment centre In Padgate near Warrington leaving behind his parents and sister Olive for the first time in his life.
By February 1945 Wally had completed two tours of operations flying 51 sorties over enemy territory with both 12 and 463 squadrons as a Flight Engineer.
With a loss rate in excess of 5% the odds were in pure mathematical terms against him getting to 20 ops' never mind 51!
But in the true nature of this exceptional man, he never professed to be heroic or brave; in his own words he simply said "I was just one of the lucky ones."
It is said that the people who never worried about being shot down were usually the inexperienced and the foolhardy, but they were shot down. As were the good and the true, the tried and the battle wise, the very people whom you would have expected, by all the laws of probability to have survived a tour of thirty or more operations.
With an average loss rate of five percent on every major operation carried out by Bomber Command, the entire force would theoretically have been annihilated after every cycle of twenty operations!
But then of course there were the lucky ones!
So the following pages are dedicated to my father and Melanie-Jayne and Martyn's grandfather, for we are also the lucky ones.