SMITH, Dennis Reginald

No.14262311, Trooper, Dennis Reginald SMITH
Aged 20

HQ Sqdn 13th/18th Royal Hussars, Royal Armoured Corps
Killed in Action on Tuesday, 18th July 1944

Dennis Reginald SMITH was born in 1924 in Haverhill (Risbridge Q3-1923 4A:1539), son of Stanley Ernest and Florence Lilian SMITH (née RASH ).
His mother died in 1935 and his father married Rhoda SMITH in Q4-1936

In the 1939 register, at "Tanrho", 7 Wratting Road, Haverhill were his father Stanley E SMITH [19-12-1890] tailor and his step mother Rhoda [10-9-1892]. There is one closed record.

It is not known if Dennis followed in his father's footsteps and also became a tailor but prior to joining the Army, he was, according to the Echo published on 5th August 1944, a useful member of the Home Guard in Haverhill. As soon as he was old enough he enlisted as a Trooper with the Royal Armoured Corps, HQ Sqn. 13th/18th Royal Hussars.

The 13th/18th Hussars were equipped with Sherman DD tanks for the Normandy invasion as part of 27th Armoured Brigade. These were the "swimming tanks", note the inflation skirt and the propellers, on the image below. "A" and "B" Squadrons thus equipped were support for the 1st Suffolks on D-Day.
Royal Hussars were then involved in Operation Goodwood. Six weeks after D-Day, the 18th July 1944 witnessed the beginning of the biggest battle to involve British armour either up to that point or since. The aim was to capture land to the east and south of Caen. On this day, the 23rd Hussars were dealing with resistance in Le Prieure to the east of Herouvillette. It was also on this day that Dennis was killed in action.
The Kings Shropshire Light Infantry Museum provided the following information:
The 13/18 Hussars (as tanks) were involved in this Lirose/Manneville attack:
"On 16th July the Staffordshire Yeomanry moved across the River Orne and on the 18th July the attack went in. It was preceded by a heavy air raid on the enemy gun positions by 450 aircraft of the Tactical Air Force. "C" Squadron was attached for the first phase of the operation to 13th/18th Hussars and given the task of passing through them as soon as they had reached and consolidated their objective, the village of Butte de la Hogue. Shortly after the finish of the air raid the barrage was begun, and fifteen minutes later, as it lifted, 3rd Infantry Division [with 2 KSLI], supported by 27th Armoured Brigade, began their advance. The armour of 13th/18th Hussars quickly reached Butte de la Hogue and "C" Squadron passed through, making a dash across the plain as far as the lateral railway line in the south, which was their objective. They lost two tanks during the process, knocked out by an antitank gun at Lirose."

The Echo of 5 August 1944 reported 'It will be learned with regret that Mr & Mrs S.Smith, Stanrho, Wratting Road, received on Monday, official intimation that their youngest son, Trooper Dennis Smith, Queen Mary's Own Hussars, was killed in action whilst serving with the RAC in Normandy on July 18th. A subsequent letter has been received from a comrade who states he was with him when he died, with the only consoling news in the sad affair that Dennis suffered no pain. He was within a month of his 21st birthday.'

Sherman DD Tank of 13/18 Hussars on D-Day - note the propellers at rear

Dennis's temporary grave market and permanent headstone

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Dennis Smith is buried in Ranville War Cemetery, grave 4A:B:9

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details

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