Interview with Bob Smith


Interview with Bob Smith


Bob Smith was born in Brisbane, Australia. He recalls moving to the family farm in 1932 and being a member of the Air Cadets during his school years. Upon leaving school, Smith undertook training as a bank clerk. Following the events of Pearl Harbour, Smith registered for the Royal Air Force as an air crew guard on the understanding that once he turned nineteen, he would train under the Empire Air Training Scheme. In May 1942, he was called up for initial training. He describes his first experience of death, while stationed at the Air Observer School in Cootamundra, and persuading the selection committee at Bradfield Park to alter his crew role status from pilot to navigator. On the 10th February 1943, Smith embarked from Sydney on the USS Hermitage. He recounts the details of the five-week voyage to San Francisco including kitchen duty on the ship, hunting for a record needle in Honolulu, and observing the damage at Pearl Harbour. Smith trained on Ansons in Edmonton, Canada, before traveling to Britain, where he attended Officer Training School in Sidmouth and the Advanced Flying School at RAF West Freugh. He describes the formation of his crew at RAF Chedburgh, training on Wellingtons and Stirlings, and receiving blunt head trauma on a training flight (which he traces health issues in later life back to). While stationed in RAF Feltwell for the Lancaster Finishing School, Smith recollects supporting D-Day by dropping Window along the coast of France, and using Gee during a mining operation over the Garonne River. Smith’s crew joined 15 Squadron, stationed at RAF Mildenhall, where he carried out 30 operations and remained on the squadron as a wind navigator. He details the events of his first and last operation, the process of morning and night-time operations, and flying over the Ruhr, Arromanches, Malmö, Duisburg, Stettin, and Dortmund. Finally, Smith describes demobilisation, reuniting with his family in Australia, and visiting Scotland to marry his wife, Elma.



IBCC Digital Archive





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3:30:53 audio recording





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Lee Collins, “Interview with Bob Smith,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed August 2, 2021,

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