Brigadier The Rt Hon Sir John George Smyth, 1st Baronet, VC, MC, PC
Brigadier the Rt Hon Sir John Smyth crammed an awful lot into his 89 years. He was a highly decorated British Indian Army officer, a long-serving Conservative MP and co-founder of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association. He was also the last VC recipient to sit in the House of Commons. I have immense admiration for the bravery and rich life led by this remarkable man.
I do not own his gallantry and service medals as these were bequeathed to the Imperial War Museum, but Smyth’s medal group is on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery inside the museum. In fact, his VC is a replacement decoration after the original was stolen and never recovered.
Smyth, who was usually known by friends as ‘Jackie’, was born in Teignmouth, Devon, on October 24, 1893. He was the eldest of three sons born to William and Lilian Smyth and his father worked for the Indian Civil Service in Burma.
From 1901, he was educated at Lynam School (now Dragon Preparatory School), Oxford. While a pupil there, he contracted a serious illness from which he was thought unlikely to survive. Despite being desperately ill for two years, he recovered and returned to Lynam, where he received a scholarship, aged 14, to attend Repton School in Derbyshire.