HERO of the MONTH

Lieutenant Edward Benn Smith VC, DCM

Edward Benn Smith VC,
DCM LORD ASHCROFT COLLECTION, IWM LONDON

Edward Smith, who tried and failed to enrol in the army when still only 17, was a young man in a hurry.

When he did eventually serve on the frontline during the final months of World War One, he made his mark, when still only 19, in two separate actions in less than a fortnight.

His sheer bravery on those occasions led to him being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Victoria Cross. As the proud custodian of Benn Smith’s medal group, purchased at auction in 1996, I am delighted to tell the story of his life and service career.

Edward Benn Smith, known as ‘Ned’ to family and friends, was born in Maryport, Cumberland (now part of Cumbria) on November 10, 1898. He was one of five children, with two brothers and two sisters, born to Charles Smith and his wife, Martha (née Benn). The small, coastal town of Maryport, situated just outside the Lake District National Park, was known for its fishing and coal mining. Smith’s father was a seaman, serving in the Royal Naval Reserve which, during 1915, led to him seeing action in the ill-fated Dardanelles campaign. His mother’s family on both sides had been fishermen.

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