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From today's Globe and Mail
Ernest (Smoky) Smith, 91
Ernest (Smoky) Smith, who was the last surviving Canadian Victoria Cross recipient, died Wednesday. He was 91.
Mr. Smith, a Second World War veteran in the Italian campaign, was a private with the Seaforth Highlanders in northern Italy when he almost single-handedly held off three German tanks, two self-propelled guns and 30 German soldiers on a rain-soaked night in October of 1944.
According to the citation for the Victoria Cross, the situation was virtually hopeless when the young soldier showed amazing gallantry in fighting off the enemy with a PIAT, a bazooka-like antitank gun.
Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson remembered Mr. Smith as a wonderful friend.
â Å“ Every Remembrance Day, he came for tea (and Scotch!) and was a vivid reminder of our country's heroism in World War II,â ? she said in a statement.
â Å“Like many others who serve our country, he took his place alongside his fellow comrades at arms to fight for freedom. It was a daunting task, but he did it like his comrades without fanfare, without hesitation, with great pride and determination.â ?
Mr. Smith was 25 when he joined the Highlanders in 1940 in his native Vancouver. He had worked as a driver, a bricklayer before he signed up. He was shipped off to Britain and finally saw action in 1943 in southern Italy.
There, he was struck in the chest by shrapnel on the flanks of Mount Etna. Three months later, his chest still bandaged, he was back on the march with his unit.
He was one of the few privates to win the award, and he retained the ordinary soldier's disdain for the officer corps.
After a few years of civilian life, he decided to sign up again to fight in Korea. He then stayed in the armed forces until he retired as a sergeant at the age of 50. Then he started a new career as a travel agent, working alongside his wife. He retired again when he was 82.