Today Australian World War II Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Henry ‘Lacy’ Smith will be buried with full military honours in France.
The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon Warren Snowdon MP and Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin AO, will join FLTLT Smith’s surviving niece and nephew and their extended families at the ceremony.
The service will be held at the War Graves Cemetery, at Rue des Airbornes, Ranville in Normandy and include a traditional wreath laying, the Ode, and the Last Post bugle call.
This symbolises that his duty is over and he can rest in peace.
Ceremonial elements will be performed by members of No. 453 Squadron from RAAF Base Williamtown, NSW, the unit with which Smith flew, and Australia’s Federation Guard.
FLTLT Smith from Sans Souci, south of Sydney, NSW, was shot down by anti-aircraft fire on 11 June 1944 during World War II and crashed into the River Orne, near Caen, in northern France. The Spitfire aircraft and Smith’s remains were found in November 2010.
“At age 27, FLTLT Smith made the ultimate sacrifice for our country during World War II. He was from No 453 Squadron, the first Australian squadron to go into action on 6 June 1944, where it provided tactical support for the troops landing on the Normandy beachhead,” Mr Snowdon said.
“No 453 Squadron carried out operations that included harassing the retreating enemy, attacking enemy convoys, bombing missions, armed reconnaissance and bomber escort duties.
“I am thankful for the brave contributions of FLTLT Smith. He will now have a marked grave that can be visited so that both Australians and French can remember his sacrifice, and I am pleased he has now been afforded the military burial and honour he deserves.’’
“I hope this reinterment will support a greater understanding of the important contribution FLTLT Smith made during World War II.”
During the ceremony, the Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin AO, posthumously awarded and presented FLTLT Smith’s service medals: the 1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star with France and Germany Clasp; Defence Medal; War Medal 1939-45; and Australian Service Medal 1939-45.
Mr Snowdon said the Australian Defence Force was in the process of shipping the wreckage of FLTLT Smith’s Spitfire aircraft to Australia to display at the RAAF Museum, Point Cook, Victoria. Plans are for the aircraft to arrive in Australia mid year, where it will undergo conservation work.
Media note: Photos of the aircraft and FLTLT Smith are available at:
Photos of the burial will follow at the same site after the event.
The family have released a public statement and have requested privacy.
This ceremony will be held at 11.30am, Tuesday 19 April 2011 in France
(In Australia this is 7.30 pm AEDT Tuesday 19 April).
Alice Plate (Minister Snowdon): 0400 045 999 (in France)
Defence Media Operations: (02) 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664
Australian Embassy France: +33 1 40 59 33 69 or Richard.Ogier [at] dfat.gov.au