Australia — Speech at Reinterment Service – Flight Lieutenant Henry ‘Lacy’ Smith

RANVILLE CEMETERY, FRANCE
11:30AM 19 APRIL 2011 (7:30PM AEDT)
I am hon­oured to be here today to rep­re­sent the Gov­ern­ment of Aus­tralia at the Rein­ter­ment Ser­vice for Flight Lieu­tenant Hen­ry ‘Lacy’ Smith.
Hun­dreds of Aus­tralians par­tic­i­pat­ed in the lib­er­a­tion of West­ern Europe dur­ing 1944 and 1945.

Sev­en Roy­al Aus­tralian Air Force squadrons, hun­dreds of Aus­tralians in Roy­al Air Force units and about 500 Aus­tralian sailors serv­ing with the Roy­al Navy formed part of the force assem­bled for the land­ing in Nor­mandy on 6 June 1944.

One of the sev­en RAAF squadrons to par­tic­i­pate was the Spit­fire-equipped Num­ber 453 Squadron.

From 11 June until Sep­tem­ber 1944 No. 453 Squadron was often based at for­ward air­fields in France.

The squadron, along with Aus­tralian bomber squadrons sup­port­ed the lib­er­a­tion of France.

RAAF light bomber and fight­er squadrons con­tin­ued to sup­port the Allied armies until the end of the war in Europe by attack­ing strate­gic tar­gets and escort­ing bomber for­ma­tions.

The Bat­tle of Nor­mandy was amongst one of the largest bat­tles of World War II, with almost 160,000 troops cross­ing the Eng­lish Chan­nel on 6 June 1944.

The Bat­tle of Nor­mandy involved the com­bined strength of the French, Pol­ish, Cana­di­an, Amer­i­can and Unit­ed King­dom Forces.

Many Aus­tralian air­men proud­ly served in British and Aus­tralian squadrons dur­ing this time.

Flight Lieu­tenant Hen­ry ‘Lacy’ Smith was one of these proud Aus­tralians.

Flight Lieu­tenant Smith’s unit, Num­ber 453 Squadron was pro­vid­ing sup­port for troops and patrolling the beach heads as fight­er cov­er for the Allied land­ings.

On 11 June 1944, Flight Lieu­tenant Smith was shot down by anti-air­craft fire, just five days after the inva­sion of Nor­mandy.

His spit­fire crashed into the Riv­er Orne, and there he remained until Novem­ber 2010.

Until today his fam­i­ly had no grave site to attend.

I know they are very grate­ful that is no longer the case — as am I.

I would like to sin­cere­ly thank the French peo­ple for their assis­tance to Aus­tralia in the recov­ery of Flight Lieu­tenant Smith’s remains and in the arrange­ments for this Rein­ter­ment Ser­vice today.

Flight Lieu­tenant Smith made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice for Aus­tralia dur­ing World War II and I am thank­ful that he has now been afford­ed the mil­i­tary bur­ial and hon­ours that he so right­ly deserves.

I hope the ser­vice today pro­vides some clo­sure to his fam­i­ly, and an oppor­tu­ni­ty for us all to reflect on his con­tri­bu­tion to Nor­mandy.

Although his remains are buried here in France, his mem­o­ry and lega­cy will live on in Aus­tralia.

His sac­ri­fice to our nation will be remem­bered by all Aus­tralians and the French peo­ple for ever more.

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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