ROY Smith is survived by his two daughters, Linda Harvey and Teresa Rising, five grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.
Roy was born in November 1925 in Sittingbourne, Kent, the second youngest of seven children. From a poor family, Roy left school at 14 to start a job in a grocery store called Pearks Dairies, making deliveries to customers on a bicycle until he was called up shortly after his 18 birthday.
Private Roy ‘Smudger’ Smith, served with the 4th Battalion The Dorsetshire Regiment and went over to Normandy on a landing craft a couple of weeks after D-Day. Roy was a Bren gunner and moved through Normandy and into the Netherlands where he was taken Prisoner. A POW for approximately 6 months, Roy weighed below 7st when he was freed. After medics had deemed him fit enough, he was flown home in a Lancaster to recuperate before being flown back to Germany to serve with the occupational forces for approximately one year.
After the war, Roy returned to his former employer, (now called Liptons), working his way up to store manager and stayed with the company until his retirement. Roy met his wife, Sylvia at a bus stop when she asked him the time, fearing she may have missed the last bus. It was love at first sight and they courted until their marriage in 1954. Sylvia died in 2011.
This year, Roy travelled to the Netherlands in May for Dutch Liberation and to Normandy in June for the D-Day commemorations with the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans. His driver on both occasions was London cab driver and Taxi Charity volunteer Micky Harris. A special bond forms between the veterans and the cab drivers and on the final day of the trip in June Micky decided he would take Roy onto the beach.
Micky Harris, a London cab driver and Taxi Charity volunteer takes up the story, he said:
“You get to know the veterans really well on these trips which is why most of us volunteer. During the Taxi Charity visit to Normandy Roy had shared that he had always felt guilty that he had not got his feet wet when his landing craft had reached Sword Beach a few days after D-Day. On the final day of our trip, we were visiting Sword Beach, so spontaneously I decided to see what I could do and dragged Roy’s wheelchair down the beach and into the water’s edge. Some 79 years later Roy finally got his feet wet and the guilt he had previously felt seemed to lift.”
Phil Harvey, Roy Smith’s grandson said:
“My family cannot thank the Taxi Charity enough for what you did for my grandfather, he truly found peace through your kind actions. I have taken him to many events in recent years, but when he came back from your trip to Normandy, I truly saw a difference, the ghosts had been laid to rest and that is down to your actions.”
Brian Heffernan, London cab driver and Chairman of the Taxi Charity said:
“No one can underestimate what the trips we arrange for acts of commemoration do for the wellbeing of our veterans. Roy had only been on two trips with us but our volunteers had formed a lovely bond with him and we were deeply saddened to hear the news of his passing so soon after we returned from Normandy. Stand easy Soldier – your duty is done.”
Roy’s funeral will be held on Tuesday 18 July at the Garden Of England Crematorium, Sheppey Way, Bobbing, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME9 8GZ.
In lieu of flowers, Roy’s family has asked for donations to the Taxi Charity.
To find out more about the support the Taxi Charity offers to veterans or to donate, please visit: www.taxicharity.org.