Anthony Smith GC
Name: Anthony Smith
Conflict: Second World War
Gazetted: May 30, 1944
Place/date of birth: Christchurch, Hampshire/August 3, 1894
Rank when awarded GC (and later highest rank): Civilian
Date of bravery: February 23, 1944
London Gazette citation:
Anthony Smith, Member, Civil Defence Rescue Service, Chelsea
During an air raid, bombs demolished a number of four-storey houses, leaving standing only the parity walls which were in a precarious condition. Gas and water mains were fractured and the gas ignited, setting fire to the buildings and wreckage, the whole of which became a raging inferno. Two floors had pancaked forming a huge pile of blazing debris but Smith burrowed a way through the burning ruins and managed to reach a casualty trapped in a front basement underneath. He released the victim, but by this time the front of the building was a solid wall of flame, the upper floors were collapsing and his escape was cut off. Carrying the casualty, Smith made his way through the flames and smoke to the rear of the house and there found a 6-inch aperture in the wreckage. He forced a way through and managed to pass the casualty to safety just as the remaining portion of the front wall collapsed into the area. Smith’s eyebrows and hair were burnt and he was almost overcome by smoke but, undeterred by his ordeal, he immediately went to the assistance of a comrade who was -endeavouring to rescue a woman trapped in the basement of an adjoining building, the walls of which were in a very dangerous condition. Here, working for an hour up to his waist in water, and with walls and floors on the point of collapse, Smith helped to release her. He then obtained a change of clothing and carried on until his squad was relieved.
Smith displayed outstanding gallantry and devotion to duty in conditions of the utmost danger and difficulty.
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Other decorations: N/A
Place/date of death: Chelsea, London/October 20, 1964
Grave/memorials: Headstone erected on his unmarked grave at Fulham New Cemetery, North Sheen, Richmond, Surrey, by the Royal Marines Association in May 1999; plaque at Dovehouse Green, King’s Road, Chelsea
Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased privately, 2011
Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum