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Protecting the USS Ohio

Heroes Remember

Protecting the USS Ohio

We arrived and some Spitfires left and so we hid around the Ohio and we were down pretty low, I don’t know why and then all at once I saw an Italian tri-motor. It was a bomber and also a torpedo bomber too called Savoia-Marchetti, SM79, flying along right low towards the Ohio but off to one side. I dived on this thing and fired at it, well the wing leader went down and he just got nicked at it but it didn’t… he carried right on and I began, lined up on the engine and it blew to kingdom come, it just blew up in a flash. They didn’t have the self-sealing tanks and it just blew to kingdom come about 200 feet off the water, I think and just crashed and burned on the water, a burning pile of fuel was spreading on the water, you see. But why it didn’t, I don’t know if it had torpedoes, I couldn’t see underneath it and why it didn’t turn in to torpedo the Ohio. It may be that he saw us up there and decided, “Well, I guess I won’t try and drop the torpedoes at this thing.” But I could never figure out what he did and five guys in a crew just blew to kingdom come. I mean they hit the water seconds after this thing burst into flames. They’d be killed instantly hitting the water.

Mr. Smith describes shooting down an Italian Savoia-Marchetti torpedo bomber as it approached the disabled tanker, USS Ohio.

Roderick Smith

Roderick Smith was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in March, 1922. He was the second of four children. His father, who had served in the First World War, was a land surveyor. Mr. Smith had been fascinated by propaganda leading up to the Second World War, so he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940 following the completion of his Senior Matriculation. After pilot training in Canada, he was selected for overseas flying duty. His first tour of duty was on Malta and Mr. Smith’s impressive list of enemy aircraft destroyed began here. He was also shot down himself while on this tour. After returning to England, he joined 401 Squadron piloting new generation Spitfire 9's. Mr. Smith was in action on D-Day, and later did strafing runs in German held France. Later at Nijmegen, he destroyed several more enemy aircraft, including the shared kill of a prototypical ME-262 jet fighter. Mr. Smith retired with the rank of Flight-Lieutenant, DFC and Bar, with thirteen destroys, 1 shared and ½ possible to his credit.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Roderick Smith
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
401 Squadron
Flight Lieutenant

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