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Shot Down and Rescued (Part 1 of 3)

Heroes Remember

Shot Down and Rescued (Part 1 of 3)

I thought I had a brilliant idea. I said I will, well you can’t aim properly at 700 yards, but I said your shells will go 1000 or 2000 yards. So I thought I’ll aim over, he’s so close to the water, I don’t know, about 20 feet or 25 feet, so I said I’ll aim over the top of him, splash shells in the water, he’ll see them in front of him and if he turns to get away then I’ll just cut the corner because we could turn inside them but I’ll cut the corner and get him, I hope. So there for about a second, about 10 rounds, you’d see a splash in the water ahead of him and then another seconds worth another 10 rounds so his number two then broke off to the right. I just assumed that Brassford had gone after the one that went off to the right and then I was thinking I would take another shot and I looked down and I just looked, you look around a lot, and I just saw a bullet hole in my left wing about six feet away from me, it would be a machine gun bullet. And I said, “Oh I didn’t notice.” I must have got that up when we were dogfighting over Valletta. And anyway, I fired another second burst over the sky hoping and then I looked back down and here was another bullet hole a foot away from the one I had seen. And I broke violently off to my left and as I broke left, I ran into, oh, hit the left side of the engine. I couldn’t actually see anything but I could see the flashes, smell the smoke. I could smell the shells, you know, exploding, high explosive - 20 millimetres. I looked at my oil pressure, looked at my engine instruments. The oil pressure dropped in a second, just gone like that, but what surprised me was the oil temperature went up in about a couple of seconds too right to the top. So zero pressure, max temperature and as I pulled around the fellow had a yellow nose. I think it was probably the number two that broke off, he just came around behind. I had, of course, full throttle and full RPM anyway because when I had been in the chase so I just kept it and headed straight back for Malta and I said to myself, “I can’t dogfight now, if anybody comes after me I’ve gotta just get 800 feet or better.” I mean 800 is a very poor margin, I gotta get as high as I can and pay no attention, if anybody shoots me down, that’ll be it. I was getting up, almost to 4000 feet and it was kind of an acrid smoke, the glycol didn’t go, see I wasn’t streaming white smoke. I wasn’t streaming anything in particular from the exhaust, only they would always sort of look smoky when you’re in full throttle and if the engine’s particularly got a lot of hours on it. But then I could smell an acrid smoke and I could feel, almost before and I was in so close, I was within a couple of miles at this point and my, I began to lose power, I could feel it and, of course, to get into the aerodrome, it would be several miles ahead and of course, I was right off to one side of Valletta and a built up city, all stone and I thought, “I better get out over the water, I won’t make it to the aerodrome. I didn’t have the power.”

Mr. Smith describes being shot up by the wingman of a German fighter he was attacking, fleeing towards Malta, and losing power within sight of Valletta.

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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