Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada

August 03, 2005 16:09 ET

VAC: Canada Mourns the Passing of Smokey Smith, Victoria Cross

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 3, 2005) - The Honourable Albina Guarnieri, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today joined Canadians in expressing their condolences and support to the family of Sergeant (ret'd.) Ernest Alvia "Smokey" Smith, VC, CM, OBC, CD, who passed away on August 3, 2005. Sgt. Smith was Canada's last surviving recipient of the Victoria Cross; Canada's highest award for valour.

"The sun has set on a true Canadian hero who lit up the lives of all who knew him," said Minister Guarnieri. "Smokey Smith's journey into legend was a path of valour, a trail of tribute and a source of inspiration for all Canadians."

Born on May 3, 1914 in New Westminster, British Columbia, Sgt. Smith enlisted in the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada in March, 1940.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his extraordinary actions, near the Italian town of Cesena, on the night of 21st_22nd October 1944. Sixty years later, in October 2004, Sgt. Smith was honoured at a remembrance event in Cesena with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque. "Here in Cesena, Smokey's legend is cast in bronze," said Minister Guarnieri at the event. "But it is the man behind the legend that is the true gold inscribed on our memory."

Sgt. Smith was the Patron of 2005 the Year of the Veteran. He gave a great deal of his time and energy to representing the Canadian Forces, Veterans, his province and his country at countless historic and commemorative events across Canada and around the globe. He enjoyed talking with young people and was an inspiration to Canadian youth because he embodied such Canadian values as service to one's country and the meaning of citizenship. His contribution to the commemoration of Canadian Veterans and their families was unequalled.

The Department of National Defence will conduct a military funeral - details to follow. Minister Guarnieri will attend.

Canada entered the Second World War in 1939. Over one million Canadians served in the Second World War and approximately 47,000 gave their lives.

As soon as funeral arrangements are determined, information will be available by calling toll-free 1 800 443-0394.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
    Corey Hobbs
    Director of Communications
    (613) 947-4908
    or
    Veterans Affairs Canada
    Janice Summerby
    Media Relations Advisor
    (613) 992-7468