Hi Guys, I have had very sad news. My friend Joe passed away peacefully this morning at home with his family.
I had known Joe for over 10 years and he was a man whom I had a great respect and admiration for. I will always remember Joe presenting me with a tie of the XXI Veterans club which I was very proud to recieve especially from someone like Joe.
I will relate some of Joe's military career.
Joe joined up pre war, joining the TA in Salford in April 1938. In the early part of the war he served with the Royal Engineers 39th Searchlight Battl, later becoming the 39th Searchlight Battl RA. in 1942 he volunteered for service with the Airborne Forces. He passed course number 23 at Parachute Training school, Ringway, 17th to 22nd August 1942 with a mark of "average". He later joined the XXI Indep Para Coy (Pathfinders) at Tilshead in 1942 and continued his training passing an Assualt Pioneers course run by the RE in 1942 and in 1943 passed a Drill and Duties Course at Larkhill.
Joe served in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. He was one of the few Pathfinders in OP HUSKY. There is lost his kit bag on his decent and used a captured Italian Carbine which he said kicked like a mule! He served as a Sgt in No 3 Platoon at Arnhem.
He related a story to me only 2 years ago and those of you that have seen the film Their's is the Glory will recall. The units cook, Pte Dixon, was ordered to go and hunt down a German tank. In the film he goes alone. In reality, Joe went with him taking a Bren gun for covering fire and carring the ammo.
After Arnhem he left the Pathfinder Company in January 1945 at Newark, moving on to greater things, being given a commission with 2 Para and rising to the rank of Major. He later served with the SAS in Malaya 1957 - 1959.
After leaving the Army, Joe went into teaching, retiring in 1962. He is survived by his son and daughter and six grandchildren, plus three great grand children.
Joe founded the XXI Veterans Club and that is how I met him. I have included a few pics of Joe. One taken in Italy where he has a good sun tan, a famous one taken getting ready to board their Stirling prior to Arnhen (Bare headed at the back with 'tach) and one at the reunion a few years agoi now in 2009. Joe was a tough guy with a iron will. He had his leg amputated a few years ago, but it never slowed him down!
Joe Norris Smith 2 Oct 1918 - 15 Jan 2013.