Sergeant (Pilot) Arthur Dumbell Smith
Arthur Dumbell Smith was a long-standing member of No.66 Squadron. He hailed from Forest Gate, London, and was born on 3rd April 1918, the son of Charles H. Smith and Constance Isabel Dumbell.
As part of his education he attended Drapers School before joining the RAF in January 1936, as a Direct-Entry Airman (under training) Pilot.
By 1937, he was flying with No.66 Squadron, when, on 24 November, he was involved in a mid-air collision between two Gloster Gauntlets (K7849 and K7871) during a practice sector attack, near Royston, Hertfordshire. Pilot Officer Leonard M. Beavis died in the collision but Smith was able to escape by parachute injuring his knee in the process.
During November 1938, No.66 Squadron began exchanging their Gloster Gauntlets for Supermarine Spitfires, being the second squadron to equip with the new fighter. Some of the Gauntlets went to other squadrons with six being sent to No.615 at Kenley, in December 1938.
In the late Summer of 1939, Arthur married Doris Agnes Mary Pike, in Sheppey, Kent. Once war was declared, No.66 Squadron spent a lot of time patrolling over the East coast, often forward deployed to Horsham St. Faith from their home station at Duxford.
Sergeant Smith’s first interception took place on 22 December 1939, when two flights from No.66 Squadron, operating from Duxford, were ordered to intercept an “enemy raid” over Wattisham – fortunately the “enemy” on this occasion turned out to be three RAF Wellingtons and two Blenheims.
The routine patrols continued into May 1940, when the Squadron began offensive patrols over the continent. By early June, with the situation in France and Belgium becoming serious, the Squadron was involved in defending the air above Dunkirk. On 2 June, Sergeant Smith was engaged in combat for the first time in an action where he described the sky as being black with enemy aircraft, and claimed a Me.109 destroyed, last seen in “a vertical dive with thick black smoke pouring from his engine”.
With No.66 Squadron remaining part of 12 Group, this time at Coltishall, Smith’s next combat came on 9 July, south-east of Yarmouth, when he engaged a Do.17, but despite using all his ammunition, failed to down the aircraft.
On 24 July, whilst on convoy patrol, Smith crashed into the sea but managed to escape unhurt, the cause of the accident was not identified.
Smith continued flying regularly and on 30 August, when leading Green Section, encountered another Do.17 south-east of Norwich. In the action that followed the Do.17 was shot down off Felixstowe. Pilot Officer Pickering, flying as Green 3, was downed by return fire. He crashed into the sea but was unscathed and was rescued by a lightship.
On 3 September, No.66 Squadron were ordered to Kenley to replace No.616 Squadron, who had been battered in the previous two weeks. The relocation took place during the morning and No.66 were up patrolling that afternoon and evening.
Launched the following day to intercept a raid near Maidstone, No.66 Squadron were climbing to attack when they were bounced by Me.109s. Smith, flying as Green 2, was shot down and baled out, seriously wounded. He was admitted to No.7 Casualty Clearing Station at Benenden, but succumbed to his wounds two days later. It is believed that his aircraft crashed at Bromley Green, south of Ashford, Kent.
On 10 September, 66 Squadron moved out to Gravesend. The following day Arthur Smith’s funeral was held at St. Luke’s Whyteleafe, an event noted in the Squadron diary. His wife, Doris, remarried in 1945, to Lionel Denis Ingram.
Rest in peace Sir and thank you for your service.