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Poignant family tribute to World War II veteran Alex Smith


The late Alex Smith with his wife Lily

The late Alex Smith with his wife Lily

The late Alex Smith with his wife Lily

A touching family tribute was paid last night to World War II RAF serviceman Alex Smith, who has died aged 95 at a Belfast nursing home.

Born in Belfast's Shankill Road in 1925, Mr Smith served in the RAF as a Leading Aircraftman (LAC) during World War Two, spending two years as an aircraft mechanic in the Azores - where RAF aircraft gave invaluable air cover to convoys bringing vital supplies to the UK.

His daughter Sandra Bigmore spoke movingly of her late father last night,

"He was the kindest man," she recalled.

"And right up until he passed away, he thought only of my Mum."

Alex's wife Lily is now 91, and is in the same care home - Glenmachan Tower House - in which her husband died last week.

Lily and Alex had been married for 73 years, tying the knot in Belfast on 9 August 194, in the same year as the Queen and Prince Philip.

Alex was demobbed from the RAF in 1946, but he signed up again the next day for a further three years in the service.

After their marriage, the couple spent some years in England, later moving back to Northern Ireland to settle in Dundonald, where Alex worked became assistant laundry manager in the Ulster Hospital - a job he held until his retirement in 1990.

Both Alex and Lily were diagnosed with lung cancer within two weeks of each other last September.

"I actually have his service record book from the 1940s, and in it his commanding officer really summed Daddy up," Sandra said.

"LAC Smith is a good, steady worker. His quiet efficiency is likely to pass unnoticed, because he accomplished task without fuss.

"Whilst on this unit his character and bearing have left nothing to be desired," his superior officer wrote.

"That really was Daddy," Sandra said.

"Everyone who has sent their condolences to us has said he was a true gentleman, a character - and always had a smile."

"They had a wonderful life together.

"They didn't do any travelling, and lived life to the full - of course, they used to fight the bit out at times - but who doesn't?"

Because of the present Covid-19 restrictions, Mr Smith's funeral is to be held in private.

Belfast Telegraph