WO1 Lloyd G. Smith

PREAMBLEArticle written by: Carl Mills

Lloyd as born in Toronto in 1918. He joined the RCAF Auxiliary with 110 Army Cooperation Squadron in Toronto as a photographer in the fall of 1938. After about one year, war was declared and Lloyd was called to active duty, in both Canada and England, for the next six years

Lloyd Smith with 110 Squadron Pennant taken June, 2011, Dundas, Ontario


I joined 110 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force in the fall of 1938 in the photography section. It was based at Cawthra Square in downtown Toronto.


Our aircraft were at the airport in Weston on Trethewey Drive. We were the “Saturday night soldiers” meeting one evening a week and on Sundays.

Our aircraft were mainly Tiger Moths and I am sure that there were others. In the summer of 1939 we went to RCAF Trenton for two weeks training with the Permanent Force

On Sunday, Sept. 3rd when war was declared by Great Britain I was at work and received a phone call to report for duty. I was on duty from then on although Canada did not declare war for another week (Sept. 09). I was around Toronto for a few months but on Jan. 3rd, I was transferred to Trenton to the photographic unit. On Jan. 31, I was transferred to Ottawa to rejoin 110 Squadron, which was preparing to go overseas.

Dutchess of Bedford

We sailed from Halifax Feb. 16, 1940 for England on the Duchess of Bedford as third class passengers and we even had a steward to look after us. Our trip was very comfortable except when we encounter rough weather: one of our vessels was in trouble and the escort cruiser turned back with the small vessel. Our ship traveled slowly until we were rejoined by the cruiser. Lord Tweedsmuir, (John Buchan) the Governor-General of Canada had died and his remains were being escorted back to England in our convoy.

During the storm our ship came about abruptly and everything in the dinning room ended up on the floor. I was on the sub (submarine) watch for the voyage, one hour on and seven hours off. I think it helped prevent seasickness. At one meal there were only two of us eating out of a table seating of sixteen.

We landed in Liverpool on February 16, an incident occurred when we tied up at the dock. A member of the photographic group was very concerned about being on the ocean and he had worn his lifejacket from the moment it was issued until we docked. A group of us were leaning over the rail when Joe took off his lifejacket and accidentally dropped it. It dropped to the water and immediately sank: so much for his caution.

We boarded a train for Old Sarum which was near Salisbury. We were amazed at the number of chimneys on the houses in Liverpool. At Old Sarum we were billeted in buildings that Wellington had used to stable his horses before he left for the Battle of Waterloo. We arrived late at night in trucks, singing some air force songs; in the morning we were embarrassed to discover that our barracks were along side the quarters of the WAFF (the RAF’s women’s division).

On our first pass we went into Salisbury on a pub crawl. It ended with me falling into the mill stream but with luck I was able to climb out and return to the pub. I entered dripping wet and announced that I had been swimming.

In 1928, Duchess of Bedford was built for Canadian Pacific by John Brown & Company in Clydebank, Scotland. She was built for the Liverpool – Canada service. She entered wartime service in 1939 and served as a troopship until 1947. When her military service ended, she was returned to her owners for restoration and a return to civilian seas. For a time the company considered renaming her Empress of India, but opted instead for Empress of France. She was rechristened and entered Atlantic service in 1948. In 1960 she was sold for scrap. Demolition took place in Wales.

I made friends with Mr. Frank Hill and family, living in Salisbury. He showed me around Salisbury and we rode our bicycles out to Stonehenge a number of times, having a picnic lunch and sitting on the stones. Now you can’t get near the stones.

Salisbury Cathedral

We did a lot of visiting of tourist sites, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s, The Tower, etc. There were very few tourists or visitors during the war, so the curators or caretakers were only too pleased to show a visitor and explain more than you ever wanted to know. I was able to visit every nook and cranny of Salisbury Cathedral.

Burial of downed German Pilots

I visited relatives, Uncle George and Aunt Gwen in London and Cousin Dorothy in Slough near Windsor; also cousin Harold and Midge. My father was born in Wales so I visited his old home in Haverfordwest, where a cousin still lived in the original home. We rode several miles out of town to visit an old uncle of my fathers but he had gone to bed, so we went to the local pub and paid for a couple of drinks for Sam. The next morning at about eight o’clock there was a knock at the door and there was Sam; he had ridden his bicycle into town to see his great nephew from overseas. Sam was ninety-three!

The RAF Base Commander raised pigs. One night, a group of us were out pubbing and got hungry. One of the group was a cook – someone got one of the Commander’s pigs so we had roast pork. The Commander never did find out who got his pig.

After a couple of months the squadron moved to RAF Stn. Odiham, near Basingstoke and Reading. Just before Dunkirk (June 1940) we had a group of French airmen arrive on our station, they had escaped from France with the most amazing collection of aircraft, mostly biplanes of the first war vintage. One bomber had a rack like a milk bottle crate that held bombs which were released by pulling a wire.

At Old Sarum and Odiham, we had a photo processing trailer with a photo staff of fourteen. We used the F24 camera which could be hand held by the crew in the aircraft or mounted in the aircraft to take aerial photos of troop positions, vehicles, and damage. The camera took 5 ½ inch square film.

I returned home to Canada in June 1941 and after a leave was posted to Moncton, NB, to the equipment depot. Here, I learned instrument repairs to cameras, however, I was transferred to 117 BR Squadron in Sydney, NS. After a short time the squadron was transferred to Vancouver, BC. There was very little to do and I remember reading the King’s Orders and Regulations for Air from cover to cover..

I requested a transfer closer to home and was sent to RCAF Stn. Mountain View, which was a training station near Belleville, where I took charge of the photo unit. In August 1941, I moved to the Photographic Establishment in Rockcliffe to teach and train incoming photographers. I was promoted to Flight Sergeant in April and the last class I taught was the first Woman’s Division recruits, the WD’s.

In the fall of 1942, I again went to England, this time to Fighter Command at RAF Digby looking after gun cameras. The gun cameras were mounted in the wings of the fighters and photographed what was shot at. This way we could confirm hits on targets and enemy aircraft destruction. After a short stay I was transferred to No. 6 Group Headquarters in Yorkshire for photographic liaison with Bomber Command and the Canadian Squadrons.

Soon after I arrived, I took charge of the photographic section at No. 63 Base at RAF Stn. Leeming. We had a variety of squadrons there; 427 and 429 were at the base station and others were at Skipton. Topcliffe was a heavy bomber conversion and training station.

I was promoted to Warrant Officer in charge of all base photographic units.

We started with Wellington Bombers and then converted to Lancasters then Halifaxes and back to Canadian-built Lancasters.

For night bombing, the cameras were set with some time exposure. To assist with the images, a magnesium illumination flare was dropped with the bomb load. It was set by the bomb aimer to go off at a predetermined altitude. To separate the view of the flares from the fires which were started by the dropped bombs, we took one colour photo to identify the flares. Then a second photo was taken to capture the bomb damage. Often we got good photos but also, for the aircraft arriving later in the bomber stream, we got a lot of just smoke and clouds.

The pilot was required to fly straight and level for 27 seconds after the bomb drop. This ensured that the on-board cameras were pointing at the targeted area. Often the flak was too intense for the crew to do this. However, at the debriefings they always claimed that had done this. We usually attended the debriefing to collect details. After this the film was processed and sent to Bomber Command. The camera that we used was the same F24, with the 5 ½ inch square film, that we had used earlier in the war.

In Bomber Command it was customary for the individual crews to decorate their aircraft with some kind of nose art. They were usually scantily clad women with a clever two-name label. The aircraft were identified with a two letter squadron designator plus a single letter for the aircraft identification. It was further customary that the aircraft identification letter be used in the label of the nose art. For example the nose art for aircraft “H” was “HORRIBLE HAG”.

The weather always seemed to a problem and I recall one Christmas Day when we were serving dinner to the other ranks. Our CO made the remark that it was a typical English Christmas Day because it was so foggy. You could easily get lost on the airfield and we could hardly see the handles on our bikes.

After VE Day, there wasn’t too much to do and they tried to keep the military people on their bases. Long distance travel while on leave was disallowed, however, we could go on short bus trips to the local towns and by hoping from town to town we were able to travel almost anywhere. Similarly, there was an expected shortage of beer and, whenever we found a supply, we filled all containers including the bathtubs.

After VE Day, I got one flight in a bomber over Europe to see some of the damage caused by our bombers. Most of the cities that I saw, such as Hamburg, Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Bremen, had extensive damage.

During my tour at Bomber Command the King and Queen came for a military inspection and review at Leeming RCAF Base. The very young Princess Elizabeth was with them.

King George V inspects damaged aircraft. The aircraft should never have been flown all the way to home base; the story was that the pilot had a date that night that he didn’t want to miss.

Just after VE Day, I volunteered for duty in the Far East. I returned to Canada from RAF Station Linton with two squadrons that were to go east to RCAF Stn. Greenwood. The war ended soon after and I was discharged from RCAF Stn. Moncton.


This video of Lloyd reminiscing was taken July 2012 at 447 Wing RCAFA in Hamilton, Ont.

This slide show contains photos taken by Lloyd during his time overseas.

We do not have any labels or places for them at this time .... just the raw footage.... but it will give you a feeling of what it was like.


Lloyd returned to Toronto and took rehabilitation courses to up grade his marks. He registered at the University of Toronto in Engineering Physics and graduated in 1951. He had met his wife at U of T, also a graduate in Engineering Physics, and they married in 1951. Their two sons and a granddaughter are graduate engineers from the University of Waterloo. In 2006 , Mrs. Smith presented the typical engineer’s iron ring to her granddaughter Alison on her graduation. As of 2011, both Lloyd and his wife were living at a retirement home in Dundas, ON.

In his 96th year, Lloyd passed peacefully at Blackadar Retirement Residence in Dundas on November 25, 2013.


Lloyd Smith

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