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James Alderson Smith, commanded platoon in Italian campaign – obituary

James Alderson Smith
James Alderson Smith

James Alderson Smith, who has died aged 94, was awarded a Military Cross in recognition of his service in the Italian Campaign between September 1943 and March 1945.

In September 1943, Alderson Smith landed at Salerno with the 3rd Bn Coldstream Guards (3 CG). He came in on an American landing craft and was served with coffee as they approached the beach. Disconcerted by observing splashes in the water around him and not long down from Cambridge, he exclaimed to his orderly: “Good Lord! They are firing at us!”

On the first night, he slept on the beach in the lee of his large trunk. When he awoke the following morning, he discovered that the landward side had been riddled by shrapnel and all his clothes were full of holes.

For the next 12 months, without a break, he commanded a platoon. He took part in the battle of the Salerno beach-head and the fierce engagements that ensued. In November...

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