Tributes to Blackburn war veteran, 86

Eddie Smethurst and (inset) during his time in the Navy

Eddie Smethurst and (inset) during his time in the Navy

First published in News

A SECOND World War veteran who fought in ‘two wars and a skirmish’ has died, aged 86.

Eddie Smethurst died after a 12-year battle with cancer at Springfield Nursing Home in Blackburn.

Born and bred in the town, the father-of-four had been diagnosed with prostate cancer more than a decade ago, but he discovered it had spread to his bones in November.

Mr Smethurst, who died last Wednesday, leaves daughters Linda, Denise and Lorraine, as well as five grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.

His late wife Sheila died in 1998 and a fourth child, son Stephen, died in infancy.

After growing up in the Bank Top area, Mr Smethurst joined the Royal Navy aged 17.

He served throughout the Second World War and was demobbed in 1947.

The following day he enlisted with the Army, joining the Royal Artillery as a gunner.

He fought in the 1950 to 1953 Korean War, where he saw his best friend killed in action, and he was also posted to Palestine.

Daughter Linda said: “He didn’t talk a lot about his experiences in the wars, as a lot of veterans don’t.

“He especially didn’t speak about Korea as he lost his friend there, he never even told us his name. But he did say the Japanese soldiers were very cruel.

“He always said he served in two wars and one skirmirsh, with the skirmish being Palestine.”

During his time in the Army he was awarded his sergeant’s stripes, but he gave them back as he didn’t want to be higher up than his friends.

Mr Smethurst left the Army in 1959 and had a variety of jobs in mills in the area.

Linda said he was very popular in the Blackburn area.

She said: “He was a character and he often got up to mischief. He was really funny and he was very well liked and well respected.” His funeral will be held tomorrow from 10.30am at Pleasington Crematorium, followed by a wake at St Mark’s Conservative Club in Preston Old Road.

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