East Kent Provincial News 2014

Normandy Campaign

 

The Worshipful Master congratulates Peter

 

At the meeting of Ethelbert Lodge No 2099 held on Remembrance Day, 11th November, all present were delighted to hear that Worshipful Brother Peter Smoothy had been made a Chevalier of the Legion D'Honneur by the French Authorities. The award reflected Peter's actions during the Liberation of France and the Normandy Campaign.

On 6th June 1944 Peter Smoothy was a 19 year-old serving on a Landing Ship (Tank). His role during action was to man a gun in an exposed position on the vessel’s deck. During the course of the day the vessel "beached" to allow the troops and vehicles it carried to go ashore and then remained on the beach for several hours exposed to enemy fire. When the vessel eventually re-floated it conveyed several German Prisoners of War back to England. Over the course of the Normandy Campaign the vessel made several trips back to France ferrying supplies to the invasion front and bringing prisoners and wounded servicemen back to England.

The Normandy Campaign was just one episode in Peter's war service. In addition to Normandy he served in the Mediterranean and the Far East.

He has been an active member of the Normandy Veterans Association, serving as the Chairman of the local branch. During this, the 70th anniversary year of D Day, he went to Normandy for the commemorations on 6th June, where he was introduced to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, and he took part in the Commemoration Banquet organised by the BBC where he met the Prime Minister. He was also present at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Normandy Veterans contingent.

Peter has been a Freemason for nearly 60 years but his busy working life meant that he was unable to become Master of his lodge until his retirement. He achieved this in 2011, in his 87th year, and now serves as the Lodge Chaplain.

The Order of the Legion D'Honneur was established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 and is the highest decoration in France. A Chevalier, or Knight, is one of the five Divisions of the Order.