Harry Smith, who died on 11 January 2008 at the age of 79, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal during an ambush by approximately 70 Communist terrorists on a patrol by 4th Troop ‘A’ Squadron of the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars in Malaya on 31 December 1948.

Tpr HW Smith DCM
Tpr HW Smith DCM

The Regiment at that time was equipped with GMC personnel carriers (which had light armoured protection at the sides but not overhead) and soft-skinned 15 cwt trucks. The terrorists appeared to be well armed with at least five Bren light machine guns, hand grenades, etc.

In the initial engagement, the Troop Leader and six others of the troop were killed and eight wounded including Tpr Smith.

It appears that although wounded he tried to outflank the terrorists and was again wounded but he shot one of the terrorists.

Harry Smith was born in the Manchester area on 29 June and enlisted in the Army on 16 January 1947. After initial training with 63 PTC and Corps training with the RAC, he joined the 4th Hussars in Lubeck Germany in March 1947.

The Regiment came home to the UK in November 1947 and was stationed at Colchester but not for long, within a few months the Regiment was informed that it was to prepare to go to Malaya to assist in the fight against the Communist terrorists, who were attempting to take over the country.

The Regiment sailed for the Far East in August 1948 and on arrival in Singapore were split up with squadrons detached to various states in Malaya and eventually one squadron on rotation to Hong Kong.

Harry served in Malaya and Hong Kong. The Regiment’s tour of duty in the Far East ended in December 1951 and they returned to the UK and were stationed at Tidworth.

Harry was discharged to the Reserve in November 1952 having completed his Colour Service.

In civilian life, Harry was employed as an electrician until his retirement.

He had been a member of the British Legion and his hobbies included an interest in electronic gadgets he also had a flair for contemporary painting.

He married Brenda in 1968 and they had two sons, both of whom served in the Army, and a daughter and grandchildren.

Harry died as a result of a fall while he was alone in the house.

Related topics

  1. A short history of The 4th Hussars
  2. Malaya 1948-51
  3. Article: The Ambush of 4th Troop, ‘A’ Squadron, 4th Hussars
  4. Gallantry Award: Citation and Award of The Distinguished Conduct Medal – Tpr HW Smith, 4th Hussars