The Badass of the Week.

Ernest A. Smith

"I don't take prisoners, period.  I'm not paid to take prisoners. 
I'm paid to kill them.  That's all there is to it."


Canada gets a bad rap these days, with many Americans looking down on them as our pussier, slightly-British neighbors to the North, but anybody whose ever watched footage of the 1970's Philadelphia Flyers teams knows that Canadians can be some seriously hardcore motherfuckers who would just as soon cold-cock you in the chops as slash you between the legs with a goalie stick.  These crazy bastards have an underappreciated history of badassery, and nowadays we don't really respect the fact that Canadians can be hard-drinking, hard-fighting, lumber-jacking motherfuckers who destroy all who oppose them in a flurry of bare knuckles, bizarre accents, and the Metric System.  Nobody really represents this quite like an asskicking Canadian soldier named Ernest A. Smith.

(Oh, and in case that video ever ends up getting taken down, it's a five minute clip of the Broad Street Bullies beating the ever-loving bejeezus out of the 1976 USSR Red Army team crazy, no-helmet-wearing Canucks are seriously knocking Commies to the ice all over the place like whoah and cheap-shotting the fucking Reds so bad that they walked off the ice in the middle of the game.)

Smith, better known as "Smokey" because of his blazing footspeed as a member of his high school track team, enlisted in the Canadian Seaforth Highlanders Regiment when World War II broke out in 1940.  The Seaforths weren't his local military unit, but Smith was such an insubordinate badass that he volunteered for the regiment simply because had absolutely no intention of fighting in the same unit as his former high school teachers.  He was stationed on the ground when Nazi V-2s and Me-109s were blowing the hell out of London, but it's not like a little something as insignificant as motherfucking air raid sirens kept Smokey from hitting the bars, macking on British babes, and getting into fistfights with strangers.  You can get some indication of how hardcore this guy was when you realize that in just two years in the service he was promoted to Corporal nine times and every time he was promoted, he was busted back to Private almost immediately.

Smokey Smith participated in the amphibious Allied invasions of Sicily and mainland Italy, and had already been wounded twice by the time Mussolini was deposed in 1943.  He, along with the rest of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Brigade, fought in brutal street-to-street fighting as the Germans resisted them every step of the way, but Smokey made do with what he had available as a member of his company's anti-tank platoon, his favorite tactic was to blast through the walls of fortified German strongholds with a freaking rocket launcher, making it easier for his buddies to storm the building.

Smokey's finest hour came during the fight for the River Savio in Northern Italy.  Another Canadian unit, the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (I fucking love the crazy names the Brits give their regiments) was sent to cross the large river, but they suffered seriously massive casualties when they unknowingly walked into a Nazi ambush.  Oh, and a freaking gigantic minefield.  Dudes were exploding all over the place, machine gun fire was freaking out, and the PPCLI soon found themselves pinned down on the German side of the river.  It was up to the Seaforth Highlanders to get up there and relieve their comrades.



A Seaforth Highlander in Italy.


The Seaforths crossed the Savio a little further upstream, swimming across the river in the middle of the night during a torrential goddamned rainstorm.  The Germans, not suspecting that the Canucks would be fucking insane enough to attempt something this borderline-suicidal, were caught completely off-guard.  In fact, one battalion of Nazis left their posts in the morning for breakfast, and returned to find a company of Seaforths in their base killin their d00dz.  The Canadians captured the astonished Germans, cut the telephone lines, and then captured the Nazi communications team sent to repair the damaged phone wire.  This has very little to do with Private Smith, but I still find this story seriously freaking hilarious nonetheless.

Anyways, the Seaforths secured the bridgehead, but if you know anything about Nazi Germany you can probably guess that the Fascists weren't just going to roll over and start sobbing uncontrollably into their sauerkraut just because some jackasses pointed a couple guns in their faces.  No, they mounted a massive counterattack, sending a large unit of Panzergrenadiers to jack up the Canadians and send them running back to the Great White North.

Well, screw that.  Smokey Smith had other plans.  He was laying motionless in a small ditch when he saw half a dozen armored vehicles rolling up in his direction, looking for shit to wreak havoc on.  Well one fucking battle tank, a badass Panther, had the audacity to fire its machine guns at Smokey and put a couple of bullets into his best buddy.

That was fucking it.  Smith jumped to his feet and pulled out his PIAT a fucking spring-loaded anti-tank weapon that was kind of like the piece-of-shit bastard child of an RPG, a bazooka, and a Nerf bow-and-arrow.  This thing was roughly about as accurate as trying to hock a loogie into the freaking coin collection basket of a toll booth while blowing there at sixty miles an hour.  Still, from just thirty feet away, Smokey's aim was true.  He fired the weapon, which (in my imagination at least) discharges with a hilarious "BOING!" sound, and completely fucking exploded the Panther tank.



Canadian AT team getting ready to hwang a Panzer with a PIAT.


At this point, a group of about ten German soldiers jumped off the back of the tank and started running towards Smith with their submachine guns blazing.  Smith laughed his fucking ass off, then opened up on them with his awesome gangster-style Tommy Gun, killing four motherfuckers and sending the rest of them running off like bitches.  Smith used the brief respite to return to the ditch and check on his wounded buddy, but before long the Jerrys returned this time with a little help.  Namely, another fucking tank and like thirty guys.

But Ernest Smith didn't give a shit.  He boing-ed another PIAT round that damaged the Panther and sent it full-throttle in reverse, and then burned a couple clips of SMG ammo to disperse the German assault on this insane one-man Canadian wrecking ball of awesome.

When a third tank rolled up looking for trouble, Ernest Smith had enough.  He was out of PIAT rounds, so he grabbed his fallen ally and pulled the guy to safety while shit was exploding all over the place.  He carried his friend to get medical attention before grabbing another PIAT and heading back into action.  At the end of the day, Ernest Smith's small anti-tank platoon (about 20-30 dudes) combined to destroy three Panther Tanks, two self-propelled artillery pieces, a half-track, a scout car, and quite a few Germans.  The counter-attack was repulsed and the Canadians secured the bridgehead.

For his actions during the battle, Ernest Smith became the only Canadian Private to win the Victoria Cross during World War II.  He was informed of this honor by the Military Police, who were instructed to place him in jail in order to make sure he didn't personally destroy the entire city of Naples with his insane partying.  He was awarded the medal by the King Himself, lived to be 91, and at the time of his death in 2005 he was the last surviving Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross.



"I liked to party.  I'd have a big goddamn party and they'd say,
"Where is he now?  Oh, he's drunk downtown.'''



Links:

Canadian Veterans Affairs Site

Okanagan Military Museum and Official Citation

Blackfive Interview Excerpts


Sources:

Gardham, John.  Canadians in War and Peace.  General Store, 2000.

Goddard, Lance.  Hell and High Water.  Dundurn Press, 2007.

Granatstein, J.L.  The Last Good War.  Douglas & MacIntyre, 2005.







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