A Royal Navy war veteran at Maurice House in Broadstairs is celebrating his 102nd birthday today (July 26).
Reginald Smith was born in Walthamstow in East London on 26th July 1921. He joined up with the Royal Navy after being called up from the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in August 1939 and he trained at Chatham Naval Dockyard. Reg was demobbed in January 1946.
Reg served on HMS King George V and HMS Duke of York. He participated in the D-Day Landings going over with the Canadian Army. He also served as part of the Atlantic Convoy receiving the Ushakov medal in 2015 from Russia. These were very dangerous and harrowing times with great losses.
Reg has lived at Maurice House Nursing Home for over five years. Staff say he is a true gentleman and has a great sense of humour.
He celebrated his 100th birthday in 2021 during lockdown with very limited visiting allowed but Reg being a resilient gentleman was truly gracious about it. He was very pleased with his card from Queen Elizabeth.
Reg said the best bit about the Royal Navy was the comradeship he had with his fellow sailors. He said he didn’t have a girl in every port as he couldn’t afford to.
The bad bit about his career in the Royal Navy was losing some good mates. One time his ship HMS King George V was in a collision with HMS Punjabi in the middle of the Atlantic in thick fog. HMS Punjabi sank and after searching for as many survivors as they could, they found a cat that had been aboard the Punjabi. They managed to save the cat and kept him on board renaming him Punjabi.
Deputy Manager Laura Thomas said: “Reg is a wonderful gentleman and is very well loved here at Maurice House by both staff and residents. Reg maintains he has been very lucky in both life and love and has a wonderful family.
“Even at 102 years old Reg partakes in activities at Maurice and is part of Maurice House Choir who are performing on Saturday 29th July at 2pm to open our Summer Fete. All are welcome.”
In the year Reg was born: 1921
The monarch was King George V and the Prime Minister was David Lloyd George
1 January – Car tax discs introduced
17 January – The first recorded public performance of the illusion of “sawing a woman in half” is given by stage magician P. T. Selbit at the Finsbury Park Empire variety theatre in London.
20 January – Royal Navy K-class submarine HMS K5 sinks in the English Channel with the loss of all 57 crew on board.
16 February – Unemployment now stands at over 1,000,000. The Government announces an increase in unemployment benefit.
11 March – Queen Mary becomes the first woman to be awarded an honorary degree by the University of Oxford.
31 March – The government formally returns the coal mines from wartime control to their private owners, strikes follow and the government declares a state of emergency
3 April – Coal rationing begins.
15 May – The British Legion is founded as a voice for ex-servicemen
6 June – King George V opens Southwark Bridge in London.
.10 June – Unemployment reaches 2,200,000.
22 June – New Parliament of Northern Ireland, assembled at Belfast City Hall, is formally opened by King George V,
24 June – The world’s largest airship, the R.38, makes its maiden flight at Bedford.
25 June – Rainfall ends a drought which has lasted for one hundred days.
28 June – The coal strike ends
10/11 July – Heatwave with temperatures in the 90s in some parts of South-East England.
10 July – Bloody Sunday: clashes between Catholics and Protestants in Belfast
19 August – Unemployment falls to 1,640,600.
24 August – Airship R.38 explodes on her fourth test flight near Kingston upon Hull, killing 44 of the 49 Anglo-American crew on board.
9 September – Charlie Chaplin visits London and is met by thousands.
17 September –Ernest Shackleton sets sail on his last expedition to Antarctica.
11 November – The British Legion holds the first official Poppy Day.
6 December – British and Irish negotiators sign the Anglo-Irish Treaty in London giving independence to the Irish Free State.