Community celebrates the centenary of Flying Officer Johnny Smythe, O.B.E., M.B.E., and Q.C.
The Smythe’s family hosted a birthday celebration for the 100th birthday of the late Flying Officer Johnny Smythe, O.B.E., M.B.E., QC; an unsung hero whose final resting place is Oxford, and whose heritage lies in Sierra Leone, West Africa. The ceremony took place on Tuesday, 30th June2015, in line with events to mark Armed Forces Day.
The event was organised by the Sierra Leone Bicentenary Trust (http://sierraleonebicentenarytrust.org/projects.html) in collaboration with the WAWI (Educational) Project in Birmingham. http://www.whyarewestindians.co.uk/node/1
The ceremony started with a parade of present-day service personnel, ex-service/Service Veterans and Cadet Forces, joined by well-wishers, family and friends. We paid respect through prayers and tributes by the WAWI Project and the message of the day shared by Mr. Eddy Smythe, a member of the family.
Opening Prayer was delivered by The Reverend Hannah Neale, former ATC Surrey Wing Chaplain at the graveside in St Mary’s Church Cemetery, Church Road, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 3AJ, England.
The event was opened by the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Rae Humberstone and attended by the Worshipful Mayor of Thame, Councillor Nichola Dixon, other dignitaries and Civic Leaders from local authorities.
The programme included The Act of Remembrance, the Sounding of the Last Post, a Minute of Silence and Laying of Wreaths on behalf of the Smythe family.
Contributions came from: Messrs John Harvey, Johnny Smythe and Eddy Smythe, on behalf of the family; The Right Worshipful the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Rae Humberstone; The Worshipful Mayor of Thame, Councillor Nichola Dixon; Captain Lary Lightfoot-Boston, RSLAF, Rtd., on behalf of the Sierra Leone High Commissioner to the UK; Ms Sharon Vaughan, for The WAWI Project and Mr. Nigel Beckley, Special Acknowledgment in remembrance of all those from Sierra Leone who served in the world wars.http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/13360137.Ceremony_honours_veteran____whose_colour_saved_his_life___/?ref=fbshhttp://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/13364572.Tributes_paid_by_friends_and_family_to_a_black_RAF_veteran/
Finally, a vodka toast was held at the event in memory of the late Flying Officer Johnny Smythe and to the memory of all fallen comrades
We are privileged to play our part in remembering our predecessors, acknowledging the bravery and sacrifice of all who have served (and still continue to serve) and assisting the United Kingdom, contributing to world peace and security. The ceremony marked an important commitment to our departed comrades, to never forget.
Comment: “Very interesting story! This is the Sierra Leone I want to remember - full of people who were respected not only in Sierra Leone but around the world; people with integrity and credible achievements.” Margaret Cole.
Ronald Andrew Lisk-Carew, JP, MBA, DSW, CQSW, Ex-RAF.
The Sierra Leone Bicentenary Trust provides education and training for people of all ages, to provide the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge to manage their lives more effectively, broaden the range of job opportunities and share in children's learning.
One of the Trust’s Vision is an Aviation Project to raise awareness of Aviation amongst the youth of Sierra Leone. The Trust seeks to portray Flying Officer Johnny Smythe, O.B.E., M.B.E., QC, whose heritage lies in Sierra Leone, as a source of inspiration for young people considering a career in aviation. Accordingly, the centenary celebrations were launched on Monday, 30 June 2014, at his father's grave site at Race Course Cemetery, Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The experiences of Flying Officer Johnny Smythe are highlighted in the Imperial War Museum, London.
As part of its Aviation Project, SLBT aims to establish links with organisations / international bodies able to provide sponsorships / scholarship, one such being a possible Johnny Smythe scholarship, for disadvantaged Sierra Leonean Youth seeking to pursue a career in Aviation.
Oxford is the home town of Flying Officer Johnny Smythe, O.B.E., M.B.E., QC. He died in 1996 in Thame, Oxfordshire and his final resting place is St Mary’s Church Cemetery, Church Road, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 3AJ, England.
Previous projects of the Trust have included the Race Course Fencing Project. This provided constructive activities for the youth of Sierra Leone and instilled in them a sense of national pride, duty and responsibility. The Trust has also donated equipment to promote the educational development of Sierra Leonean Youth.
The Race Course Project