Admiral Sir Victor Albert Trumper Smith, AC, KBE, CB, DSC, RAN

Published on Sea Power Centre - Australia (author)

Portrait of Admiral Sir Victor Smith as a Lieutenant (photo: Unknown)
Portrait of Admiral Sir Victor Smith as a Lieutenant

The Australian International Airshow 2015 pays tribute to Anzac and the heroes of military aviation.  It is the major theme of the event and as such will be the first significant observance of the Gallipoli campaign in its centenary year.  The airshow features an emotional and moving tribute to our aviators from Gallipoli to the present day. During the Australian International Airshow, Navy Daily will highlight the significant contribution of naval aviators from the First World War to the present day.

Admiral Sir Victor Albert Trumper Smith, AC, KBE, CB, DSC, RAN, was born in Sydney on 9 May 1913. He was named after his uncle, Victor Albert Trumper, the great Australian cricketer. He entered the Royal Australian Naval College in 1927 as a Cadet Midshipman, and became a Midshipman in 1931, a Sub Lieutenant in 1934 and a Lieutenant in 1936. His first ship was the cruiser, HMAS Canberra (I).

After deciding to specialise in naval aviation, he won his wings as an observer in 1937. He flew from the aircraft carriers HM Ships Glorious and Ark Royal, and at HMS Sparrowhawk, the Royal Navy Air Station at Hallston. While based at Sparrowhawk he was mentioned in dispatches for leading a daring air torpedo raid by six Swordfish biplanes against the German battleship Scharnhorst off the Norwegian coast. Back on Ark Royal in 1941, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for outstanding zeal, patience and cheerfulness, and for setting an example of whole-hearted devotion to duty.

He returned to Australia in 1942 to liaise with the United States Navy before being posted to Canberra again. He was aboard the ship when it sank in the battle of Savo Island during the Guadalcanal landings. In 1943 he went to the cruiser HMAS Shropshire, then to the aircraft carrier HMS Tracker which was operating in the battle of the Atlantic and escorting Russian convoys. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 1944, Smith was posted as the Air Planning Officer on the staff of the Flag Officer, British Assault Area for the Normandy invasion, which involved 702 warships and 52 flotillas of minesweepers. At war's end he was on the staff of the Vice Admiral British Pacific Fleet.

He returned to Australia after the war only to be sent back to the UK to gather information on what would be required, including shore establishments, to establish a Fleet Air Arm for the Royal Australian Navy.

Sailors on the deck of the RAN escort ship HMAS Stuart, observe the Majestic class aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney (III) whilst on operations in the Far East

Sailors on the deck of the RAN escort ship HMAS Stuart, observe the Majestic class aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney (III) whilst on operations in the Far East

Sir Victor was promoted to Commander in 1947 and his war service resumed when he became executive officer on the aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney (III), then flying Fireflys and Sea Furies, in the Korean War in 1951. Promoted to Captain in 1953, he was appointed Director of Air Warfare Organisation and Training, and later Commanding Officer of the First Frigate Squadron. He commanded HMAS Albatross, the Naval Air Squadron at Nowra from 1957 to 1959, and later attended London's Imperial Defence College in 1960. Returning to Australia to command the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (II), he was promoted to acting Rear Admiral in 1962 and Rear Admiral in 1963, the same year he was awarded the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. As a flag officer, he held the appointments of Second Naval Member, Fourth Naval Member, Flag Officer Commanding the Australian Fleet and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff. Sir Victor was promoted Chief of Naval Staff with the rank of Vice Admiral in 1968 and was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath and then a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1969. His long career culminated in his elevation to Admiral in 1970, and his appointment a chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, the forerunner to the position of Chief of Defence Force. In 1975 Sir Victor was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia and he retired in November of that year, just short of 49 years naval service.

Admiral Sir Victor Albert Trumper Smith passed away on 10 July 1998.