Admiral VAT Smith (Hardback)
The extraordinary life of the father of Australia’s Fleet Air Arm
Admiral Sir Victor Alfred Trumper “VAT” Smith AC KBE CB DSC MiD RAN is a towering figure in Australian naval circles;his extraordinary career spanning almost 50 years. As the first graduate of the Royal Australian Naval College to be promoted full admiral he was the founding father of the Australian Fleet Air Arm.
Joining the navy in 1927 aged thirteen;Smith specialised in aviation. As the senior observer of a Royal Navy Swordfish squadron;he led the first mass torpedo strike against a major warship at sea;the daring attack on the battlecruiser Scharnhorst off Norway in 1940. Then;at Churchill’s insistence;he embarked the very first catapult fighter for convoy protection. His subsequent service in two-seat Fairey Fulmar fighters saw him twice shot down in the Mediterranean and escape the torpedoed HMS Ark Royal in 1941.
Recalled to Australia to fly Walrus amphibians;Smith survived the August 1942 destruction of HMAS Canberra at the Battle of Savo Island. Returning to Europe he served in the escort carrier HMS Tracker in the Atlantic and Arctic before participating in the Normandy landings.
Postwar he was closely involved in the Australian decision to develop a carrier-based Fleet Air Arm and was executive officer of the carrier HMAS Sydney in the Korean War. Command of frigates;an air station and the carrier HMS Melbourne followed. As Chief of Naval Staff;he dispatched forces to the war in Vietnam before serving as chairman of the tri-service Chiefs of Staff in the 1970s.
The author;Graeme Lunn;also a RANC graduate and aviator;began his naval career when Smith was still serving.