Able Sea. Harold James Smith
Royal Navy HMS Niger
(d.6th July 1942)
Harold Smith was killed in action on the 6th of July 1942 aged 24. Commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial in Plymouth, he was the son of Bertram and Agnes Smith of Borehamwood, Herts
Harold Smith, from Borehamwood, served on the HMS Edinburgh as it carried out one such voyage in 1942, carrying 4.5 tons of Russian gold through the Barents Sea to Britain.
The gold was Russia's payment to the US for war materials, but German air surveillance had noted HMS Edinburgh's departure, and on April 30 1942, a U-boat fired two torpedoes at the ship, killing more than 57 crew members and wrecking the ship's steering gear.
Harold survived, and was transferred to the HMS Niger, but on May 2, the Royal Navy sank HMS Edinburgh, to stop the Germans from taking the gold, most of which was recovered in 1981.
HMS Niger, was destroyed by a mine on July 6, and he died at the age of 24. July 1942 was one of the darkest months of the war a total of 93 allied cargo boats were sunk around the world. His brother, Walter Smith, from Thornbury Gardens, Borehamwood, also served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, and served on the battleship HMS King George V.
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