Founding secretary of RAF’s 31 Squadron Association dies at 93

Bill Smart (centre left), Bert Edward, a Phantom pilot and Stan Johnson at RAF Bruggen 1973 SUS-150616-163517001
Bill Smart (centre left), Bert Edward, a Phantom pilot and Stan Johnson at RAF Bruggen 1973 SUS-150616-163517001

Tributes have been paid to a Second World War Veteran and founding secretary of the Royal Air Force 31 Squadron Association, Bill Smart MBE.

Mr Smart, who died on April 3, aged 93, had been a Fairlight resident for many years.

He served in RAF during the Second World War, and left in 1946 having reached the rank of Corporal.

In 1963 he became founding secretary of 31 Squadron RAF Association, and secretary Andy Mikellides said Bill’s influence was felt within the Association over many years. “His overarching view of the Association that he helped create gave Bill a great sense of pride and achievement,” he said. “This was truly deserved as it approaches the Goldstars (31 Squadron’s) Centenary on October 11, this year, having celebrated 50 years of the Association’s history.”

Mr Smart was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for his devotion to his secretariat.

Mr Smart’s funeral took place at the church of St Andrew, Fairlight, on May 12. His house was nearby and Mr Mikellides said Bill was “very proud” of the view from there.

The service conducted by Reverend Richard Barron, began with old favourite ‘The old rugged Cross’ to which mourners joined in enthusiastically. The 31 Squadron Association membership present were led by their President, Air Commodore Dick Bogg, who, though living in France, made the journey to tell those present about Bill’s life.

Mr Bogg spoke of Bill’s RAF war service in Burma, his post war career in London and Hastings and how Bill and his wife Gwen had come to decide that they would love to live in Fairlight.

The coffin was topped with a wreath of yellow and green flowers in the shape of the Squadron’s badge, the Star of India

Mr Mikellides said: “Some say that nostalgia is ‘a thing of the past’. The success of 31 Squadron RAF Association, and Bill Smart’s vision and stewardship probably prove that notion to be wrong.”