Arthur Britton SmithMC QC LLD was born at Kingston, Ontario, son of Cyril Middleton Smith and Edna Madeleine Smith. Smith enlisted in the 4th Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Army and by D-Day June 6, 1944, he was forward Observation Officer with "C" Company of the Fusiliers Mont-Royal.
Initial objectives of the D-Day invasion were the capture of the Cherbourg Peninsula and the ancient capital of Caen, former seat of William the Conqueror. By the end of the D-Day some 14,000 Canadians had landed in Normandy and suffered 1,074 casualties, 359 of which were fatal.
During the period prior to the breakout from the Caen-Falaise sector, Canadians alongside the British, experienced some of the toughest fighting of the entire European Campaign. Powerful German Panzer divisions did their best to prevent the capture of Caen. Progress was slow and losses were heavy. It took a month before Carpiquet airfield finally fell to the Canadians who then took Caen on July 10th.
The task of the Canadian Corps was to break out of Caen across the Orne River, with the double objective of expanding the bridgehead as well as holding down the German troops to assist in a planned American breakout to the west. The fighting especially around the Verrieres Ridge area, was bitter and bloody. However the strategic gains were rewarding.
With some of the Germany’s best armoured formations engaged on the Anglo-Canadian front, the Americans were able to break out of le Contentin Peninsula to begin the encircling movement around the German forces. In the final phase of this strategy, on July 25, the Canadians attacked on either side of the road from Caen to Falaise. Casualties were heavy and at first the Germans held their ground, but on July 25th, the U.S. 1st Army broke out of St. Lo forcing the Germans to begin moving their troops from the Caen sector to stem the American advance on Avranches.
Captain A. Britton Smith’s role in these events on July 24th was a key one. For his coolness and bravery under heavy enemy fire as well as his complete disregard of his own safety, Smith was largely responsible for Troteval Farm being held and for heavy casualties being inflicted on the enemy, he was awarded theMilitary Cross (MC). His citation reads in part as follows: "On 21 July 1944, Captain Smith was forward observation officer with "C" Company of the Fusiliers Mont-Royal during the battalion attack on and subsequent defence of Troteval Farm, south of Caen in the Verrieres Area.
During the day the position was attacked by enemy infantry and tanks on four separate occasions. These attacks were all disorganized by the artillery fire directed by Captain Smith who had to move to exposed positions under heavy fire to obtain the necessary observation. During one of these attacks Captain Smith and his crew fought off and killed many of the enemy who had worked themselves to within 20 yards of the Observation Post".
Postwar, Smith became a leading lawyer in Kingston. He married Sally Carruthers.