Smart D M B - The OldWinburnians

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D.  M.  B.  Smart

Full Names

Rank /Unit  

Years at Q.E.G.S.

Dermot Milbanke Boddington Smart

4th Prince of Wales' Own
Gurkha Rifles


Date  / Place of Birth

Date  / Place of Death

Age at Death

Bishops Waltham Hants

Thursday 19th August 1943
Probably Bengal area


Major Smart was the son of Mr. & Mrs. M. B. Smart who had spent many years in India and the husband of Elizabeth Edith Everald Smart [ nee Broke] of Bishops Waltham in Hampshire. They were married on the 11th of June 1938.
J.M.B was a boarder and a member of School House and he has been described by one of his fellow boarders, thus -
'....a good brain, was a fine sport and very popular'. Another contemporary, wrote on the 11th of January 1944. 'I well remember the day, just over 20 years ago, when I first entered Wimborne Grammar School. I was in the 3rd Form with D.M.B.Smart, also a newcomer. Smart proved a most helpful and sympathetic companion and from the early days in the Corps, proved a good soldier and leader.'
In 1929, he played Hockey and Cricket for the School and, at the School Sports, he threw a cricket ball 77 yards.
By the summer of 1933, D.M.B. was in the 4th Battn. of the Sikh Regiment, at Wanna, Waziristan, North West Frontier. The School Magazine reported that, 'He spends his leaves climbing and his latest achievement was 20,000 feet but he hoped to improve on that later in the year.'     
Toward the end of 1933, the Magazine recorded that D.M.B.
'... has been promoted Lieutenant and been elected a member of the Himalayan Club. He has now joined the O.W.A. so that, during his coming eight months of leave, he hopes to have a place in all the O.W. teams against the School.'  
Early in 1934 he had moved, with his Sikh Battalion, to Aurangabad, Deccan and confirmed that his leave would be from April to October and repeated his hope to take part in all the O.W.A. activities. By the Spring, he was on leave in Bournemouth and took the opportunity to visit Wimborne to attend dances and play rugby.  However, a year or so later, he was with the Gilgit Scouts, in Kashmir.   
At some time in the 1930s, D.M.B. scaled Nanga Parbet, with a German climbing expedition. Nanga Parbet [ 26,830 ft. ] is in the pre-WW2 N. W. Indian province of Kashmir -150 miles N.E. of Rawalpindi. It is understood that three members of the German expedition and six Sherpas lost their lives in an avalanche.
D.M.B. was reported in the Summer edition of the School Magazine of 1941 to be a Major in the Gilyhut Scouts, of the Indian Army. Just over a year later and by then a Lt./Col., he was reported to have, '...escaped from Burma into Assam during operations out there. He is married and has a son about two years old.'
When his death was reported in the School Magazine, it was stated that D.M.B had seen, ".. much service since joining the Indian Army in 1933 on the N.W. Frontier, and action in the Burma campaign in 1942. Then, after a spell on the Staff, he was accidently killed in field operations. "
D.M.B. Smart is interred in the Maynamati War Cemetery, Bangladesh, (formerly Bengal). It is located close to Comilla on the railway line linking Dhaka and Chittagong. In this area were sited several ordnance depots and a number of military hospitals and the majority of the burials in this cemetery were from the various hospitals, although some were transferred from small cemeteries and isolated sites over a wide area .
On the 13th of January 1946, the contemporary of D.M.B. quoted above, wrote to the then Secretary of the O.W.s a letter of reminiscences of several of his fellow pupils who had died during the war. D.M.B.Smart he referred to as, "...serious, clever and a leader always - always showed signs of a distinguished career ; one intuitively realised it then ; D.M.B., rather detached, books under his arm, fawn mackintosh, loping down the lane from the School, turning right to Herridges - and then on to a splendid record in the Army."

This is Report from The Winburnian. No. 75 - 1937.. Pp.18 & 19.
D.M.B. Smart writes an account of the German Himalayan expedition which ended so disasterously.  He says:-
"You must by now be familiar with the details of the disaster, briefly they are as follows.  In very bad weather we reached Camp IV on June 4th after some extremely steep and technically difficult passages had been negotiated.  The weather then became extremely bad: we were unable to do much.  However since the journey from Camp III to Camp IV took only one and a half hours over comparatively easy ground and that from Camp IV to Camp V had, in 1934, involved five and a half hours of the most difficult ice work, the decision was made to equilise the distance as much as possible and Camp IV was moved up to where the route left the easy snow slopes of the Chongra-Rakiot col. And began to mount the steep Rakiot ice-wall.  All spare coolies were sent down and Camp IV was occupied only by eight climbers, ten Sherpa porters and four Bhotias.  On the 11 th the weather cleared a little and we set out for Camp V, four climbers only- The idea being to make a track for the porters to use next day.  We failed after several hours hard work and returned to camp IV. Once again a storm during the night undid our work. We were all very tired, hard work over 20,000 ft soon tells - so the 13th was a holiday. That evening five porters reported sick.  I was due to go down to the base camp on the 17th to fetch the mails but started on the 14th morning to get the coolies down.  They were very sick and speed in reaching the comparative comfort of the base camp seemed essential.  So I forced the pace and got down in one day.  
On the 17th Luft went up and on the 18th reached a spot where the track ended abruptly in a mass of avalanche debris.

Three ruck-sacks and the remains of a tent lay in the snow.  He tried to dig them out but failed.  Ice axes are not meant for mass excavation.  He then hurried down to the Base Camp arriving late at night. When I heard his story I immediately sent out runners asking for men and tools.  To go up on the mountain without them was impossible.  Everyone was obviously dead and to make an ill-equipped attempt was not only to ensure failure but to jeopardise the lives of those making it.

The next days were bad.  Waiting was the only game but it was the one for which we had the least taste.  At last the tools came and Luft and I set out again for Camp IV.  We made two attempts but the movement of the ice here is very rapid and collapsing cornices had causes so many avalanches that what had previously been a series of short difficult passages was now a vertical wall of ice, 2000 feet high.  On our second attempt we got up this but were defeated by a maze of crevices on the level bit at the top which simply defies description.  On the way down an avalanche missed us by under 15 yards.

On getting down again we got the news of the German relief party‚Äôs impending departure so settled down again to some more waiting.  When they arrived we went up again, and with this addition to our climbing strength reached camp IV by a most hazardous passage under the North Wall.

After two days exhausting work we found them, very battered by the ice and only distinguishable one from the other by the diaries which each man kept wrapped in a waterproof bag underneath his bead.

And now I am off to Srinagar for a bit, in the hope that fleshpots and fairies will restore my balance a bit.

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