John Frederick Smellie

Captain John Frederick Smellie of Co. Down was a commanding officer at his time of death on 23rd September 1943 in Operation Market Garden.


John Frederick Smellie


Captain John Frederick Smellie, known as Jack, transferred to The Glider Pilot Regiment on 17th September 1942. Exactly 2 years later, he was bound for the landing zones of Operation Market Garden.

Captain John Frederick Smellie (158421) served in 1st Wing, The Glider Pilot Regiment, Army Air Corps during the Second World War. He was the younger son of the late N.S.H. Smellie and Ileen M Wood (formerly Smellie) of Brookside Manor, Holywood, Co. Down.

Before the outbreak of the Second World War, Smellie studied law at Queen’s University, Belfast and became a solicitor. He joined the Northumberland Hussars, Royal Artillery on 30th November 1940, transferring to The Glider Pilot Regiment on 17th September 1942. During the Normandy Landings, he served in B Squadron, landing at Landing Zone LZ-N as part of Operation Tonga.


OPERATION 'MARKET GARDEN' (THE BATTLE FOR ARNHEM): 17 - 25 SEPTEMBER 1944 (MH 2069) Arnhem 17 - 25 September 1944: An aerial view of a (General Aircraft) Hamilcar glider which has been unloaded on the landing zone near Arnhem. The Hamilcar was the largest glider in use with British Airborne forces; some 38 'went down' during Operation 'Market Garden'. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

The Captain died on 23rd September 1944 aged 30 years old during Operation Market Garden. He was the Officer Commanding of 4 Flight, B Squadron, No. 1 Wing. On 21st October 1944, the Belfast Newsletter printed the following notice:

Mrs. IM Wood, Lindifarm, Demense Road, Holywood, has been officially notified that her son, Captain Jack Smellie, who was reported missing from the Arnhem operations, is a prisoner of war.

John Frederick Smellie’s grave is in Section 6, Row A, Grave 4 of Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, Gelderland, Netherlands. Like many of the fallen in Arnhem, his first grave was a field burial. Re-interment took place on 8th August 1945. His headstone bears the inscription:

Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 1 Thess. IV.14.

Captain Smellie’s name also features on the McLean family memorial in Priory Churchyard, Holywood, Co. Down. It also appears on a memorial in Holywood Church of Ireland, the Queen’s University Roll of Honour, and at the Royal Courts of Justice War Memorial, Belfast.