Major James Brian Watt Smyth (ABRO/91) served in the Burma Rifles, Indian Army, and with Force 136, Special Operations Executive in Burma during the Second World War. Born on 6th August 1917 in Naas, Co. Kildare, Ireland, he was the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Gerald Watt Smyth D.S.O. (Royal Engineers) and Florence Watt Smyth of Larne, Co. Antrim.
Major Watt Smyth joined Force 136, Special Operations Executive as a Staff Captain in April 1944. He deployed as part of a Chin Special Group of 20 soldiers with Captain Meredith as 2nd in Command. The group was Team RAT on Operation LABEL on 22nd January 1945. Smyth sustained wounds in an ambush that scattered the team and killed Captain Meredith.
An investigation by Major Patrick Reginald Maddox suggests that Smyth was ambushed a further two times, sustaining two fatal gunshots to the chest on the second occasion. This ambush on 8th February 1945 killed other members of the team as they attempted to escape back to British lines.
Major Watt Smyth died between 1st February 1945 and 28th February 1945 aged 27 years old. His grave is in Section 28, Row H, Grave 21 of Taukkyan War Cemetery, Myanmar. Photos of the grave were sent to Smyth’s mother by Captain Maddox in 1946. She had hoped her son was still alive. The headstone bears the inscription:
Blessed are the pure in heart.