Baseball in Wartime

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice

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Those Who Died That Others Might Be Free


Basil Smith


Date and Place of Birth: August 25, 1916 Norfolk, Ontario Canada

Died: September 13, 1944 Italy

Baseball Experience: Amateur
Position: First Base
Rank: Gunner
Military Unit: 1st Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

Area Served: Mediterranean Theater of Operations


Basil W Smith was born in Norfolk, Ontario, Canada on August 25, 1916. He attended public and continuation schools in Delhi – the Tobacco Capital of Ontario - and was a well-known first baseman with the local baseball team - the Delhi Tobaccomen. Smith also played defense for the Delhi ice hockey team in the Norfolk Hockey League.


Smith worked as a lineman for the Delhi Hydro before enlisting for active service in the fall of 1939. He trained at Simcoe and Camp Petawawa in Ontario. Smith had been a member of Delhi’s volunteer fire department before enlisting. When he came home on leave from Petawawa in December 1940, he was presented with a pen and pencil set at the Firemen’s Dance at the Stoddard Hotel.


Gunner Smith was sent overseas on December 12, 1940. Arriving in England the day before Christmas, he worked with other Canadian soldiers in demolition squads during the heavy bombing raids.


In August 1943, Smith left for Sicily with the 1st Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery. He remained on active service throughout the Sicilian and Italian campaigns until the fall of Rome on June 5, 1944, when he was given a week’s rest.


Smith got the opportunity to play a little ball while in Italy and Trooper Percy Crosier, a Delhi local, got quite a shock when he saw that the batter at the plate was his old friend, Basil Smith.


Gunner Smith died of wounds received in action in Italy on September 13, 1944. He was 28 years old.


In November 1944, his parents Mr and Mrs Whitfield Smith, received a letter of sympathy from King George V and Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain.


Basil Smith is buried at Gradara War Cemetery in Italy.


Added April 9, 2007.


Copyright © 2007 Gary Bedingfield (Baseball in Wartime). All Rights Reserved.