William Bryant Thomson Smiley

Unknown - 1987 (Approximate)

William Bryant Thomson Smiley William Bryant Thomson Smiley William Bryant Thomson Smiley William Bryant Thomson Smiley William Bryant Thomson Smiley William Bryant Thomson Smiley William Bryant Thomson Smiley

RAF 197 Squadron

William Bryant Thomson Smiley was from Perth, Ontario. In an RCAF Press Release dated May 23, 1945, he was noted as being a prisoner of War at Stalag Luft One. He had been "badly beaten and lay bound and bruised for 20 days in a railway box-car at Dortrecht for attempting to escape. He was shot down Friday, October 13th, over northern Holland, and was three weeks being moved to a prison camp. Smiley hid in a cupboard at Dortecht railway station at dusk, but the German guards found one man missing and searched for him. They found him, and a piece of pipe he had concealed in his tunic as well as the guard sergent's pipe which he had taken from a greatcoat. The sergent became insensate with rage and Smiley was so badly beaten that his nose was broken and one of his kneecaps was smashed. Then he was bound by the hands to window bars in the box-car for hours. He recalled, 'I could hardly move for a whole week. I couldn't stand up -- just hung by my hands until they cut me down.' He was loosed once each day, but for the most of the 20 days, he could not move to take advantage of the exercise period. Guards carried him out of the car daily, but regarded him as so dangerous, they bound him immediately he was returned to the car...There were about 8000 prisoners, mostly Air Force, at Stalag Luft One when they first arrived. As other camps were overrun, the Germans brought in more prisoners until 10,000 were here when the guards bolted on April 30. British and American military policeman took charge until the Russians rolled up on May 2nd."

Smiley became a high school teacher and wrote a popular syndicated newspaper column from 1960 to 1985. See images for more information. He died in 1987 at his home in Midland, Ontario. He was predeceased by his wife Sue. They had one daughter, Kim and one son, Hugh. There was an annual Bill Smiley Essay Contest on the Human Spirit open to all Canadian high school students as a tribute to Bill Smiley who was the head of the English department in the Midland High School where he had taught after leaving the newspaper business. He was a graduate of the University of Toronto, in Hons. English and spent eleven years as editor and publisher of the weekly Wiarton, Ontario Echo.