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SMH Obituary - Dacre Smyth, 1923-2008

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13th. Dec, 2008 | 09:24 am

www.smh.com.au - A poetic observer, unwittingly, of Hiroshima:
www.smh.com.au/ text/ articles/ 2008/ 12/ 10/ 1228584924971.html
Smyth was on HMAS Norman 160 kilometres east of Japan on August 6, 1945, when another officer called him on deck to see a 'spectacular sunset'. Smyth immediately wrote a poem, of which the second verse says: 'No cloud, I say, but yet the sun did light/ On towering columns all unreal yet huge/ Which waved and shuddered in grotesque delight/ In myriad hues of ghostly subterfuge.' Unknowingly, he was describing the aftermath of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Dacre Henry Deudraeth Smyth, who has died in Melbourne of prostate cancer at 85, was born in London into a family linked directly to the kings of England Henry III and Edwards I, II and III. The family also had some claim to being related to Pocohontas, the Indian who saved the life of Captain John Smith, the founder of Virginia.

Smyth's mother was Anna Maria Story-Maskelyne. His father, Nevill, was awarded a Victoria Cross under Lord Kitchener at the Battle of Omdurman in Sudan in 1898, and was considered unlucky not to have won a second VC during the Boer War. He went on to command the First Australian Brigade at Gallipoli, leading him to emigrate with his family in 1925 and settle on a sheep property, Kongbool, near Balmoral in Victoria's Western District.

Nevill Smyth's first cousin, Lord Robert Stephen Smyth Baden-Powell, was a hero of the 217-day siege of Mafeking in the Boer War, and founded the Boy Scout movement, of which Smyth became a leader in Victoria.

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