Ex-marine Smudge - a man for all good causes

Exmouth Sea and Royal Marine Cadets helped sell poppies at the Exmouth Tesco's Salterton Road store

Exmouth Sea and Royal Marine Cadets helped sell poppies at the Exmouth Tesco's Salterton Road store on Saturday. The group are picturted with the life sized Remembrance Poppy figure created by RBL committee member Carole Reeves and Zena Lowe. Ref exe 5419-45-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Exmouth Poppy Appeal organiser Peter ‘Smudge’ Smith is the feature of a moving tribute at the Tesco and Lidl stores this week.

Former Royal Marine Smudge sadly never got to complete his work raising funds for the worthwhile charity, but his daughters Heather and Sadie are carrying out his final wishes for the Poppy Appeal.

Peter, who was born in 1958 in Rugeley, Staffordshire, was a keen member of organisations like St John Ambulance and the Sea Cadets. He eventually joined the Royal Marines at the tender age of 16 years and four months.

Smudge became a radio operator in 45 Commando before joining HMS Fearless and was sent to the South Atlantic to help recapture the Falkland Islands.

On landing at San Carlos, communications with Whitehall were lost and the British forces were having problems communicating. Pete went to the HQ and, in his words, tweaked a few knobs and sent the first messages from the islands back to Whitehall using Morse Code.

After the Sir Galahad was bombed in Bluff Cove and so many of the Welsh Guards were either killed or severely injured, Pete was involved in the evacuation and care of the injured.

Pete spent many hours comforting one particular Guardsman who had been significantly burned in the fireball that engulfed the tank deck where the soldiers were billeted. That particular soldier never knew that it was Pete Smith who held his hand and spoke softly to him, keeping him calm and reassuring him that he was going to live. This year, after 33 years of searching for the marine who helped him cling to life, Simon Weston finally got to speak to Smudge in a phone call. They talked for ages and, as Pete said, ‘a few ghosts were put to bed’.

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Pete also took the surrender from General Menendez, whose bayonet from the conflict now sits with Pete’s family.

Legend is a term far too easily talked about nowadays, yet Smudge was. Pete crammed an awful lot into a life sadly cut short by cancer, but it wasn’t just his time in the Royal Marines for which he is fondly remembered.

He was a friend and mentor to so many in the numerous groups and charities in which he was involved.

A great friend to all at The Pilot Inn, as well as within his Freemasons lodge, he was a passionate committee member of the Royal British Legion and heavily involved with the FV2 veterans PTSD charity, as well as being a member of the best-looking second row Withycombe Rugby Club has ever seen!

Pete’s funeral at Holy Trinity Church yesterday was packed to the roof - a measure of the man and how loved he was by so many.

Pete leaves behind a loving wife, Carole, and daughters Heather and Sadie and stepdaughters Tammy and Adele and lots of grandchildren, who loved ‘Grandad Pennies’!