SMITH William James Lanyon
temp Sub Lieutenant, Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve

Distinguished Service Order
Gazetted 9 November 1945, p5530
Sub Lieutenant W.J.L Smith was first lieutenant of the midget submarine XE3 under the command of Lieutenant Ian Fraser, RNR, which made a successful attack on the Japanese heavy cruiser Takao in Jahore Straits, Singapore on 31 July 1945.  Finding the ship aground or nearly so, the XE3 after forty minutes managed to place herself under the cruiser amidships, where she was jammed for a quarter of an hour.  The success of the mission was due to Sub Lieutenant Smith’s skill in handling and controlling his craft on the 80 mile trip.  The mechanical efficiency of the craft was greatly due to his organisation and personal supervision.

Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Gazetted 31 May 1968, Supp 44602, p6339
To be an Ordinary Officer of the Military Division of the said Most Excellent Order.
no details available

Distinguished Service Order
Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)
1939-45 Star
Atlantic Star
Burma Star
Defence Medal
War Medal 1939-45
New Zealand War Service Medal

Born 1 December 1922, Gore, New Zealand
Died 2 December 2018 Wellington, New Zealand

A Kiwi Naval officer decorated for his role in a double Victoria Cross special operation behind enemy lines, clandestinely attacking the Japanese heavy cruiser Takao in the Singapore harbour in 1945.
Originally from Gore, in Southland, William Smith was given up by his unwed mother at birth, and fostered by the Ginn family in Christchurch. He was working as a school teacher before enlisting into the New Zealand Army in February 1943 as an artillery officer.
Transferring to the Navy 15 months later he left for the UK where he was commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant at HMS King Alfred, Portsmouth in April 1944. On graduation Smith joined Royal Navy special services and was posted to HMS Dolphin to assess his suitability for submarines. He was subsequently drafted to X-class midget submarines and posted to the 14th Submarine Flotilla in Australia.
As second in command of HMS XE-3, Smith worked as part of a four-man crew under Lieutenant Ian Fraser, and supported by Diver Leading Seaman James Magennis and Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class Charles Reed. They were tasked alongside XE-1 with attacking Japanese ships inside the heavily defended Singapore harbour in Operation Struggle.
Leaving Labuan Island in Borneo on 26 July 1945, they slipped the tow of HMS Stygian at the entrance to the Straights of Johor 4 days later. The crew stayed awake for the next 52 hours as they conducted their dangerous mission. As they approach Singapore, they stayed on the surface as they transited through a minefield, to avoid underwater listening devices.
Later stopping their main engine to creep past a listening post, and diving in only 10 metres of water to avoid other ships, they went through an open boom defence next to a Japanese vessel. Again on the surface they spotted their target and dived to commence the attack, unfortunately colliding with the ship as they navigated by guessing.
As the diver moved around the cruiser’s hull to place the mines, the tide flowed out and the ship settled on top of the midget submarine. There was a desperate struggle as they tried to free themselves before the explosives detonated. The crew worked furiously and got away just before the mines ripped a 20 metre long hole in the Takao’s hull. She would never sail again.
After completing the perilous return journey, the submarine’s commander Ian Fraser and Diver James Magennis were each awarded the Victoria Cross. Charles Reed was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal, while William Smith was made a companion of the Distinguished Service Order.
Joining the Royal New Zealand Navy after the war, William Smith went on to help establish Scott Base in Antarctica, rose to the rank of Commander. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1968, before retiring in Wellington. He officially opened the Commander William Smith building at Devonport Naval Base in 2006, and died in Wellington in 2018, aged 96.