Smith, David DeG (771st, 607th)

David DeG Smith 1David DeG Smith

Biography: David DeGarmo Smith was born on February 8, 1905, in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, New York. He was one of four sons born to William DeGarmo Smith and Lyra Foote Matteson. He attended the Krieger School and Poughkeepsie High School for three years, completing his college preparatory schooling at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.

He graduated from Princeton University in 1928, and took graduate courses at New York University, specializing in advertising. He rowed in the 150-pound class for Princeton. He went to work for Luckey, Platt and Company Department Store, which was owned by his father.

On September 20, 1933, he married the former Marjorie Northrop Hunt who was born in Brooklyn, New York. She was the daughter of Charles Edward Hunt and Adah Elsie Northrop. The wedding was in Poughkeepsie and the new couple made their home there, later having a son, Gerald.

Service Time: We don’t know exactly when David went on active duty but in 1941, he was serving as Commander of Battery G, 186th Field Artillery Regiment, 71st Anti-tank Battalion (Provisional). That unit, along with others became the nucleus of the 771st Tank Destroyer Battalion that same year. He became Commanding Officer of the 771st, as a Lieutenant Colonel, on January 18, 1943.

The unit trained at several military facilities including Fort Ethan Allen, Vermont; Fort Devens and Camp Edwards in Massachusetts; A. P. Hill Reservation, Virginia; Pine Camp, NY; Camp Hood, Texas; Fort Dix, New Jersey and Camp Shanks, NY.

The unit shipped out from the New York port on October 21, 1943, and arrived in Liverpool, England, on November 2nd. The 771st was chosen to train other TD personnel in the ETO Troop Replacement system and they remained in England. Company A eventually moved to France in late August and acted as an advanced party for the remainder of the unit. The rest of the battalion shipped out on September 15th and joined them on the mainland, equipped with M10 tank destroyers. They entered combat with the 102nd Infantry Division against the Siegfried Line defenses along the Würm River on November 3rd.

They participated in the drive to the Roer River and held defensive positions there during December. Converting to the M36 tank destroyer in January, 1945, they supported the drive toward the Rhine River in February, crossing beginning March 31st and joining the 102nd Infantry Division’s drive across Germany to the Elbe River, reaching it on April 14th. They spent the remainder of the war helping to mop up bypassed pockets of resistance between the Rhine and the Elbe Rivers. On September 12, 1945, he was transferred to the 607th TD Battalion and returned home with the unit.

David received the Award of the Red Star from the Russian government “for exemplary execution of battle missions on the front of the fight against the German invaders and for courage and bravery displayed in action.” He left the Army in December of 1945, after he was promoted to Colonel.

He returned to his home and resumed working at Luckey, Platt, eventually serving as Senior Vice President and Secretary for the company. His wife Marjorie died in 1948 and he married the former Anna Barstow Nollen, from Lake Forest, Illinois, on January 1, 1954. She died in 1962, as a result of injuries from an auto accident and he later married the former Elizabeth Jean Miller, from Poughkeepsie, in 1964.

David was active in community affairs and was a past president of the Poughkeepsie Rotary Club, of the Duchess County Chapter of the American Red Cross and of the Vassar Brothers Hospital Association. He was chairman of the Community Chest Campaign in 1953, and was a member of the Amrita Club and the University Club. He also attended Christ Church.

David DeG Smith 2He passed away on December 18, 1967, and was buried in the Saint Peter’s Episcopal Cemetery, Lithgow, NY. Thank you to Find a Grave contributor “Kathy” for use of the grave marker photo.