A soldier's will

Private Roddy Smith

Private Roddy Smith 

The news broke on Thursday 2nd August 1917, from a local schoolmaster who was also serving.

Roderick Smith was the fourth son of the postmaster Angus Smith at Keose on the Isle of Lewis.

For the last few years, he had been working in Grangetown, Cardiff for a drapery business.

But when war was declared he made the long journey home to answer his country's call.

He joined the Cameron Highlanders. Before leaving for France, a friend recalled his reply when he referred to the dangers ahead. "Roddy replied in his cheery way, 'We must just smile' and then marched away, looking so handsome, brave and proud." 

He had not been long in the trenches when he was wounded in the right hand, and lost one of his fingers. After his recovery in a French hospital, he was employed for a few weeks behind the lines as a clerk, but was again sent into the firing line.

Roddy was shot at Ypres on 28th July 1917 and died in the field ambulance on the way to hospital.

Pte Smith was a young man of great promise, and in the flower of his life

His obituary:  "Of a kind and cheerful disposition, he endeared himself to all with whom he came into contact, and long will his pleasant face and happy smile be remembered both in the South and his native Eilean an Fhraoich. To the bereaved parents, sorrowing brothers, sisters and relatives, the sincere and heartfelt sympathy of the whole community goes out in this, their hour of trial, and irrepairable loss."

All soldiers wrote a will in case the worst happened

Roddy's will left his belongings to his mother. But £50 in his insurance policy was left to a friend, May Williams, of Stockland Street in Grangetown, Cardiff,

He had lived at 120 Mardy Street and worked for M. Fraser, a draper in Penylan Terrace. He had been active member of Grangetown Hall and was an officer of the Sunday School.

The Grangetown War project would like to know more about his life here and if there are any descendants of May Williams too.

Contact: grangetownwar@yahoo.co.uk