Rowland Todd: WWII soldier refused offer to return home after brother killed in action
ROWLAND Todd was one of three brothers who left Belfast 80 years ago to fight Hitler.
The war was less than a year old when William John (20) was killed in action in Norway.
And when the eldest brother, James, was also badly wounded in Italy, Rowland had a decision to make.
The film Saving Private Ryan dramatised the story of an American soldier sent home from the war under the 'sole-surviving son' policy after his three brothers were believed to have been killed.
In Rowland's case, his mother wrote to Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery pleading for him to be relieved of duty before she lost another child.
“My commanding officer called me in and showed me the letter. He asked me what I wanted to do," he recalled.
“I said I wanted to stay and fight for my country. I joined the army from borstal and I wanted to make my mother proud of me by serving my country.”
Born in 1922, Rowland Todd - known as Ronnie - had lied about his age to enlist in the 1st Battalion of the London Irish Rifles at the outbreak of the Second World War.
He would serve as a rifleman in France, Italy, Egypt, the Middle East and India and was mentioned in despatches for his bravery.
After the war he returned to Belfast and in the 1960s became a pastor at Malvern Assembly Church on the Shankill Road.
In 2004 he return to the Italian battlefields with the help of a lottery grant and in later years he attended Remembrance Day events to remember those who lost their lives.
Rowland Todd died the day after his 97th birthday on December 30.
Predeceased by his wife Jean in 2001, Mr he is survived by his children Ronnie, Samuel and Ann, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.