Donald Smith, 25 North Shawbost

Stornoway Gazette, 16 August 1940
It is with profound sorrow we record the death of another local young man, seaman Donald Smith, 25 North Shawbost, whose ship, HMT River Clyde, was mined on 6th July. Donald, who was badly wounded, was in the water for some time before he was picked up by another trawler. While swimming about, he came across a shipmate struggling in the sea without a lifejacket. He immediately took off his own lifejacket and gave it to his pal, thus saving his life. In any circumstances this would be a gallant action, but particularly so as Donald, on being taken ashore, was found to be seriously wounded. He was at once taken to hospital where he died the following day. "Domhnuil Smigan" as he was locally known, was a loveable boy and of an obliging nature. He was extremely popular and it is tragic to think that never again shall we see his smiling face. "Oh for the touch of a vanished hand and the sound of a voice that is still." Perhaps it should be mentioned that he was named after an uncle who was killed at Magersfontein, South Africa. It should also be noted that his father, Malcolm Smith, was mentioned in despatches during the Great War. All that was mortal of Donald was laid to rest on the 8th last with full naval honours. His father and brother-in-law were present at the funeral. We tender our heartfelt sympathy to his father.

Stornoway Gazette, 16 August 1940
 On Wednesday 7 August, Seaman Donald Smith, 25 North Shawbost, made the supreme sacrifice for King and country. News had been received on the previous day that he was wounded, and his father and brother-in-law left to visit him at a naval hospital. Unfortunately he had passed away before they arrived. Of a cheerful disposition, and that captivating quality that makes friends easily, Donald was a favourite with old and young. i feel a deep blank in the life of the village now that one so hearty and amiable is called away from our midst. It was not our wish but a better one, and I and his many friends can voice with Michael Angelo, in our meditation: "If life is a pleasure, yet, since death also is sent by the hand of the same Master, neither should that displease us." We shall always treasure the little actions that enliven memory and sweeten life; if we could live as cheerfully and die as cheerfully, life would be worth living. A true friend, of sterling qualities, Donald has happily fulfilled his destiny. To his father, sisters and brother, the sympathy of the whole community goes out in this, their time of sorrow. "Cho fad 'sa chluinneas sinn fuam aig tonn mara ri bualadh. Bithidh thu doannan na'r smuaintean, oir bha gach buaidh ort, a Dhomhull".

Stornoway Gazette, 23 August 1940
When the minesweeping trawler "River Clyde" was blown up, Donald Smith, of 25 North Shawbost, was mortally wounded, but his last conscious act was one of outstanding self-sacrifice. Donald saw that the ship's steward was getting into difficulties in the water. He swam over, took off his life-jacket and gave it to his pal. The steward was saved. Despite his wounds and the fact that he now had no lifejacket, Donald kept afloat until a rescue-ship arrived. He was taken on board and hurried to a naval hospital where next day he died of wounds.

This act of devotion to a comrade is worthy to rank with that of Sir Philip Sydney, whose self-sacrifice on the field of battle has become the very type of gallantry for all English-speaking peoples. But heroism runs in the blood. Donald's father, Malcolm Smith, was mentioned in despatches for gallantry int he Great War, and the uncle after whom he is called was killed in action at Magersfontein. 

No comments:

Post a Comment