Lieutenant MURDO SMITH
Last address in Lewis: 7 Aird
Son of Donald and Bella Smith; husband of Mary Smith, of Fort William, Ontario, Canada.
Service: Royal Canadian Navy Reserve, HMCS West York
Service number: 0-68310
Date of death: 23 December 1944 at the age of 45
Interred: Bermuda Royal Naval Cemetery, grave 435
Stornoway Gazette, 3 August 1945
The untimely death of Lieut-Commander Murdo Smith, while on his way to Bermuda with a corvette flotilla from Halifax, has cast a deep pall of gloom and sorrow across this Dominion of ours [Canada] and particularly in Toronto, where Lieut-Commander Smith had made his home for some years, and where he was a well-known and highly-respected member of the community.
Lieut-Commander Smith was born at 7 Aird, Point, Lewis, 45 years ago. The son of the late Mr Donald Smith and Mrs Smith, his father was a one-time well known skipper of the famous "Herring Fisher", and his brother Alex is skipper of the "Lews". In common with many Lewis lads, Murdo Smith had the salt sea in his blood. He served in the British Navy in the last war at the early age of 16 years. He spent some years as a fisherman after the war. In 1924, he sailed to Canada on the SS Marloch, along with many other Lewis boys. He sailed on the Great Lakes on this side of the Atlantic for many years.
At the outbreak of hostilities, Capt Smith was the master of SS Northton, sailing out of the West Indies. He immediately joined the Canadian Navy as a navigating officer. His superiors were quick to recognise his qualities of leadership and ability, and his promotion came rapidly. He soon found himself in charge of one of those trusty Canadian corvettes on Atlantic patrol. He remained on this Atlantic patrol through those terrible first four years of war, and continued as a Lieut-Commander on this patrol until his death. Altogether Lieut-Commander Murdo Smith has spent 30 consecutive years at sea. This is a splendid record for a man who was still in his 45th year.
He became master of the SS Lockwell 8 years ago, and at 37 years of age was one of the youngest if not the youngest masters on the Great Lakes. In 1932, as first mate of the SS Boland, he and another Lewisman, Roddie Macleod from Ranish, Lochs, were instrumental in saving many lives when the SS Boland foundered in Lake Erie during a terrific storm. By that high grade of seamanship, for which Lewismen are famous, Murdo and Roddie manoeuvred the ship's lifeboat in the storm they kept baling with their shoes to the men struggling in the water and pulled many into the boat, and then, by dint of superb seamanship, took the boat safely to land.
If Lieut-Commander Murdo Smith had lived, there is no doubt he would have gone very far in his chosen vocation. As it is, no one will deny but that he had an outstanding career. Murdo Smith was a very unselfish man who was admired by all who knew him. He was also a deeply religious man who held very closely to the tenets of Christianity. Yet he was a very cheery companion to have, and we feel sure that many a Canadian sailor was glad to have such a man as Lieut-Commander Murdo Smith on board during those long, cold nights on Atlantic patrol.
A young man who always looked on the grander and finer things of life, his memory will long be cherished by those who were privileged to know him. The Island that gave him birth will miss him, his early demise is a loss to us all.
Besides his widow, formerly Mary Mackay from Garrabost, and his two children, Catherine Isabel, 6 years, and Alastair Duncan, 7 months old, he is survived by three brothers. Alex, skipper of the "Lews", Malcolm, married in Stornoway, Donald recently married at home. There is also a married sister, Mrs Donald Graham, at home. We send our heartfelt sympathy to them all.
Lieut-Commander Murdo Smith was buried with full naval honours in the British Naval Cemetery at Hamilton, Bermuda, in a grave carved from the coral reef close by blue waters of the Atlantic he knew so well.
Image courtesy Travelthruhistory.com, Bev Lundahl.