Sunday, 24 July 2011

W Rodda

William Rodda
Baptised 10 June 1891, Born at Newquay  Died 20 April 1917
Pte 24515 1st Battalion Duke of Conrwall's Light Infantry

William was the only son of Richard Thomas Rodda (sometimes spelt Rhodda) and Mary Ann Eliza Whitford.  Richard and Mary Ann married in Newquay on 12 May 1883.  Richard, a tailor from St Blazey, was the son a mason, William Rodda.  Mary Ann's father was John Whitford, a coastguard from Devon.  

The couple had a daughter, Theresa Ann, in 1885, followed by another daughter, Mattie Eliza in 1889.  William was born in 1891 and another daughter, Mary Elizabeth (known as Polly) was born in 1894.  Shortly after Polly's birth Mary Ann died and Richard remarried the following year.  His new wife was a widow, Margaret Mitchell (she died in 1905).  By 1901 only William and Polly were at home with their father and in 1911 both of them were working as servants for the Bennetts family at Trewerry Mill near St Newlyn East; William was labouring on the farm, Polly was a general domestic servant.  

At the moment I have no information as to when William enlisted.  His Medal Index Card gives no clues either, being blank on the section giving date on which the soldier first entered the Theatre of War.  What is certain is that William died on 20 April 1917 of wounds.  The 1st Cornwalls (95th Brigade, 5th Division) had moved to Villers au Bois on the morning of 8 April.  On the following day the weather was atrocious, with heavy rain and winds and a snow storm.  The battalion was held on two hours' notice to move forward, though no specific objective was specified.  By 10 pm further orders were received putting them on one hour's notice to move off and support the 4th Canadian Division at Vimy Ridge.  The order to move did not arrive until 13 April.  In the meantime the Cornwalls attempted to train whilst they waited and endured what must have been a miserable time as they had been moved from their billets into tents and it was by this time snowing heavily.

The Cornwalls finally relieved the 46th and 50th Canadian Regiments on the afternoon of 13 April at which point they took over the front line, during the Battle of Vimy.  1st Battlion had to move in darkness and many became lost.  Once in position the Cornwalls were shelled by the Germans (casualties were apparently light though - perhaps William was one of them?).  The DCLI managed to capture a couple of German guns on 14 April, although they still had to endure machine gun fire from other positions.  The diary does not mention casualties.

If William was not wounded during the Battle of Vimy, he may have received his wounds a few days later.  The Cornwalls remained in the front line from 14 to 19 April and during this period the Germans were particularly active, shelling, sniping and machine gunning the DCLI positions.  Any patrols sent out to scout enemy positions were met with fierce opposition.  Only one casualty of these forays is mentioned; Second Lieutenant the Hon. Charles Willoughby Murray Molesworth, who died of wounds on 15 April, but there were no doubt other ranks who died too - again, perhaps William.  William was buried at the Bruay Communal Cemetery Extension.  

William's sister, Polly Rodda, married a Burt in 1921 and lived until 1971.

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