Belfast Telegraph

Belfast hero who lied about his age to fight Nazis dies day after 97th birthday

Rowland Todd at a Remembrance Day service at Belfast Cenotaph
Rowland Todd at a Remembrance Day service at Belfast Cenotaph
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

One of the last Second World War veterans on the island of Ireland passed away on Monday after a short illness.

Rowland Todd, also known as Ronnie, died in Belfast City Hospital just one day after his 97th birthday.

He will not only be remembered for his exploits in the war, but also for his work as pastor in Malvern Assembly Church on the Shankill Road in Belfast.

Mr Todd was born in east Belfast and, bar his service years, lived his entire life there.

Following the breakout of the Second World War it is believed that Mr Todd, who was just 17, lied about his age to join the 1st Battalion of the Irish Rifles, as soldiers had to be 18 to serve in combat zones.

He served for the duration of the war against the Axis forces and was posted all around the world in such places as France, Italy, Egypt, the Middle East and India.

Mr Todd refused the opportunity given to him by Field Marshal Montgomery to return home from the conflict following the death of his elder brother Bill, who was killed in Norway.

Mr Todd became pastor of Malvern Assembly Church in the early 1960s and retired in 1987.

Despite his retirement he continued to work in the church and preached to the congregation in his final years.

Following his death, Malvern Assembly Church said it was with great sadness that their former pastor and a "great servant of our Lord Jesus Christ has left this scene of time".

"He's with his Lord and Saviour - forever," the church said in a statement.

"Please continue to uphold the Todd family in your prayers," it added.

Mr Todd, who only spoke of his experiences in the war in the last 10 years of his life, was photographed attending his last Remembrance Day service at Belfast Cenotaph three years ago.

Wearing his military uniform and the medals he achieved for acts of bravery, he brought a picture of himself and his two brothers, Bill and Jimmy. Mr Todd was married to the Jean, who passed away in 2001. The couple had three children - Ronnie, Sam and Anne.

He is survived by his children and the wider family circle.

The Todd family wished to thank the medical staff at Belfast City Hospital for the care that he received on the wards in his final months.

A service of thanksgiving will be held in his memory at Malvern Assembly Church on Saturday at 9am.

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