CAPTAIN R. W. ROBERTS
Richard William Roberts 1901-1978, went to sea in 1916 following a two hundred year maritime family tradition. By the age of 24 he passed as Captain and was to have a long and distinguished career. He was made Lieutenant Commander during the Second World War, and he won the D.S.C. whilst serving on the first Oronsay as Commodore of the assault convoy for the invasion of Madagascar. The Oronsay was torpedoed off West Africa. For his textbook evacuation of the ship, without loss of life, despite passengers and crew being in lifeboats for nine days, he was awarded an O.B.E. He commanded some of the largest liners afloat at the time including the Samkansa, Otranto, and the Orontes, and later he became staff captain of these vessels.
Amongst the many posts he held he was elected President of the Mercantile Marine Service Association, the master mariners organization. His wife Mary was Tom and Gareth Raw-Rees’ aunt, and she and her husband had at one time lived in Fishguard, then moved back to Borth and eventually retired to live in Llandre at the house appropriately named Oronsay. Captain Roberts was a kindly man and had helped many a Borth lad, such as the Raw-Rees boys, Ivor Williams of Tydu Farm, Hevin Evans of Clarach and David Tink. Another uncle of Gareth and Tom’s, William Rees, was an Anglican minister who served as Padre in the Royal Navy in the First World War, and again as Padre in the Second World War, but this time with the R.A.F.
Ivor Williams Tydu, was a steward with the Orient Line and sailed from Europe to Australia on the Otranto under the command of Captain Roberts. He had initially set his heart on working on deck, but his eyesight let him down, so his only option was to serve as a steward. Ivor left the sea after a few years to work locally.