Roddy is a movie star now, but his devotion to his Dad, Third Officer Thomas McDowall of the British Merchant Marine, remains the biggest thing in his life
ON THE dock in Liverpool, England, Roddy McDowall sat huddled together with his sister Virginia, his mother and father. For five weary hours they had been waiting permission to board the American-bound steamer Scythia.
An air raid signal sounded. People all about them hurried for shelter. But the McDowall family paid no attention. It was more important that they stay together for the precious little time left. For they did not know when they would be united again, if ever.
Months before the British government had urged that all children be evacuated to a safe country. Roddy, however, had pleaded with his father not to send him and Virginia away. To him London was exciting, especially during an air raid when the R.A.F. went up after the Jerries. His father agreed to let them stay. In his heart was the hope that conditions would get better and there would be no need of a family separation.
At that time Mr. McDowall was the proprietor of a transport service and his trucks distributed air raid shelters and explosives. So after a hard stretch of work it was comforting to come home to his loved ones. Then one day something happened to make him realize more than ever how unsafe they were in England. One of his trucks was bombed while driving along the street. The driver was killed. Mr. McDowall did all he could for the unfortunate man's family, then returned home and quietly told his wife she was to take the children to America. He was going to join the Merchant Marine.
It was a few days after he had made this decision that the family sat down on the dock in Liverpool. Tucked under Roddy's arm was a souvenir of London: The shrapnel-riddled license plate off the ill-fated truck.