October 25, 2020

Cayman Islands Museum Acquisition: A home for a hero’s swords

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The Cayman Islands National Museum recently accepted two ceremonial swords into the . Once owned by thirty-three year veteran, Joseph Rodriguez ‘Roddy’ Watler (1890-1965), the rapiers are archtypes of an 1897 British Infantry Officer’s sword, and a possible 1827 German-made, British Rifle Officer’s sword, its proof disc suggests.

The 1897 model sword’s hilt is comprised of a three-quarter basket guard, copper and brass wire binding on a fish skin covered tang, and a cross hatched steel back piece. The guards design is composed of a laurel wreath below the royal cipher of King George VI. The 32.25” blade is straight, and bears minimal rust and pitting.

The 1827 patterned sword’s blade is of similar length and style. The guard bears an oval cartouche and a crowned bugle. The grip is again copper and brass wire binding over a fish skin covered tang.

was appointed Head of Police in 1925 until he retired in 1958. He is best known for his heroic rescue of 20 marooned persons during the 1932 storm for which he was awarded the King George V and Queen Mary Silver Medal for Bravery. As Head of the Police, Mr Roddy also held the positions: lighthouse keeper, foreman of public works, boarding officer of vessels and warehouse keeper, customs officer and aide-de-camp to the Commissioner of the Cayman Islands and visiting governors. From 1942 to 1945, Mr Roddy was appointed Officer in Charge of the Cayman Islands Company of The Jamaican Home Guard, which earned him another title – ‘Major’ Watler.

Mr Roddy married Blanche Lee Bodden of George Town and raised a family of nine children. Daughters, Joan and Helen, survive their parents and siblings. The swords were donated to the Museum by Mr Roddy’s daughter, .

We are pleased to accept this donation. The swords are an important part of our history of uniformed service, and enhance the National Collection.

IMAGES:
Joan Wilson
Roddy Watler’s swords
Roddy Watler with sword

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