Motherwell soldier a hero at Waterloo

Sergeant Archibald Smith's headstone in the South Dalziel graveyard.
Sergeant Archibald Smith's headstone in the South Dalziel graveyard.

The unremarkable headstone didn’t get a second glance from most people strolling past the graves to worship at a Motherwell church.

And it’s unlikely that visitors to the arts venue now housed there pay much attention to the modest structure.

In fact, it marks the resting place of a Motherwell soldier who fought in the Battle of Waterloo as the Duke of Wellington’s army defeated Napoleon 200 years ago.

Sergeant Archibald Smith suffered serious injury, but survived and returned to Scotland. He died in 1845 - 30 years after Waterloo - and was buried in the grounds of South Dalziel Parish Chuch.

An inscription on his tombstone states he was ‘once a brave soldier who often fought for his country in a foreign land’. His wife, Agnes, died in 1861 and was buried beside him.

Times & Speaker reader John Aitken was intrigued to read about Sergeant Smith in an old book about Motherwell.

At Waterloo, the author wrote, Sergeant Smith ‘had the misfortune to be so severely wounded about the head that his skull was held together by silver clasps’.

The book states that Sergeant Smith died as a result of a fall from a ladder. No further details are given.

The author added: “I’m sure few of the folks who pass the stone every Sabbath have ever read it or are even aware of its existence and history.”

Mr Aitken said: “I was surprised to learn that a man from Motherwell, which was a much smaller place then, had fought at Waterloo.

“It’s only right that as the 200th anniversary is being celebrated we acknowledge someone who did his bit for the country.”