The moving story of Bermudian World War II hero Major Anthony ‘Toby’ Smith. *Photo supplied
The moving story of Bermudian World War II hero Major Anthony ‘Toby’ Smith. *Photo supplied

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9: The moving story of one man’s war and death in action is to be made into a documentary by an award-winning Bermuda filmmaker.

In the Hour of Victory — a book drawn from the letters home of Bermudian Major Toby Smith — was published this week after years of work by his grandson, former Police Commissioner and Senator Jonathan Smith.

Now Lucinda Spurling’s Afflare Films is to work on a documentary based on Maj. Smith’s letters home to wife Faith over his four years of service overseas.

Sen. Smith said: “Lucinda is doing a film based on the book, with a view to showing it at one of the film festivals next year.

“She was very moved by the story — she really believes there’s a lot of potential there. “

Ms Spurling said: “Jonathan sent me some articles and samples of the letters and I thought it would make a great drama documentary.

“To have a record and a first-hand account of the war for four years between a man and his wife is quite amazing.

“He wrote very well and very passionately — not everybody can capture the moment in words like he did. It’s an amazing story and a great time to tell it because we don’t have many veterans of World War Two left.”

Maj. Smith was part of the first contingent of Bermudian soldiers to travel to the UK in 1940. He was killed in action as his troops won a battle for a wood in Holland in October 1944 — only seven months before the war in Europe ended.

His 300-plus letters home span his voyage to the UK — when the Bermuda contingent of the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps and Bermuda Militia Artillery narrowly missed being torpedoed by a German U-boat — right up to two days before his death leading his men into action.

Sen. Smith said: “I never knew my grandfather. My father lost his father when he was five years old. I knew when I picked up the very first letter, that there was a story to be told here.

“It’s more than just a soldier writing home to his wife. It’s a really compelling story about courage, commitment and love for his family.

“It’s obvious he had a very clear determination to do what he though was right even if it meant separation from his family. He lost his life keeping us all safe. It was almost as if, 50 years later when the box of letters was found, it was destiny.

“He didn’t live to tell his story, so I told it for him.”

Sen. Smith spent 15 years going through the letters, transcribing every one, as well as carrying out further research into the conflict.

Maj. Smith, despite being a father-of-five and aged just 36, didn’t hesitate to answer the call as a rising Fascist tide threatened to engulf Europe.

And, despite being a highly qualified infantry instructor in the UK, he was determined to go into battle against the Nazis.

The book features not only the poignant and moving letters home from a soldier far from home, but also contains additional research into Bermuda’s role in the war, interviews with other veterans, letters of condolence sent to Faith and touching photographs encompassing a bygone Bermuda and the battle for democracy.

But it is Maj. Smith’s letters that take centre stage — and gives a valuable insight into Bermuda’s role in a conflict that spanned the globe.

Sen. Smith said: “What really pulled it together, what tied up all the loose ends together when I was doing the research, was his ability to write very well.

“There were a lot of letters and there was a tremendous volume of material to work with. It became my passion to finish it.”

In the Hour of Victory, published this week in time for the annual Remembrance Day commemoration, is available at the Bermuda Bookstore in Hamilton’s Queen Street and Bookmart in the Phoenix Centre, priced $35.

Sen. Smith will be signing copies of the book at a special event in Bookmart on Tuesday, November 15 between 6-9pm.