Swaine, Harry

Harry Swaine, Private 34691, 5th Bn. Border Regiment
Killed in action 21st March 1918 at Templeux, France, aged 20

 

EARLY LIFE

Son of J. William and Harriet Ann Swaine, of 62 Green St, Macclesfield, Cheshire.

 

MILITARY SERVICE

Harry was reported missing in the Macclesfield Courier on 4 May 1918:

PRIVATE HARRY SWAINE

Private Harry Swaine, Border Regiment, son of Mr and Mrs Swaine, 52 Green St, is officially reported missing. It is six or seven weeks since his parents heard from him, but a wounded comrade, now in hospital in this country, who has been visited by Mr Swaine, thinks it very probable that his son is a prisoner of war. Private Swaine is now 20 years of age, was educated at St George’s and St Paul’s Schools, and was a member of the St Paul’s Church Choir and the Young Men’s Class. He joined the Army before he was 19, and went to France last September.

On 3 January 1919 the Macclesfield Advertiser published his photograph, with the news that he was assumed to have been killed in action:

PRIVATE H SWAINE – Reported missing since the 21st March last, Private Harry Swaine (20), only son of Mr and Mrs W Swaine, of 62 Green St, Macclesfield, is now believed to have been killed on or about that date. As the result of many letters of inquiry, and also visits to hospitals in various parts of the country, Mr Swaine has got into touch with several of his son’s comrades, and the information he has gleaned from them leaves no ground for hope; indeed Private J R Kew, of the 1/5th Border Regiment, who has just returned to his home at Carlisle after being a prisoner of war for nine months, has written to say that he helped to lay Private H Swaine to rest at Templeux, near Roisel, identifying him by means of a photograph.

Mrs Todd, of East Norfolk Street, Carlisle, whose son was in the same battalion, and was captured along with Private Kew and others, has also written a letter in which, after expressing her deep sympathy, she states: “It seems the 5th Border regiment had a terrible time on that day (March 21st), and there was a fog on, too. B Company (Private Swaine’s) were in the reserve at the start, and were brought in later. When the fog lifted they were completely surrounded by the Germans, and those who were left were taken prisoner. Some were put behind the German lines and others were sent into Germany. The enemy quickly advanced, leaving the dead lying where they fell. Some time after, the boys who were put behind the German lines were brought back to bury the dead. There was a large number of them, and they were buried on the top of a quarry at Templeux in a row, a cross being put on each. Your boy is third from the end, and the name of Private Swaine is written on the cross.”

Deceased joined up in December 1916, training at Kinmel Park. Six months later he was transferred to Crosby, near Liverpool, and attached to the 1/5th Battalion of the Border regiment, being drafted to France on the 26th September, 1917. He participated in some hard fighting on the St Quentin, Arras, and Ypres front, but came through all right until the German onslaught which commenced on March 21st. Taking advantage of a dense fog, the enemy, in overwhelming numbers, followed up an annihilating barrage, and in a brave attempt to stem the rush the 5th Border regiment lost heavily in killed, wounded and missing. Private Swaine had the option that morning of undertaking duties in the rear, where he would have been comparatively free from danger, but he preferred to accompany his comrades up the line, thus proving himself a true British hero.

Private Swaine received his education at St Paul’s School and at the time of enlistment was a member of the church choir and a teacher in the Sunday School. A printer’s apprentice, he was of a most genial disposition, and deservedly enjoyed the esteem of all who had come into contact with him. For months his friends cherished hopes that some day he would turn up amongst the repatriated prisoners of war, but unfortunately those expectations are not to be realised, and much public sympathy, we feel sure, will be extended to Mr and Mrs Swaine in their deep sorrow, which has been accentuated by the death, two or three weeks ago, of their eldest daughter, from pneumonia, following influenza.

Private Swaine’s death was also reported in the Macclesfield Times on 10 January 1919:

Pte Harry Swaine, aged 20, only son of Mr and Mrs W Swaine, 62 Green Street, Macclesfield, who was officially reported missing since March 21st last, is now believed to have been killed on or about that date. He was in the Border Regt and, prior to joining up in December 1916, was an apprentice with Messrs Heath Bros, printers, St George’s Street.

 

COMMEMORATION

Private Harry Swaine is commemorated on Panel Ref. 46. of the Pozieres Memorial. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Harry Swaine, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.

In Macclesfield, Private Harry Swaine is commemorated on the Park Green, Town HallSt Michael’s Church and St Paul’s Church war memorials.

 

NOTES

 

SOURCES

Lives of the First World War website
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Courier: 
4 May 1918
Macclesfield Times: 10 January 1919
Macclesfield Advertiser: 3 January 1919

 


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