680229 DVR. T. SWIFT.  R.F.A.

 

Thomas Swift was born in Preston in April 1895 and baptised at Preston St Matthew on 2 May that year.  His father was George Swift (b. 1853 in Preston), a looming master and overlooker in a cotton mill.  George was first married to Elizabeth Eccleston (b. 1848 in Preston), but she died in 1883 and two years later he married Margaret Ellen Martin (b. 1865 in Preston).  George and Margaret Ellen were married in 1885 and they had 6 children, though two died young: Herbert (1885-1905), William (b. 1886), Hannah (b. 1889), George (1892-1910), then Thomas, and finally Margaret Ellen (b. 1897).  George’s second wife, Margaret Ellen, died in 1910.  Indeed, George’s life was beset with tragedies; by the time he died in 1926 he had buried two wives and all four sons.  In 1911, George was living at 239 New Hall Lane, Preston, with his four children and his mother-in-law, Mary Martin and her daughter Alice.  His sons, William and Thomas, also worked in the cotton mill: William as a labourer on a warp tying machine and Thomas as a weaver.

 

Thomas joined the Royal Field Artillery on 25 April 1913, when he had just turned 18.  He was given service number 1241.  He was embodied on 5 August 1914 and mustered on 27 May 1916.  He was assigned a new service number, 680229.  He would have trained initially with 276 Brigade but he did not land with them in France in 1915, instead he transferred to 286 Brigade, probably “A” Battery, and landed with 57th Division in France on 10 February 1917.  He did not last long overseas though as he returned home to depot service on 22 March 1917 and was discharged as medically unfit on 15 May 1917.  Tom was suffering from consumption (pulmonary phthisis), from which he died two years later on 22 April 1919.  He was 24 years old.  Tom’s death is not recorded by CWGC.

 

Rank:  Gunner

Service No:  680229

Date of Death:  22/04/1919

Age:  24

Regiment/Service:  Royal Field Artillery, probably "A" Bty. 286th Bde.

Grave Reference:  Tom’s death is not recorded by CWGC.

Cemetery:  PRESTON (NEW HALL LANE) CEMETERY

 

Tom was in fact the last of George’s sons to die, as William had died the year before, and it seems likely that consumption was the cause of death for all four sons.

 

William (b. 1886) was married in 1911 to Ann Jane Jackson (b. 1884 in Preston).  He enlisted with the Northumberland Fusiliers on 6 December 1915.  He was 45434 PTE. W. SWIFT, and he served with 14th Battalion.  14Bn was a pioneer battalion and it came under orders of 21st Division.  A summary of the actions involving 21st Division can be found here.  I don’t know how long William served abroad but he was back in England in the depot division when he died of consumption on 20 August 1918.  He was 31 years old.  In 1921, Ann Jane married Henry Brown (b. 1889 in Preston), a police constable.

 

Rank:  Private

Service No:  45434

Date of Death:  20/08/1918

Age:  31

Regiment/Service:  Northumberland Fusiliers, 14th Bn.

Grave Reference:  D. CE. 513.

Cemetery:  PRESTON (NEW HALL LANE) CEMETERY

Additional Information:  Son of George Swift; husband of Ann Jane Brown (formerly Swift), of 27 Fishwick View, Preston. Born at Preston.

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