Company Sergeant Major William Joseph Richard Swann, 10th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment died of wounds on 14th June 1917, aged 25. He was the eldest of the two sons of parents Samuel (a Company Sergeant Major (later Military Mechanist Quarter Master Sergeant) in the Royal Engineers) and Kate (née Shakespear) who had married in May 1890 at Chirst Church, Aston Park. In 1891, the couple were living in St Mary’s Barracks, Chatham, Kent. Their son, William, was born in Chatham on 22nd May 1891. Their second child, Sidney Norman Percival Swann, was born in Sheerness on 6th July 1892.
Samuel left the Army in Cardiff at his own request in September 1901 after 18 years’ service, and the family then returned to Warwickshire, initially setting up home in Aston Manor. By 1910, Samuel and Kate were living in The Bungalow, Marshall Lake Road, Shirley, but neither of their sons was living at the family home in 1911. Both boys had joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and were stationed with the 2nd Battalion at Whittington Barracks, Lichfield.
Sidney’s service record has survived, showing that he joined the Army in January 1910, aged 17 years and six months, giving his occupation as a gardener. He was appointed Lance Corporal in July 1911 and discharged at his own request in November 1912. After the outbreak of war, he rejoined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at Curzon Hall, Birmingham in September 1915 and served until discharge on 30th May 1919. He died, aged 77, in Birmingham in 1970.
William’s service record doesn’t appear to have survived so we don’t know whether he also bought himself out of the Army early, as his brother did. It seems possible, as William’s medal index card shows no overseas service before 1916. William married Lily Eugenia Kendall in Solihull between July-September 1916. Their daughter, Vera, was born in Aston on 8th June 1917, just six days before her father died on active service. Vera married Percy C. Powell in 1936. William’s widow, Lily, continued to live in Birmingham until her death, aged 85, in 1977.
William is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery, France. He is also commemorated locally on Shirley War Memorial.
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Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
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