43678 Pte James SWIFT 1/5th York and Lancaster Regiment
Killed In Action 15th April 1918
James SWIFT was born at Wentworth in Yorkshire on the 11th March 1898. The 1911 census shows him living at 7 Hesley Lane, Thorpe Hesley, Rotherham and he can subsequently be shown at the Horse and Tiger Inn with his parents Charles and Harriet SWIFT along with 5 brothers and 2 sisters, both addresses in Thorpe Hesley, Yorkshire.
James was employed as a colliery pony driver aged 18yrs when he enlisted into the York and Lancaster Regiment at Sheffield on the 15th May 1916.
Initially attached to the 3rd Battalion and then transferred to the 9th Battalion. He was posted to France on 23rd August 1917 and there on 30th August 1917 he was again transferred to the 1/5th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment.
His service records show that he was wounded in action on 30th November 1917 but remained at duty.
In March 1918 the Germans launched a huge offensive known as Operation Michael. This caught the allied forces unaware and severe fighting took place during which large numbers of men were killed and wounded. It is during the efforts of the British to counter the offensive that James was killed in action on 15th April 1918.
The 1/5th York and Lancaster Regiment were involved in operations around the area North of West Outre in the area of Bailleul. They were to clear up the village of Cabaret Du Saule which was believed to have been largely vacated by the enemy. When the battalion moved towards the village they came under heavy machine gun fire and their advance was repelled. Over the next couple of days they fended off persistent german attacks and eventually were withdrawn to their starting point of a few days previous. Overnight 14th – 15th April 1918 the battalion positions were subjected to intense and accurate artillery bombardment and enemy incursions into their trenches. Heavy casualties were caused and it is likely that James died as a result of this bombardment as his body was not found.
During operations between 11th – 15th april 1918 the 1/5th Battalion lost
5 Officers Killed + 18 Officers wounded
50 other ranks Killed + 254 wounded
James is remembered at the Tyne Cot Memorial Cemetery. His name appears on panel 125 to 128.
He is also remembered on the Thorpe Hesley war memorial located within the grounds of the Holy Trinity Church, Sough Hall Road, Thorpe Hesley, Rotherham.
‘ GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS, THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS ‘