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Major Edward James Swindell

Major Edward James SwindellMajor Swindell at his Wedding to VioletMajor Edward James Swindell, was born in 1887, in Orpington, Kent. He trained as a cabinet maker before joining the colours as a pioneer in the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment In 1906, aged 19.

Major was his Christian name, not his rank. The story goes that this unusual name came about from a short-lived tradition in his family of naming the boys after army ranks. Major was the last one, as after he was born, all the women in the family got together and put a stop to it!

On the outbreak of First World War, Major started keeping a diary. He served all through the war, from mobilization at The Curragh and being a BEF Old Contemptible, to the armistice. The diary covers most of the major battles of WW1 – starting with the Retreat from Mons/Le Cateau, the Marne/Aisne, First Ypres, Second Ypres, The Somme/Ancre, Messines and the 1918 offensives. He ended the war as the Battalion Pioneer Sgt.

On leave over Christmas 1916, Major got engaged to Violet Maud Walton of Peckham (they were first cousins) and they married in February 1918.

Shortly after the war, in 1920, Major transferred to the 1st Battalion, serving in Ireland, Guernsey (1922) and the army of occupation in Germany, returning to the UK in 1927. He left the service in 1929 and the family settled in Manchester, ending up in the Snipe Estate, Audenshaw.

Between the wars Major had various jobs. His last job was as a commissionaire with Hugh Stevenson and Sons – box manufacturers. During WW2 Major served in the works Home Guard as a lieutenant.

Major and Violet had three sons; John Edward (Jack), Major William Harry (Sugar) and William James. Jack and Sugar both died in WW2.

Major Swindell died in 1945.

A selection of Major Swindell's personal possessions including his diary  Major Swindell during the war

Download a transcript of Major’s war diary (0.46MB)