SWARBRICK, William  68239

Medal Index Card:
Swarbrick William, East Lancs. Regiment, Private, 17808
Lancashire Fusiliers 68239
Labour Corps, Private, 651109
Norfolk Regiment 73839

Victory medal
British medal
1915 Star

Theatre of war: France
Date of entry therein: 4th September 1915

Extract from the medal roll WO329/2844
1914 1915 Stars Labour Corps
17808 Pte. Swarbrick William
Date of disembarkation: 4th September 1915 [1] 651109 Pte.

Extract from the medal roll WO 329/849
Norfolk Regiment
73839 Pte. Swarbrick William
9th East Lancs Regiment 17808 Pte.
3rd Lancashire Fusiliers 68239 Pte.
Labour Corps - 651109

The extracts from the relevant medal rolls show that William seems to have begun his army service with the 9th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment, arriving in France on 4th September 1915. However, see below for his previous service. The 9th Battalion had been formed at Preston in September 1914. They trained at Lewes and then Seaford. By the end of 1914 they were at Eastbourne; in April 1915 they returned to Seaford and then, finally, moved to Aldershot in June 1915. The Battalion then went to France, landing at Boulogne on 4th / 5th September, which agrees with the entry on William's card. Later that year, in November, the Battalion moved to Salonika, arriving there on 5th November 1915.

William at some point was transferred to the 3rd Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. The 3rd Battalion were a reserve battalion and never left the UK, so it is likely that William had been injured and, when recovered, had been sent to the 3rd Battalion to regain fitness. He then seems to have been transferred to the Labour Corps, which would suggest that he was not regarded as combat fit. According to Phil Evans, [via Great War Forum 5/1/13] William's Labour Corps number, according to No Labour, No Battle, was in a batch issued in October 1918, mainly to men who served in the companies tasked with guarding German Prisoners of War. The last reference, to the Norfolk Regiment, would seem to suggest that in the last stages of the war, or even immediately following the Armistice, he had recovered enough of his former fitness to be again suitable for regular infantry service.

William Swarbrick was born on 27th May 1886 in Preston, the illegitimate son of Jane Eliza Swarbrick. Jane Eliza Swarbrick married John Ashton in 1900 at Preston, but appear to have had a daughter, Annie, before they married. In 1901 William was living at 34, Upper Walker Street, Preston, with his widowed grandmother Emma [Bateman] Swarbrick and working as a nail maker. He has not been found in the 1911 census. The 7th Service Battalion of the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment was formed at Lancaster in September 1914. Given that he had previously served in the Territorial Army it is curious that William was discharged after just 26 days as not being likely to become an efficient soldier. Equally curious is that the Army were clearly trying to find him some six months after his discharge, had they changed their minds, or did they not realise that he had been discharged and then subsequently re-enlisted with the East Lancs Regiment?
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