Private Allen Whitty Swift 15/868

Private Allen Whitty Swift
15/868

Born. 1890, Leeds.
Killed In Action July 20th 1918.
Attached 2/5th West Yorkshire.

Allen Whitty Swift lived at 58 Lloyd Street, Burley, Leeds, West Yorkshire. A cabinet maker by trade, joined the 'Pals' on the 6th September 1914.

A talented, artistic and well educated young man who, prior to 1914 had been a keen amateur conjurer. Known to his friends as ‘Dean' (which was a reference to Dean Swift, the 19th century author of Gullivers Travels), he survived the 1st July 1916 (Battle of The Somme) although was wounded with the ‘Pals’ in May 1917. Recovering at Grand Duchess Georges Hospital, in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. He was evacuated to the Grand Duchess Georges Hospital, in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. On recovering from his wounds was sent back to France attached to 2/7th Battalion (Leeds Rifles) West Yorks and later transferred to 2/5th West Yorks.

Pte Allen Whitty Swift was killed in action with this unit on July 20th 1918 aged 28.

During his military service he kept many sketch books. Several have survived and been handed down to relatives and with the kind permission of his nephew, an example is shown below right.

The accompanying letter to the sketch reads:

"During May, 6 of us were employed by the RE. (Royal Engineers) building huts in 'W' wood (see footnote) for a month. We had a delightful time and thoroughly enjoyed the change. We used to do many little things to brighten the days. One day, we managed to purchase some rhubarb and after tea we set to and stewed it. For a stew jar we used an old lime juice bottle with the top knocked off. We managed to get sugar and the tin of Ideal milk we squared the cook for. I can assure you the change of diet was most acceptable. One gets a little stalled of marmalade and jam day after day. We spent a most delightful hour sat around the fire whilst the rhubarb was stewing, everything peaceful and quiet. My other chums were Robin Briggs, Jackson, Metcalfe, Turner and Chris. Robin made a trap and caught a splendid wood pigeon. They also tried for a young deer but no success.........."

Swift's portrayal of the anticipated 'Rhubarb Feast'. The men can be seen huddled around the lime juice bottle (bottom right).

*Footnote - "W" wood was Bois Du Warnimont, east of the Village of Authie, about 7 miles back from the front line at Serre, France.

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