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Author Topic: Lieutenant Andrew Nevill Swainson  (Read 303 times)
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« on: March 28, 2017, 09:23:27 AM »

Andrew Nevill Swainson
Royal Navy   H.M.S. "Flirt".

Died on the 1st June 1916

Buried in the churchyard of St Mark's Church, Little Common, Bexhill, East Sussex

This post may require a little bit more research - Lieutenant Swainson was one of six members of the crew of HMS Flirt who died in an incident on the 1st/2nd June 1916 --  and so far I haven't been able to find out what happened.  HMS Flirt is described as an "old destroyer" and she met her fate on the night of the 26th/27th October 1916 when the German Navy mounted a large raid against the Dover barrage, however, the incident which claimed the lives of Lieutenant Swainson and his comrades happened five months before.   I'll post these details for Lieutenant Swainson and link then to the other two crewmen already posted by John - then work out and do a separate post for HMS Flirt :

The Naval History Net shows :

Thursday, 1st June 1916

FLIRT, old destroyer, all drowned
 EDWARDS, Frederick W, Act/Artificer Engineer
 GODFREY, Joseph, Able Seaman, 185558 (Po)
 MARCHANT, William C A, Able Seaman, 228807 (Po)
 O'HALLORAN, Michael, Gunner
 SWAINSON, Andrew N, Lieutenant
 WILLIAMS, Alfred, Able Seaman, J 7564 (Po)

John has already posted details of  Able Seaman William Marchant  and Able Seaman J. Godfrey.

The inscription on Lieutenant Swainson's headstone states "........... ANDREW NEVILL SWAINSON, LIEUTENANT IN COMMAND H.M.S. FLIRT, WHO WAS ACCIDENTLY DROWNED OFF PEVENSEY SLUICE, 1st JUNE 1916........" .   Pevensey Sluice is part of Pevensey Levels which all forms part of Pevensey Bay - which is where, as many believe, William the Conqueror landed with his Norman Army in 1066.  So what happened to Lieutenant Swainson and his five crewmen ??

Bexhill-on-Sea Observer - Saturday 17 June 1916

Lieutenant Andrew Nevill Swainson R.N., who is officially reported to have been drowned on June 1st, and who was buried at St. Mark's Churchyard, Little Common, on Saturday, was born in 1889 and educated at Berne (Switzerland), Kings College Choir School, Cambridge, and in the Conway.  He passed into the Navy in 1905, his first ship being the "Canopus".  Afterwards he was midshipman aboard H.M.S. "Montagne", when she went on the rocks of Lundy Island, and earned high praise for his management of a boat during salvage operations.  He served in the "Defence" which escorted the Duke of Connaught to South Africa to open Parliament.  At the beginning of war he was First Lieutenant in H.M.S. "Hydra" and was present at Cuxhaven, and afterwards at the Dogger Bank action.  He was afterwards appointed Lieutenant in command of H.M.S. "Flirt".   Lieutenant Swainson, who was the son of the late Rev. Alfred Swainson, and of the late Mrs. Swainson, married in 1914, Gladys, daughter of Colonel C.A. Own

That newspaper article was published just after his death.  It appears that he made the newspapers in a different light some three years earlier, and this report was widely copied in many newspapers :

Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser - Friday 22 August 1913


Lieutenant Andrew Neville (sic) Swainson, was at Chatham naval court-martial yesterday, adjudged to be dismissed his ship and severely reprimanded for being absent without leave.  The accused pleaded that he was worried over private affairs and had hoped he could adjust them earlier than he did.

Lieutenant Swainson is not commemorated on the Little Common War Memorial.   On the "Roll of Honour-Sussex-Little Common" he does not appear under the first nominal roll but is noted later under "Buried/Commemorated locally but not on memorial".

There is one reference to Lieutenant Swainson on our Forum by Icare9 in the thread Little Common WW1 Roll of Honour R - Z

So what did happen to Lieutenant Swainson and his men ?

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« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2017, 20:14:24 PM »

Name:   Andrew Nevill Swainson
Birth Date:   9 Jan 1889 Priors Hardwick, Warwickshire
Enrolment Date:   15 May 1905
Rank:   Lieutenant
Parents Alfred & Alice M C.

Court or Trial Date:   13 Aug 1913
Vessel:   Hibernia
Reference Number:   ADM 194/49

UK Navy List: Oct 1913. on HMS Albemarle(Gunnery Training ship) he was a Lieut with seniority of 22.8.1913. Previous seniority of 22.6.1911.
                        April 1915, on HMS Hydra—Torpedo Boat Destroyer

In 1901 with parents & 3 siblings. Also 2 servants and a visiting clergyman. At 17 Church St, Chesterton, Cambridgeshire. Father a clergyman C of E.
In 1911, a Sub Lieut at Portsmouth Dockyard. On HMS Swift(Torpedo Boat Destroyer).

Probate. Of HMS Flirt and c/o Messrs Stilwell & Sons, Pall Mall. Admin to Gladys Swainson. Effects £123
He married Gladys Owen ¼ March 1914 Exeter.

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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2017, 20:27:28 PM »

Thanks Alkhamhills,  that reference number for his Court-Martial is one that I can look up the next time I get a chance to go to the National Archives.

The post for HMS Flirt, when I do it, should be quite interesting.

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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2017, 16:56:00 PM »

I went to the National Archives today and looked up Lieutenant Swainson's court martial document, and a few other things.

ADM 194/49

There are little more details that in the above posts.  Lt. Swainson's court martial entry is part of a Royal Navy book giving reference to all officers who were courtmartialed between January 1904 and December 1913.  He was court martialled on the 13th August 1913.  I've attached a couple of photographs.  His entry (second from the bottom on the 2nd photo) reads :

Number :  2989
Date and Place of trial : August 13 HMS "Albion" at Chatham
Name :  Swainson. Andrew N.
Rank  :  Lieutenant
Name of ship  :  Hibernia
Station, Squadron or Flotilla  :  Third Battle Squadron
Substance of charge preferred  :  Absent without leave
Sentence  :  Accused pleaded guilty.  Adjudged to be severely reprimanded, and to be dismissed his ship.

I was hoping to find a bit more about the actual circumstances but that appears to be all there is.  Never mind.  That's interesting enough in itself.

As I said in the opening post - Lieutenant Swainson was commander of HMS Flirt when he met his death on the 1st June 1916.  From what I can work out the ship was anchored off Pevensey Bay near Pevensey Sluice and Lieutenant Swainson and six ratings took a small boat to go towards the shore.  During the short journey the boat overturned and all were drowned.

I also said that I would do a separate post on the loss of HMS Flirt, lost later that same year - on the night of the 26th / 27th October 1916.  I have done this but it is a bigger topic.  I started to research the loss of HMS Flirt but it turned out to be bigger than I had anticipated.  For the details of the loss of HMS Flirt please see  -   The German attack on the 'Dover Barrage' 26th/27th October 1916

Attached are two photographs from the NA file ADM 194/49

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