Samuel Swinson was born in the village of Holbrook near Belper,Derbyshire in 1870. Samuel's parents were Joseph and Jane.Joseph Swinson was a coal miner. Confirmed siblings for Samuel are Aaron, Mary, Henry and Albert. By the time of the 1891 census Samuel had joined the British Army. In that year he was a drummer with the 1st Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers who were based in Woolwich at that time. The following year he married Mary Ann Putt back in Belper on January 20th 1892.
Samuel and Mary Ann had eight children together - Susan, Dorothy, Claude, Samuel, Harry, Charlie and Charlotte. The name of the other child who must have died in infancy is as yet unknown.
It's a mystery as to when Samuel left the army - it's possible that he served with the Northumberland Fusiliers during the Boer War but given the various dates of his children's births perhaps that's unlikely. The Swinsons lived in the Belper area until some point between 1904 and 1909 when they moved to Worksop. In 1911 the Swinsons were living in that town and Samuel was working as a Stove Grate Moulder.
There is no mention of Samuel in the Oldham Chronicle during WW1 but a casualty list for the Lancashire Fusiliers printed in the Manchester Evening News on September 9th 1916 has his hometown as being Royton. When he moved there is unknown. Samuel re-enlisted in the army in Chadderton in June (or perhaps very early July) 1915. He became a member of the 17th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers who had been formed in Bury in December 1914 and after that had been based in Chadderton. They left the town in June 1915 for Masham in Yorkshire and moved again that August to Cholderton in Wiltshire.The 17th Lancashire Fusiliers were one of the army's new Bantam Battalions. These were for men under 5 foot 3 inches tall (the old, prewar, army height restriction) and were drawn from industrial and coal mining areas where short stature was no sign of weakness and probably also rather more common. Presumably Samuel Swinson's height was borderline 5ft 3 as he had been a pre war regular.
Samuel and his comrades left England in January 1916 and arrived at Le Havre on the 29th of that month. The battalion were from then in and out of frontline duty and also carrying out further training. By the time the Battle of the Somme began on July 1st 1916 they had not been involved in any significant actions. They were to get their first taste of battle when 10 officers and 460 other ranks were provided as carrying parties for the 89th Infantry Brigade in it's attack on Guillemont on July 30th. The attack, on the very heavy fortified village, was a failure with many casualties from the 89th and 90th Brigades. Samuel Swinson was one of the men from the 17th Lancashire Fusiliers to be killed, his body either never found or identified. In the same fighting Alfred Bardsley and Albert Hill from Royton were also killed.
The Swinson family seem to have lived across the Royton and Crompton areas after the war. Samuel's widow Mary Ann, by then a resident of High Crompton, died in 1949 aged 77 and is buried in Crompton Cemetery. Samuel is commemorated on the memorials of both Royton and Crompton.
Four other men of the 17th Lancashire Fusiliers are listed as being killed the same day as Samuel. One, George Elliott, was born in Royton. George seems to have been living in Oldham by the time of his enlistment - he appears on that town's memorial rather than Royton's and was also on that of the All Saints Mission Church in Royton. The four men were:
BALL WALTER 19 Private 14307 from Bolton
ELLIOTT GEORGE Private 14496 born in Royton, enlisted in Oldham
NIGHTINGALE JOHN Serjeant 17184 from Preston
STRANG JAMES 2nd Lt.
Date of Death:30/07/1916
Panel Ref:Pier&Face 3C&3D