Harlebeke New British Cemetery, Belgium

A Rededication Service was held for 2nd Lieutenant Bertie Swallow, Lancashire Fusilliers.

 

Killed in action on 31 October 1918. He had originally joined the Royal Field Artillery on 9 December 1915 before moving to the 18th Bn Lancashire Fusilliers on 5 September 1918. He was reported wounded on 31 October 1918 (although his family did not receive the news that he had died on that date until 28 November). The rest of his battalion would have had to carry on, leaving him behind. They would not have been able to take their wounded with them and, due to their subsequent movements, would not have known what had become of him. At the time, there was no burial location recorded or even any evidence that his body had been recovered and buried locally.

 

We now know that he is buried as an unknown officer of the Lancashire Fusiliers in Harlebeke New British Cemetery in Belgium. Records from this cemetery burial show that the original field burial location was just east of the village of Kloosterhoek, where there were no British Forces until the 18th Lancashire Fusiliers arrived on 31 October 1918. When te remains of an unknown officer of the Lancashire Fusiliers were uncovered, they were found buried very close to 13 other soldiers of the 18th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers who were all known to have died on 31 October.

 

There are only 4 other Lancashire Fusiliers officers who were killed within a few weeks of Bertie Swallow's death and who have no known grave, all of them can be excluded as their battalions were between 30 - 100 kilometers away.

 

All this shows that there is no other candidate for the unknown grave in Harlebeke. No other officer of the Lancashire Fusiliers is listed as missing or killed in the relevant place and time period. His field burial site was not the scene of any armed conflict until the arrival of the Lancashire Fusiliers on 31 October 1918. By elimination, Plot ii, A, 11 at Harlebeke New British Cemetery contains the mortal remains of 2 Lt Bernie Swallow.

 

Bertie was born in about 1885, son of Walter and Harriet Swallow of Edinburgh Grove, Armley, Leeds. He still has some distant family in South Yorkshire.

 

Harlebeke
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