Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 2, 1898
Place of BirthKeewatin, Ontario
CountryCanada
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinHenry Ross Swan, father, Kemptville, Ontario
Trade / CallingHigh school student/Clerk
ReligionPresbyterian
Service Details
Regimental Number410943
Service Record
Battalion38th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentOttawa, Ontario
Age at Enlistment16
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 25, 1949
Age at Death51
Buried AtWoodland Cemetery, London, Ontario
PlotVeterans Section A Row 13 Number 25

Swan, Douglas Alan

Douglas Alan Swan was born on 2 April 1898 in Keewatin, Ontario, a small town near present day Kenora in northwestern Ontario. His father Henry Ross Swan, the son of Allan Swan and Cecilia Brymner, was born in 1865 in Greenock, Renfrewshire in Scotland. He had immigrated to Canada along with two of his brothers in 1897, arriving in Quebec on the Norwegian on 10 July. First settling in Winnipeg, according to an online family tree Henry married Douglas’ mother Elizabeth Jamieson on 18 June 1895 in VanKleek Hill, Prescott, Ontario. Born in VanKleek Hill in 1867, Elizabeth was the daughter of Dougald Jamieson and Jessie Ferguson. Shortly after the marriage the couple moved to Keewatin where Henry managed a bank, likely the Bank of Ottawa. While in Keewatin they gave birth to their first child Cecilia Jessie in 1896 followed by Douglas. From there the family moved to Kemptville in time for the 1901 census. In Kemptville Henry managed the Bank of Ottawa. Children born to the family in Kemptville were twins Joscelyn Mary and Florence Isabella (1901), Genesta (1902), Henry Brymner (aka William)(1906), and Gerald Ferguson (1909). Sadly Elizabeth died in 1912 as a result of a fall on some ice.

Douglas enlisted with the 38th Battalion on 24 February 1915 in Ottawa. At the time he was living in Kemptville and attending high school although he gave his occupation as clerk. Likely to appear to be older, his date of birth was given as 2 April 1894. Previous military service was given as one year with the 56th Regiment.

The 38th Battalion was mobilized in Ottawa and recruited in Ottawa, Brockville, Perth, Prescott and Alexandria. The battalion embarked at Montreal on 1 August 1915 aboard the Caledonian, disembarking in Bermuda on 12 August for garrison duty. On 10 May 1916, in Bermuda, Douglas was examined for active service in France and found fit. He, along with other members of the battalion, arrived in Plymouth, England on 9 June 1916, proceeding overseas with the 38th Battalion in mid August. On 24 February 1917 Douglas was granted permission to wear one Good Conduct Badge.

When the attack began at Vimy Ridge on April 9, the task assigned the 38th Battalion was an objective well over the crest of the ridge and before evening all objectives had been gained. The 38th was relieved on April 13th and was withdrawn to Hersin-Coupigny for reorganization. They returned to the line on April 19, taking up a position east of Vimy Ridge near Lens. A short time later Douglas was buried by a shell explosion, eventually dug out. Suffering from a concussion and aphonia (laryngitis) he was invalided to England and admitted to the Northampton War Hospital on May 10th. In mid June he was transferred to the Granville Canadian Special Hospital at Ramsgate, on to the Military Hospital Courts Farm in Warlingham in August (vdg), and then to the Canadian Convalescent Hospital Woodcote Park in Epson in late October. It was found that Douglas was suffering from neurasthenia and also had endocarditis as a result of rheumatism. After going through a series of transfers in England it was decided that he would be returned to Canada. He arrived in Halifax aboard the Mauritania on 15 April 1918 and was discharged from service as medically unfit on 20 June in Kingston. At the time of his discharge his intended residence was given as Ottawa.

Douglas’s father Henry enlisted with the 109th Battalion in December of 1915. He served with the Canadian Army Pay Corps in England, returning to Canada in September of 1919.

Douglas immigrated to the United States in 1920, crossing the border to take up residence in Detroit, Michigan on 14 February. A short time later, on February 20th, he married Blanche Lacey. Born on 9 September 1893 in Ottawa, Blanche was the daughter of Patrick Joseph Lacey and Mary Legendre. Sadly later that year the couple gave birth to a stillborn infant. At the time of the 1930 US census Douglas and Blanche were living in Highland Park just outside of Detroit where Douglas was working as an accountant in an auto factory. They later returned to Canada, first living in Toronto and then in London, Ontario where Douglas was the paymaster for the Royal Canadian Army Pay Corps, rank of Major.

Douglas died suddenly on 25 March 1949 in London. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife Blanche and siblings Cecilia, Joscelyn (Richard) London, Genesta, Florence, Henry and Gerald of Ottawa. He was predeceased by his mother, and his father in 1927. Cecilia died in 1960, Joscelyn in 1967, Florence in 1965, Genesta in 1970 and Gerald in 1961. Later that year after Douglas’ death Blanche crossed into the United States on her way to her sister Mabel Turgeon in Detroit, intended stay given as less than six months on the border crossing record. Further trace of her was not found. Douglas is interred in the Veteran’s section of the Woodland Cemetery in London.

By Judy Stockham

Swan-Douglas-Alan-2

Grave marker photograph by Art Currie, findagrave.com.

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