The AIF Project

Thomas Rayner SWAN

Regimental number275
Place of birthGordon Terrace, East Rainham, Kent, England
SchoolNational School, Rainham, Kent, England
Age on arrival in Australia24
ReligionChurch of England
OccupationLabourer
Marital statusSingle
Age at embarkation24
Next of kinMrs E Swan, 42 Ivey Street, Rainham, Kent, England
Previous military serviceServed in the British Navy.
Enlistment date22 August 1914
Rank on enlistmentPrivate
Unit name5th Battalion, Machine Gun Section
AWM Embarkation Roll number23/22/1
Embarkation detailsUnit embarked from Melbourne, Victoria, on board HMAT A3 Orvieto on 21 October 1914
Rank from Nominal RollCompany Sergeant Major
Unit from Nominal Roll2nd Machine Gun Battalion
Recommendations (Medals and Awards)

Mention in Despatches


Awarded, and promulgated, 'London Gazette', second Supplement, No. 29890 (2 January 1917); 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 103 (29 June 1917).

FateKilled in Action 20 September 1917
Place of death or woundingFrance
Age at death27
Age at death from cemetery records27
Place of burialNo known grave
Commemoration detailsThe Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 31), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial (so named because the road led to the town of Menin) was constructed on the site of a gateway in the eastern walls of the old Flemish town of Ypres, Belgium, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops passed on their way to the front, the Ypres salient, the site from April 1915 to the end of the war of some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

The Memorial was conceived as a monument to the 350,000 men of the British Empire who fought in the campaign. Inside the arch, on tablets of Portland stone, are inscribed the names of 56,000 men, including 6,178 Australians, who served in the Ypres campaign and who have no known grave.

The opening of the Menin Gate Memorial on 24 July 1927 so moved the Australian artist Will Longstaff that he painted 'The Menin Gate at Midnight', which portrays a ghostly army of the dead marching past the Menin Gate. The painting now hangs in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, at the entrance of which are two medieval stone lions presented to the Memorial by the City of Ypres in 1936.

Since the 1930s, with the brief interval of the German occupation in the Second World War, the City of Ypres has conducted a ceremony at the Memorial at dusk each evening to commemorate those who died in the Ypres campaign.

Panel number, Roll of Honour,
  Australian War Memorial
179
Medals

Distinguished Conduct Medal

'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He took charge of six machine guns when his officer was killed, took them forward in the advance, and placed them in excellent tactical positions. He also got into action two captured enemy machine guns. Though badly wounded, he encouraged and inspired his men by his splendid example.'
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 95
Date: 27 June 1918

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