29 December 1915 : Colonel Ernest Swiney

Ernest Robert Rainer Swiney was born in 1864 in Harmapore, East Indies

His father was George (Colonel, Bengali Rifles) and mother Mary. 

Location of Cheltenham in England (cc OpenStreetMap)

At the 1871 England Census, age 7, Ernest was living in 38 Lansdown Terrace, Cheltenham with his mother (a Colonel’s wife), four siblings, grandmother (a Colonel’s widow), Aunt (a Colonel’s widow) and three servants (cook, parlour maid and house maid). 

Lansdown Terrace, Malvern Road, Cheltenham by 'Rich Tea' (CC BY SA 4.0)

At the 1881 England Census, age 17 (same location as above). His father George (retired from the army) was at home in Cheltenham. 

Ernest joined the Indian Army where he served until the Great War. 

In 1891, the two Gorkha Companies were separated and the remaining six Garhwali companies were re-designated as the 39th Garhwal Regiment of the Bengal Infantry. 

On 27 February 1901 Ernest married Minnie Louisa ‘Mabel’ Swiney in Poona, Bombay. 

Their son George Derrick Beauchamp Swiney was born 6 February 1905 Lansdown, Bangalore, India. 

Officers of the 39th Garhwalis [Estaires La Bassée Road, France]. Photograph by H.D.Girdwood (Public Domain)

Ltc Col Ernest Robert Swiney, was the Commanding Officer of the 1/39th Garhwalis during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, March 1915 and was severely wounded at that time. Later these battalions also served in Mesopotamia and Salonika. He later returned to the Western Front. The Garhwalis proved themselves in Flanders and other battles in Europe, despite the heavy casualties suffered. 

Postcard of SS Persia at Aden, c.1900

He was on his way to India on the SS Persia when it was torpedoed at 1.16pm 30 December 1915 off Crete. No warning had been given. No periscope had been seen. The torpedo struck the ship opposite the boiler-room which blew up accelerating the sinking of the ship. 

Cliveden Place, London (image capture May 2012) (c) Google Street View 2021

At the time of his death the Swineys lives at 7 Cliveden Place, Sloane Square, London.

Colonel Ernest Swiney 1st Battalion, 39th Garhwal Rifles, Indian Army.

Died 30 December 1915. Age 52. 

Chatby Memorial Cemetery, Alexandria, Egypt (c) CWGC 2021

Commemorated on the Chatby Memorial, Egypt.

Sources: England Census 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911; India, Select Births and Marriages; India, Select Marriages; Bexhill War Memorial, World War 1 & 2 - Roll of Honour with detailed information © Transcribed Janet Graves, researched Martin Edwards & Chris Comber 2004; Gordon Corrigan ‘Sepoys in the Trenches’ (p.154) ; England & Wales National Probate Calendar; Global Find a Grave Index; World War I Casualties; Portsmouth Evening News 5 January 1916. 

Links: Roll of Honour, Bexhill on Sea: http://www.roll-of-honour.com/Sussex/Bexhill-on-Sea.html  

Chatby Memorial, Egypt > https://astreetnearyou.org/cemetery/142020/CHATBY-MEMORIAL

WW1 Cemeteries., Chatby Memorial, Egypt > https://www.ww1cemeteries.com/egy-chatby-memorial.html