Boer War and WWI soldier remembered

Local resident Steve Swords is the very proud custodian of his Grandfather’s medals.

Steve’s grandfather William Edward Swords was born at Mudgee, NSW towards the end of 1879.

On January 24, 1901 he joined the Australian Contingent to South Africa (Boer War 1899-1902), as a trooper in the NSW Mounted Rifles.

His war would come to an end when, during an engagement at Bethel, he was wounded in the leg on February 2,1902 and repatriated back to Australia.

Just 12 years later, on July 28 1914, William was amongst the first to enlist on August 27.

His medical examination on September 26 noted a bullet mark on his left shin, (a legacy from the Boer War). 

He sailed, from Sydney, on the HMAT A8 ‘Argyllshire’. The troops expected to be sailing to England but instead they were sent to Egypt.

In 1915, now a gunner in 1st Field Artillery Brigade Ammunition Column, he joined the Mediterranean Exploration Force on April  4. The same month, the Australian troops were to land at ‘Anzac Cove’ on April 25. 

But by July 28 he was admitted to the Alexandria General Hospital with a poisoned hand.

By late August he was admitted to Bethnal Green Hospital in London with a gunshot wound to his right hand.

Towards Christmas 1915, all the troops were given a present; a tin (pictured) containing fruit cake and cigarettes. William received his gift while he was recovering in hospital. He recalled that a Princess (most likely Princess Mary) visited the hospital to distribute the gifts.

William was eventually expatriated to Australia and discharged on October 4, 1916 as medically unfit.

His medals have been passed down to Bega Valley resident Steve Swords who will proudly wear them this Anzac Day. 

Pat Raymond from the Bega Valley Genealogy Society has also written a book ‘Remembering Bega Valley Servicemen of WW1 – Battlefield and War related Deaths. This book gives all details of these men and is available from Ursula Hunt 64953566, special price $30.

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