Capt Claude De Pina Downs Swain, RHS Medal, RAF

1893 Dec 26. Born 157 Waterloo Street, Georgetown, British Guiana (Oswald Bertie Swain was also born there. they were cousins

1895 Apr 24. Mr & Mrs C S Swain, 2 children (unnamed) and a nurse leave UK for Demerara, British Guiana

1901 census at 21, Waverley Road, Portsmouth

He was educated at Westbury House, Clarendon Road, Southsea,

1909 - 1911 St Helens College, Clarendon Road and St Johns College, Southsea

1910 Jul 18. When he was 16 and a schoolboy at Southsea he saved a 4 year boy, Frank Moore, from drowning and was awarded the Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal (Case No. 37,729). He had a small sailboat and had been for a sail. As he returned to land two sisters aged 16 and 13 and their little brother begged him to take them for a sail. He agreed. One of the girls had a large brimmed hat which she took off and trailed in the water. He repeatedly asked her to stop, but she paid no attention. The hat escaped her and she made a grab after it, capsizing the boat some 400 yards from the shore. None of them could swim and they hung on to Claude who was treading water. Finally he said he could not continue and the girls begged him to save their little brother; they let go of him and drowned. Just as he felt he could hold the boy no longer an oar floated by, he caught it and put the boy on it. He himself was now exhausted and sank twice. The third time he went under only his right arm was above water with a crucifix tattooed on it. A coastguard boat had been called by people on the shore. They got him by the arm as it was going under and got the little boy who said the big boy had saved him. Uncle Ronald remembers them carrying Claude into the house, the doctor with them. Claude was exhausted and blue. It was not long before this that he had come home one day with a tattoo on each forearm - the crucifix on the right one and a dragon on the left. His mother was not very pleased! (This information came from his brother Ronald.)

1911 census at King's Service House Medical And Surgical Home, Portsmouth, where he is a patient

1912 Feb 5, 8th Isle of Wight Rifles, Princess Beatrice's Battalion, The Hampshire Regiment; Claude de Pina Downs Swain to be Second Lieutenant. Territorial commission

1913 Jun 15. There were no vacancies for promotion so he transferred to the 2nd Wessex Brigade, RFA and passed 'A' for Artillery, January, 1914. 2nd Wessex (Howitzer) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. Second Lieutenant Claude de Pina Downs Swain, from the 8th (Isle of Wight Rifles, "Princess Beatrice's") Battalion, The Hampshire Regiment' to be Second Lieutenant.

1914 Aug 29. He was promoted Lieutenant

1916 Jun 1. He served 4 months with the British Expeditionary Force in France. He was wounded and recuperated in an Officers' Hospital overlooking Dukes Beach at Kemp Town, Brighton. Whilst in the 2nd Wessex Brigade RFA he was in charge of the Administration Centre for 9 months.

1916 Sep 28 . He was seconded for duty with the Royal Flying Corps and obtained his Pilot's Certificate on that day. Wessex Brigade.—Lt. C. de P. D. Swain is now seconded for duty with the R.F C

1917 Jan 16. A letter from him to his mother and addressed from 35 Squadron, RFC, Narborough, Norfolk. He says he has leave on the 25th, but doesn't think he will fly over as he is on Headquarters Flight and hasn't a machine allotted to him. He had written to Douglas to let him know when they leave for France and Douglas would be able to get in contact with him by asking a squadron nearby who would be sure to know where they were .

1918 Jan 16. Married in Brighton to Iris Mary Emily Hillman

Photo from Charles de Pina Beauchamp Swain, the grandson of Claude de Pina Downs Swain

Interesting Hove Wedding. Lieut. Claud Swain and Miss Iris Hillman. A wedding of exceptional interest between two distinguished military families was celebrated at the Church of the Sacred heart, Norton-road, Hove on Saturday afternoon. The bride, Miss Iris Hillman. Daughter of the late Mr. Bernard Hillman and Mrs Hillman of 33 First-avenue, Hove is the descendant of an illustrious soldier, being a great-great-granddaughter of Colonel Sir Samuel Hawker, GCH. Of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, who was aide-de-camp to King George III while the Court was held at the Brighton Pavilion. As her only ornament, to complete the charming attire, she wore a wonderful old pearl necklace, given to her great-great-grandmother, Lady Hawker.(a Court favourite in her day) by Queen Adelaide. The bridegroom was Lieut. Claud Swain, RFA RFC, second son of Captain Swain RFA, and Mrs Swain of Beechgrove,. Ryde, Isle of Wight. The wedding, which was favoured by lovely weather, took place under quiet conditions, both families being in mourning for gallant eldest sons, who have fallen in a righteous war; Lieut, Leslie Hillman (the bride's brother) killed in France last year, was in the Rifle Brigade, the same battalion as his great-grandfather had fought in at Waterloo. No invitations were sent out, but the church was crowded with friends of Mrs Bernard Hillman's large social circle, and nothing could have added to the beauty of the ceremony in this most beautiful church. All was tastefully out in accordance with the youthfulness of the bride, who is just twenty-one, although she looks younger

1918 Apr 1. Note on his file says "Hon Captain"

1919 Apr 17. He applied for Colonial employment in the West Indies or any other Colony where European women and children could live. The salary he requested was £400, allowances included,

1919 May 14.Demobilised

1919 Jun 3. Transferred to unemployed list

1920 Oct 1. Joined ADRIC with service no. 654. Posted to F Coy

Involved in a raid on Irish National Insurance

1921 Feb 10. Resignation accepted on completion of 6 months service.(note he had only done 4 months)

1921 Apr 5. About to be appointed to Assistant Commissioner of Police in Gold Coast. He underwent a training course, ironically with the RIC in Dublin starting 1 May

1921 Jun 15. He went to the Gold Coast for his first tour in the Gold Coast Police. He wife joined him there. Their bungalow was struck by lightning several times and on one occasion when they lived up-country the lightning ran along the electricity cables and set fire to their mosquito net.

He appears to have been assigned to the Escort Police (reference)

" These are clothed in khaki uniform with red fez cap, but they do not wear boots. They are illiterates, and are mainly natives of the Northern Territories and Hausa-speaking tribes of the same types which formed the Gold Coast Constabulary of fifty years ago and the Gold Coast Regiment of to-day. Many old soldiers join the Escort Police and over 400 are to- day serving as police non-commissioned officers and constables. These Escort Police are generally of a more military class than their literate comrades in blue uniform. They are employed on all duties not requiring reading or writing, are especially useful on escort duties, guards, patrols and the like, and are capable of coping with any unusual disturbance. On ceremonial occasions they can turn out a very creditable guard of honour or parade. Many of them have seen active service in Togoland, the Cameroons and East Africa

For police administration purposes there are five provinces with 78 police stations. One Senior Commissioner of Police is responsible for Ashanti and the Northern Territories and the other administers the three provinces in the Colony and Togoland. Each province has a Commissioner of Police, and is divided into districts where Assistant Commissioners of Police are posted.

An idea may be obtained of the far-flung character of the recruitment of the European members of the force when it is stated that the records of the thirty-seven European officers include former service in one or more of the following seventeen forces within the Empire: Bechuanaland Police; British Guiana Police; British South Africa Police; Cape Mounted Riflemen; Isle of Man Constabulary; Johannesburg Mounted Police; Kenya Police; Malta Police; Metropolitan Police; Natal Police; Nigerian Police; North Borneo Police; Transvaal Town Police; Trinidad Police; Royal Irish Constabulary; Royal North West Mounted Police; and the Royal Ulster Constabulary; also in a number of regiments of the Imperial Army."

Photo from Charles de Pina Beauchamp Swain, the grandson of Claude de Pina Downs Swain

1922 Jul 27 Arrives UK from Accra, Gold Coast . His occupation is "police"

1922 Nov 1. Arrives at Gold Coast on a new tour.

1923 Jul 1. Claude wrote to his mother from Tarquah. He had ten months to do before his home leave was due. He was going to be stationed at a place called Ascim in August and was about to take some leave shortly as his wife was sailing on the 8th July in a week's time and he was going to see her off at Seccondie. Presumably wives were not allowed at Ascim. An interesting snippet in the letter says they were drawing the raffle in two days time for a Ford car. He says we have not done too badly as we have 154 tickets and the car cost £125. They had a "clover-leaf" Citroen, so-called because it had two seats in the front and one in the back.

1923 Dec 23 Arrives in UK from Gold Coast where he is "Commissioner"

1925 Jan 1. Leaves UK for Barbados. 2 Windsor Flats, Shaftesbury Rd, Southsea . He is a "sub inspector" living in the West Indies and travels alone. He went to Antigua as a Sub-Inspector in the Leeward Islands Police. His wife remembers the trouble he had with the natives setting fire to the sugar cane and how Claude had to chase them.

1925 Sep 22. He caught dysentery and died in Holberton Hospital, Antigua, British West Indies

Scooter Thornon emailed me in 2017 "I have just located the grave of Claude de Pina Downs Swain in the St. John's Public Cemetery, Antigua. His monument is in terrible condition, broken and overgrown. Not what such a man deserves. I am going to try and contact someone here about repairing it."