News story: Grave of Yorkshire born WW1 second lieutenant finally rededicated nearly a century later

Verifying the research submitted was crucial in identifying the final resting place of Second Lieutenant (2 Lt) Bertie Swallow of the 18th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, who was killed in action due to the injuries he suffered on 31 October 1918. Almost a century after he was buried as an ‘Unknown Officer of the Lancashire Fusiliers’, a rededication service was held on 25 July 2017 at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Harlebeke New British Cemetery in Belgium.

The service, which was a fitting tribute to the sacrifice made by 2 Lt Swallow, was organised by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), part of Defence Business Services, and was conducted by the Reverend Stuart Richards, Chaplain to 1st Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

Louise Dorr, JCCC said:

It is thanks to a member of the public who has submitted all of his research that this grave has been able to be identified.

I’m delighted that we have been able to pay tribute to 2 Lt Bertie Swallow here this morning and to give him back his name.

2 Lt Swallow joined the Royal Field Artillery on 9 December 1915 before moving to the 18th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers on 5 September 1918. Although he was reported wounded on 31 October 1918, his family didn’t receive the news that he had died on that date until 28 November 1918. At the time, there was no burial location recorded or even any evidence that his body had been recovered and buried locally.

JCCC now know that Bertie Swallow was buried as an ‘Unknown Officer of the Lancashire Fusiliers’ in Harlebeke New British Cemetery in Belgium. Records from this cemetery show that the original burial location was just east of the village of Kloosterhoek, where there were no British forces until the 18th Lancashire Fusiliers arrived on 31 October 1918.

There are only 4 other Lancashire Fusiliers officers who were killed within a few weeks of Bertie Swallow’s death and who have no known grave, all of them can be excluded as their battalions were between 30-100 kilometres away.

This proved to the JCCC that there is no other candidate for the unknown grave in Harlebeke. No other officer of the Lancashire Fusiliers is listed as missing or killed in the relevant place and time period. His field burial site was not the scene of any armed conflict until the arrival of the Lancashire Fusiliers on 31 October 1918. By elimination, this confirmed the final resting place of 2 Lt Bertie Swallow.

Reverend Stuart Richards delivers the rededication service for 2 Lt Swallow. Crown Copyright, All rights reserved
Reverend Stuart Richards delivers the rededication service for 2 Lt Swallow. Crown Copyright, All rights reserved

Reverend Stuart Richards, said:

It is a privilege to tend the flame of remembrance and to ensure that those who made the supreme sacrifice a century ago have a memorial and a name for future generations.

Almost 100 years after he died, 2 Lt Swallow’s grave has been rededicated and a new headstone bearing his name has been provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

News story: Armed Forces Muslim Forum Celebrates Eid with the Muslim Community

Defence Minister, Earl Howe, Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, and Commander Home Command, Lieutenant General Bashall, hosted a dinner centred on the theme of being driven and united by common values and purpose.

Earl Howe gave the keynote speech, in which he highlighted how the Armed Forces and Muslim community often experience stereotyping and misconceptions.

Defence Minister Earl Howe said:

It is wonderful to be celebrating the end of Ramadan together, and in doing so celebrating the important role the Muslim community plays in our Armed Forces.

There is far more that unites us than divides us, and by working together we are building a diverse force which is therefore a stronger force, enhancing our cultural and linguistic skills for our operations at home and abroad.

In his speech, Earl Howe praised the Muslim community for their generosity and resilience in the face of recent events, including the devastating Grenfell Tower and the Finsbury Park attack. The Minister then turned to the “unknown” humanitarian efforts of our Armed forces, where personnel show the same values at home and on operations overseas.

Brigadier Peter Cameron, from the MOD’s Operation Directorate, gave a presentation on the UK Armed Forces’ recent humanitarian operations before Mr Aamer Naeem, CEO of UK based Muslim charity, Penny Appeal, highlighted their humanitarian activities overseas and endorsed the Armed Forces for the values they share.

Sergeant Ahmed Dhalai described his experience of helping to rescue migrants off the coast of North Africa, where he was able to use his linguistic skills and cultural background to carry out his tasks compassionately, showing the importance of building a diverse force.

Colonel Steve Davies spoke about his role in efforts to foster peace and security in South Sudan, and Major Naveed Muhammad spoke about his duties in the fight against Ebola in Sierra Leone.

News story: Defence Minister announces helicopter work will stay in the UK

Options had been considered to relocate the fabrication work for future AW159 helicopters orders – the export version of the Wildcat helicopters already in service with the British Army and Royal Navy – overseas.

After careful joint analysis with the Ministry of Defence, Leonardo Helicopters in Yeovil has confirmed that it will carry out all future fabrication for the AW159 helicopter in the UK, with much of this work being undertaken at its Somerset facility – an agreement that will sustain 40 highly skilled jobs across the UK-based supply chain.

Wildcat is a highly versatile aircraft, capable of a wide a range of tasks over land and sea. The Royal Navy’s maritime Wildcat forms the core of the UK’s Frigate and Destroyer aviation capability and performs tasks including Anti-Surface and Submarine Warfare, force protection, transport and the vital information, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) role. Similarly, the Army variant performs reconnaissance, command and control, force protection, and transport roles in a wide variety of environments.

Minister for Defence Procurement Harriett Baldwin said:

I am delighted that a solution for UK-based fabrication for the AW159 helicopter has been identified between the MOD and Leonardo Helicopters. An agreement that secures Yeovil as the home of AW159 and Wildcat production and maintenance in the UK.

This work has not only helped sustain 40 of highly skilled jobs within the UK, but will act as a positive boost for the company and, through improved cost-effectiveness, their export customers. I would also like to pay tribute to Marcus Fysh MP, who has worked tirelessly to secure this great result.

Over a decade ago the MOD bought, as part of the 2006 Wildcat (then Future Lynx) demonstration and manufacturing contract, a number of specialised jigs and tooling for the fabrication of the AW159 Wildcat Helicopters. These essential parts are used to ensure airframe alignment, mould, patterns and manufacturing tools and gauges. These will now be used by Leonardo to carry out the fabrication work in the UK.

The MOD’s continuing commitment to the Wildcat was also highlighted earlier this year, when a £271 million five year deal was signed to deliver a range of support and training services for the UK’s entire fleet of 62 AW159 Wildcat helicopters, securing 500 jobs at Leonardo’s facilities in Yeovil and Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.

News story: Chief of the Defence Staff strengthens bonds with India

Under the umbrella of the 2015 Defence and International Security Partnership (DISP), Sir Stuart met senior Indian military figures, including the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), currently Admiral Sunil Lanba; the Chief of the Army Staff, General Bipin Rawat; and the General Officer Commanding in Chief Eastern Command, Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi. Sir Stuart also met with the Indian Defence minister, Shri Arun Jaitley, and the National Security Advisor, Shri Ajit Doval.

Sir Stuart’s exchanges centred on the continued growing defence relationship through the recently established Capability Partnerships, the joint threats of terrorism and extremism faced globally, upcoming exercises and UN Peacekeeping among other topics.

UK Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach said:

My interactions with the civilian and political officials have served to underpin our already strong bonds. Our shared values provide a platform on which, as partners, we can contribute to regional and global security and jointly develop cutting edge capabilities for our armed forces. Whether beating terror, securing peace and stability through better peacekeeping or sharing operational knowledge and technology, as defence partners, we are world beaters.

The Chief of the Defence Staff visited Delhi and Kolkata over four days. In addition to meetings with senior military and civilian officials, he laid a wreath at India Gate in commemoration of the 74,000 Indians who served and died in the First World War.

Chief of Defence Staff Sir Stuart Peach presents a memento to Admiral Sunil Lanba PVSM AVSM ADC, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC). Copyright British High Commission India.
Chief of Defence Staff Sir Stuart Peach presents a memento to Admiral Sunil Lanba PVSM AVSM ADC, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC). Copyright British High Commission India.

Sir Stuart also interacted with students at the prestigious National Defence College, India’s principal establishment for strategic learning for senior Indian and selected international Defence officers. His trip was completed by a visit to the Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd, the premier Warship building Company in India.

The UK’s and India’s Armed Forces continue to benefit from a close relationship and Sir Stuart’s visit fortifies this. Both countries’ Armed Forces are undergoing a transformation in some guise and the learning experiences from each other in areas like the joint aircraft carrier projects, to combatting terrorism, develops best practice between global partners.

News story: Defence Secretary visits the nation’s future Flagship

The Defence Secretary landed by Merlin helicopter on the deck of the new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is currently on sea trials off the coast of Scotland. He met with members of the crew and thanked them for their contribution to UK defence.

While addressing the Ship’s Company, Sir Michael announced the Britain’s second aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, will be officially named at a ceremony in Rosyth on 8th September 2017.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said:

Our carrier programme is a clear demonstration of British power and commitment to our global standing. With two aircraft carriers we will have one available at all times, providing a world-class carrier strike capability. They offer a prodigious promise to future generations of our determination to continue fronting up to aggression for years to come.

The magnificent HMS Queen Elizabeth provides us with power on a scale we have never seen before. Protecting us for the next half a century, she will be a highly versatile and potent force, capable of both humanitarian and disaster relief and high-end war fighting.

The Defence Secretary landed by Merlin helicopter on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The Defence Secretary landed by Merlin helicopter on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Four weeks ago today HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed for the first time from Rosyth, under the authority of the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, which is responsible for building and delivering the ship to the Royal Navy. Celebrating a number of firsts as we bring the ship to life, she has now had her first helicopter landing, first passenger boat transfer and first port call in Invergordon. The Ship’s Company, a crew of over 700 Royal Navy and 200 industry personnel, have settled in well to the routine of ship’s life.

The initial period of sea trials, expected to last around six weeks, will test the fundamentals of the ship. The trials are monitoring speed, manoeuvrability, power and propulsion, as well as undertaking weapons trials and additional tests on her levels of readiness. Last week the Defence Secretary announced the name of the first Type 26, HMS Glasgow, as part of the new City class frigates that will form the backbone of the Royal Navy until the 2060s.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to enter Portsmouth to be handed over to the Royal Navy later this year.

The Defence Secretary landed by Merlin helicopter on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The Defence Secretary landed by Merlin helicopter on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth.