Swan’s medals

This month, museum volunteer, John Edgar, has chosen the medals of Lieutenant Colonel Norman Edward Swan.

“Whenever I am in the Medal Room I always notice how this group of medals stand out; they are such an interesting mix, and seem to chronicle a varied and distinguished career.



They indicate that he must have been an officer of considerable ability. Choosing them for Object of the Month has given me the opportunity to look more closely at Lt Col Swan.

Lt Col N E SwanHe was born in Middlesbrough on 27th September 1876 and was commissioned in to the Green Howards on 1st December 1897.

His first spell of active service was in the Tirah Expedition in 1898 for which he got the Tirah bar to his first medal which is the India Medal 1895-1902.

The 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-1920 and the Victory Medal 1914-1919 are the group of three awarded for service in the First World War.

He was the Brigade Major of 63 Brigade during the Gallipoli campaign at Suvla Bay but his fighting career was terminated by a Turkish bullet and he was evacuated.

He was a staff officer in Palestine in 1916 before joining the staff of the British Mission to Portugal.

The other decorations are the Croix de Guerre and two Portuguese awards which I assume he earned for his stint as a military attaché in Lisbon. The Portuguese decorations are the Military Order of Avis 2nd class and Chevalier of the Legion of Honour conferred by the President of the Portuguese Republic.

Lt Col Swan took command of 2nd Battalion Green Howards in May 1923 but did not go with them to Jamaica. I wonder if his injuries sustained at Suvla Bay meant that he did not feel up to the rigours of commanding a battalion.”

Lt Colonel Swan died in London in 1933.  His medals are on display at the museum.