Private Calvin Anderson Swan

Calvin Swan was born in West New Annan, Nova Scotia on May 3,1892, the son of Walter Foster and Jennet (Anderson) Swan. He enlisted in the 106th Battalion of the Nova Scotia Rifles at Trenton, Nova Scotia on June 15, 1916. He was a member of "B" Company based in Pictou.

On July 15, 1916 Calvin left for England on board the Empress of Britain with his brother Corporal James Swan,three friends from New Annan and the rest of the 106th. They arrived in England on July 25 and trained at Shornecliffe until November 15 . The 106th was broken up and its men used to reinforce other units. Calvin and his three New Annan friends became members of the 87th Battalion, the Canadian Grenadier Guards (Montreal),and left for France on November 15, 1916.

His brother Albert remained in England and became a member of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps, the "Emma Gees". They never saw each other again.

The 87th Battalion spent the next month moving up to the front. There was very little food and no billets . They stayed in barns or railway cars, packed in like cattle.They bought some food from locals and ate vegetables from farmers fields. They were cold, wet and hungry. The Brigadier gave them a lecture on smiling. They went into the line on December 21, 1916.

The 87th Battalion was part of the Fourth Division. At Vimy they had the task of capturing Hill 145 on April 9th. When the attack began, the 87th suffered fifty percent casualties within six minutes. Among them was Calvin Anderson Swan. According to family anecdote when his personal effects were sent home, which consisted of his Bible and a picture of his former fiance that were both stored in his left breast pocket, they had been pierced by a bullet.

Calvin had been in the army a little less than ten months. He lies buried close to where he fell,in Cemetery #2, Alley 1-c, plot#30, at Vimy Ridge. Two of his New Annan friends were also killed: Lance Corporal Arthur C McLennan at Hill 70 and Private Roland Byers at Raillaincourt.

On June 19,1921 the Swan Memorial Church Bell, a gift from Mr and Mrs Walter F. Swan to the New Annan Presbyterian Church, was dedicated in memory of eight men from that district who died in the Great War.

The following item appeared in The Truro Daily News after the war.

(Inserted by a friend)
Swan- In loving memory of Private Calvin Swan of the Canadian Infantry who was killed in action at the battle of Vime Ridge, April 9, 1917,while fighting for King and Country. This gallant young soldier was a native of West New Annan, Colchester County, Nova Scotia, a son of Mr and Mrs Walter F. Swan and a general favourite in the community. He enlisted in the 106th at Truro, June, 1916. He died that others might live.

This account was submitted by Calvin Swan's nephew, Ian Swan.

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