Lt. Col. Swift

Lieutenant Colonel “Dolly” Swift, D.S.O.
2nd and 259th (Canadian Rifles) Battalions

Swift

The Vics took the first three games and looked like certain winners, but Stocking and Watson kept their team together and are mainly responsible for enabling Swift and Scott to tie the score and then get one ahead. Swift rallied his home and made a steady forward rush, when Grant lifted the puck, which struck “Dolly” Swift under the ear and knocked him out. This involved another fifteen minute delay.

(Toronto Globe, 31 Jan 1898, 8)

Albert Edward “Dolly” Swift was a Boer War veteran and professional soldier with twenty-years’ experience in the permanent militia. Born in Quebec City on 30 January 1866, Swift had also been an amateur hockey player in his youth. He played one season with the Montreal Victorias and thirteen with the Quebec Hockey Club during the 1880s and 90s.

In September 1914, Swift joined David Watson’s 2nd Battalion at the rank of major. Watson and Swift had been two of the star players on the Quebec Hockey Club in the 1890s. He assumed command in August 1915 after the promotion of Watson to the 5th Brigade. He led the Quebec troops through the battle of the Somme until November 1916. His wife had been killed the previous month by runaway horses in Quebec. In January 1917, Swift was promoted to brigadier general in command the 14th Brigade, which was later disbanded along with the planned 5th Division.

In September 1918, Swift was selected to command the 259th Battalion in the Siberia Expeditionary Force. He was required to revert to the rank of lieutenant colonel under General Bickford. Viewing the appointment of a noncombat militiaman over a veteran officer an injustice, the Montreal Gazette noted that “Swift being a soldier has accepted the battalion.”

Even before the battalion departed from Victoria, British Columbia, Swift had to put down a mutiny among some of his conscripts. Following the aborted Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, Swift returned from Siberia to his former rank of brigadier general with the Canadian Army.

Swift remained active in veterans’ organizations and attended annual reunions of the 2nd Battalion. At one event in 1934, a group of rowdy and drunk veterans commandeered a passing car, ordering the driver to take them to a restaurant. “Right-o” said the driver, “you birds certainly struck the right car, don’t you know me?” The men quickly recognized their former commander, “one of the best known and most popular officers in the C.E.F.”

He died on 20 April 1948.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s