Irene May (Maydie) Swann, VAD nurse.

The Schwann family came from Germany in the early 1800s and married English families. Maydie was born in Westminster, London in 1897 to Henry Sigismund (a stockbroker) and Torfrida Lois Acantha Schwann (née Huddart, born in Ballarat, Australia, the daughter of a prominent ship-owner).  In 1903 the family moved to Hangerfield, Church Lane, Witley buying it from long rerm resident Lt. Col. H J Crawfurd.  Like many families with German names, Henry changed the family name to Swann during the war due to anti-German sentiment.  The Swann children were Maydie, Gerald, Edric, Hugh, Harry and Robert.


Maydie was educated at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, finishing around 1914/15. She was well known locally for her work for the St. Nicholas Crippled Children’s Society, Farnham.  Later on in the war, she became a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse, serving between 3rd July 1916 and 19th January 1919 at Hilders Military Hospital, Shottermill which catered mainly for Canadians and received a long service stripe.  After the war, Maydie continued her work for the St. Nicholas Crippled Children’s Society.  Maydie married H J Hayman Joyce (a captain in The Border Regiment at the time) on 6th May 1923 at All Saints Church, Witley.  They had three children, Jillian, Ann and John.  She died in Taunton, Somerset on 7th December 1977.


Maydie’s father Henry and brother Edric served in The Royal Navy, her brother Gerald joined The Royal Flying Corps and was killed in action on 18th October 1917; he is buried at Varennes in France (see their stories on this web-site).


The Swann’s chauffeur, George Mann died in 1919 whilst with the RASC, see his story on this web-site.

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