A World War One Pledge Made Good in Upminster

Grandchildren Brad, Sylvia and Angie

The bottle of Whisky being handed over to the Landlord of The Junction (holding flowers)

The ceremony at Upminster Station included numerous police officers from other boroughs, members of the Upminster Ward Police Panel, Members from the Canadian Embassy in London and two officers dressed in World War 1 clothing

…..A remarkable and touching story stretching back to the First World War involving an acquired bottle of Whisky from an Upminster Off-Licence and a promise to one day return the bottle, has seen that pledge fulfilled 100 years later.

On Thursday 13th April 2017, members of the local Upminster Ward Police Panel and numerous Police officers attended an unusual but poignant ceremony to complete an extraordinary journey. A police sergeant named Brad Swan from the Canadian police force came to Upminster to return a bottle of Johnny Walker whisky to replace the one his grandfather Private Alfred Stephen Swan from the Canadian 4th Battalion, 1st Division C.E.F acquired after return from the Vimy frontline in France.

Private Swan was visiting a family in Upminster and on his return to the train station he popped into Victoria Wines (on the same site as the current off licence) next door to the Junction public house. Private Swan called out for service in the off licence but nobody appeared to be around. On hearing the steam train about to depart from the station he spontaneously reached over the counter and grabbed a bottle of Johnny Walker whisky and headed off to the station. In his diary many years later he wrote that if he ever returned to Upminster he would return the bottle he took.

The Canadians lost over 3,500 service men just in the taking of Vimy Ridge which started on April 9th, 1917 and although Alfred was fortunate to return to Vimy in his 90th year he never returned to Upminster. So his grandchildren, Brad, Sylvia and Angie, decided to honour his word and handed back a bottle of whisky to the landlord of the Junction pub after a short remembrance service on Upminster Station platform.

There was a very good turn out on a fresh but sunny spring day and the ceremony included numerous police officers from other boroughs, members from the Canadian Embassy in London and two officers dressed in World War 1 clothing.   It was a very touching but also fun afternoon.

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