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Two Families Reunited

A painting by artist Terence Cuneo depicts the actions of Captain John Makower OBE MC (Military Cross) and Sergeant William Swain MM (Military Medal), both Intelligence Corps. It hangs in the Priory Officers’ Mess at Chicksands. It illustrates the type of conditions encountered by Intelligence Corps personnel, specifically the 101 Special Wireless Section, in the Western Desert during the Second World War.

On Sunday 10th October 2021, the Military Intelligence Museum was privileged to co-host a momentous event, that of the reuniting of the Makower/Langdon and Swain families. During the family reunions the Swain family generously presented William Swain’s Military Medal to the museum. This rare and historic occasion provided the opportunity for the families to connect over their shared histories, and to discover more about John Makower’s and William Swain’s important work.

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William Swain's Military Medal is presented to the museum.

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The families gather outside the Priory, Chicksands.

Makower and Swain were awarded the Military Cross and the Military Medal respectively on the same day in 1943. Two citations are re-produced below.

Extracts from the London Gazette 18th February 1943:

Military Cross

Captain John Moritz MAKOWER, Intelligence Corps

This Officer has served in the Western Desert for nearly sixteen months. He had command of the Intelligence Section attached to 101 Special Wireless Section for the whole of that period.

His devotion to duty, his cheerfulness under all conditions, and his untiring efforts, have been an example and inspiration to all ranks.

Under-staffed and working abnormally long hours, he has contributed greatly to the records and knowledge without which such a unit is valueless. Any success of this unit as a whole has been largely due to his efforts, and his outstanding work has laid the foundation for the future work of all such units in the field. The unit concerned has often had to work under conditions of considerable danger from enemy fire, but this has made no difference to the standard of his work.

Military Medal

7686224 Sergeant William Thomas SWAIN, Intelligence Corps

This NCO has been in the Western Desert since June 1941. He was the only Intelligence NCO in a detachment of 101 Special Wireless Section which was attached to 4 Indian Division from July 1941 and since that date to 13 Corps.

During the period with 4 Indian Division, he continued on important work with a complete lack of regard for his own personal safety or comfort. He has always been cheerful in spite of such long hours which such work entails. He has helped build up an organisation which for so long was in an experimental stage, and by his initiative and efforts, he has done much to pave the way for the success of a very important branch of the Service. He had often to work under fire.

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John Makower's medals, already with the museum, sit next to William Swain's Military Medal.