‘Making Woolwich’ Their Stories: The Sweeney Family (1863-1944)

by Helen Moon

Sometimes just one member of a family can serve with a particular Regiment in the Armed Forces. But, sometimes, it can become a family tradition to serve, with multiple members and generations signing up to serve. It is just such a family that is the focus of today’s blog.

A local family, the Sweeneys, have a close connection to the Royal Artillery, with three generations serving with the Regiment.

First was Alexander Sweeney, who enlisted in the Royal Artillery in 1863 in Northern Ireland and served in Gibraltar and South Africa. He later became a Yeoman of the Guard, the bodyguards to the Royal Family.

20 years later, Alexander Joseph Sweeney served in the Royal Artillery from 1883-1902. He was awarded the Ashanti Medal for his service in the War of the Golden Stool in 1900. 

William joined the Royal Artillery in 1894, when he was just 14 years old. He was a Trumpeter but left the Army after only 3 years of service, due to poor discipline!

In 1944, Terence joined the Royal Horse Artillery and served in India, continuing the family’s connection to this famous Regiment for a third generation.


We would like to extend our thanks to Theresa Smith for sharing her family’s story with us. Would you like to discover more about your family history? Then contact or visit Greenwich Heritage Centre’s Search Room to see what we can do to help you.

Interested in the stories that you’ve seen here? Have one of your own to share? Then put it in the comments or contact Greenwich Heritage Centre on 020 8854 2452.

Tags: ra, royal artillery, making woolwich, mark tindle, rght, hfllondon, greenwich heritage centre, ghc, woolwich