5 Feb 2012

Part 18: My Grandfather

Arthur Swinfield was born on 27th March 1883 at Barossa Common in Camberley, Surrey. He was the third son but the only child of William and Elizabeth to survive to adulthood. His teenage brother, William Thomas, died in the Boer War.

1901 census of Earl Shilton
He joined the army after 1901, when he had been making boots in the ancestral home in Leicestershire, and served in India. No attestation and discharge records exist for him at the National Archives in WO97.

By 1911, after leaving the army and returning to England, he was working as footman to Major General Charles Matthew Griffith and his family at Maes Gwyn in Winchester, Hampshire. The General had been born at Poona, India, and perhaps they had met on the subcontinent.

1911 census of Winchester
In September 1912, he successfully applied for a job as a butler at the Royal Military College (later the Royal Military Academy), Sandhurst. The following year, on 4th August 1913, he married Edith Elizabeth Worsfold at St Michael’s Church, York Town, Camberley. He was then 30 and working as a waiter.

His WWI medal card

He enlisted for WWI in December 1914 and saw action in France with the Leicestershire and Lincolnshire Regiments. Once again, no records have survived to document his service in the Great War in either WO363 or WO364 at TNA.  
Sandhurst service record 
After the war, he returned to Sandhurst where he was to work until January 1925 according to his recently released employment record. For some reason, that records him as C. Swinfield and he was earning a little more than £2-10s per week after more than 10 years service there! While there, he was a member of the Rifle Club and won a spoon in one of their monthly competitions.

At that time, the marriage finally produced issue. Their only child, Reginald Ernest, who was to become my father, was born on 11th January 1925, almost twelve years after their wedding.

In his retirement, Arthur was a keen supporter of Camberley Football Club and on Saturday afternoons before the Second World War, he would take Reg to watch them playing at their home ground of Krooner Park. During WWII, on its formation in 1940, he joined the Local Defence Volunteers (later to become the Home Guard) and served until it was disbanded in 1944. Was he Corporal Jones or Private Godfrey?

1895 map of Camberley reproduced by Alan Godfrey
In October 1946, when the RMA closed, he was presented with a certificate expressing gratitude for more than 34 years of service to those who trained there. He liked to play darts and most evenings, on his way home from work at 8pm, he would call in at the Staff Hotel for a game and a pint or two of beer.  He always cycled the two miles from his home at 9 St Mary’s Road, Camberley, to work. His bicycle had 30” wheels and a  high gearing which meant that it was  hard to pedal and he progressed very slowly!

He retired from the RMA in 1948 when he was 65 and did some odd jobs gardening until he became too breathless to work as a result of emphysema. He died at home after a long illness on 19th March 1956, at the age of nearly 73, and was buried in York Town churchyard.