17 Jan 2015

John William Swinfield (1922-2014)

On 10th November 2014, one of our most senior Swinfields passed away at the age of 92. 

John William Swinfield was born on 23rd July 1922. A native and lifelong resident of Sydney, New South Wales, he was the son of a builder, John Andrew Swinfield (1897-1964) and Jessie Isabella nee Mitchell (1893/4-1971) who married in the Granville area of the city in 1918. As such, John William was the great-great-grandson of William Swinfield (1804-1876), the tailor who left Hartshill, Warwickshire in England for Australia in 1848 with his second wife Sarah (Williamson) and their family of four children. Those included his 10 year-old son, John, who was to become John William's great-grandfather.

Attending Enfield Primary School and Belmore Technical College, he left formal education when he was just over 14, during the depression of late 1936, to try to find a job. He first delivered milk, making two runs a day for 12s-6d per week! Later he became a delivery boy for a grocer's shop at Hill Street in Leichhardt before gaining employment with the firm of Brico at Camperdown, which made piston ring and cylinder liners. By 1939, he was with Amalgamated Wireless in Ashfield as a fitter and turner in its machine shop.

During WWII, he served as a fitter and engineer with the Royal Australian Air Force, posted to Coomalia Creek Airstrip in Northern Territory (which was bombed three times!) and then in Northern Queensland. 

After the War, John sailed as second engineer on a trading vessel to Papua New Guinea where he lived for a couple of years. Returning to NSW in 1947, he found his first long-term position from 1950 to 1970 with Michael Nain & Co, makers of floor coverings at Auburn. Shortly afterwards in 1954, he married Joan Patricia (Boyne) and they had four children, John Andrew in 1957, Helen Jessica 1959, Pamela May in 1960 and Linda Jane 1963.

For the last ten years of his working life, he was a purchasing officer for the NSW Returned and Services League (RSL), of which he was an active member and President of its Burwood Club for 15 years. He took early retirement at 58 in 1980.

John William Swinfield became an expert on antique firearms and co-authored Australian Antique Arms & History published in 2009. He was President of the Antique Arms Collectors Society of Australia for many years.

It was pleasure to have him with us at the Swinfield Gathering held at Ryde in Sydney in May 2014, just six months before his death. He was there with all four of his children and four of his six grandchildren. 

1 comment:

  1. It was a pleasure to meet John at the Gathering in NSW last year. What a full and interesting life he led.