No.222 Private John Swanton
John Swanton was born in April 1889, the second youngest son of Samuel and Helena Swanton who lived in Anderson Street, Werribee.
He was a shearer by trade and enlisted in the army at Randwick, a suburb of Sydney and famous for its racecourse.
John was 26 years old when he joined the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Brigade on 27 August 1914. The 2nd Battalion was raised within a fortnight of war being declared. Most of the enlisted soldiers were from New South Wales and predominantly from the Hunter region, in and around Newcastle.
John and his mates of A Company took part in the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915 as part of the second and third waves. A total of 31 officers and 937 ranks from the Battalion participated in the landings on that fateful day.
The Battalion had been transferred from a transport ship to the British Navy destroyer HMS Usk. From there, the troops were loaded onto lighters and were towed ashore – in threes – by naval pinnaces. Each lighter carried about 40 soldiers and each soldier carried a 70lb (about 32kg) pack.
After surviving the landing and heading inshore under heavy fire, John and his mates fought for a foothold on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
He was to become the first of three Swanton boys to be killed in action during the World War I on 2 May 1915, aged 27. The other two were:
To add to his family’s grief, no grave site was ever recorded. However, he is remembered on Panel 19 on the Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli.
At his memorial service held in June 1915 at St Thomas’ Church, Werribee the presiding minister said: "The late Private John Swanton was a man in the best sense of the word. When others held back because of their fear of bullets, and then ridiculed the men who enlisted, Jack Swanton went forward at the call of King and country. There was no ostentation of religion, no parading of virtues in his life, but he showed his true manliness in his attitude towards his mother and father. A life of cheerfulness and usefulness has come to an abrupt end, but we thank God that Werribee has some young men, who for the sake of the women and children and even for slackers, have shown once again that ‘Greater love hath no man than this, the he lay down his life for his friends.'"
Medals and Entitlements:
- 1914/15 Star
- British War Medal
- Victory Medal
Lest we forget
Service record: NAA: B2455, SWANTON J
http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/719287/SWANTON,%20JOHN (CWGC site – Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli Panel 19)
Gallipoli landings*: http://alh-research.tripod.com/Light_Horse/index.blog/2011240/the-battle-of-anzac-cove-gallipoli-25-april-1915-2nd-infantry-battalion-aif-unit-history-account/
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page7168898 - link to Werribee Shire Banner Page 2, June 24 1915 – memorial service for Private John Swanton