This site commemorates the men and women of Collingham, Linton and Micklethwaite who served during World War 1.
Swann, John William
(1896-1918)

Rank Private

Service Number 427833

Service Army

Battalion 3rd Battalion

Regiment Canadian Infantry

Killed in Action: 31 August 1918

Buried Valley Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Commemorated at: Wetherby War Memorial

Information

John William Swann was born on the 28th June 1896 in Linton, the son of George Swann and his wife Frances Kate Swann (nee Haldenby or Holdenby). John was one of at least four children. In 1901, John was living in Linton, but we have not found any record of John in the 1911 census. We do know that he emigrated to Canada leaving Southampton for Quebec on the 'Ascania' on 19th May 1913, aged 18.

On the outbreak of war, John decided to enlist in the Canadian Forces. His service record showing that he was medically examined and enlisted on the 14th August 1915 in the town of Moosomin in southern Saskatchewan and initially joined the 68th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry. After that John was transferred to the 46th Battalion and on the 23rd October 1915 he embarked on the SS Lapland to sail to the UK for training, disembarking in Devonport on the 30th October 1915. His training took place in the UK and on the 19th April 1916, he was at Branshott Camp in Hampshire, when he made a will leaving all his belongings to his mother, Mrs Kate Swann of 8 West End, Wetherby, if anything should happen to him.

The Wetherby News reported around this time on a number of local men who were serving with the Canadians:

WETHERBY MEN WITH THE CANADIANS
NOW IN TRAINING WITH THE OVERSEAS FORCES IN ENGLAND.
Four Wetherby young men, who emigrated to Canada in recent years, have joined the Canadian contingent, and are now in training in England.
.
.
Private Willie Swann, eldest son of Mr and Mrs. George Swann, West End, Wetherby, is, like Private Manners, in the 46th Battalion. He is 19 years of age, and had been in Canada two and a half years at the time of enlistment, being at Wawota, Saskatchewan, where he was engaged in farming. Before going out to Canada he was employed at the "News" Office, Wetherby.

About two months later, on the 16th June 1916, John went to France and disembarked on the 17th June and was posted to the 3rd Battalion Canadian Infantry, a unit he joined at the front on the 19th June. John served with his unit for about a month before being admitted to the 1st Canadian Field Ambulance, suffering with influenza. He was posted to 1st Divisional Rest station to recover, before rejoining his unit on the 1st August.

On the 12th October John was posted to 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade, and four days later was granted 10 days leave in the UK. He returned from his leave on the 29th October, and was soon posted from his unit to be attached to the 1st Canadian Trench Mortar Battery. This was probably supposed to be a temporary placement, but his record records that he was still with this unit on the 1st December and again on the 31st May 1918. Just after that John had another illness, this time being admitted to the 3rd Canadian Field Ambulance on the 22nd June 1918 suffering from myalgia. He was admitted to hospital but was discharged back to duty on the 27th June 1918, rejoining the 1st Canadian light Trench Mortar Battery.

On the 10th August 1918, John rejoined his original unit, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Battalion. 3 weeks later, on the 31st August 1918, John was killed in action. He is now buried in Valley Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.

John's death was reported in the Wetherby News on the 13th September 1918:

We much regret to announce that two more Wetherby boys have to be added to the roll of those who have lost their lives during the war. John William Swann, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Swann, of westgate, was killed in action on August 31st.......Willie Swann was a particularly bright boy, and was apprenticed to us at the "News" Office. Just before the war he left our employ to join his uncle in Canada, and on the war breaking out he immediately joined the Canadian forces. He was a most popular young man, and had been a few times at wetherby on leave; in our conversation with him he said he looked forward to the time when he could return to take over a farm in Canada, which life he loved, notwithstanding that the winter in the far West was rather monotonous.

 

A further Wetherby News report, on the 4th October 1918 gave John's family a few more details of his death:

Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Swann have received a letter from the Sergeant of their late son's Regiment, stating that Willie was instantaneously killed by shrapnel, facing the enemy, while carrying messages forward. He says that he seemed to pass painlessly away as though in sleep. He was buried by the Regimental Chaplain, and lies in a grave with Canadian offices and men, and the grave is marked with a large white cross on which their names are painted.

 

If you have any photographs or further details about this person we would be pleased to hear from you. Please contact us via: alan.berry@collinghamanddistrictwararchive.info