People on board
SWANSON, George William
George William Swanson was born on the 6th of May 1891 in Dublin to William Swanson and Mary Lewis Jones. Born in Yorkshire, William Swanson was living with his parents in London in 1871 and gave his occupation as ‘Engine Fitter’. In 1880 he married Mary Lewis Jones in Camarthenshire, Wales and they appear to have moved to Dublin almost immediately. Their first daughter, Florence, was born in 1881 and William gave his occupation on the birth certificate as ‘Engineer’. They lived at 23 Carlisle Street, off the South Circular Road and two more daughters were born there, Eveline in 1883 and Ada in 1887.
By the time George was born in 1891 they had moved to Fairfield House in Kilmainham, and William gave his occupation as ‘Civil Engineer’, though it is not known where he was employed. However, just three years later, he died at the age of forty-three and Mary and the children moved to Wales, presumably to be near her family. The eldest girls were enrolled in school in Aberystwyth, where George would also go in 1896. By 1901 they were living in London, where Mary was ‘Living on own means’, William having left over £1,500. Between 1901 and 1908 George was a Boarder at Bancroft’s School, Woodford Green in London and he then went on to the University of London where he studied Engineering. There he joined the Officer Training Corps and in the 1911 census was a Lance Corporal and Engineering Student in Warley Barracks. Having got his degree he embarked for Canada later that year, taking up a position on the Resident Engineer’s Staff of the Canadian Northern Railway.
Returning in 1914 he received a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 4th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. His military experience was used assembling new battalions of the regiment in Winchester and in 1915 he was promoted Lieutenant and Adjutant. He transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, getting his pilot’s licence in February 1916. In June he married Brenda Hill in Bournemouth but just a month later he was in Basra, Iraq where both the Army and the RFC were struggling against the Turks. Physical conditions were very difficult and George Swanson was not alone in succumbing to fever. In October 1916 he was invalided out on a troop ship to India, and after a brief period as a Flying Instructor in Egypt he was repatriated to England in April 1917. A medical report in May 1917 stated that he was ‘Not to go to a hot climate’.
He remained as a Technical Officer with the RFC (then the RAF) until May 1918 when he resigned and rejoined the Hampshire Regiment, on the Home Front, where he was given an Honorary Captaincy. His work was in Belfast and Dublin and he was presumably returning to England on leave when he travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th of October 1918. He did not survive the sinking, nor was his body recovered. His name is remembered on the Hollybrook Memorial in Southampton and is also inscribed on his father’s gravestone in St James’ Graveyard, James’s Street, Dublin. His widow Brenda remarried in 1922.
Photos credit: “The Bancroftian Network “( http://www.bancroftians.net/cgi-bin/bancms3.pl?id=5963&im=Y )