This blog page honours one of our own “Grand Old Soldiers” of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry: (1DCLI) 1953-1955 as a National Serviceman and later in the DCLI TA and many other TA Regiments. The editor first met Swanny on 5th November 1953, in basic training at the Bodmin Depot and was shown the ropes and kit bulling tricks by him then, as the ‘old soldier’ he already was, having had his training interrupted by an operation for appendicitis and recovery.
Swanny’s story is not mine to tell, other than anecdotal reflections from our “A” Company, Bermuda days, from sailing on the Empire Clyde in February 1954 until he left us for demob around July 1955 to return home to Penzance. The very least I can do however is to record here the unfailing support that Swanny has given to my efforts to produce historical memorabilia of our famous Regiment and the part that many of us played during the Caribbean era. It hasn’t stopped there however, as he continues to contribute reports and photographs of West Cornwall DCLI Association and updates about his local mates in Cornwall, who – but for Swanny’s industry – would have been long forgotten.
It is timely that we thank Swanny as our own unsung hero. He is always the first to acknowledge the efforts of others and many of you will know far better than I, what this means. Swanny today is undergoing his biggest challenge yet, which is to prepare for major surgery in December after extensive chemotherapy. Despite the discomfort that this treatment delivers, Swanny remains upbeat and cheerful and resolute in living his life to the full. The following photographs have been forwarded by him after the latest gathering of the Association. Many more photos originating from Swanny and others emailed to me on behalf of other Mates, can be seen on the DCLI websites shown in the rhs Blogroll.
Thank You Swanny – a heartfelt gesture from all your ‘Old Mates’. We wish you a speedy recovery from your illness and look forward to news of a major improvement in your health. Get Well Soon.(Editor: Brisbane Australia, 16th November 2008)
(November 23rd 2012) We are informed sadly by son Donald that Swanny has passed on at 21.03 St Julie’s Hospice, after a long battle with his illness. Funeral notices will be posted to Memoriale when known.
Lucknow Dinner Friday 14th November 2008
Back Row, Fred Phillips,Terry Simons. Then from lhs – John Reardon, C Pryor, Neil Swanson, Trevor Webb, Peter Michell, Barry Cornish, Michael Clarke.
(Photographs above by Jack Madron’s daughter Teresa)
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(26 April 2009) Below are 3 B/W photos scanned by Swanny for Leonard (Blondie) Nicholls, Bugler “S” Company, Jamaica, now living in Scotland.
Gaz Watson (ex RSM) at Lands End who is walking to John o’ Groats via the Coastal Path for The Army Benevolent Fund. The walk should take 61 days; he set off on 20th April 2009. (ex RSM) Terry Joll, Bob Fox, Mike (Nobby) Clarke from West Cornwall DCLI Association were present to give Gaz a Cornish send off on his long trek to Scotland, he left at 7AM.
Doris and I were invited guests at the Christmas Dinner of the RAFA Associations annual lunch at RAF Portreath on behalf of the DCLI Association for the Penzance Branch of RAFA and their President Mr Bill Mcguinness.
I have been good friends with Bill for many years, and this is Bill’s last dinner in Cornwall as he and his family are returning to Scotland to live next week. Doris and I were treated to the hospitality by all who attended the dinner and in particular by 6 RAFA members of Bodmin Branch who were close mates of many DCLI soldiers over the years.
Update added 3rd January 2010:
Had lovely new year surprise. A visit from my old DCLI Mate from Scotland Len (Blondie) Nicholls, Support Coy DCLI Minden-Plymouth in the DCLI cap, Don Nicholls ex RAF, Jack Callaway B Coy Minden DCLI-KSLI. Car pulls up at our house at 2pm out of the blue – Blondie – what a surprise for new year.
Doris rang Jack on the phone and he came in for short time, Doris then rang our cousin Donald Nicholls, no relation to Len but good mates from Madron years ago, we had a very good afternoon going over old times together. Blondie as we used to call him for his long blond hair in those days. RSM Royffe used to wonder how he got it underneath his beret.
Blondie was stationed in Plymouth with us when he came from the Battalion and demobbed shortly after we left for the West Indies
My father was taken prisoner in 1917 and escaped and lived with a family in Belgium till the end of the war, he lived as man and wife with a Belgian lady and worked in a factory till the end of the war. Their brother Uncle Hugh Swanson enlisted into the Gordon Highlanders when he was only 14 years old. My father was told of this and he was dismissed from the army only to join the Royal Navy and served in the Dardanelles. After the war Uncle Hugh emigrated to Australia and lived there till he died in Perth WA.
This is a little more Clan Gunn History.