681716 GNR. J. W. SWANTON. R.F.A.
John William Swanton was born on 12 April 1882 in Darwen and baptised at Darwen Holy Trinity on 14 May. His father was Thomas Swanton (b. 1863 in Blackburn), a house painter. His mother was Harriet James (b. 1851 in Edgmond, Shropshire). Thomas was only 16 when he and Harriet (12 years his senior) were married in 1879; they had four sons: George (b. 1880), then John, then Thomas (b. 1884) and finally James (b. 1886). Thomas snr died in 1905 and Harriet in 1907, but by this time John William was married. In 1903, he married Edith Emma Dixon (b. 1880 in Kendal) and the following year, they had a daughter, Doris. In 1911, the family lived at 17 Tower Street, Darwen. John was an iron moulder and Edith Emma was a cotton weaver.
I think John William enlisted in 1915 or possibly early 1916. He was given service number 681716 and posted to “A” Battery of 286 Brigade. A/286 went to France in February 1917 and throughout the first half of the year they were engaged in the defence of Armentières. On 14 July 1917, the War Diary records: “A/286 Bde RFA gun position shelled continuously from 7.30am to 10.30am by 5.9s and 4.2s. 1 Other Rank killed, 3 O/R wounded, 1 O/R shell shock? 1 gun damaged. All batteries of group bombarded enemy front and support trenches in retaliation to enemy shelling during the day.” John William Swanton was the man killed. He was 35 years old.
Service Number: 681716
Date of Death: 14/07/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “A” Bty., 286Bde
Cemetery/memorial reference: VIII. B. 42.
Cemetery: CITE BONJEAN MILITARY CEMETERY, ARMENTIERES
Additional Information: Husband of Mrs. E. E. Swanton, of 17 Dove Lane, Darwen, Lancs.
After the War, Edith Emma remarried. In 1923 she married James Oddie (b. 1884 in Darwen). She died in 1949.