The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- William Thomas
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- ‘E’ Company, Special Reserve Battalion
- Place of Birth:
- London, England
- Father's Name:
- Robert Walter Swann
- Mothers's Name:
- Annie Swarm
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Tractor Driver
- Selarang Camp and Barracks Changi, X6 Party, Changi Gaol Camp.
- Return Details 1945:
- Singapore-Darwin‐Sydney, HMT Arawa, Sydney-Melbourne by troop train, Melbourne‐Fremantle, HMT Strathmore.
Bill Swann was one of ‘Five boys from Mundijong.’ The others included Steve Gleeson (Rtd) George Leipold and Hector Bishop and Syd Darby were killed in action February, 1942.
Following the Allied defeat Bill became POW at Singapore. He did not leave with any work parties and it is thought the reason being his interest in the Vitamin Factory at Changi. He was assigned to X6 Party during 1945.
Although Bill Swann lived part of childhood with his family at Holyoake, the Swann family later moved to Mundijong. He was well known to the others, and we believe possibly employed at Mundijong prior to his enlistment. Bill and Steve Gleeson were the only two men to return.
Parents Robert Walter and Annie Swann migrated from England to Western Australia in 1920 – Bill always maintained he was born on-board the ship. The Swann’s purchased a small property at Mundijong where they brought up their two sons Bill and Charlie.
In August 1951 Charlie aged 27 years was killed in an accident, leaving his wife and several children. The small close-knit Swann family was devastated.
Bill’s mother Annie remained living at the family’s Mundijong property until she was no longer able to look after herself. She then moved to live with Bill and his wife Olive. Eventually Bill sold the Mundijong property.
Bill Swann married in 1949 to Olive Elizabeth Smith. Bill and his wife resided in their home in Tuart Hill/ Mt Yokine for many years.
Bill died17 August 1971 aged 51 years
Further reading about Mundijong boys.
On returning to Western Australia Bill chose not to attend Anzac Marches or reunions, however he continued a close friendship with ‘Vin’Vincent Wallis WX16422 and George Doodson WX6917. George Doodson was a cook and had worked in a fruit, vegetable and poultry wholesale business prior to WW2. After the war Vin Wallis was a bookmaker.
Swann, Doodson and Wallis cemented their friendship at Changi.
The three mates continued to meet regularly throughout their lives with their wives and families. They shared various interests.
We know Bill Swann was involved and worked in the ‘Vitamin Centre’ at Changi.
After the war ended and Bill Swann returned home he took up employment with Bunnings Timber Mills. He knew Gavin Bunning from Changi days and remained employed there until his early retirement from ill health.
Bill was a man of many talents and interests. He had a passion to work with timber and built several speed boats (using choice timber from Bunning’s warehouses). Swann was successful in twice winning ‘Head of River’ racing events and his mate Vin Wallis was part of his team.
He was also a pioneer barefoot water skier – having a fast boat was a pre-requisite.
Other water interests including diving and underwater photography. According to family members he was always tinkering away with his projects.
- Changi Gaol Camp - Singapore
- Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore