Military Contributions of a Small Town
- George J. Sweanor -
Preface from George's book
This is an ongoing study, made difficult by the passage of time. It started with the desire to record the careers of a few high school friends, but then mushroomed. With the publication of They Shall Not Grow Old (Allison & Hayward, Brandon, Manitoba), which includes a paragraph on each of some 15,000 RCAF members who were killed in World War II; the detailed work of Rob Davis of Telford, Shropshire, England, on Bomber Command crew losses; The Great Escape; The Assassination of Heydrich; and other works, the temptation to assemble details on hundreds of friends became too great.
In January 2001, with the help of Vernon White and Mike Lewis, I began to amass data on the careers of Port Hope RCAF veterans. As this study grew, so did the desire to not only include all WWII veterans but the veterans of all wars that had affected Port Hope. I was pleased to receive willing help from Enid Sweanor, Dorothy Harcourt, Ted Fulford, and Frank Foote.
A request to the Port Hope Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion brought forth a bundle of data from Patricia Honey and Harold Wakely. Peter and Barbara Bolton contributed and Barbara Trumper became a major sleuth in ferreting out data on hundreds of veterans.
While this study concentrates on those who served in the fighting forces, we cannot overlook the parents, wives, and siblings who were left behind. Not only did they have the anguish of worry over their departed warriors, but endured shortages, greatly increased workloads, and crippling taxes.
So, this presentation is merely the start of a major project . . .
Taken from the 13 Jan 2021 Northumberland News
George Joseph Sweanor, the eldest child of George and Alice (McGirr), was born 07 November 1919 in Sudbury, Ontario. After graduating from Port Hope High School in 1937, he enlisted in the RCAF 04 August 1941, becoming part of the 419 Squadron, Bomber Command.
George married Joan Saunders 06 January 1943 shortly before his plane was shot down over Germany. A POW involved in the famed Great Escape at Stalag Luft III, he was liberated in April 1945, returning to Canada in July. He remained with the RCAF for 25 years, retiring in 1967 to Colorado Springs, Colorado.
He subsequently taught high school history, retiring for a second time in 1983. He wrote a book about his RCAF career, It's All Pensionable Time and over the years, compiled this history of Port Hope veterans.
He passed away at his Colorado home 03 January 2021. "Ever the navigator, George would appreciate the acknowledgment that he had begun his 102nd circuit around the sun."
First and foremost, I would like to thank George for his dedication in creating a project that would recognize the involvement of the Port Hope veterans of all our nation’s conflicts.
In 2009, as advancing years made it increasingly difficult for him to visit Port Hope regularly from his Colorado Springs home and being concerned about the future of his work, he entrusted its safekeeping to the Port Hope Archives and me, with the intention that we should both preserve and continue his efforts. By publishing it here in a read-only format, I am hoping readers will contact me with any material that can be added or corrected.
Thanks goes to former Port Hope Archivist Erin Walsh, Barbara Bolton, Barbara Trumper, David Doherty, and Mary Harwood Kennedy for their valued input.
A special thanks to Lee Batchelor and Mark Clayton for their technical help on this project, and to the Archives of Ontario for their permission to use the WWI posters.
As much of George’s material was largely anecdotal, any corrections, additions, or both are gratefully appreciated.
Peter J. Bolton
18 August 2021
Displaying or obtaining a copy of George's book
Peter and Barbara Bolton - Port Hope, Ontario