Image: detail of Douglas Swindon's trophies and medals

Douglas Swindon was born on 29 November 1917, the youngest of six surviving children. The family lived in Courtenay Road, Woking. As a youngster, he learned to box and his name was on the card for boxing at the 1937 Coronation celebrations in Stoke Park, Guildford.

On leaving school he trained as a welder and smith, so when he volunteered to serve in World War Two, on 3 October 1939, he was posted to the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) as a tin and coppersmith. Later that month he arrived in Cherbourg as part of the British Expeditionary Force, and was subsequently evacuated from Dunkirk in May 1940.

Beween May 1940 and November 1942 he served in various places in the United Kingdom, including Belfast and Halifax. In this period he boxed for the RASC and won a number of cups and medals.

In November 1942 he was posted to North Africa where he became a member of a mobile petrol supply unit. Whilst posted he tasked with getting petrol to where it was needed. Before embarkation he asked Mrs Amy Winkworth, a widow who worked at Woking Station buffet, if he could write to her and they corresponded throughout the war. He sent her a box that he made from a shell casing and four bullets to commemorate the meeting of the First and the Eighth Armies in North Africa.

His unit served in Italy. Here he was mentioned in despatches, for rescuing a wounded man under fire. He was also mentioned as serving in Austria and ended the war at Klagenfurt.  

Returning home early in 1946, he married Amy Winkworth. For several years they managed the Thurlow Arms, at Baynards, near Cranleigh, until the birth of their daughter in 1951.  He then lived in Woking, working for a number of local businesses, before his death from cancer on 23 April 1973.

Acknowledgements to Miss Swindon for information and the kind gift to The Lightbox of many of Douglas’ wartime memorabilia.

See the display in Woking's Story.