Sir Brian Herbert SWIFT

SWIFT, Brian Herbert

Service Number: SX10729
Enlisted: 1 November 1940, Wayville, South Australia
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: General Hospitals - WW2
Born: Adelaide, South Australia, 2 February 1893
Home Town: Medindie, Walkerville, South Australia
Schooling: St Peters College, Adelaide South Australia and Cambridge University, England
Occupation: Obstetrician and Gynecologist
Died: Medindie, South Australia, 19 May 1969, aged 76 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: North Road Cemetery, Nailsworth, South Australia
Memorials: Hackney St Peter's College Honour Board
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World War 1 Service

2 Aug 1916: Involvement Lieutenant, Unspecified British Units

World War 2 Service

1 Nov 1940: Enlisted Major, SN SX10729, Australian Army Medical Corps (2nd AIF), Wayville, South Australia
1 Nov 1940: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Major, SN SX10729, General Hospitals - WW2
2 Nov 1940: Involvement Major, SN SX10729, Australian Army Medical Corps (2nd AIF)
24 Jul 1943: Discharged Major, SN SX10729, 2nd/9th Australian General Hospital
24 Jul 1943: Discharged Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Major, SN SX10729, General Hospitals - WW2

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Biography contributed by Annette Summers


1893 -1969

Brian Herbert Swift was born, on 2nd February 1893, in Adelaide. He was the second son of Dr Harry Swift and his wife Kate Marian Lillian, nee Peacock.  He was educated at St Peter’s College, Adelaide and studied for a year as a science student at the University of Adelaide.  Swift then gained a place at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge to study medicine.  He graduated BA in 1914 and MB ChB in 1916.  He was an excellent golfer and gained his Cambridge Blue in 1914.  He enlisted in the RAMC in WW1, on 2nd August 1916, as a lieutenant MO, and was promoted captain in 1917.  He was awarded the Military Cross in 1918 for his ‘splendid courage and determination under enemy fire’.  He transferred to the RAF in Sept 1918 and served until Oct 1919. His younger brother Neville Swift DSO MC was killed during WW1. Swift then returned to Adelaide to general practice for two years.  He then had appointments as an anaesthetist at the ACH from 1920, an obstetrician at the Queen’s Home (QVMH) from 1922, and as a tutor in obstetrics at the University of Adelaide from 1924.  Swift maintained his interest in golf and was the SA Amateur Golf Champion in 1924.  Swift returned to the UK, in 1925, for further training in obstetrics and gynaecology, and also studied in Vienna He passed the exams for the FRCS Ed, in 1926.  He returned to Adelaide, in 1928, and specialised in obstetrics and gynaecology, and was elected a Foundation Member of the RCOG, in 1930.  He was appointed honorary senior obstetrician at the QVMH and honorary gynaecologist at the RAH from 1940 until 1953.  Swift was elected a FRACS in 1931.  He married Joan Royal Tennant, on 5th April 1934, at St Peter’s College Chapel.  She was the daughter of Mr and Mrs John Tennant of Princess Royal Station at Burra. Swift and his wife were to have a son, Brian and a daughter Margaret. Brian, a Cambridge undergraduate was killed in a motor vehicle accident, in the UK, in March 1958 at the age of twenty.  Swift returned to the UK, in 1936, and presented his MD thesis at Cambridge University and was also awarded an MA.  He visited and noted recent advances in gynaecology in Vienna, Edinburgh, London, Stockholm and New York.  In 1937 he was elected FRCOG in London.

Swift, living in The Avenue, Medindie, SA, enlisted into the 2/AIF, on 1st Nov 1940, at the rank of major and was posted 2/9th AGH. He embarked on the Mauritania for the Middle East, via Bombay, India, on 5th February 1941. Arriving in Nazareth, Palestine with his unit in March 1941. He was then appointed 2/2nd AGH at Kantara, Egypt.  He had a short admission to 2 AGH with auricular fibrillation, a abnormal heart condition. He returned to Adelaide, on the USS MT Vernon, in March 1942, and was appointed to 101 AGH, Northfield, SA and medically reclassified to sedentary occupation.  He transferred to the Reserve of Officers on 24th July 1943 at the age of fifty but served as consultant gynaecologist to the RAAF from 1943 to 1945.

After WW2 Swift continued as a senior honorary gynaecologist at the RAH and established the sterility clinic in 1945, which later was one that pioneered the use of the Papanicolaou smear.  He was a founder of the Australian Regional Council of the RCOG, in 1947, and its Chairman from 1953 to 1956.  He was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen in 1954.  Swift was a dynamic teacher of obstetrics and gynaecology.  He was an accomplished surgeon with a bold approach and delicate touch. Swift, an inspiration to those whom he taught was held in high regard by those with whom he dealt and also with affection by those with whom he worked.  He continued to be a force in golf and was captain 1950 and 1956 and then President 1961-66 of the Royal Adelaide Golf Course. Sir Brian Herbert Swift MC died, on 19th May 1969, at his Medindie home, and is buried in the North Road Cemetery. His wife and daughter survived him.


Blood, Sweat and Fears III: Medical Practitioners South Australia, who Served in World War 2. 

Swain, Jelly, Verco, Summers. Open Books Howden, Adelaide 2019. 

Uploaded by Annette Summers AO RFD