John Clifford Papayanni was born in Wagga Wagga on May 5, 1920, the youngest of three sons (Basil and George) of Nicholas Papayanni and his wife, Winifred (nee Hill). All of them grew up in Kogarah. Cliff's grandfather and great-uncle, Basilio, and George, from Smyrna, Asia Minor, had founded the Papayanni Steamship Company in Liverpool, England. Unfortunately, Basilio's son, Nicholas, gambled away the fortune and headed to Australia, where he met and married Winifred. Cliff was brilliant at school and earned entrance into the selective Canterbury Boys High School where he was always at the top of his class. Unfortunately, as the family was poor, he was forced to quit school early. Cliff loved school and cried the day he was compelled to leave and find work at the age of 13 in order to earn money.
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