Tim’s comments on the photograph:
Photo of me disguised as a Scotsman is due to the fact that we were enlisted into The Royal Scots Regiment for initial square basking and final embarkation at Aldershot. The sergeant gave us a hard time, roaring the tar out of us at every opportunity and insisting that we moved everywhere at the double. Yet when it finally came to embarkation, they were very emotional and many had tears in their eyes. Most of them had seen service in India with the British Army and I think they regarded us as lambs for the slaughter, which in many cases we proved to be. A white face in a battalion of Indians was a very tempting target to the Japanese. The white tabs identify officer cadets.
Vincent Kenneth WARWICK was born in Cardiff, Wales on 9 November 1922, the eldest of two children of William Henry WARWICK and Kathleen Alexandra WARWICK (nee VINCENT).
Tim, as he became known as, first attended Clive Hall School, Llandaff in Cardiff; at the age of ten, he was awarded a scholarship to attend the prestigious school Christ’s Hospital, at Horsham, Sussex. Tim was a good sportsman and captained the 1st XI Cricket team and the 1st XV Rugby team and was later appointed School Captain. In his final year, Tim sat for the Oxford University entrance exam and won the Welch Foundation Scholarship to Jesus College Oxford, where he studied classics, including ancient Greek and Latin.
In 1941, whilst still at Oxford, Tim was recruited by the British India Office to go to India and undertake a six-month training course at the Officer Training School in Bangalore.
Upon graduation, Tim was rated as the Prize-Cadet and awarded a bound book of his writings by the Commander-in-Chief India Command, General Sir Archibald Percival WAVELL. Commissioned as a lieutenant, he was posted to the Regimental Headquarters of the 2nd Punjab Regiment at Meerut. Tim’s next posting was as an instructor with the rank of captain to the Jungle Warfare Training Centre at Raiwala, near Dehra Dun, North India. Whilst there, he learned to speak Hindi and Urdu.
At the time the Japanese invaded north-east India in March 1943 (Battle of Imphal), Tim was posted to the Arakan area in Burma. Whilst in Arakan, Tim contracted malaria, dysentery, hookworm and jungle sores (tropical ulcers) and recalled celebrating his twenty-first birthday with twenty-one bedpans! Subsequent hospital treatment proved unsuccessful and Tim was invalided back the UK and admitted to the Chester Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
After his recovery, Tim returned to India and was attached to the Regimental Centre at Mereut to await a unit posting. After three months, two postings came through on the same day: the first position was as a Staff Captain ‘Q’ at Bombay Area HQ. The second posting was to a secret unit, the 77th Independent Indian Brigade.
When Tim enquired of the Regimental Adjutant which position was applicable and he was told whichever posting was registered first on the incoming mail. This proved to be the Bombay posting. Tim later learned that 77th Independent Indian Brigade was the Ord WINGATE expedition behind Japanese lines, engaging in guerrilla warfare. The expedition met with varying success and suffered one-third casualties.
Tim was posted as a Staff Captain (Q) at Bombay Area Army Headquarters; there were three troop-transit camps in the vicinity of Bombay, which acted as staging posts for troops on their way to Burma. Tim was appointed as Officer Commanding of one of the bases. At the end of the war, he was given early demobilisation to return to Oxford and his name was placed on the Reserve of Officers.
Tim later recalled an incident in India was when he was being driven in an army truck through the streets of Bombay (present day Mumbai) with an Indian driver; a woman stepped off the pavement right in front of the truck and was killed. Tim and his driver placed her body in the back of the truck and drove to the nearest police station. He went inside and told the Police Superintendent what had happened and asked what they should do.
‘Is she an old woman?’ he asked.
I said ‘Yes, she looks pretty old.’
‘And would you say she was poor?’
‘Yes, I think so.’
‘Then she is of no importance, take her to the rubbish dump’ the police superintendent replied.
Life was certainly cheap in India.
Tim recalled that in Calcutta during the Bengal famine in 1943, the army drove around the streets at night picking the dead bodies; approximately 2.1 million to 3 million died of starvation and related diseases. At the time the Japanese were offering supply rice free but the High Command refused the offer and millions died of starvation. These were hard lessons for a young fellow.
On 23 February 1946, Tim embarked from Bombay (now Mumbai) for Britain.
At this time, we do not know when Tim returned to the UK and was demobilised. Returning to study at Oxford, he completed his Master of Arts degree. Whilst at Oxford he met his future wife, Rosemary.
Tim migrated to Australia in 1949 and worked as a jackaroo for pastoralist Byron Hugh MacLACHLAN, on Lake Everard Station, north of Port Augusta; Tim had met MacLACHLAN whilst at Oxford.
On 25 June 1950, the Korean War began and Tim volunteered for service with the Australian Army and was enlisted on 20 December 1950. He was mustered into the Intelligence Corps as he had studied Urdu and Hindi to interpreter’s standard, and was considered an expert in his field, and was commissioned with the rank of captain. Serving at Victoria Barracks in Melbourne, his job included briefing visiting politicians and dignitaries on the war situation in Korea.
In 1951, with an absence of leave without pay from the army, Tim travelled to the UK and he and Rosemary married on 15 December 1951; they departed London on 5 January 1952 aboard the Otranto. Rosemary later worked as a physiotherapist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
In 1953, Tim was transferred to Army Headquarters, 4th Military District (4MD) at Keswick as an Intelligence Officer (officially General Staff Officer Grade 3 – or GSO3), and later GSO2.
While at Keswick’s HQ Central Command, Tim was appointed honorary aide-de-campe (ADC) to Major-general Roy KING (1897-1959), the commander of 4th Military District, and in this capacity was a few steps behind the Queen during the Royal Visit in March 1954.
Tim later recounted he tried to wear a sword amongst other official regalia and was in constant danger of tripping over it. Tim and General KING were required to meet the Queen’s plane at Parafield Airport.
Unfortunately, half of Adelaide had the planned to do the same; their staff vehicle negotiated the traffic jams and arrived on the tarmac with a few seconds to spare. Tim recalled he lost a great deal of sweat as he was responsible for the General’s itinerary.
Another assignment Tim had at Keswick was as secretary of the organising committee for the Military Tattoo which was held annually at Wayville Showgrounds. This was a very popular event but with a change of command the incoming 4th Military District decided it was a waste of money and made the decision to discontinue the event.
As GSO2, Tim was assigned to coach officers in current affairs which formed part of the syllabus for their promotion exams. He also delivered a weekly briefing on current affairs to all officers at headquarters. Other duties included public relations; on one particular occasion he had to pacify a poultry keeper at Largs Bay who had lodged a complaint with the Army that whenever the guns were fired, his hens were put off laying. It was eventually decided that since there was no longer any danger of Russian invasion firing of the guns would be discontinued.
In December 1954, Tim took his discharge from the Army and he and Rosemary moved to their dairy farm at Inman Valley they had purchased on 30 November. The Army officially transferred Tim from the Australian Staff Corps on 21 December 1954 to the Australian Citizens’ Military Forces as Officer Commanding (OC) of 12 Supply Platoon Royal Australian Army Service Corps (RAASC).
Following their move to Inman Valley, Rosemary established a private physiotherapy practice in Victor Harbor, the first in the district. There were two children of the marriage (Tim and Joanne).
Tim and Rosemary relinquished their dairy interests and purchased a Back Valley property on 19 December 1969 and raised beef cattle. Their son Tim and his wife Diana purchased the Back Valley property whilst Tim and Rosemary moved to a smaller beef property closer to Victor Harbor in January 1988.
Tim’s community involvement included roles as secretary and president of the Lower Inman CFS, chairman of the South Australian Dairymen’s Association, chairman of the South Coast District Hospital Board, chairman of both the Victor Harbor High School Council and the school’s Parents and Friends Association, the Rector’s Warden at St Augustine’s Victor harbor, chairman of the Victor harbor Parish Council, Lay Reader for the Parish of Victor Harbor and Lay Synods man for the Diocese of the Murray.
Vincent (Tim) Kenneth WARWICK died on 26 April 2011, at the age of 88.
Correspondence dated 27 December 2010 and 7 January 2011 from Vincent Kenneth WARWICK outlining his service life.
The three photographs featuring the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Adelaide in 1954 were accessed from the collection of the State Library of South Australia
Major-general Roy KING, from the Australian Dictionary of Biography, accessed 23 May 2020.
Correspondence dated 27 May 2020 from Mrs Diana WARWICK, daughter-in-law of the late VK WARWICK.
The (Victor Harbor) Times, edition of Thursday, 26 May 2011, page 24 “Farewell to a true family man”, written by Belinda Brand.
Compiled by the Victor Harbor History RSL Research Team, July 2020.