122671 Leading Aircraftman Maxwell Arthur SWINCER
Maxwell Arthur SWINCER was born at Minlaton on 14 February 1913, the second child of four children of Arthur Edwin SWINCER and Mary Lavence SWINCER (nee GEATER). He was educated at Minlaton and Tarlee and the family moved to Victor Harbor where they farmed in the Waitpinga area.
Max as he was most likely known, was farming at Waitpinga when he was enlisted in the Australian Military Forces under the Defence Act’s conscription scheme. His army service details are not yet available from the National Archives of Australia’s website at this time, however it is known he served with the 4th Battalion Volunteer Defence Corps and at the time of his discharge on 8 March 1943, he held the rank of lance-corporal, his serial number was S65525. A check with the World War Two Nominal Roll’s website reveals that serial numbers either side of Max’s were mostly with enlistment dates of January-April 1942 which would put his length of army service at about twelve months. On 28 March 1942, Max married Kathleen Grace de HOUGHTON.
On 4 January 1943, Max applied to join the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) on 4 January 1943 as a Trainee Technical. His younger brother Roger (S21614 Private Roger Gilbert SWINCER) had enlisted in the Militia (enlisted 10 September 1941, discharged 12 July 1943). His other brother Doug (S9339 Private Douglas William SWINCER) had enlisted in the Militia also on 28 October 1940, his date of discharge is not known.
Max was enlisted into the RAAF in Adelaide on 16 March 1943 with the rank of Aircraftman 1 and was posted to Shepparton for recruit training. Basic technical training followed at 7 School of Trade Training, Geelong, then to advanced training at No 3 School of Technical Training (STT), Sydney. During this training, his wife gave birth to their son, Barry on 6 May 1943. On 17 December 1943, he qualified as a Fitter DMT. This mustering required him to be a first class fitter, with a good knowledge of internal combustion engines coupled with transport driving experience.
In early January 1944, Max was transferred to No 2 Embarkation Depot (ED) at Bradfield Park (NSW), he then entrained to Townsville then embarked for New Guinea on 24 January 1944. After landing at Port Moresby, he then departed on 2 February to Kiriwina Island in the Trobriand Group, north-east of mainland New Guinea. The Island’s airfield housed three fighter Squadrons and 1550 Air Force personnel. During April he was promoted to Leading Aircraftman. Max was attached to the 7th Transport & Movements Office (T&ME) over the next three months. His duties here were not specified, but most likely he would have been detached to one of the fighter squadrons in their maintenance crew.
On 15 May 1944, Max arrived at Nadzad airfield near Lae, mainland New Guinea. This complex was the major Allied air base in New Guinea, supporting both the RAAF and USAAF 5th Air Force. Following service with the 11th Repair and Salvage Unit (RSU), he returned to Australia through Townsville on 14 August 1944 where he was held at 1 Reserve Personnel Pool (RPP). By August 1944, the wartime strength of the RAAF had peaked, and with the outcome of the Pacific War displaying a clear trend, the RAAF began releasing selected personnel to return to their civil occupations. During September 1944 Max was granted 30 days leave without pay to return home to assist on the family farms. In mid-October he applied for occupational release to return to dairying and meat production, as his brother Douglas, who had been working their two farms, was unwell. Max’s application was supported by Douglas, who had already requested the Manpower and Agricultural Committee to release him. The application was subsequently approved, with Max returning to Adelaide’s Springbank Depot in late November 1944.
Max was discharged from the Royal Australian Air Force on 18 December to resume farming at Waitpinga.
Correspondence in his service file dated 3 May 1974 reveals he sought either pension benefits or medical treatment through the Repatriation Department for they requested confirmation of his war service from the Department of the Air. At the time, Max was living at 22 Marlborough Street, Malvern. At age 60, qualifying veterans are eligible for the service pension, so at that time Max would have been 61 years old.
Maxwell Arthur SWINCER died in Adelaide on 4 June 1986, age 73.
Service file of 122671 Maxwell Arthur SWINCER purchased from the National Archives of Australia (www.naa.gov.au ), and made possible by a grant from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The grant also made possible the scanning of the photographs featured on the Waitpinga Pictorial Honour Roll Boards No 1 and No 2, along with the digital restoration of a number of the images of servicemen and women featured on the Waitpinga Pictorial Honour Roll Board No 3.
Australian War Memorial database ( www.awm.gov.au ).
ODGERS, George, Australia in the War of 1939–1945. Series 3 – Air Vol II, Air War Against Japan 1943 – 1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra (1968).
Compiled by the Victor Harbor RSL History Research Team, January 2014.