S21614 Private Roger Gilbert SWINCER
Roger Gilbert SWINCER was born at Minlaton on 13 February 1919, the youngest child of Arthur Edwin SWINCER and Mary Lavence SWINCER (nee GEATER). He was educated at Minlaton and Tarlee and after the family moved to Victor Harbor where they farmed in the Waitpinga area.
Roger’s two older brothers Max (122671 LAC Maxwell Arthur SWINCER, RAAF) and Doug (S9339 PTE Douglas William SWINCER, AMF) were already serving in the armed forces at the time Roger had been required to enlist in the Australian Military Forces under the Defence Act’s conscription scheme. Roger’s service file reveals his medical examination was carried out by Dr Frank DOUGLAS, the area medical officer and a veteran of the Boer War, whilst his signature on the attestation papers was witnessed at Victor Harbor by local recruiting officer, SGT Lyall SEDUNARY (who had served in the First World War) on 10 September 1941.
At the time of his enlistment, Roger was married; his wife was Alison Muriel SWINCER (nee LOUGHHEAD). They had married the previous year on 16 April. The couple farmed at Waitpinga. Roger reported for duty on 15 October 1941 and was immediately posted to the 27th Battalion, South Australian Scottish Regiment. On 5 November, he was transferred to No 4 Labour Company at Alice Springs.
No 4 Labour Company was a sub-unit of the 8th Line of Communications formation. The 8th L of C as it was known, was tasked with maintaining the link between Alice Springs and the defence units based in Darwin and the Northern Command area. The transport link between the Alice and Darwin was by road and all supplies from the southern states were shipped to Alice Springs by rail, then transferred to trucks and transported north on a continuous convoy system.
On 22 April 1942, Roger was admitted to the 109th Australian General Hospital at Alice Springs; the reason for the admission is not stated. He was discharged two days later and by May 2nd, was back in Wayville at the Regimental Recruit Depot (RRD). Granted five days leave, Roger was soon again admitted to hospital followed by a stint at the 108th Convalescent Depot on 23 May 1942, this time with a boil on one of his legs. He remained in hospital until 15 July when he returned to Wayville depot where he was placed on light duties. From Wayville, he was sent to the 3rd Training Battalion at Sandy Creek, however two weeks later he was evacuated to the 34th Australian Camp Hospital at Loveday.
On 17 August 1942, the Southern Argus newspaper reported Roger was a member of a male quartet from 108th Convalescence Camp, Strathalbyn, who performed at a concert in the Town Hall.
On discharge from the hospital, Roger was posted to the training company at Woodside which focussed on the training of soldiers who were classified medically ‘B’, that is not fit enough for front-line duty, but could serve in a support unit role. On 8 December, he was returned to the convalescent unit with scobrosis (most likely scabrous, that is covered with scabs – the hand-written entry is not very legible). Roger remained there until 11 January 1943 when he was sent to the General Details Depot (GDD) at Wayville. In late June 1943 he was medically reassessed as Class D and notified that he would be discharged being medically unfit for further service. He was discharged on 12 July 1943. Roger became a beekeeper until many of his hives were destroyed in a road accident.
Roger died in Adelaide on 6 July 1996; he is commemorated on the Enfield Memorial Park Cremation Memorial. It is believed there were two children of the marriage.
Unfortunately, we do not have a photograph of Roger in uniform.
Service file of S21614 Private Roger Gilbert SWINCER purchased from the National Archives of Australia, barcode item number 6401334. The purchase of the service files of men and women listed on the Waitpinga Honour Roll boards was made possible through a grant from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
National Library of Australia, Trove Newspapers Collection – The Southern Argus ( https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/ ).
Compiled by the Victor Harbor RSL History Research Team, January 2014.