Commanding Officer TOROA: 1946 – 1951
Commander A. C (Alex) Swanson, OBE, VRD,RNZNVR
Commander Alexander C. Swanson was born about 1900. He trained as a Civil Engineer.
On 6 July, 1920 he was commissioned in New Zealand Territorial Forces as 2nd Lieutenant, and was promoted Captain in November 1926.
On formation of the Otago Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (New Zealand Division) in May 1928, he resigned from the Army and joined the Otago Division as a Lieutenant RNVR.
His sea training for the next eleven years was carried out in HM Ships DIOMEDE (once), WAKAKURA (Five times), ACHILLES (once), and LEANDER (twice). On 5 May 1936 he was confirmed as Lieutenant-Commander, and on 15 January 1940 he qualified, by examination, as a Senior Navigator.
Called up for Active Service for WWII he sailed to UK in the RMS Acquitania in April 1940. In August 1940 he was appointed to the staff of the Commander-in-Chief of the Rosyth Command as Minesweeping Officer. He saw service both overseas and in New Zealand to November 1943. On 9 December 1944 he was placed on the Retired List in the rank of Commander.
On 1 July 1946 he transferred back to the Active List, as a Commander RNZNVR, and was appointed the first Commanding Officer of the new Otago Division of the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNZNVR), a position he held until his retirement from the RNZNVR in November 1951.
For his service, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), and was awarded the Volunteer Reserve Decoration (VRD).
When in command he was also the Harbour Board Engineer till he retired. He died in 1963.
His Comments on the reforming of the Otago Division:
“The task set me as the CO of the non-existent Division had its problems:
No officers, leading hands or ratings - just the new headquarters which had not been previously used by the pre-war division, no permanent instructors. Hence a scout round for old hands who were speedily forthcoming.
Officers - J.D.Allingham(First Lieutenant), Tom Roydhouse, Ernie Salter, Lennox Millar formed the backbone and the establishment was soon built up from wartime temporary officers with some experience. Tom Roydhouse was a tower of strength and took on the job of Pay Lieutenant.
Pre-war PO’s came forward speedily. CPO Ivan Brown, PO Steele, PO McDonald, PO Jack Allan, PO Owen Paterson, L.Tel Ivan Hall and others.
It was most gratifying that some original RNVR ratings joined amongst the 60 new recruits The Division was then organised into two sub-divisions, Port and Starboard. Uniforms came to hand and a start was made with serious training.’’