Roger Napthine

Roger moved from house to house, receiving a call with the message’ get boots tonight’. Then the car arrived and he was whisked away. Laying on the back seat with a blanket over him, to yet another safe house. If there were unknown cars outside of that house then he would not be delivered.

Roger’s story:

I sent time underground in early 1972 and stayed with a number of people including Tony Daltons parents for a few weeks. I also stayed with the Dutton family and Ailsa O’Connors house again for a few weeks. I was at Ailsa’s house by myself and her sons would come and check up Jack and Alma O’Mara lived on a large block in Torquay. After a while I went to work with Jack, who was a carpenter, and would be introduced as someone they knew who was staying, but I am sure that some guessed what I was. One of Jacks sons lived in another house on the property and another came to visit.

I moved from house to house and remember getting a phone call, an obscure message ‘get boots tonight’, the car came and I lay on the back seat with a blanket over me. If cars were outside the house to which I was being delivered and were not recognised then the delivery would not be made. I met family members and their friends of people that I stayed with but they didn’t talk.

On one occasion I decided to go away for a holiday and someone loaned me their Drivers Licence. I had to learn a bit about them in case I was stopped.

My girlfriend brought books for me to read and my regular activity was taking long walks along the beach with the dogs. She was an American and the Commonwealth Police would threaten her with deportation if she didn’t say where I was. At one stage she rented a flat in Flemington and I stayed there. One morning cops knocked on the door and said you are coming with us and then back to the holding cell. I was released on bail and was the last of the Draft Resisters to do that. The Police would knock on the door when I was living in a shared flat with brother and mates.

Most of the time I was underground and having dropped out of Uni, except when I was in Pentridge I was working doing labouring work for the Dept of Civil Aviation at Essendon Airport and once I had to go to Puckapunyal complete with morning tea in the Sergeants Mess and mates would say you need to get Roger here he is supposed to be in the army. On another occasion I was sent with the firm I was working for to Avalon Airport where they were building the Mirage and I would check truck in and out.

Employers were receiving letters about men of draft age and many of them would just drop them in the bin, some of those were WW2 Veterans.

I attended court on a charge of failing to attend medical then went to work on a sheep station for 4 weeks, then back for court where I was sentenced to seven days in Pentridge, that was in 1971.

In late 1971 was out of prison and went to work at Olympic Cables there were 37 of us 12 Greeks, 12 Italians, 12 Yugoslavs and me.

At that stage my parents got onto Jean McLean to get assistance. In late 1972 I stayed with Val and Mary Noone for a couple of weeks.

During my time avoiding call up and Pentridge, I stayed at a house down at Rosebud, there was a group of us there. It was good as we could get out in the sun and play cricket on the beach in the morning and then write leaflets in the afternoon.

In 1972 I was staying with a friend in Drysdale and ASIO was camped outside for 3 days. The neighbours gave them cups of tea.

Some of the Commonwealth Police seemed to turn a blind eye.