Warrant Officer Class One Robert “Jock” Richardson, MM
24 April 1929 - 04 March 2011
CSM B Company 4 RAR 1964 - 1969
Submitted by Lieutenant Colonel Claude Ducker MC (Retd)
“Jock” Richardson was an outstanding soldier in every way as well as a great personality. He gave the Army over 23 years of loyal service but I will concentrate here on his five years of service with B Company 4 RAR.
When I raised B Company on the formation of 4 RAR on 1 February 1964 I was delighted to have Jock as my CSM. I knew how good Jock was as I had known him for a short period at the Jungle Training Centre at Kota Tinggi, Malaya, where I was also an instructor. The two Australian sergeants at the Centre had been hand picked after service with 2 RAR on operations in Northern Malaya. Before this Jock had already distinguished himself for outstanding leadership and courage on a night patrol in Korea in May 1953, for which he was awarded his Military Medal (MM). His citation for the award reads:
2nd BATTALION THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN REGIMENT
2/10667 Lance Corporal Robert RICHARDSON MM
Date applicable to Citation: 1 Jan 53 to 30 Jun 53
Pte Richardson has acted as rifle section commander and 2IC of a section throughout the period, and during May and Jun 53, while his company was in the line, has taken part with exceptional courage and enthusiasm in many patrols of all types.
On the night of 23/24 May 53 he particularly distinguished himself when commanding a section in an ambush patrol on DURHAM RIDGE in from of Pt 159. Shortly after taking up its position the patrol was engaged by an enemy force over twenty strong. During the fierce close quarter fight that followed the patrol leader and four members, out of a total thirteen were wounded. Realising the situation, Pte RICHARDSON without hesitation took command of the patrol and withdrew it, taking the wounded with him. Though the enemy closely followed up the withdrawal Pte RICHARDSON so skillfully controlled the fire and movement of the few unwounded members of the patrol that the enemy were prevented from overrunning it. It was later definitely established that six enemy were killed in this engagement.
The high degree of leadership, initiative and determination that Pte RICHARDSON displayed throughout this action were typical of the qualities he had shown on many other occasions in contact with the enemy, qualities which have gained him the admiration and respect of all ranks who have served with him.
Again Jock had been hand picked to come to 4 RAR. Some of his outstanding qualities were his absolute loyalty, outstanding competence and great sense of humour. Indeed I could not have had a better CSM for the next two and a half years before I went to BHQ as Battalion 2IC. His leadership style was firm but very fair. He went to great pains to encourage and counsel the young NCOs to improve themselves.
I have many memories of Jock’s great sense of humour and loyalty as illustrated by the following example. While B Company spent several days at Cultana near Whyalla to do field firing and grenade practice, Brigadier Bleechmore came to visit. He was Commander Central Command and had an engineering background. At the end of his visit Brigadier Bleechmore asked Jock and me whether the soldiers were showering or at least washing while they were at Cultana, and said that if not, they should be doing so. Of course there was not much chance under the desert conditions and we had been told we were not to go to Whyalla during our stay. In any event there was not much hope of elaborate washing once we went on real operations and we had to get used to it. Jock remembered the Brigadier’s liking for cleanliness in the bush when not long afterwards the battalion went on an exercise at Humbug Scrub, outside Adelaide. On his own initiative Jock arranged for our CQMS to bring out to our defensive positions as many metal wash basins as possible. Jock had a scout out to warn of the Brigadier’s arrival. As we got word that the Brigadier was heading towards B Company Jock had the nearest platoon all busily washing their bodies. As soon as Brigadier Bleechmore had passed, the basins were quickly handed on to the next platoon who all commenced to wash and so on throughout the company. Jock’s face absolutely beamed when he heard the Brigadier say to me “this is a very clean company, I think it must be the cleanest in the Battalion”.
Jock continued to be an inspiration to all who came into contact with him during 4 RAR’s tour in Malaysia. This included in 1966 a period of arduous cross-border patrols into Kalimantan from the B Company base at Stass. At one stage Jock took over one of the platoons in the absence of the usual platoon commander. Jock’s experience proved invaluable to the young NCOs and soldiers during their tour in Borneo.
After 4 RAR returned to Australia in late 1967, it was not long before the unit got into further serious training for Vietnam where Jock remained as CSM with B Company under the then Major Bill Reynolds. Once again, for several months Jock commanded a rifle platoon with considerable success. Jock’s heroism can best be illustrated by this extract from the citation for the award of “Mentioned in Despatches”.
On 16th February 1969, B Company was heavily engaged by enemy concealed in bunkers. Warrant Officer Richardson was wounded early in the action. Disregarding his wound, he moved to the section that was pinned down by the enemy fire. He re-organised and encouraged the soldiers in his vicinity and directed accurate fire into the enemy bunkers. When the elements of B Company nearest the enemy were forced to withdraw, Warrant Officer Richardson, although badly wounded himself, carried another wounded soldier from the area of the engagement to safety. This was achieved under intense and accurate enemy fire. He continued to give encouragement and comfort to the other wounded members of the company until evacuation by helicopter was possible. He was an inspiration to all who saw him during this action.
Warrant Officer Richardson’s unfailing energy, determination and personal courage in this and other actions were in the finest tradition of the service and the Royal Australian Regiment.
During this action Jock sustained a bullet hole in the neck and 22 fragments from a Chicom grenade. His substantial wounds would not stop Jock from going on to give great service at OCS, Portsea, where he had previously been an instructor before going to 4 RAR. “They (his wounds) are nothing to a well trained infantryman” as he was prone to say about any adversity or challenge that would have stopped a lesser man. Jock loved being at OCS where he served for eleven years over two postings. He had declined other much sought after positions such as at Australia House in London and RSM of the SAS Regiment. Jock retired from the Army at OCS Portsea whose graduates remember Jock with fondness and great respect.
There is only one thing that always baffled me about Jock. How could he barrack for such an AFL team as St Kilda? This did not prevent us going together on many occasions to see St Kilda play the Melbourne Demons. I will dearly miss those occasions and Jock’s friendship and great sense of humour. Sadly there will no longer be any more early morning phone calls from Jock each 1st of February as a reminder of when we had started B Coy 4 RAR together.
After a long illness Jock died at home on 4 March 2011 surrounded by his family. Over 450 people attended his funeral including many who knew him from 4 RAR. It is a measure of the high esteem in which all ranks of B Coy, and others from 4 RAR, held Jock that many travelled long distances to attend. For example Mick Painter and Vince Smailes came at short notice from Western Australia and John Vautin from Kilcoy, Queensland. It was a beautiful service that Jock would have been proud of, particularly as his final journey was made to the accompaniment of a Piper.
Jock is survived by his devoted wife “Peggy”, his five children Catherine, Margaret, Fiona, Bill and Duncan, and by an ever growing number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was ever so proud of them all.
Warrant Officer Class One Robert “Jock” Richardson, MM