Project Description

Richard Albert WINCH, known as Rick, was interviewed by Margaret Tickle for the Busselton Oral History Group (Inc) on 12th May 2014. It is one of a series of recorded interviews with ex-service personnel funded by Lotterywest to celebrate the Anzac Centenary.

Richard Albert (Rick) Winch was born in England in 1946 and brought to Australia as a baby. His grandfather had taken up a Group Settlement at Kudardup after British Army service in the First World War I. Rick’s father served with the 2/11th Battalion during World War II.

Rick schooled at Pemberton where his father worked at a timber mill. He liked school, was good at maths and played a lot of sport.

He enlisted in the navy influenced by the participation of one of his grandfathers in the British Navy in WWI.

Rick’s strength in maths steered him towards becoming an electronics technician which he pursued through his more than 12 years in the navy in gunnery radar activities, later as support for navy divers at the Underwater School of Medicine, and on tactical air navigation for fighter aircraft.

He saw service off Malaya in the mid 1960s and off Vietnam in the late 1970s. Rick was on HMAS Melbourne when the Voyager collision occurred, and remains traumatised by that and other wartime experiences.

With the commissioning of Australia’s first guided missile destroyer the HMAS Perth, Rick was one of those chosen to go to America for training in its new and sophisticated systems followed by an Australian capital city tour. As the youngest West Australian on board, he was chosen to receive the Freedom of Entry in Perth from the Lord Mayor.

From Hobart a diversion was made to Antarctica to pick up a scientist requiring medical attention.

Rick left the service because of marriage breakdown and making raising two children his priority, which he has never regretted despite his disappointment at having to leave early.

Fitting back into civilian life proved to be a challenge because of depression and chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Rick is now on a TPI pension.

His second marriage to Shirley is very happy. Shirley’s first husband was killed, leaving her with four children to raise, and their combined families give them much pleasure.

Rick’s hobby is growing orchids and he is active in community service in Busselton.