Richard De La Poer (Dick) BERESFORD

BERESFORD, Richard De La Poer

Service Numbers: S39453, 141925
Enlisted: 14 October 1941, Prospect, South Australia
Last Rank: Flying Officer
Last Unit: 1 Aircraft Depot (Laverton)
Born: Adelaide, South Australia, 31 July 1922
Home Town: Gilberton, Walkerville, South Australia
Schooling: St Peter's College
Occupation: Engineer
Died: Natural causes (heart failure), Adelaide, South Australia, 11 June 2014, aged 91 years
Cemetery: North Road Cemetery, Nailsworth, S.A.
Memorials:
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World War 2 Service

14 Oct 1941: Enlisted Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Private, SN S39453, Prospect, South Australia
10 Sep 1944: Discharged Citizen Military Forces (CMF) / Militia - WW2, Sergeant, SN S39453, 106 Independant Brigade Workshop
11 Sep 1944: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2, SN 141925, Melbourne, Victoria
12 Sep 1944: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2, SN 141925, Enlistment/Embarkation WW2
12 Feb 1946: Discharged Royal Australian Air Force, Flying Officer, SN 141925, 1 Aircraft Depot (Laverton)

Life of Richard (Dick) Beresford - by Marcus Beresford (9/1/2015)

Richard (“Dick”) Beresford attended St Peter’s College in the 1930s, following his father Guy (who attended in the early 1900s). He was a bright young man, winning a number of Form prizes and Latin, English, French, German and Mathematics prizes in 1934, 36 and 37. He was also a school rower which he continued when he went on to the University of Adelaide, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science during the war (a special course majoring in Engineering to provide for the war effort), and finished a Bachelor of Engineering after the war.

Richard died a peaceful death after two weeks of illness. By some people’s standards he enjoyed a life of some privilege and self-indulgence, by others he was typical of an Australian generation with new found levels of confidence and self determination, benefiting from the foundations laid by colonial forbears.

His father Guy fought in the trenches in Europe in 1915-16 and received a severe gunshot wound in the upper arm as well as mustard gas exposure in raids at the Battle of Fromelles, at which many of his colleagues were killed. He was then hospitalised in England for some months and subsequent transferred to non-combat duties.

Guy returned to Australia in 1919, married Dorothy McCoy in 1921 and they initially lived together in Eynesbury House, a florid Victorian-era mansion at 69 Belair Road, Kingswood, SA.

Richard spent most of his childhood in a villa at 52 Walkerville Terrace, Gilberton.

He went to Wilderness School kindergarten (which in those days took boys as well), then to Walkerville Primary, prior to attending St Peter’s College. Life on Walkerville Terrace involved Richard and his sister Bunty sleeping in a large fly-wire sleep-out along the eastern veranda – this Spartan behaviour was supposedly good for the health, in much the same fashion that tuberculosis patients in those days were made to sit in the fresh air throughout freezing winters or boiling heat.

Guy had been left in Adelaide as a child, when Guy’s father (also named Richard) and mother (called Sydney) had gone to Perth to live with their eldest son Claude. Guy and his sister Eileen stayed with their aunt Ethel and uncle Alexander McCulloch while they went to school, and there was apparently even some talk of them being adopted by their aunt and uncle. It might be wondered what effect both this, and the war experiences, had on Guy emotionally and whether it passed down to his son Richard in some way, since Richard often had difficulty relating to young men close to him. Anyway, Ethel and Alex were apparently a bit like grandparents to Richard.

When Richard was a little boy in 1927 his mother Dorothy went overseas to Europe and the USA with her father William T McCoy, who was going on an extended study tour as Director of Education in SA. Dot was an adoring mother (and grandmother) and a strong woman who might have been prominent in a more liberated generation. While she was away the Beresford’s shared house with their cousins the McCoy’s at Carter St Thorngate, an arrangement which was later reciprocated when Dr and Mrs McCoy went overseas in the 1930s, leading to a close and extended relationship between the families.

Richard’s brief service during World War 2 was as a Flying Officer in the Australian Air-force, mostly spent at Laverton base in Victoria, and not including action in a theatre of war. He attempted to enlist earlier in the war but was rejected, it is thought because he was colourblind.

At the end of the war he married Elisabeth (Betsy) Leitch, and they initially lived in an old house in Collins St Melbourne while Richard finished his Air-force commitments. They remained married for some 18 years, but the relationship was rocky from the start. They lived for much of that time at Jasper Street, Hyde Park, in a house much later owned by one of Richard’s subsequent partners, Helen Keene (demolished in 2013).

Richard was a member of a couple of political parties – initially the Liberal party where he was briefly an active member of the Unley Park branch and sat on an industrial policy committee, later a Liberal Movement and Australian Democrats supporter.

Richard later met and married Lesley Dunn, ending in a short relationship and divorce.

He then met and set up house with Claire Booth, and her children Anna, John and Meland, lasting some 8 years.

Richard met and married Avelina Escarlan, and they were married for a record 22 years.

Richard worked as an engineer with several local firms including Richards (predecessors to Chrysler automotive), Lawton’s (which made Adelaide buses in the 1950s) and Pope’s (domestic machinery manufacturers). In the late 1950s he joined Bill Jolly in a light engineering company called Cannon Industries which manufactured steel products, like circular-saw benches, chairs (including the once ubiquitous outdoor “Butterfly” chairs), laundry and rubbish bin trolleys, ironing boards etc. The two men separated but Richard continued the business, going on to manufacture school desks for the Education Department and golf buggies for Spaldings. During this time there was a long and protracted civil court case against one of the company’s directors who had misappropriated funds, resulting in a rather pyrrhic victory. Richard then worked with Roger Cundell in a business that made sheep and cattle yards, but they parted after a few years.

His final work was with an American making desalination equipment. This company pioneered reverse osmosis (where saline water is pumped under pressure through membranes to provide fresh water) and plants were built and serviced for the government at Cooper Pedy, Rawlinna and Eucla. Another big plant was constructed in New Zealand to separate waste products in lactose processing. Richard took over these Australian operations, but further research and development were needed and attempts to gain funding support were unsuccessful. Larger, global companies came to dominate the area. This innovative business was probably the height of his career, offering intellectual challenges and good financial returns as well as fulfilling social needs.

On retirement (and indeed earlier in his life) Richard spent time trading shares on the Stock Market, which he had considerable success with.

As a young man and in to his middle years Richard was a very keen sailor, owning a number of boats and sailing in competitions earlier on. He also owned an 8 metre boat with cabin, but that turned out to be a bit too top-heavy for ocean trips and was confined to slow trips chugging down the Port Adelaide River and later the lower Murray River, under diesel power.

Richard was always interested in family history, was an early member of the international Beresford Family Society, and did a detailed family tree in the post-war years (50 years before it became the industry of today) tracing his forebears back to 1087.

Richard was the patriarch of the family. He adored his daughter Melanie and was broken hearted when she died in 2012 at 64 years of age.

He had much pleasure in later years watching Lesley’s son Tom; Claire and Avelina’s children and the step-grandchildren grow and develop. He also loved his late sister Bunty’s children Carol, Stephanie and Katrina and their children. Neither of his own children Melanie or Marcus have had children.

Marcus Beresford, 9/1/15

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Biography

Born: 31 July 1922 in North Adelaide, South Australia
(SA Birth Record 1907 - 1928. Book : 99A Page : 599 District : Ade.)

Father Guy Erroll de la Poer BERESFORD (b. 11/10/1889 Palmerston, Northern Territory) and
Mother Dorothy Margaret (nee McCOY).

Guy Beresford fought in the trenches in Europe in 1915-16 and received a severe gunshot wound in the upper arm as well as mustard gas exposure in raids leading up to the battle of Fromelles, at which many of his colleagues were killed. He was then hospitalised in England for some months and subsequent transferred to non-combat duties. Guy returned to Australia in 1919, married Dorothy McCoy in 1921 and they initially lived together in Eynesbury House, a florid Victorian-era mansion at 69 Belair Road, Kingswood, SA.

Richard spent majority of his childhood at 52 Walkerville Terrace, Gilberton. He went to Wilderness School kindergarten (which in those days took boys as well), then to Walkerville Primary, prior to attending St Peter’s College. Richard (Dick) Beresford attended St Peter’s College in the 1930s, following his father Guy (who attended in the early 1900s).

He was a bright young man, winning a number of Form prizes and Latin, English, French, German and Mathematics prizes in 1934, 36 and 37. He was also a school rower which he continued when he went on to the University of Adelaide, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science during the war (a special course majoring in Engineering to provide for the war effort), and finished a Bachelor of Engineering after the war.

11 September 1944 Richard enlisted in the RAAF at Melbourne, Victoria.
(He attempted to enlist earlier in the war but was rejected, it is thought because he was colourblind).

Flying Officer in the Australian Air-force, mostly spent at Laverton Base, Victoria.

*****This Serviceman's Record can currently only be obtained for a fee through the National Archives of Australia**** 

12 February 1946 he was discharged from service with the RAAF.

At the end of the war he married Elisabeth (Betsy) Leitch, and they initially lived in an old house in Collins St Melbourne while Richard finished his Air-force commitments. They remained married for some 18 years, but the relationship was rocky from the start. They lived for much of that time at Jasper Street, Hyde Park, in a house much later owned by one of Richard’s subsequent partners, Helen Keene (demolished in 2013) - the separated in the early 1960's. 

Richard was a member of a couple of political parties – initially the Liberal party where he was briefly an active member of the Unley Park branch and sat on an industrial policy committee, later a Liberal Movement and Australian Democrats supporter.

Richard met and married Lesley Dunn, later divorced.

He met and lived with Claire Booth and her children Anna, John and Meland, lasting 8 years

Richard met and married Avelina Escarlan, and they were married for 22 years.

Richard worked as an engineer with several local firms including Richards (predecessors to Chrysler automotive), Lawton’s (which made Adelaide buses in the 1950s) and Pope’s (domestic machinery manufacturers). In the late 1950s he joined Bill Jolly in a light engineering company called Cannon Industries which manufactured steel products. Richard then worked with Roger Cundell in a business that made sheep and cattle yards, but they parted after a few years.

His final work was with an American making desalination equipment. This company pioneered reverse osmosis (where saline water is pumped under pressure through membranes to provide fresh water) and plants were built and serviced for the government at Cooper Pedy, Rawlinna and Eucla.  Richard took over these Australian operations. This innovative business was probably the height of his career.

On retirement Richard spent time trading shares on the Stock Market. Richard was always interested in family history, was an early member of the international Beresford Family Society, and did a detailed family tree in the post-war years tracing his forebears back to 1087.

Richard died a peaceful death after two weeks of illness. By some people’s standards he enjoyed a life of some privilege and self-indulgence, by others he was typical of an Australian generation with new found levels of confidence and self determination, benefiting from the foundations laid by colonial forbears.

Submitted by Marcus Beresford, April 2015.

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