Richard Harper FORMBY


FORMBY, Richard Harper

Service Number: SX9180
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Major
Last Unit: 2nd/8th Australian General Hospital
Born: Strathalbyn, South Australia, 18 November 1913
Home Town: College Park, Norwood Payneham St Peters, South Australia
Schooling: St Peter's College, Adelaide, South Australia
Occupation: Medical Practitioner
Died: Illness, Australia, 22 October 1944, aged 30 years
Cemetery: Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Strathalbyn RSL Hall Honour Board, Strathalbyn War Memorial
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World War 2 Service

22 Oct 1944: Involvement Major, SN SX9180, 2nd/8th Australian General Hospital
Date unknown: Involvement
Date unknown: Enlisted Australian Military Forces (Army WW2), Major, SN SX9180

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Biography contributed by Annette Summers

FORMBY Richard Harper MB BS


Richard Harper Formby was born, on 18th November 1913, in Strathalbyn, SA. He was the son of Henry Harper Formby, a surgeon and a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (1903), and Kate Eleanor, nee Reinecke. Formby was educated at St Peter’s College and studied medicine at the University of Adelaide. He married Marion Elizabeth (Betty) Frayne, on 6th February 1940, at St Peter’s College Chapel. She was the daughter of Dr Ernest John Frayne and Mrs Frayne of Malvern. They had one son born on 21 July 1941.

Formby enlisted on 1st July 1940, at Keswick South Australia, at the rank of captain; his wife was named as next of kin. He was posted to 2/8 FdAmb, and joined the unit, on 18th July 1940. He left Australia, on 19th December 1940, on HMAS Mauretania. Disembarking, in the Middle-East, on 30th January 1941. Formby was detached from 2/8 FdAmb and attached to 4 AGH, on 17th Aug 1941, and re-joined the FdAmb on 21st September. He was ill and admitted to 7 AGH and subsequently returned to his unit on 28th January 1942. 2/8 FdAmb with other units were ordered to withdraw towards the east. Many soldiers of the unit, together with supplies and equipment, were captured by the Germans due to false information that was given by disguised Germans. Formby was able to reconstitute the 2/8 FdAmb operating theatre facilities, to treat wounded soldiers, after the loss of nearly half of their unit, who were captured by the Germans. Formby was detached to 9th Army Ski School but was evacuated to the 42nd British General Hospital, and placed on the very sick list, on 17th April 1942 and then evacuated to 6AGH. Transferred to the Middle East Staging Camp on 22nd April 1942, he again was discharged from hospital and re-joined his unit on 24th July 1942. Formby was Mentioned in Despatches for the period 1st May 1942 to 22nd October 1942 for his service in North Africa. He was detached to AIF Staging Camp on 14th November 1942. He attended a tropical medicine course in January 1943 before leaving the Middle East. Formby returned to Australia leaving on 24th Jan 1943 and disembarking in Sydney on 27th February 1943; he was promoted major on 13th April 1943. He left Townsville, on the Taroona, on 17th May 1943, to join the Fall River Force, later the Milne Bay Force. He was posted as MO to 110 CCS on 9th August 1943. He was admitted, as a patient, to 110 CCS from 18th November 1943 to 10th December. He was posted to 128 AGH following another period of hospitalisation with a Pyrexia of Unknown Origin. He was posted to 2/8 AGH on 8th January 1944 and detached to 2/5 AGH. He was evacuated from PNG by plane 22nd April 1944. Formby was admitted to 105 AMH, in Adelaide, with an infected pilonidal cyst on 29th Jun1944 and after treatment sent to Kapara Convalescent Home. He was readmitted to 105 AMH, on 6th July 1944, and placed on the seriously ill list, with a cerebral abscess, on 28th August 1944. Richard Harper Formby died of his illness, on 24th October 1944, and was cremated. His wife Betty and his son survived him.  His ashes were placed in the Centennial Park War Cemetery Australian Section, SA.


Blood, Sweat and Fears III: Medical Practitioners South Australia, who Served in World War 2. 

Swain, Jelly, Verco, Summers. Open Books Howden, Adelaide 2019. 

Uploaded by Annette Summers AO RFD