The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Richard Bernard
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- Stretcher Bearer
- Battalion Headquarters
- Place of Birth:
- Murray Bridge, South Australia
- Father's Name:
- William Valentine Blaschek
- Mothers's Name:
- Pearl Blaschek
- Roman Catholic
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Selarang Camp and Barracks Changi, X8 Party, Changi Gaol Camp
- Return Details 1945:
- Singapore-Darwin-Sydney, HMT Arawa Sydney-Melbourne by troop train Melbourne-Perth, HMT Strathmore
In memory of a mate, Scotty Wilkie who perished at Sandakan.
‘Scotty’ Wilkie, Jim Hall worked as miners at Norseman as did Dick.
Richard known as Dick, was one of three sons born to parents William Valentine Blaschek born 29/9/1864, Neudorf, Czech Republic married 1909 Hindmarsh, SA to Pearl Lydia Cornford born SA. Their children included at least 3 sons, Franz Joseph, Richard ‘Dick’ and William John. The girls which we know of were Anna, Lorna, Nellie and Aileen.
The information contained in Dick’s Eulogy (below) informs us Dick was put to work at 13 working on surrounding farms, and would have had a bleak experience except his love of the horses he worked with and the occasional farmer’s wife who spared him extra food and conversation. As they got older, the three brothers John, Frank and Dick set out for the goldfields of Western Australia.
Dick was working at Norseman when he enlisted Oct 1940.
There were several reported events when one of the Blaschek brothers was injured at Norseman mining.
Throughout his life Dick’s father William V. Blaschek wrote letters to SA newspapers frequently about local and world politics and a wide range of interests. His confidence extended to subjects such as venereal diseases, women in politics (positive).
Parents receive news of their son Dick for first time. Dick’s brother Bill is also serving with AIF.
Pearl Blaschek died in 1956 and William (Snr) died in 1959, SA.
In the October 1998 ‘Borehole Bulletin’ included a letter from Gale Campbell (nee Blaschek) from Caboolture, Queensland advising her father Dick had passed away on 29 July 1998 whilst at the Caboolture War Veterans’ Home. Dick had resided there for the past five years due to ill health and his death was a great loss for his wife Vi and their three daughters Carol, Gale and Lynette and families.
The family had regularly read and appreciated ‘Borehole Bulletin’ with news of the men and they particularly treasured ‘Ghosts in Khaki’ which will be handed on through the family so that future generations to come will remember the sacrifice made by so many.
Enlosed was a copy of the Eulogy read at Dick’s funeral.
Eulogy read at funeral of Richard (Dick) Bernard Blaschek
Dick was born Fullarton, South Australia near Adelaide June 1914. His father, an immigrant from Bohemia, worked on the railway to supplement income from a farm. His mother had eight children seven surviving childhood.
With his sisters and brothers he attended a Catholic School at Murray Bridge. Dick was an alter boy and carried the cross.
At the completion of grade 7 and at the age of 13, Dick was sent to work on neighbouring farms. Work was hard, the hours long and his his earnings included board and a few shillings. He drove large teams of horses ploughing paddocks for wheat growing in the Mallee area. He often spoke of the hardship he endured at this early age. Sleeping in sheds on wheat bags, weathering the cold winter morning and rising early every day. He also spoke of his love for the horses and kindness of some of the farmer’s wives who gave him extra food and even taught him some of the things he should have been learning at home.
As a young man Dick left South Australia with his brothers Bill and Frank, driving across the Nullarbor to work at the Norseman gold mines. With the outbreak of WW2, Dick enlisted 23 October 1940. He joined 2/4th and became a Stretcher Bearer with Battalion HQ. His training included first-aid, combat and route marches from Northam to Perth a distance of 44 miles in two days.
He met his future wife Vi ** (Violet Anne Le Serf) while on leave in Perth. They married during 1941 prior to his departure for Adelaide. The Battalion undertook training at Woodside Camp and Darwin when just prior to New Year 1941, they sailed for Singapore via Sydney and Fremantle.
Following surrender by the Allies to Japan, Dick became a POW of Japan. He remained in Singapore throughout the war. He believed his early years of hard work prepared him for his internment.
Vi had their first daughter Carol while Dick was away – not knowing whether he was safe or not as there was no news. Carol was almost 3 years old when Vi finally received news via the Red Cross.
He returned to WA and had to adjust to civilian life. After a short stay in Norseman where their second daughter Gale was born Dick and Vi bought a house in Perth and he worked for a bricklayer until they decided to move to Renmark, South Australia in the early 1950’s.
The Blaschek family travelled in a utility loaded with as much as it could carry (their border collie ‘Laddie’ riding on the roof) driving for 7 days across the Nullabor Plains, their travelling included getting bogged on the rough dirt roads until they reached their destination and stayed with Dick’s brother Frank and his family until Dick found a suitable fruit orchard on the Murray River.
Finally Dick was able to grow all that he had dreamed of – citrus and stone fruits. The family was very happy, and at last Dick loved being his own boss! Their third daughter Lynette was born. Both Dick and Vi worked very hard and were successful on this property and others until in 1963 the family moved to a soldier settlement vineyard in Loxton, South Australia where they remained until Dick’s retirement in 1975.
Dick and Vi moved to Caboolture to be near their daughters and grandchildren. He was very proud of his daughters Carol, Gale and Lynette, their husbands and his grandchildren taking an interest in all that they did.
Due to ill health, Dick became a resident at the War Veterans’ Home where he was cared for with love and understanding by Vi and the staff.
** Violet was 3 years old when she departed London 29 November 1929 on S.S. Benalla for Fremantle with her parents Arnold and Nellie Le Serf. Shipping list recorded they were all Swiss subjects and accompanying them was Violet’s small brother Arnold 2 years. Arnold (Snr) was recorded being a farmer.
Above notice indicates Nellie remarried to Gillies.
- Adam Park Camp - Singapore
- Changi Gaol Camp - Singapore
- Johore Bahru, - Malaysia
- Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore