Monday, 22 February 2021
Burgess, Mr Richard
I rise today to acknowledge an incredible individual in Narrabeen who is living an eventful century. Mr Richard Burgess, being one of seven children, was born in 1920 and turned 100 last year. What a year to turn 100! Being one of the renowned Rats of Tobruk, Mr Burgess has an incredible history with a lot of unbelievable memories when talking about his life. Born in Pambula, on the far south New South Wales Coast, Mr Burgess attended a local primary school until, at the age of 14, he joined his father's butcher business. When World War II broke out, Mr Burgess joined the Australian Army's 2/17th infantry battalion, and in late 1940 travelled on the Queen Mary to the Middle East. He explained that, in the 6½ months he was in Tobruk, he had a few close calls and scary moments and admitted it was not an experience he wanted to go through again. In late 1942, at the Second Battle of El Alamein, Mr Burgess was left to die as a piece of shrapnel had penetrated through his skull. Fortunately, he was picked up and found himself at the 15th—Scottish—General Hospital in Cairo. In 1943, after constantly badgering the matron, Mr Burgess was shipped back to Australia.
For the next 40 years, he worked in postal services, with the Postmaster-General's Department, which became Australia Post. Through night school and TAFE, Mr Burgess improved his education and was moved into administration. Always being an enthusiastic person, Mr Burgess joined the NSW Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association, where he became a first-class umpire at the SCG. When the association celebrated its century in 2013, he was one of the first inductees into the Hall of Fame.
Mr Burgess met his wife in 1943. He explained that having been hit on the head was the best thing that ever happened to him, as, if he hadn't been injured, he would have gone back to being a butcher and wouldn't have got into the PMG'S department, got married, had two beautiful daughters and made a lot of friends.
I'd like to commend Mr Burgess as he makes all the Northern Beaches community tremendously proud today. Today, let us look to Mr Burgess's incredibly eventful century of endless determination and enthusiasm. It is because of people like him that we live in both a free and fair country. We thank you for your sacrifice.