Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Rickard, Arthur Lancelot (1895–1949)

by Laurie Hindmarsh

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

Arthur Lancelot Rickard (1895-1949), businessman and army officer, was born on 18 September 1895 at Waverley, Sydney, son of (Sir) Arthur Rickard, a native-born broker, and his wife Annie Eliza, née Addy, who came from England. Young Arthur attended Barker College, Hornsby, where he shone at Rugby Union football, athletics and tennis. In 1914 he began to study accountancy, probably in his father's real-estate firm, Arthur Rickard & Co. Ltd.

Commissioned in the Militia in March 1915, Rickard was appointed second lieutenant, Australian Imperial Force, on 3 September. He embarked for Egypt that month and accompanied the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade to France in March 1916. For carrying out a hazardous reconnaissance on a Somme battlefield in November, he was awarded the Military Cross. He was also mentioned in dispatches. In July 1917 he was promoted captain and transferred to the 12th Army Brigade. On 28 December he was gassed and admitted to hospital, but returned to duty two months later. Briefly seconded to the 51st (Highland) Division in April 1918, he rejoined his unit and remained in action until a few days before World War I ended. He was promoted major and appointed commanding officer of the 45th Battery in October, and again mentioned in dispatches. While on leave in England, he had married Charlotte Mary Woodman on 7 September 1918 at the register office, Colchester, Essex; they were to have one son before being divorced.

Rickard returned to Sydney in April 1920 and his A.I.F. appointment terminated in July. Becoming a director and sales manager in his father's firm, he dressed immaculately, liked good cars and—with his intelligence, wit and gentleness—was good company. At St Thomas's Anglican Church, North Sydney, on 23 June 1926 he married 18-year-old Myfvanwy Ison Jolliffe Page.

In March 1939 Rickard was appointed to the 9th Field Brigade, Militia. On 1 May 1940 he transferred to the A.I.F. Given command of the 8th Battery, 2nd/2nd Anti-Tank Regiment, he sailed for the Middle East in October. During the Syrian campaign (June-July 1941) Rickard's battery halted a Vichy French counter-attack at Merdjayoun on 15 June, losing four guns but destroying eight tanks. For his 'quickness and initiative', he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He was also mentioned in dispatches.

Returning to Australia in March 1942, Rickard was promoted (May) temporary lieutenant colonel and appointed (June) to command the 103rd Anti-Tank Regiment at Newcastle, New South Wales. The regiment was sent to the Northern Territory in December. In August 1944 Rickard took command of the 106th Tank-Attack Regiment, A.I.F., which was deployed at Scarlet Beach, north of Finschhafen, New Guinea. Next month he was transferred to the 2nd/1st Tank-Attack Regiment at Helidon, Queensland. When that regiment moved to Aitape, New Guinea, in January 1945, its batteries and men were used as field artillery or infantry. On 28 May Rickard was temporarily detached to command the 2nd/6th Cavalry Commando Regiment and Farida Force.

In August Rickard rejoined his anti-tank unit. He relinquished command in November and flew home to Australia. In May 1946 he was appointed officer commanding troops in a ship that was repatriating Japanese prisoners of war. Placed on the Reserve of Officers on 31 July, he was once more mentioned in dispatches, this time for his service in the South-West Pacific Area in April-August 1945.

Rickard formed a small property-development company in Sydney, but he was dogged by ill health. He died of hypertensive cerebrovascular disease on 9 March 1949 in the Repatriation General Hospital, Concord, and was cremated. His wife, their daughter and two sons survived him; the son of his first marriage was killed in January 1941 while serving with the A.I.F. in Libya.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France 1918, vol 5 (Syd, 1937)
  • G. Long, Greece, Crete and Syria (Canb, 1953)
  • G. Long, The Final Campaigns (Canb, 1963)
  • D. M. Horner, The Gunners (Syd, 1995)
  • G. McKenzie-Smith, Australia's Forgotten Army, vol 2 (Canb, 1995)
  • private information.

Citation details

Laurie Hindmarsh, 'Rickard, Arthur Lancelot (1895–1949)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/rickard-arthur-lancelot-11520/text20549, published in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 1 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

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