21 year old Private Richard Alfred Aldersea. 10 Platoon, Delta Company, 6RAR. Killed In Action on 18 August 1966 during the Battle of Long Tan.
His elder brother, Jim, 81, still struggles with his death and the memory of telling his parents.
“At that time, the old man’s birthday was only a few days’ away,” Mr Aldersea said. “I got a phone call from some officer in Canberra and he said ‘Do you know Pte Richard Aldersea?’”
“He said something about him being wounded so I said ‘How bad is he’, and he said, ‘He’s dead. He was fatally wounded’.
“I had to go along the road and stop my mother and father to tell them, halfway between Pemberton and Northcliffe.”
The brothers grew up together in Perth, Treesville, Quinninup and Northcliffe. Mr Aldersea said his brother hated school from his first day through to his last, but he found his place in the Citizen Military Forces and the regular army.
“The CMF officer said he’s that good, he’d pull a machinegun apart and put it back together blindfolded if they scattered the parts,” Mr Aldersea said.
“He just wanted to get into the army. He’d rather do that than anything else and he was very good at it.”
By Jim Aldersea
Richard Alfred Aldersea, known to his family as Dick, was born in Perth on July 29, 1946. He later moved to Treesville, a small country town, then to Quinninup and Northcliffe where he started his schooling.
I remember asking him how he liked his first day, the reply was ‘I didn’t’ and right up to the day he walked out of the school gate in Manjimup High School, he always hated school.
One of his last school reports that Mum kept, read ‘If Richard concentrated on his school studies as much as he does entertaining the class, he would have been the perfect student’.
Later the family moved back to the city and Richard started work at the Keystone Service Station near Karrakatta Cemetery.
Mothers Day, Christmas and Mum’s birthdays were special as Richard always gave his Mum a large bunch of flowers, which were acquired from Karrakatta Crematorium, a short cut through Karrakatta Cemetery.
Luckily I was at Mum’s house on one of her birthdays and when Richard strolled in all innocent like Mum smothered him in kisses. I looked at the large bunch
of flowers and lucky I did, because I could see the black-edged card from the funeral directors.
On the day of Dick’s funeral we left Chippers Funeral House driving down Rokeby Road Subiaco. All the shops had closed and the owners and staff stood in a guard of honour, heads bowed as the hearse went by.
Later I went to the hotel and thanked them on behalf of my parents and asked them to pass the message on to all the other shopkeepers.
The reply to me was ‘We buried a Subi soldier today and that’s just a little for the family’.
By Trevor Aldersea
Richard was killed by a single shot from a sniper who had taken out the machine gunner.
Dick was No2 on the gun and moved to another spot and opened fire on the area that the gunner was shot from. As he got up on one knee he was yelled at by someone to get down, then a second shot from the sniper hit Dick in the chest and that made him the first and the only WA KIA on that day at Long Tan.
Dad tells us so many stories of Dick and himself getting into trouble, well more Dick… Like most of the people his age (21) life was one big adventure, Vietnam must have been the in-thing at the time as he enlisted knowing he would go to Vietnam.
Boys become men very fast in combat.
When he was KIA at the age of 21 life was only starting. For me I still remember the day my mother picked us up early from school crying and we made one of the longest trips to Perth from Northcliffe I have ever made.
My brothers and I (all five at this stage) are heading up to the service in Vietnam this year. Hopefully we can take our father to the service over there, but I believe he would not be able to walk to the cross without falling apart or having a heart attack.
Service for Private Dick Aldersea – 10 August, 10.30am – Rankin Gardens, Subiaco, Western Australia
There will be a commemorative service for 21 year old Private Richard Alfred Aldersea from 10 Platoon, D Company 6RAR who was killed in the Battle of Long Tan on 10 August, 10.30am to 12.00pm at Rankin Gardens, Corner Rokeby and Hamersley Roads, Subiaco, Western Australia.
The public are invited to join in a ceremony comprising of a commemorative service, a tree planting and unveiling of a special plaque, followed by a morning tea.
Remembering those who fell in the Battle of Long Tan: