Robinson, Warwick CMDR

Robinson, Warwick CMDR

We have been advised that Commander Warwick Lloyd Robinson crossed the bar on 28 February 2020.  He was 90 years old.  

Warwick was a member of the Victorian Division of the FAAAA, and lived in Berwick, Melbourne.  He moved into a nursing home in Mount Martha in early February. 

He was the loving husband of Margaret (dec), father of Charles and Mark and step father of Rod, Lisa and Mark, and leaves behind 13 grandchildren.  He was farewelled at a private family cremation.

The following memories were kindly written by Peter Ferguson, and provide a charming insight into Warwick’s character: 

I first met Warwick when he joined Basic Engineering Course the Royal Naval Engineering College Manadon in the same class as me in about 1956. He had just completed the  Upper Yardman Course in UK and having been promoted from Petty Officer Mechanician to Sub Lieutenant. He originally joined the RAN as a recruit and became a member of the FAA.
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He was a lot older than most of his class mates and he impressed us very early when we were in the bar and seeing who could drink a pint of beer the fastest. We all managed to sink one in about 10 seconds. Warwick watched us for a while and the asked if he could have a go. It took him 3 seconds. He was great company, a very good sportsman and no respecter of the more formal stuffy officers who were our instructors. In any case he won everyone’s respect.
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By this time he was married to Liz Anderson the daughter of Colonel Charles Anderson VC the MP for Hume in the Federal Parliament for many years. They had two children Charles and Mark. Warwick and I became close friends and I was Charles’ Godfather. 
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We left Manadon in late 1958 to return home to get our engine room watchkeeping certificates. He went to Vampire and I went to Vendetta. In late 1959 we both returned to UK for further engineering specialist courses. He became a marine engineering specialist and on return to Australia he joined HMAS Swan as the engineer officer. About this time in view of his age and experience he was given “weight for age” and his seniority was increased significantly.
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Our paths crossed again in 1968 when he was the RAN resident engineer in Bay City Michigan where the final DDG HMAS Brisbane was under construction. He had recently relieved Bill Rourke (later RADM) in that role. I joined the ship as the Deputy WEEO. The American approach to engineering fascinated him and most other engineer officers. Here we were building arguably the most modern destroyer in the world in a shipyard where the main machine shop had a dirt floor and all the machines were belt driven from a large electric motor. At the other end of the scale the ship was fitted with a 3D planar array radar controlled by a digital computer.
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On our return to Australia Warwick again relieved Bill Rourke as the engineer officer of HMAS Brisbane before our deployment to Vietnam in 1969. He was a tower of strength in the ship, his good humour, calmness and sound leadership was widely admired. He was always very frugal with the ship’s fresh water and earned the nickname of “water rationing” Robinson.
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One night when we were steaming off the Vietnam Coast on one boiler we suffered a steam tube burst. The ship went black and it took a little time to raise steam again and get under way. Warwick did not think it much of a problem. However, when Fleet Headquarters received our next Report of Proceedings the proverbial hit the fan. “You were in a war zone on one boiler” stormed Fleet Head Quarters (FHQ). “When you are next in Singapore you will get the Queen’s boilermaker to inspect your boilers and procedures”. Warwick had no idea who the Queen’s Boilermaker might be: an irascible Commander, a senior civilian engineer or a senior sailor. Anyway he said to me “you’ve got to come with me” and so we went off to see the great man.
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In the event it was a pleasant older Chief ERA and on meeting him Warwick said “What do you know about 1200 psi boilers Chief?” “Never seen one” was the reply. So we took on board showed him around, helped him write a suitable report, gave him a beer and sent him on his way. Warwick did not like pomposity and FHQ certainly reacted pompously.
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He later became the engineer officer of the Melbourne and then I think the Navy General Overseer in Victoria. I did not see much of Warwick after that but we kept in touch with Christmas cards.
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I remember him fondly. He was a good friend, an admirable Naval Officer, great company a wonderful raconteur with the most amazing fund of stories. He was charming; I remember a party at my mother in law’s house and her mother, Jean, was there and a very elderly lady. We were all dancing and Warwick decided Jean should join in She was quite shy about it but he gently persuaded her and she had a wonderful time. Later she described him as ‘that wonderful man’.
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He made her night, but that was his way. 

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