Richard Trowbridge

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Rear Admiral
Sir Richard John Trowbridge
Rear Admiral Sir Richard Trowbridge
25th Governor of Western Australia
In office
25 November 1980 – 24 November 1983
Monarch Queen Elizabeth II
Premier Sir Charles Court (1980–82)
Ray O'Connor (1982–83)
Brian Burke (1983)
Preceded by Sir Wallace Kyle
Succeeded by Gordon Reid
Personal details
Born 21 January 1920
Andover, Hampshire, England
Died 4 May 2003(2003-05-04) (aged 83)
Portsmouth, England
Military service
Nickname(s) Tom
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service 1935–1975
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands HMS Hampshire
Fishery Protection Squadron
HMS Carysfort
Battles/wars Second World War

Rear Admiral Sir Richard John Trowbridge KCVO (21 January 1920 – 4 May 2003) was a senior officer in the Royal Navy and the 25th Governor of Western Australia from 25 November 1980 to 24 November 1983, and the last British-born vice-regal representative in Australia.[1][2]

He was the first officer to rise from boy seaman to captain of the Queen's yacht HMY Britannia.[3]

Early life and naval career

Richard John Trowbridge was born on 21 January 1920 to a farming family at Andover in the county of Hampshire, England.[4] He was educated at Andover Grammar School and was fully expecting to become a farmer until a downturn in agriculture saw him leave school in 1935 at just 15 years of age to join the Royal Navy as a boy seaman. Trowbridge was quickly promoted through the navy ranks, and was commissioned as Sub-lieutenant in 1940, serving throughout the Second World War at sea. At the end of hostilities, he was stationed in Singapore for a number of years where he was promoted to Commander in 1953, and where he met and married Anne Perceval (1920–2013), on 26 February 1955.[3]

From 1956 to 1958 he captained the destroyer HMS Carysfort[5] in the Mediterranean, and following this served as the second-in-command of the cruiser HMS Bermuda from 1958 to 1959. He then returned to the gunnery school at Whale Island in Portsmouth, where he was promoted to captain in 1960. From 1962 to 1964 he was captain of the frigate HMS Duncan and in charge of the Fishery Protection Squadron, and from 1967 to 1969 he commanded the guided missile destroyer HMS Hampshire, which for many years was the flagship of the Western Fleet.[3]

Trowbridge became extra equerry to the Queen in 1970 and he served as Flag Officer from 1970 to 1975.[2]

Governor of Western Australia

The Premier of Western Australia, Sir Charles Court, in 1975 sought to revive the practice of appointment of British-born governors for Western Australia, contrary to the advice of Lord Goronwy-Roberts, British Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, who supported the newly established custom that Australian State Governors should be Australian-born. An initial compromise was the appointment of Sir Wallace Kyle, retired Royal Air Force officer, who, although totally Anglicised, was Kalgoorlie-born.[6][7]

Following Kyle's term, Trowbridge was appointed Governor of Western Australia on Premier Court's recommendation, for a term from 25 November 1980 to 24 November 1983.[7]

On completion of his term, Trowbridge returned to retirement in the United Kingdom living in Portsmouth. His life was overshadowed by exposure to asbestos which was being removed from Britannia during a long refit which he supervised, almost certainly leading to his death from lung cancer. He died on 4 May 2003, in Portsmouth.[3]


  1. Dr Geoff Gallop, Premier (13 May 2003).$FILE/A36%20S2%2020030513%20p7514b-7514b.pdf |chapter-url= missing title (help) (PDF). Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). Western Australia: Western Australian Legislative Assembly. pp. 7514–7514.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Rear Admiral Sir Richard Trowbridge 1980–1983". The Constitutional Centre of Western Australia. Dept of Premier and Cabinet, Government of Western Australia. Retrieved 13 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Trowbridge". The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group Limited. 9 May 2003. Retrieved 14 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Trowbridge dies at 83". The West Australian. West Australian Newspapers Limited. 10 May 2003. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Commanding Officers of HMS Carysfort
  6. Chris, Clark. "Kyle, Sir Wallace Hart (1910–1988)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre of Biography, Australian National University. Retrieved 14 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Twomey, Anne (2006). "Western Australia and the appointment of British Governors in the 1970s–1980s". The chameleon crown: the Queen and her Australian governors. Sydney: The Federation Press. ISBN 978-1-86287-629-3. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
Government offices
Preceded by
Air Chief Marshal Sir Wallace Kyle
Governor of Western Australia
Succeeded by
Professor Gordon Reid