All Ship All Shore from the National VP.
Lieutenant Commander Michael T Hickie R.N, R.A.N, Ret’d. D.S.C, Arctic Star,
Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy
Turns 99 17 October, 2021
Happy birthday from the SAA
Michael Timothy Hickie was born on 17th October 1922, in Mussoorie, Uttarakhand, North West India. His parents were both from distinguished British Raj families. Mike was then educated in UK, and joined Dartmouth Naval College in 1936. (Mike was, we believe, a year below Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh.) In 1940 he joined his first ship as a Midshipman, ‘HMS Repulse’, a Battle cruiser – operating in North Sea. Then on ‘HMS Eskimo’, and then ‘HMS Nigeria’, with dramatic session helping in sink German battleship, the ‘Bremse’. After completing his training course Mike volunteered for Submarines, qualifying in July 1942. He then joined P222 in Gibraltar. At this point Churchhill gave orders that all Submarines should have names, and not just numbers. Mike then served on ‘HMS Ursula’, engaging in much action, and the Sub was damaged. ‘Ursula’ was ordered back to Portsmouth for repairs – it was Feb 43. Mike was then assigned to ‘HMS Truant’, as First Lieutenant, based in Holy Loch. They had several successful missions in the North Sea and Arctic waters close to Iceland. Here it was so cold, that when the Sub surfaced to recharge its batteries ice would form quickly on the railings, in heavy sea, men had stand ready to bash off this ice, in case the Submarine became top heavy and turned turtle with the extra weight.
It was in here in Holy Loch, Mike met Wren Patricia Traunter, and their romance began. Pat had an exciting story, for she had left her English parents working in Argentina, to come to UK, at beginning of war, to volunteer - but her ship was torpedoed in the Atlantic. Pat spent three weeks in an open lifeboat, before rescue. Pat then served as a Wren at Holy Loch. They were married in January 1944, with an aunt of Pat’s present, and some of Mike’s family. Their first child Tim, was born in November.
Mike then served on ‘HMS Taciturn’, on Patrol in Pacific, till peace was declared. They had a number of ‘Victory Cruises’ in Pacific.
When in Freemantle, in a special service, Mike was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Mike then served on ‘HMS Truncheon’ in Hong Kong waters. In 1947 Mike was appointed to ‘HMS Anchorite’, in Holy Loch. Pat was staying with her sister in Sussex. A daughter Tessa was born in November 1948. Mike then took command of ‘HMS Sirdar’, and later ‘HMS Amphion’, serving off Greenland in icy waters. Here they were sometimes under the ice shelf for long periods. Then Mike then took Command of ‘HMS Tallyho”, serving in Bay of Bengal. Mike saw much of the world, and in 1955 was based in Malta. Mike then served on ‘HMS Gambia’ east of the Suez. In 1960 he was appointed to “HMS Rooke”, the shore base in Gibraltar as Staff Officer Operations, serving there for three years, and with Pat living there also. Then Mike went as Work Study Officer on aircraft carrier ‘HMS Ark Royal’.
In April 1966, Mike left the Royal Navy, and he and the family moved to Australia. However, here he reported to Australian Navy at ‘HMAS Penguin’, the Naval base in Mosman, and he then joined ‘HMAS Platypus’ in mid-1969. He then served as First Lieutenant on ‘HMAS Sydney’ for 16 months, with three trips to Vietnam. Retiring in 1974 he took a position at St Ignatius College as the bursar. However, in 1976 he received a request from Australian Prime Minister Whitlam, to help with new Submarines, and so re-joined the RAN, and served on ‘HMAS Kuttabul’. In 1983 Mike left the Australian Navy, and took a position at the Australian Museum. Later Mike and Pat retired to South Coast, but Pat sadly passed away March 2006. Then Mike moved to Sydney staying near his children, Tim and Tessa.
When turning 90 he met Joan M Wilson, widow of Submariner Lieut. Commander Don Wilson DSC, RANVR. Joan was about to lead a tour group to India which was visiting Mussoorie – the place where Mike had been born. Then with Joan, Mike travelled to Catania in southern Italy, representing Australia at the International Submariners Congress. They then went on to UK visiting Dartmouth Naval College, where Mike was told he was eligible for another medal - “The Arctic Star’. This is awarded to those who served escorting convoys into the Arctic and round to Murmansk in Russia in WW2, which was during Mike’s service on HMS Nigeria’ in 1941. They have also travelled to Holbrook to the Submarine Memorial Museum for the service to remember those who had, on submarines, served in W1 and WW2. Mike then moved to the RSL Village in Narrabeen, and is at present staying there in Milne Bay Hostel.
Hopefully if Lockdown allows, Mike will celebrate his 99th Birthday with his family, Tim and Tessa and also with Joan.
National Vice President
Submarine Association Australia