SAVE THE VENGEANCE

OBITUARIES

Appeal to save the very last British, Commonwealth and South American
Second World War Aircraft Carrier
Preservando a História da Naval Aviação Brasileira
Vengeance
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HMS Vengeance as Minas Gerais A-11
History of the ship as HMS Vengeance with the Royal Navy

1944-1956

Please click here for more information.

History of the ship as HMAS Vengeance with the Royal Australian Navy

1952-1955

Please click here for more information.

Related History Items

HMS Vengeance Association reunion, Novatel, Nottingham, April 2002
Further details can be obtained, by contacting: The Secretary, Derek (Lew) Lewis at: ourouse@vengeance100.freeserve.co.uk 

See also the Association web page

Rear Admiral Philip Gick DCS & Bar
(Filed: 19/01/2002) 

The Telegraph Newspaper

REAR ADMIRAL PHILIP "PERCY" GICK, who has died aged 88, flew Swordfish aircraft in the early years of the Second World War; he served in a total of eight aircraft carriers, and was awarded the DSC and Bar and twice mentioned in dispatches. Following serving on the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief immediately postwar, on return to Britain as a Commander, he served on the staff of the RN Tactical School and went to sea in the  carrier Vengeance as Executive Officer. Promoted captain in 1952, Gick took command of the new destroyer Daring.
 
 

During the War Lt Gick was involved in the hunt for the German battleship Bismarck in May 1941. During an initial attack at night, he was the only pilot out of nine to score a torpedo hit, though no significant damage was inflicted. Gick subsequently received the DSC for his part in the action. Two weeks his squadron, 825 Squadron transferred to Ark Royal. On November 13, while returning from another reinforcement of Malta, Ark Royal was torpedoed by U-81. The ship sank the following day, only 25 miles from the safety of Gibraltar. 

                  Gick was mentioned in dispatches for his part in these
                  actions. In December 1941 Gick took command of 815
                  Squadron operating in the Western Desert in support of
                  the 8th Army. During the next nine months the squadron
                  attacked enemy airfields and armoured formations, and
                  conducted anti-submarine patrols off the coast. 

                  Gick subsequently received a Bar to his DSC for his part
                  in the destruction of U-652 in June 1942. During his time
                  in the Western Desert Gick was compelled to make the
                  best use of resources as and when he found them. 

                  A group of Italian prisoners of war was conscripted to do
                  the cooking for Gick's men, while some of their comrades
                  - who had worked for Alfa Romeo - were put to work
                  repairing the various aircraft. Gick then spent a year in
                  staff appointments in Britain. Following promotion to
                  acting lieutenant commander he joined the escort carrier
                  Vindex as Lt Cdr (Flying). 

                  After work on the Atlantic convoy routes, Vindex was part
                  of the covering force for the Normandy invasion in June
                  1944. In August the ship was part of the escort for a
                  convoy to Russia and its return in September.

                  By the time Gick left the ship in October, his aircraft had
                  taken part in the sinking of no fewer than five U-boats, for
                  which he was again mentioned in dispatches. He had also
                  come close to being court-martialled, after telling a
                  gunnery officer to "bugger their Lordships' orders and do
                  as we have always done".

                  Gick got away with a reprimand, of which he later
                  commented coolly: "Added to those I had already got, [it]
                  made very little difference." After a short spell in
                  command of a training squadron, Gick joined the carrier
                  Venerable, part of the British Pacific Fleet, in command of
                  the ship's air group. 

                  Venerable was part of Rear Admiral Harcourt's force sent
                  to liberate Hong Kong after the Japanese surrender. One
                  of the problems Gick had to deal with in Hong Kong was
                  piracy; junks carrying the vital rice supplies were being
                  hijacked, and their crews murdered. 

                  Gick was accordingly appointed Staff Officer Anti-Piracy
                  (although when the signal from the Admiralty arrived, it
                  had omitted the word "anti"). With the aid of a well-armed
                  team (including a professor of classics) Gick intercepted
                  the pirates at sea. 

                  "The drill was quite simply that, when a strange craft
                  came close to us and answered a challenge with a burst
                  of fire, they received about 10 times the amount they
                  could possibly muster," he recorded later. 

                  "By the time we got on board most of them were dead or
                  dying; we took the junk back with one or two still alive
                  and saw fit to get them to their homes to spread the
                  rumour that there was not much future in piracy." In time,
                  the pirates gave up.

                  Philip David Gick (he acquired the name "Percy" courtesy
                  of an admiral on board the battleship Nelson) was born at
                  Weymouth on February 22 1913, the son of Sir William
                  Gick, who had been in charge of naval supplies during the
                  First World War. ]

                  Educated at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate, he joined
                  the Royal Navy in 1931 as a public school entrant aged 18
                  (most officers in those days joined as cadets at 13). After
                  Dartmouth he did his sea training in Nelson and then
                  completed professional courses ashore at Greenwich and
                  Portsmouth.

                  He spent much of 1936 at sea in the fishery protection
                  sloops Godetia and Lupin. Having been selected for the
                  Fleet Air Arm, he commenced flying training at Leuchars,
                  Fife, in September that year. Twelve months later, Lt Gick
                  joined his first squadron, No 822, flying Swordfish aircraft
                  from the carrier Furious. 

                  The following year he transferred to 810 Squadron in
                  Courageous, and on the outbreak of war his squadron
                  moved to the new carrier Ark Royal, engaged in
                  anti-submarine operations with the Home Fleet. Ark Royal
                  survived submarine and air attacks before joining Force
                  `K' in early 1940, searching for German commerce
                  raiders in the South Atlantic. 

                  The ship and her aircraft then played an active part
                  throughout the Norway Campaign. Afterwards, Gick
                  served ashore for a few months as a flying instructor
                  before joining 825 Squadron in Victorious. Following the
                  liberation of Hong Kong at the end of the War, Gick
                  moved ashore on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief. 
                  She had lost her commander, who had collapsed and died
                  on board, and also two crewmen in a gun accident;
                  morale was low, and it was decided that she needed a
                  young, progressive captain to get her back on course.
 

He retired in 1964. Gick decided to through himself into a demanding new project, turning the former logging ponds at Emsworth, near Chichester, into a yacht harbour. He is survived by a son and three daughters.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Save the Vengeance Appeal and Museum Project Team