of the ship as HMS Vengeance with the Royal Navy
here for more information.
of the ship as HMAS Vengeance with the Royal Australian Navy
here for more information.
Rear Admiral Philip Gick DCS & Bar
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
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.