Gunboat Command: The Biography of Lieutenant Commander Robert Hichens DSO* DSC** RNVR
This biography draws heavily on the personal diaries of the subject, Robert Hichens (or ‘Hitch’ as he was universally known). The book contains detailed and graphic accounts of running battles. Tragically ‘Hitch’ was killed in action in April 1943, having refused promotion and a job ashore.
ones, I suppose, to be burnt before reading!’ But when he had read it he showed considerably more interest. ‘I think I see a connection here,’ he said, flicking over the leaves of an official-looking pink file. ‘Take a look at that.’ He was holding out the Natal, the secret daily intelligence sheet on naval happenings for the previous day. I ran my eye down the sheet until my attention was riveted suddenly: ‘Strong force of E-boats attacked eastbound convoy off Start Point. Seven merchant
they had a rather attractive programme of all musical comedy hits. They brought home to me what a gulf was fixed between my present existence and pre-war life. I find that somehow mentally I have made a clean cut. I have in a sense blanked off the past. I suppose instinctively I have found this necessary in order to steel myself for death at the worst or laborious days cut off from all I love at the best. The comfortable pleasure loving pre-war self has had to be cut clean out, so that I can
his feet thoroughly in the wardroom and had something of a reputation amongst both officers and men for courage and determination. His commanding officer had recommended him for the command of an MTB. He had endured the brutal winter of 1939/40 at sea, one of the coldest of the century, and he had endured the danger and boredom of minesweeping. To be in minesweepers during the Phoney War was, to many thoughtful officers and men, a surreal experience when they came ashore and back to normality,
tug to take us on the next day the whole way, starting with the light at 09.00. Then we had a drinking session with him and our old friend the lock master. The latter was quite boozy when he left and had great difficulty in heaving his large bulk out of our little hatchway. Then we went and had dinner at the Lovat Arms and so to bed. Thursday, 16th January. It certainly was an exceptionally cold night. In the morning we were firmly frozen in and the ice was very thick. Then followed a very
Royal Navy who were wondering whether the new MGBs had any utility at all in the fight to maintain control over the coastal convoy routes in the Channel and the North Sea. Peter Howes had the formidable task of trying to prove that the MGB could be a valuable tool in the right hands. Rather than continuing with Robert’s diary, which in any case ends shortly, at this point the book he wrote during the war and never finished, We Fought Them in Gunboats, picks up the narrative of his introduction