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Famous Naval Charactors From the Recent Era


He was the most amazing bloke I ever met in uniform. Frank Trickey was a leader. I don't know whether he was good as a gunnery officer or not but I would have gone if he'd bellowed 'fix bayonets and follow me!'
He was a rarity, an officer who you instantly respected. I met him when he was Commander at Whale island in 77, I think it was. I was doing my killick's leadership. On the first day, into the classroom enters this guy. He had a sort of 'reddy-brek' glow about him, he was a monumental presence with a voice that would be audible from one end of a ship to the other in a force 12. As it happens he was wicked on the parade ground, I remember seeing him go ape when a class did an into line left turn that was a shambles. laughed I nearly shat. He was of the saluting podium and beating them into line with his GI's stick before they'd taken three paces in the new direction.
There are so few gifted with that 'born leader' thing that when you meet one you know it, and Frank Trickey was such a man. Can anyone imagine telling a lie to him? Or saying no? It just wouldn't enter your head much the same as disobeying him or calling him anything other than sir.
He was just awesome and the dits he told..... my favourite was visibly present at Whale Island main gate. It was a board on which, in handwriting, was every original excuse for being adrift that Frank had heard at table. He said when he took a table that if he'd never heard that excuse before it went on the board and the author was case dismissed.
The one I best recall was about two lads who missed their ship in Malta and eventually caught up with it -and Frank.
The first one goes up and off-caps. He comes out with this outlandish tale of being in a horse drawn cabby for want of a better word. On his way back to the dockyard it went over this narrow bridge and got stuck, hence he's adrift.
Frank says, well I've never heard that one before, on caps, dismissed. The next one marches in and off-caps, and Frank says and what's your excuse Smith? I was in the one behind his sir. On caps case dismissed says Frank.
I spent ages at that gate reading them.
The last time I saw him was when he was doing his RNR bit. I was at Faslane and he had brought a load of RNR bods for training at Garelochead camp. I chanced to walk into the main admin building and heard the voice before I saw the man. It brought an instant smile to my face and I went to find him.
He was probably wasted in a peacetime navy he really would have excelled in a punch up. This is the first I'd heard he was dead but not really a surprise given how old I am now.


He was Lt Andrews. When he was at Raleigh between 82 and 84, I was a PO then and would march any of my lot half a mile extra to avoid passing his haunts. He got his half ring towards the end of my time there too. Whatever else he was, he was the consumate GI. I had to take a platoon of chefs, stewards, spare hands and odds and sods around one Friday. I bloody hated getting spannered for divisions. I marched up to my lot who were late forming up, and started by ordering dress by the centre. I nearly pissed myself as half went one way and half the other leaving a big gap in the middle, my chin must have hit the deck, I just stood and gawped. Worse still they were pissing themselves laughing. I shouted 'quiet in the ranks, you are at attention.' Then there was this gravelly voice behind me. 'Problem PO?' I just pointed then said 'WTF, I only said dress by the centre.' He said leave it to God he sorted them.


Anyone remember Tim Sex, I guess with a name like that he had to be a character. Started at TS Mercury at 12 years old, then joined the Mob at St. Vincent as a Jnr. Seaman. When I served under him he was a 3 ringer and Captain of HMS Chichester.When at sea his pennant could be seen flying proudly. On Beira Patrol he was always taking part in any sports etc or could be seen in the bridge wings taking pot shots at any sharks silly enough to come close. He was once heard to say when entering harbour "if that tug touches the ships side I'll sink the bloody thing"
Shovel Face

Lt Andrews was the much feared Shovel Face in the early 80s as the Gunnery Officer at Collingwood. I was a PO(M) on the PArade Ground there in 83 &84 and Micky Fogg was the CGI. Shovel Face was a godd boss and I didn't have any problems with him. He did have an op though and had his sense of humour removed but his eyesight was uncanny.
knew Lt Andrews when he was a killick on HMS Decoy part of the west indies squadron in 1964, his nick name then was anchor face Andrews.
Two others and myself were tasked with helping to put up xmas decorations
in the sea mens mission in Hamilton Bermuda, Anchor face made us fall in and marched us about a mile to the mission screaming left right left right,
made us feel like right plonkers
Everyone I hear accepts Frank Trickey as the master of Ceremonial but would like to know what he was like as a skipper to serve under.

I would put a tenner that no has a bad word to say against him
Your Tenner is still safe with me!

Those of us unfortunate enough to have come under his watchful gaze on the hallowed parade ground, or in the drill Shed on Whale Island, will doubtless forever recall his fearsome thunderous voice, when barking orders, or when dressing down anyone and everyone who fell foul of the exacting standards he expected of everyone placed under his charge; irrespective of rate, or rank. Extremely tall in height and like the proverbial brick outhouse in stature: Even the parade ground staff P.O.'s and Chief G.I.’s appeared to be in awe of him. My one and only encounter with him in this respect was as an Able Seaman, (RP), when drafted into “Excellent” from “Dryad” for ceremonial parade training and drill rehearsals, in advance of Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral, in January 1965.

You can only imagine my surprise and disappointment, coupled with a sense of foreboding sometime later, when, on joining HMS Nubian in Rothsyth as a relief Killick, ahead of a 9 month long deployment in the Persian Gulf, I discovered him to be the ships appointed Gunnery officer.

On my first forenoon aboard Nubian, I came across him in the Burma Road. Noting me to be a new face onboard, he stopped me to enquire into my reasons for having been drafted onto his ship. Having satisfied his curiosity in this respect, he then questioned me about my current status for promotion to Petty Officer. On answering that I had not given the matter much thought, his parting instructions were that I should: -

1. Do the top button up on my No 8 shirt,

2. Get a haircut, and

3. Have a Request Form duly completed, requesting I be considered for promotion to P.O., on his desk by 0900 the following morning.

Thereafter and for the remainder of the deployment, every time it seemed there was an evolution to be carried out; be it lowering and recovering the seaboat, anchoring, slipping, mooring ship, jackstay transfer, refuelling at sea, etc. etc. he had me piped to be in attendance, (day, or night). Finding us on the same watch together during the silent hours, he on the bridge and me in the Ops room, he would also bombard me with questions on all aspects of seamanship; from Rules of the Road at Sea, ships lights recognition, Morse code, flags: you name it!

On returning back to Blighty from the Gulf, the ships passage included a short stop over at Malta. It so happened that a Seaman P.O.s board of examination was taking place during the visit, at HMS St Angelo. On his recommendation, on arrival, I was ‘encouraged’ by him to ‘Challenge the Board’. (This being an accepted course of action in those far off days for anyone wishing to be examined, but not specifically nominated in advance). Needless to say, having benefitted greatly from his forbearance, persistence, guidance and unfailing encouragement, I passed without any difficulty.

This latter interaction with “Trikey” showed him to have a totally different persona to that which I had seen displayed on the parade ground previously. Rather than the “Man-mountain intimidator” I had encountered earlier, behind that hard disciplinarian facade, I found him to have a very genuine compassionate and caring side to his nature.

I have since learned that he first Joined the Navy as a 15year old Boy Seaman and at the age of 21 was the youngest qualified Gunnery Instructor in the Fleet. Having subsequently been promoted to the Special Duties Officer List and having attained the rank of Lt. Commander, In 1978, he again undertook the responsibility of overseeing the ceremonial parade training of Service personnel and their deployment in the Funeral procession of The Earl Mountbatten of Burma.

Later, in 1981, on promotion to the rank of Commander, “Frank” was appointed to Portland Naval Base, as The Sea Cadet Training Officer, the position in which he remained until his retirement in 1991 after 44 years of distinguished Royal Naval service. I understand that he has now “Crossed the Bar”.



War Hero
I knew Frank when I was an REM2 and ad hoc instructor in a Sea Cadet Unit. Frank was the Sea Cadet Area Officer (1978 or so) and his inspections were already legendary. However, his enthusiasm and obvious care for the Cadets were infectious. I remember him taking time during an inspection to teach New Entry cadets how to throw a heaving line. He was also very good company socially and encouraged me to go for my commission.
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