Account of HMS Daring's First Commission

by Trevor Rawlings (Tel)

HMS Daring was the sixth ship to bear this name. She was launched on the 10th of August 1949 by Mrs Leonard Hall, daughter-in-law of the First Lord of the Admiralty. She lay alongside until completion by Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson, Wallsend on Tyne. She then hoisted the white ensign for the first time on the 8th of February 1952 after North Sea trials.

I joined Daring in January 1952 at Swan Hunter yard on the Tyne. She then commissioned in the February.

During the months of February to May she carried out various sea trials such as gunnery, torpedo, speed and numerous other calibrations.

The first commission was to the Mediterranean Sea from May until August 1954.

It was known at the time that she was not a 'happy ship'. This was possibly due to many blips during the work-up trials and due to the fact most of the ratings were senior e.g. all sparkers were full Tels and all the bunting-tossers were Sigs. OD's were few.

Daring spent most of her time in the Med and from time to time visited most of the countries there, including the Red Sea. She was a prime target for exercises in that era with NATO, the Americans and anyone else who wanted to join in.

During the first few months in the Med our second skipper suddenly dropped dead in August 1952. The first commission saw five different Commanding Officers!

They were:

  • Captain E Hale
  • Commander V J St Clair Ford
  • Commander J L Rathbone DSC.
  • Captain PD Gick OBE, DSC.1
  • Captain EA Blundell OBE

It was a practice shoot with aircraft that we lost two men, killed by the 40mm STAGG. Daring fired 3,874 rounds of the main armament (4.5") and 2,373 rounds of bofor shells. 52 torpedoes were fired and all were recovered. 105 bombs were fired from the Squid mortar (3 barreled ASW Limbo) on the quarterdeck.

The next captain, a Percy Gick who had never had a small ship command, took over and turned it all around, in a few months it became a vastly different ship. He retired as a Rear Admiral but is still known to this day by the lads as "Old Percy". We nearly had our commission cut short and returned to UK, but we stayed in the Med, which was one round of exercises after the other, with the odd earthquake and Comet crash thrown in. In 1953 she was the first ship to take aid and supplies to Zante and Argostoli during the Greek earthquakes. A street was then named Daring in recognition of the help given. In 1954 she was asked to search for the first Comet aircraft which had crashed off Stromboli.

The original commission started off with 20 in the Communication branch and ended up with 13, all of whom had passed for the rate. The Comms mess was 11a, two bunks and the rest slinging hammocks.

When we finished the Med commission the ships company remained onboard for a further ten months with the Home Fleet in the Arctic and then back out to the Med again.

Daring returned to Guzz in mid August 1954 whereby the ships company were given back leave and then the ship returned for exercises with the Home Fleet. Following the exercises Daring sailed for Tromso, well within the Arctic Circle.

After the Tromso visit Daring sailed once more for the Mediterranean Sea and the island of Malta for a short period. In May 1955 Trevor finally said farewell to the Daring.


Brief account of HMS Daring's First Commission

by Malcom Cairns (Tel)

I joined the RN for my National Service in March 1951 and did my Telegraphist training at HMS Mercury and following that I went to Plymouth and spent some time at St Budeaux until I was posted to the new Daring.

All the ships crew went by train from Plymouth to Wallsend one freezing January night and I recall having my first sight of a ships mess (It was 11a) - to think that about 15 people had to live in such a small place.
I recall that there were two sets of five torpedo tubes (one set forward and one set aft of the aft funnel).

Well, there were four of us National Servicemen on board that first commission (B Pogson, and I think D Palfreyman as well as myself. Can't recall the other one) and the communications department was larger than usual as the ship was to be the squadron leader.

This did not come about as quick as expected as the other ships in the squadron were late commissioning so in the Autumn of 1952 (I can't remember the date) the four of us were packed off ashore in Malta. 

I went to do shore duties in the Radio Room in the tunnel in Valletta and lived in Lascaris Barracks at the bottom end of Valletta city. Incidentally some years later I visited the tunnel before it was converted to a museum and saw the room where I worked still with the stone tables and the air-conditioning in place but no equipment.

From there I went on a cruise with the Glasgow with Lord Mountbatten as CinC and was finally flown back to Devonport for my discharge in March 1953.



Champion of naval air power who took part
in heroic assault on Hitler’s greatest battleship

Died 16th January 2002. His memorial service was held on the 2nd February 2002.
Informed by his niece Elizabeth Mills. 


Britain has lost one of its dwindling links with the greatest sea chase in history with the death of Bosham admiral Percy Gick. In his heyday, the officer was one of the foremost proponents of naval air power – and led by example! In 1941, as a pilot of an antiquated Swordfish biplane he led the air assault on the pride of Hitler’s navy, the battleship BISMARCK, on the loose in the North Atlantic.

From the carrier HMS VICTORIOUS, the later Rear-Admiral, was the only man in his flight to get a successful hit on the Nazi flagship, which was later finished off by the British Home Fleet. 

He then switched ships to join Portsmouth’s legendary carrier ARK ROYAL, receiving a mention in dispatches for launching a dinghy to save shipmates and returning to the stricken ship twice to rescue comrades when she was sunk in November 1941.

Rear-Admiral Gick was as an air group commander with a carrier task force in the Far East, before being given command of destroyer HMS DARING and, in the late 1950s, commando carrier HMS BULWARK. He completed his naval career as the Flag Officer Naval Flying Training, overseeing and bringing fresh blood into the Fleet Air Arm from 1961 to 1964. He was also instrumental in helping to found the naval air wing’s museum at Yeovilton.

On retirement from the navy, the admiral became chairman of Emsworth Shipyard Group – a firm he successfully ran for 25 years before finally standing down in 1990.

Rear-Admiral Percy Gick, RN (Retd). Born February 22 1913, died January 16, 2000.



The ashes of Rear Admiral Percy Gick, OBE, DSC, RN (Retd)., were cast on the waters together with a good portion of scotch.

About twenty of the Darings' attended the Remembrance Service.

Neil Blandford (Daring shipmate)