Geoffrey Victor Hickman

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Commander (retired) Geoffrey Victor Hickman, D.S.C. (1 May, 1890 – ) served as a navigating officer in the Royal Navy. He earned a few favourable evaluations and notices, but was generally found lacking, and possessed a frail constitution. However, he delivered good service when crisis found him as second command in Broke at the Second Battle of Dover Strait.

Life & Career

Hickman gained two and a half months' time on passing out of Britannia.

On 7 February, 1908, Hickman was admitted to Portland Hospital, suffering from debility after a bad case of enteric fever. He was fit on 20 August, 1908.

On 27 April, 1909 Hickman was suffering from myocarditis and was given 42 days sick leave.

In December, 1911, Captain D'Oyly noted that Hickman was "[n]ot good at taking charge. Forgetful."

Hickman earned his watchkeeping certificate in March 1912 and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 30 June, 1912. In May 1913, his name was noted for navigating duties.

In June, 1914, Hickman was appointed to Savage as first and navigating lieutenant. He was sick with influenza for nine days in February, 1915 but returned to the ship until an unusually adverse report from Vice-Admiral Mediterranean (which must mean Vice-Admiral Eastern Mediterranean John Michael de Robeck) stated that Hickman was "slovenly & dirty in habits and not fitted to be 1st Lieut. of a destroyer." Hickman was therefore ordered home in Blenheim in June, 1915. On 18 September, he was appointed as navigating officer in the depot ship H.M.S. Woolwich.

On 10 November, 1916, he was appointed to Seymour as navigating officer, but only stayed in her long enough to transfer to Broke, likely within the month.

On 20-21 April, 1917, Hickman was navigator and second in command of Broke at the Second Battle of Dover Strait in which he was credited with "great coolness in handling the ship in action", helping Commander Edward R. G. R. Evans alter course from ramming an already-torpedoed enemy so that the blow could strike the next enemy astern. Hickman was awarded a D.S.C. for this performance, gazetted on 10 May 1917.


Hickman was appointed out of Broke on 31 March, 1919 to the monitor Marshal Soult. On 13 August, he was ordered over to H.M.S. Grafton.

Hickman was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander on 30 June, 1920. On 2 July, he was appointed as navigating officer in Royal Arthur.

In December, 1922 he was appointed to Pandora as navigating officer. In January 1923 he was sent to Constance to be her navigator, but defective vision caused his name to be removed from the list of navigating officers on 30 May, 1923.

In August, 1924 Captain Sarel of Assistance wrote that Hickman had a "[v]ery poor knowledge of duties. Gen bearing poor. Abrupt manner. Lacks self confidence & organising ability. untidy." Furthermore, Vice-Admiral Sinclair noted that Hickman was "unfavourably commented on [by Rear Admiral Boyle] when the Assistance was inspected."

On 26 May, 1925 Hickman was appointed in command of a group of destroyers in reserve. This work busied him until he was put on unpaid time in April, 1926.

Hickman was placed on the Retired List as medically unfit owing to psychasthenia on 16 December, 1927.

Hickman was promoted to the rank of Commander (retired) on 1 May, 1930.

World War II

Despite Hickman's uneven merits, the exigencies of the Second World War prompted his appointment as E.D.O., Milford Haven on 25 August, 1939. On 2 August, 1941, his role was altered to X.D.O., Milford Haven, and as N.C.O., vice Regnart.

On 21 June, 1943 Hickman was appointed on the Staff of the Flag Officer Commanding, Dover. In 1944, his role at Dover was enlarged to make him Staff Officer, Navigation and Duty Commander.

Hickman was reverted to the Retired List on 6 September, 1945.

See Also