The Daily Advertiser Wagga Wagga Australia Friday April 1st 2021
HEWITT Edward Michael George Commander, Royal Navy
Known to us as Michael & Mike
22 December 1928 – 26 March 2021
Greatly cherished and loving husband of Jude. Loving & loved father and father-in-law of Gemma & Gavin Duncan of Glenlivet, Scotland and David & Dawn Hewitt of Ottershaw, England. Loving, loved & adored Grandpa of Archie & Jenny Duncan, and Sam, Dan & Romy Hewitt. Loved brother of John (dec 1985). Michael died peacefully at the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital after a short illness, Jude was by his side.
Michael loved life, his many friends, his golfing community and his garden. He was very proud of his peace roses, often winning first prize at the Ladysmith Flower Show.
”Michael will be greatly missed”
The Hewitt family extend their sincere thanks to the most amazing team of doctors & staff at the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital. We deeply appreciated your professionalism, dedication and compassion.
Prayers for the Eternal Repose of Michael’s Soul will be held at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church, Bourke St Wagga Wagga on Thursday 8th April 2021, commencing at 1:00pm.
A private cremation will follow.
In lieu of flowers donations on behalf of Riding for the Disabled would be greatly appreciated in Michael’s memory.
Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend or view the service via the link: https://funeralsofwaggawagga.com.au/services
In addition to the Obituary above Michael started to write a little about his life in the Navy. The following is his story as written by Michael
“STORIES OF EARLY ROYAL NAVAL LIFE” as written by Michael
Michael Hewitt was born in Alverstoke England on 22 December 1928 and passed away in Wagga Wagga 26th March 2021. And he fitted quite a lot in between those dates. We all knew him in Australia and he was always grateful for the friendship and kindness you all gave to him. Many of us did not know much about his earlier life – he preferred it that way because he wanted to put all his energy into life here. Well, what did he do then? School was easy because his dad being in the Royal Navy, it was understood from birth that Michael would go to the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth – at that time a fee paying school. His mother’s brothers were also in the Royal Navy.
His father famously said that the only financial benefit he received from the scholarship Michael achieved was a free squash racket. That was means testing gone mad!
Michael said that he always found his earlier experience in the Navy more exciting than his later ones even though he did become a Commander of which he was very proud.
His first ship – the training ship for cadets was HMS Frobisher which boasted a pretty spartan regime for the young gentlemen. Sunday division was a ceremonial parade where impeccable dress and appearance of each cadet was judged by the Captain of the Ship – who proceeded slowly along the ranks, attended by lesser lights with notebooks to record names of those not up to standard – for later retribution.
Michael found himself extremley popular with friends wanting to stand alongside him on the parade – for the very practical reason that the Captain never stopped by him or those either side of him for the simple reason that the Captain was his Dad!!!!
Michael was quick to realise the financial muscle of this situation – his fee, for standing either side of him quickly rose from sixpence to two shillings!
Aged 21 he found himself in a destroyer then with others keeping a watchful eye over the Suez Canal to see that the 91 mile waterway between Europe and Asia remained open to shipping, especially oil tankers. It was a pleasure to settle into a routine of tennis and cocktails at the Ismailia Lakes whilst waiting for more military tasks.
Soon enough Michael was detached to command his first ship, a little landing craft with 4 crew, 3 Royal Marines armed to the teeth – and a stoker to look after the engines. The job was to ferry special stores (we never knew what was in those boxes) up and down the canal. Each night they pulled into the bank somewhere to find a telephone to report in for instructions. Sometimes it took 2 days to find a phone!!! What independence. It was an uncomfortable 3 months but it enabled Michael to boast that he had been up and down the canal 42 times – which must be more than any other Naval Officer alive or dead!
Next was a stint in the West Indies.
In 1953 if you had travelled from Bermuda to Barbados, then Trinidad, Antigua, St Kitts and then set out for South America via Recife, Sao Paulo, Rio and Uraguay and on to South Georgia, the Falklands, South Orkney and S Sandwich Islands to Deception Island in the Antartic by the time you were 23 you would have considered yourself a very lucky person. In Michael’s case this was courtesy of the “grey funnel line” as the Royal Navy was sometimes referred by jealous taxpayers.
And the highlight for him – perhaps taking part in the sailor’s race at Port Stanley on Boxing Day –you dress for horses, no riding experience needed, bareback and a cracker gallop for 2
furlongs. The winner is the first past the post who is still on the horses back. Prize? A kiss from Miss Port Stanley 1953 and a bottle of rum!!!!
The subsequent trip South to Deception Island had it serious side and some humour in dealing with numerous incidents of Argentinians violating our settlements or territorial waters. This took the form of diplomatic protests which both sides took some pleasure in. It went like this – send over an Officer of the Guard in full dress uniform sword and medals in the Ship’s boat to the offending Ship and request to meet the Captain. He received you with similar ceremony in his cabin, you then produced a scroll with appropriate words in a flowery hand and announced Her Majesty’s Government protests at your anchoring in waters under their control without permission.
The Foreign Office thoughtfully provided us with a good supply of these scrolls which only required a Captain’s signature and the latitude and longitude added before use.
It was the custom then that the Ship receiving the protest produced an excellent bottle of champagne to be consumed there and then.
Next in the Mediterranean there were patrols mostly at night around Cyprus to prevent the Greeks running guns into the island to conduct guerilla warfare against the colonial masters aimed at young independence from Britain.
The minesweepers carrying out these patrols had their serious duties at night but the days were spent swimming from idyllic beaches. Michael was often asked what success they had with finding guns and took pleasure in reporting that in 18 months they had never found one – whilst presenting this as great news – no guns could have gotten through!
In the immediate post war years food was still rationed in England – particularly meat – and therefore his parents, now running Wallop School, a boys preparatory school, were able to cater for one meal a week by keeping a few hens on the spare land around the classrooms! It quickly became a routine practice to have scrambled eggs for Sunday night supper. This started as: take 8 eggs for 4 people….. but under Michael’s watch this rapidly became 12 to 18 and once a record 24 eggs! 70 years later Michael was still doing scrambled eggs for Sunday supper and considered himself to have unmatchable skills in the area. Unfortunately, Jude did not care for scrambled eggs.
When Gemma was born in September 1963 Michael was in the middle of a tour of duty in the aircraft carrier Victorious in the Indian Ocean and far East based in Singapore.
He had an exciting time but obviously it didn’t include the family. There is no more testing operation at sea than flying jet aircraft from a carrier in all weather – night and day. The strain of it carries through from the Captain on the bridge and to those in the engine rooms, galleys, workshops as well as the aircrew themselves – everyone has a part to play and knows it. As always there were good times ashore in Aden, Mombasa, Tunizia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines but alas not Australia. David was born in June 1965.
This is the end of Michael’s writing…His writing was due to be completed in Mollymook duringMarch… other adventures at sea and life in Malta will be researched!
Michael returned to Weybridge and London in the late sixties where he had several very interesting and challenging positions involving the Royal Navy. In 1978 he secured the best managerial position in London – his office was near Big Ben with an outstanding view over Parliament Square – the office of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. He was there until 1989. During this time Michael was also heavily involved in real estate in London, the managing of Wallop School Ltd and a barn conversion in the South of France.