Airborne Engineers Association

Roll of Honour

 

 

Michael John (Gurney) Fisher - 21 Feb 1940 - 13th Feb 2019 by Peter Kershaw

 

Mick Fisher joined the British Army in February 1957 and was posted to the Apprentice College at Chepstow to be trained as a Blacksmith. On completion of his apprenticeship he volunteered for Airborne Forces and having successful­ly passed 'P' Company in 1959 he joined 9 Independent Parachute Squadron, then based at Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Crookham. It is assumed that "Mick became Gurney" in his early years in the Sqn? So named after a character from a TV series named Gurney Slade played by Anthony Newley.

He met his future wife Pam in Gillingham whilst on a course at the RSME, Chatham and they were married in Rainham 1964. In 1973 he moved with his, by then, young family to Hameln in Germany, serving with the Amphibious Engineers. This was at the height of the Cold War, facing down the Russia hoards, which knowing him he could probably have done on his own! He always spoke fondly of the good times they all enjoyed as a family, whilst stationed in BAOR.

Gurney was then posted back to the Sqn in 1976 and served for another 4 years, the last two as 1 Tp SSgt, until demob in 1980. A total of 17 years with the Sqn! The last line in his Red Discharge Book, written by Maj Tim Robertson, OC 9 at the time describes him as, "A fit, strong and likeable man of considera­ble character and personality, he will be a loss to the Army!" In my view this is a fitting tribute by an officer who was not given to hype or over statement.

During his time in 9 Sqn, Gurney served on operations in Cyprus, Aden, N Ireland and Belize. It has to be said that he also served on the "front line" on many occasions in the bar of the Aldershot NAAFI Club where "Stand To" in the 1960s was a nightly occurrence. It is also worthy of note that on rare occasions his "blacksmiths right hook" proved to be a "good night Vienna moment" for one or two unfortunate individuals who were daft enough to take him on! Additionally during his time in the Sqn he also served in Canada, Kenya, Denmark, Libya and Gambia.

I joined the Sqn in 1965 and first met up with Gurney through playing rugby. He and Harry Lockwood, an experienced RL player were the teams' two wing forwards with Paddy Taggart completing the Back Row at No 8. Harry very quick and nippy and Gurney more like a mad bull on the charge with the ball tucked tightly under his arm. There always appeared to be at least one of our three Fijians chasing after him shouting "Gurney give us the ball." We never knew when he was going to release it and come to mention it I don't think Gurney did either. That said the three of them became an integral part of a Sqn rugby team which won the RE Challenge Cup 5 times in a row, from 1965 onwards! We also spent many a night socialising, usually after rugby and matches and occasionally back at his place when wife Pam would get out the frying pan and knock up the bacon banjos. Swing the light— Great times!

On retirement from the Regular Army Mick joined the TA, in the REME, notching up another 14 years of uniformed service to the Crown. He also got a job with the MOD and for 24 years served in the Royal Engineers Equipment Inspectorate. This organisation had a worldwide mandate and so he clocked up many more trips abroad during this time. He never forgot his visits to 62 (Cyprus) Sp Sqn and the "Brandy Sours."

In 1994 Mick became a founder member of the Chatham Branch of the Airborne Engineers Association, along with Joe Houlston, Eric Blenkinsop, Tom Downie, Bill Shield, Bob Wooley and Bob Seaman. His passion over the past few years has been organising our Raffles. On his instigation he and his team would hold a raffle at the least excuse to raise money for the Branch and charity. In the past year the group raised over £2,500.00, the main beneficiary being BLESMA. He and partner Wendy and a few more of us from the branch have been regular attendees at the monthly Medway Veterans Breakfast Club, which takes place in the Café at Fort Amherst in Chatham. This, I am sure will continue.

Hopefully, in a lighter mood it needs to be mentioned that Mick had a rather "different" sense of humour, which was both zany, crazy and at times just plain daft, which said we all loved him for it! At the Wake following his funeral service many stories were told, repeated and embellished about the "big man." I know that his grandchildren, James & Hannah were keen to get to know a bit more about their Granddad.

Finally though, MICHAEL JOHN "GURNEY" FISHER, this epic soldier of the "9th Family of the 16th Tribe of Pegasus" was above all a good man, a family man, "a one off," if ever there was one. In the same vein he was a true friend and comrade to all of us that we shall miss whether it be here in Chatham, at the annual sojourn to N Wales or anywhere else that we had the pleasure of his company. I say again, we shall miss him, I know I will!

Mick's funeral service was held at the Garrison Church, Brompton and the Wake took place at the King Charles Hotel, next door to Brompton Barracks. Over 60 former members of "The Squadron" attended and yes Garibaldi biscuits were served up at the Buffet, but I didn't see any cheese and pickle sandwiches though!

Bert Tate, Geoff Barlow, John Stubbs, Mick Mathis
Jim Harrower, Chris O'Donovan, Richard Fleck, Peter Ellis
Colin Brian, Froth Beer, Harry Lockwood, Richard Fleck, Yorkie Davies
Colin Walker, Pat Neal
Paddy Denning, Tom Downie, Bert Tate, Bob Watts, Dave Rutter, John Stubbs, Titch Netley, Jeff Langford, Steve Sinclaire
Joe Houlston, Jeff Langford, Froth Beer, Barney Rooney, Paddy Smyth Phil Poulton, Ray Charlton, George Dunn

 

 

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