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By any standard Mick Stoke’s experiences in the Royal Navy during the Second World War were remarkable. Aged just nineteen, he was Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his courage under incessant bombing during the Siege of Tobruk in the Western Desert. He survived multiple torpedo attacks, firstly serving on the cruiser Glasgow, which was hit twice in the Mediterranean; on the battleship Queen Elizabeth at sea and blown up by human torpedoes at Alexandria; and on the destroyer Hardy, struck in January 1944, whilst escorting Russian Arctic Convoy JW56B.

Cover of book: More Lives Than A Ships Cat
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G.A. (Mick) Stoke MBE DSC RN passed his Special Entry Exams in November 1939 and entered Dartmouth Royal Naval College as a cadet in the 50th Special Entry intake in January 1940.

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was in the previous 49th cohort. Stoke passed out with a First and completed his cadet training on the cruiser, HMS Glasgow, appointed as a Midshipman, the lowest officer rank, on 1st September 1940. He remained a Midshipman until  promoted to Sub-Lieutenant from 1st September 1942. He was awarded specially accelerated promotion to Lieutenant, for ‘meritorious war service’ six months earlier than normal on 1st March 1943. In addition to his MBE and DSC, he received a remarkable number of other medals - the Atlantic Star, Africa Star, Italy Star, Artic Star, Artic Emblem, Soviet Russian Convoy 40th Anniversary Medal and the Pacific Star, as well as the 1939-1945 Star and Silver Medal.


His war service is described by his youngest son, Jeremy, and through Mick’s regular letters home, written throughout his war service, to both his parents and his fiancee, Doreen Le Poidevin, together with documents and newspaper cuttings carefully preserved over the last seventy years.


Mick was invalided out of the Royal Navy in 1947 due to injuries suffered due to incessant bombing, particularly during the Siege of Tobruk and Operation Torch. He then pursued wide-ranging commercial interests, winning the Queen’s Award for Export in 1981.


Jeremy Stoke, the youngest of Mick’s three sons, retired after a successful business career and amongst many other activities, became the family archivist and researcher.

In 2020, he discovered over 150 carefully preserved letters Mick wrote to his parents throughout the Second World War, 100 letters to Doreen who Mick later married, and a large number of naval documents, newspaper cuttings and periodicals.


On reading the letters and realising his father was the Most Decorated Midshipman in the Royal Navy during his service in the Second World War, he started writing this book and decided that Mick’s remarkable war time exploits at such a young age should be published.

Cover of book: More Lives Than A Ships Cat


Published 1st May 2022

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