Crossed the Bar

Old shipmates remember.

It is with so much sadness I report that First Officer(E) Michael (Mick) Donovan,  crossed the bar on Saturday 12 September aged 65. He had been suffering from an asbestos related desease (Mesothelioma).

Mick’s funeral will take place at Southampton Crematorium (HERE for the website and HERE for a map) on the 6th October at 12:30. Old friends, shipmates and colleagues will be welcoimed by the family. There will be refreshments afterwards and invitations to the event will be extended to those attending by the family.

Family flowers only at the family’s request but donations in Mick’s name, if desired should be made to McMillan Nurses (HERE for the website ).

The arrangements for the funeral are being made by J Beavis and Son (HERE for their website and HERE for a map)


On behalf of the RFA Association I offer our sincere condolences to his widow Rose and all his family.


If you have any remembrances of Mick please email it to me at and I will post them on this page. I am also looking for photographs of Mick for this piece and the RFA Association Galery and Archive, If you have one please email it to me



Tim Donovan writes:-

Michael was the eldest son of Bill and Josie Donovan he was born into a happy and loving family in south East London from an early age it was evident that he loved to take things apart this would put him in good stead for his future career. He had done well at school and when he announced to his family that he was going to be an RFA engineer it was a bit of a shock especially to his dad who had to pay for all his uniforms. He went to Poplar Marine Engineering College in the East End of London where he met and made lifelong friends. Michael was not just an engineer he was a Steam Engineer and back in the day steam ships and steam engineers were the back bone of the RFA. In the 70’s Michael met and married Rose and moved to Southampton there they brought up Katie and Jilly. His career in the RFA spanned four decades from the Empire Gull to the and every steam ship in between. He was the last RFA Officer on the last O.boat where he shut the door and turned the lights off. He decided to retire himself and spend time with his family. He had a good retirement and became a devoted grandad. I only sailed once with Michael but have known him all my life as he was my beloved older brother. I bumped into Micky Kitchen and Michael having a pint in Gib they were discussing the Governments five a day campaign they came to the conclusion that CSB was better than fruit and veg because you had to be fit to drink five pints of that a day. Good Times

On behalf of the family I would like to thank everyone for their kindness at this time I would like to wish all his friends and colleagues calm seas and long smoke’Os

Tim Donovan.

Pat Thompson writes:

I sailed with Mick in O’Boats a number of times over the years and I thoroughly enjoyed his company. He was witty and entertaining messmate and a first class engineer. He will be sorely missed by all the RFA fraternity who knew and sailed with him. RIP old shipmate.

John Littlechild writes:-

I am sad to hear the news of Mickie Donovan, I sailed with him several times and had a lot of fun with him.   On one particular occasion we were in refit in Gibraltar and were on subsistence.   It had become routine for me to pay out the cash every Friday morning, when I returned from the Dockyard Cashier’s Office.   Up to this time, I had always paid in Gibraltarian twenty pound notes which were bright orange.   This particular Friday morning the Cashier had run out of twenty pound notes and had supplied me with ten pound notes, which were blue.   MD took one look at what I had given him and asked “Wots this then?”.   When I explained, his retort came back, quick as a flash – “I suppose that means I have to drink half pints this week then?”   Nuff said.

Barry Lord writes :-

I didn’t have the pleasure of sailing with Mick Donovan, and first met him and his lovely wife, Rose, at the inaugural Steam Engineers Reunion which was held at the Royal Fleet Club in Devonport January 2005.

I recall having a drink with Mick D and Mick Kitchen, and listening to the reminiscing and ‘lamp swinging’ stories, which were being told in their native East London accent by which they were both endeared. I think you will all agree that they could tell a story or a joke in a style that had you ‘living their narratives’

I would like to convey my deepest sympathy to Rose and the family and sincerely thank them for their support of our Reunions. Mick will be sadly missed.

Fair Winds and a Following Sea Mick.

…’and when the Trip is over we’ll return in full bloom…
…and we’ll shut-down in the dry dock by the light of the moon..’

Finished With Engines.

Alex Blackwood writes:-

So sad to read of Mike’s passing. I sailed with him in “O” Boats. A great shipmate and engineer. My Condolences to all the family.

Mike Johnson writes:-

Many, many years ago whilst on leave I went “up the elephant” for a couple of pints with Mick.  We were both Londoners.  He lived at the Elephant and Castle  and I lived a few miles away in Charlton.  The two pints then became more than two and eventually I’d had enough and got the bus to go back home where I lived with my parents.  I fell asleep on the bus and woke up when it got to its depot in Plumstead – several miles further on than where I wanted to get off – and the conductor made me pay for the extra part of the journey !!