Wednesday, 02 November 2022

We are sad to announce the death of Victor Courtice (Le. 1955-58).

His daughter, Samantha, writes:

"I am saddened to inform you that my father Vic Courtice, passed away after a lengthy illness, in La Palma, Canaries, on Friday 21st October 2022. Trafalgar Day.

Born in Birmingham in 1941, during WW2, he moved to the comparative safety of Worthing. After Prep School he attended Brighton College and entered Leconfield House. He always credited his time at the College as a formative one “It really knocked me into shape, from being a somewhat undisciplined child at Seaford College to becoming a young man with a strong sense of responsibility ”.

This clearly was not the case with his best pal Billy Wells when they were playing an away rugger match against Eastbourne College. For some inexplicable reason, they committed an act of vandalism in the new changing rooms. The next day we were both hauled into the study of the Headmaster William Stuart “The Duke”, above the College Entrance Gateway. He was standing there with a cane in his hand, trembling with rage and flexing the cane: “Courtice, Wells – this is the BLACKEST DAY IN THE HISTORY OF BRIGHTON COLLEGE.” Dad said - "He was furious and we both received 6 strokes each from a very, very angry man. Yes, it was excruciatingly painful! A deserved punishment.”

My father always gave credit to his mother for the sacrifices she made for his education, which was the bedrock of his life. He excelled at school sports and I’m not sure about his academic achievements but after sitting the national examination and interview for a commission in the Royal Marines, which included all those applying for the other services as well, he was the highest-scoring Royal Marine applicant and 6th overall out of 300. After 2 years of commando officer training at Lympstone, he was posted to 41 Commando and then to 40 Commando which included active service in the jungles of Borneo. After a spell as a House Master at Deal with the Royal Marine School of Music, he was invited to try for Special Boat Squadron (later Special Boat Service ) selection. Having passed, he started his 6-month arduous continuation training.

“Have you ever sat picking seashells in the sand at 80ft in the middle of the English Channel 20 miles south of Portsmouth? We sailed out to our exit position on the submarine HMS Utus. We started the drill, which required me to step fully kitted, up a tiny aluminium ladder into the outer exit hatch contained in the conning tower. The exit space for three is so small you had to spread your arms and legs to make room for the others. This is where the fun begins, as is no time to suffer from claustrophobia! After a search of the hull, careful of the strong tide, we then picked up a sea shell as proof wehad also touched the seabed.”

He went on to command 1 SBS Poole and 3 SBS Bahrain. In the early ’70s he became bored with the repetition of exercises/training and the lack of new thrills, with an imminent desk job on the horizon he resigned from his commission (he should have hung around for a few more years!). This was much to the chagrin of his new wife Gill who was looking forward to service life, only to find her husband’s new career was to start as a roustabout on the oil rigs in the North Sea!

Over the next 40 years, he would work all over the world as an oil exploration party manager having much fun and many adventures. In his early 70s he was still working in the jungle in Papua New Guinea. All his life he kept a diary and continuously collected an enormous amount of humdrum data. He had been known to make a habit of counting the number of raspberries he picked each morning! Why? When we spoke about this obsession he couldn’t give an answer.

He was extremely competitive and would always try to do better. He logged every flight he made, the countries he visited, parachute decent, dive, and life events. His very un-green flying statistics: over 2000 flights, a distance of 1.7million miles, fastest Concorde Mach 1.8, slowest Swiss Porter 60/80 mph. Visited a total of 82 countries normally working in the remotest locations.

He is survived by his wife Ana, children Samantha, Nic, Matt, and William, brother Roger, and grandchildren. He lived a full life. Never ever boring.

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Registered charity number: 307061