William Michie was born in Strathdon, near Aberdeen, Scotland in 1884 to parents William and Florence Michie. He joined the Burns Philp Company in 1917 when he arrived in Australia.
Captain Michie had been master of the Montoro, Macdhui, Massina, Morinda and other vessels in the Burns Philp Company, primarily sailing between Australia and the Pacific Islands.
While in command of the Montoro, he was involved in the rescue of many people following a severe earthquake and volcanic eruptions in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea. The Montoro, covered in ash and dust, evacuated 200 Europeans and thousands of Islanders from Rabaul to safety.
Captain Michie had only recently transferred to the Neptuna, whose master had taken ill. Awaiting maintenance, the ship was caught at Darwin Wharf laden with ammunition. The first bomb hit the ship below the waterline and she began taking on water; she then received a direct hit, causing her to catch on fire. The Neptuna burnt for a time then exploded and sank. Thirty-six of the ship’s crew were killed, including Captain Michie, who had remained with the Neptuna after orders were given to abandon the ship following the bombing.
Captain Michie resided in West Ryde prior to his death and was survived by his wife Eleanor and son William N. D. Michie.
A well known figure in shipping circles, Captain Michie was described as 'a quiet, reserved man, studiously polite to his officers and crew and earning their utmost respect'. (Ron Wylie, The Australian Merchant Navy website)
Michie Court, in the Darwin suburb of Bayview, is named in Captain Michie’s honour.
Compiled with the assistance of John Michie
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