the view from Plymouth, England in 1982
another Steve Johnson Cyberheritage International "content over style" web page
"Daddy`s Home!" In English or Spanish the feeling is the same. This child must now be grown.
Early 1982 saw things happening in my home town of Plymouth UK, that I could hardly believe. Returning to my car one day I heard on the radio something about some Argentine scrap merchants putting a flag on some God forsaken island - somewhere! Later the radio told me that we, the UK we - would be sending a "Task Force" to free the islands from the invading Argentine forces. Sitting in a Plymouth restaurant I heard the sound of Royal Marines leaping around the city - .crawling over cars - the were "high", they were hyped up, they had to be. They were going to "Do it" - the unimaginable, Britain plc was going to war.
That night in Plymouth the air was electric as hundreds of young men were going to get the chance - if diplomacy failed, to practice the skills of war for which the last few generations of UK military had trained for, but thankfully never been asked to do in practice. The ships and men then left, not amongst a glare of publicity as at Portsmouth, but silently, quietly they slide seaward past Western King point, accompanied not by a band, but to the sob of many a woman`s tear, and a few men`s, children just gazed. Service familles long accustomed to tearful separations could not help but show in action and thought, that this "Goodbye" was different to all the others. To some it would be "Adieu" and not "Au revoir.
Plymouth shops went Task Force crazy, shops having books on Sea Harriers, Exocets, as well as quite a few publications telling us just where the Falkland Islands were. Model shops had windows heavy with Matchbox plastic models of a Sea Harrier, model magazines devoted large features to the new low visibility paint schemes for he Harriers. We all crossed our fingers and the nation held it`s breath.
Then Victory - .relief - for some, tragic loss and grief for others. Many families in both Britain and Argentina wept over these wild islands. A Victory Parade in Plymouth and the ships came home. Widows and fatherless children on two continents thousands of miles apart grieved; among a sea of jubilation in the UK, and among a tide of bewilderment in the Argentine.
Travelling to Portsmouth to see the Task Force Flagship HMS Hermes return I was totally overcome to see and feel the effects of "humanity in excelcis" as the Hermes steamed past utter thousands upon thousands of well wishers who crammed every square inch of Pompey`s waterfront. Balloons, flags, flares, fireworks, screams were players among the panoply of helicopters, planes, seagulls and waves - .and childrens cries and sobbing tears, orchestrated together by the beat of Hermes` engines. On lookers at one stage entered the water in an seeming effort to get closer to, to commune with the Hermes, that rusty old ship that was the centre point of countless thousands of pairs of eyes.Almost a seaside Christening, with the wake of Hermes as the Holy Water.
Returning to my home Plymouth I went down to Western King point to se the ships come. I counted them all out, but sadly I was not able to count them all back - .HMS Ardent and HMS Antelope rest on the sea bottom. Their graveyard is shared with their enemy , the Argentine ship Bellgrano. Enemies when alive, separated by wildly differing political views, but united in death in the same watery grave.
Seeing the ships come back home, among all the flag waving and lovers tears of joy,I often thought to myself:
"what must it be like to be loved that much?"
All the photos on this web page are presented as historical fact and not I hope biased to one side or the other. Hopefully it will do a little to prevent such things again. Some photos were taken by D. Booth of HMS Minerva, others by Cadet Lamerton of the R.F.A - .he was one of my students, a young lad going to war. I have not been able to ask their consent to use the photos they gave me, however I hope they will not mind. Plymouth photos were taken by myself.
Please contact me if you have any photos to share with the world
something's up!! - sea harrier at Plymouth civil airport, and RAF Chinhook helicopters seen on the football pitch at HMS Drake. The cast of the famous TV soap "Coronation Street" put their autographs to this sketch of "The Rovers Return."
Going down south, hospital ship S.S.Uganda (and different view) and an unknown Type 21 Frigate ploughs through rough seas, and has a little gunnery practice in very rough seas, before heading due south again. HMS Glamorgan rendezvous with an unnamed supply ship, note sea cat missiles in protective but ready to fire shrouds. A Wessex helicopter awaits it`s next task, while a Wasp helicopter is in the air. This is an unknown hospital ship.
On the Canberra, which had been transformed from a luxury cruise liner to a luxury five star troop ship, Paras do a little arms practice, while Royal Marines shoot at parachute flares for AAA (ANTI AIRCRAFT Ammunition ) practice, rehearse "fast roping" from a hovering helicopter on to the deck, scan the skies for enemy aircraft and perform ceremonial bugle calls. Once action took place, the sundecks of the Canberra, more used to swim suit clad sunworshipers, saw injured service men airlifted to it`s medical facilities. This RAF rescue Wessex helicopter adorned in yellow livery has a screen of 42 Commando containers as a backdrop.The same sun deck saw AAA tracer stream into a darkened sky in an air attack.
When the Task Force arrived there were many vessels positioned around the islands - .1 - .2 - 3 - .this is the Canberra as seen from South Georgia, note old whaling harpoon. Many troops went in by landing craft in arctic camouflage.
Royal Marines prepare for a "yomp." while those afloat keep a watchful eye on the skies or check the 40mm Bofors gun, or even smile for the camera while on duty with a 7.62mm machine gun. Here HMS Glamorgan and HMS Plymouth patrol Falkland waters along with HMS Leeds Castle. This Wasp helicopter has Canberra as a backdrop, possibly off South Georgia on a grey day.
This little church is at Gritviken on South Georgia. Also on this particular island was some of the scrap that started the whole affair off - .perhaps?? - not to mention one of the first casualties the Argentine sub "Sante Fe." HMS Glamorgan silouhettes against an Antarctic landscape.
Much early action took place around Goose Green, a small habitation, where Royal Marine Commando raiding parties destroyed many Argentine Pucara ground attack aircraft while they were still on the ground. The RFA Sir Tristram took several hits from air attack by the Argentine Air Force, and was brought back to the UK for repair. Ironically some of the weaponry used against the British forces by the Argentines was made in Britain, such as this land version of the naval Sea Cat - .the Tiger Cat anti aircraft missile. Whether this photo shows a landing beach I do not know, but this one shows the scenery well as as Sea King helicopter flies along. There is certainly a lot of activity in this shot, and in this one there is a landing craft and what is happening here? This collection of high detail photos were taken around The Globe Hotel in Port Stanley, they show the intense military activity that took place in a quite backwater of the 20th. century. Here is Port Stanley seen from the jetty, this one is a little to the right . These armoured cars are a little in front of the area close by The Globe hotel. Port Stanley is seen now from the sea, and here a little closer in.
When hostilities were over many areas were still restricted due to UXO and minefields. Quite what UXO this is, is beyond me! Troops on much deserved leave were able to look around and see where it all started on the Falkland Islands proper, the Governor`s residence at Port Stanley, or a look at Stanley itself and its buildings. No one could forget the penguins of course. Cute aren't they? Around the Falklands lay many fine old shipwrecks, these have become "the ghosts of Cape Horn." Others sit nestling in deserted bays and coves.
A more sad part of the ending of hostilities were the huge numbers of young Argentine conscript soldiers who had done what they believed in. These photos speak for themselves. Guarding POW`s and a pile of rifles. - Disarming - - POW`s ferried to a ship - .and a closer view.
If the great outdoors was not your seen, the services provided a little glamour!
Scans of Royal Naval vessels returning to Devonport and Portsmouth after service in the Falklands conflict
HMS Penelope returns to Devonport 10 September 1982
RFA Sir Geraint LLC returns to Devonport on 29 July 1982 - .note painted out identification stencil
HMS Minerva returns to Devonport 3 September 1982
HMS Broadsword returns to Devonport 23 July 1982. Note dark coloured "square" metal plate at stern. This was to repair hole caused by UXB. Also seen from midships to bow area are strafe marks from aerial canon fire.
HMS/M Oberon glides silently back to Devonport in the late evening of 29 July 1982
Well wishers display a large Ensign at Western King point, and here we see so many standing on the top of a 400 year old blockhouse guarding the entrance to the Dockyard - .that there is almost room for no more.
Download a large scan of HMS Ajax returning to Devonport 29 July 1982 by clicking on this image
Download a large scan of HMS Ambuscade returning to Devonport on 24 July 1982 by clicking on this image
Download a large scan of HMS Andromeda returning to Devonport with a large penguin on her seawolf missile launcher on 10 September 1982 by clicking on this image
Download a large scan of HMS Arrow saluted by the Red Arrows on her return to Devonport on 7 July1982 by clicking on this image
Download a large scan of HMS Avenger returning to Devonport on 10 September 1982 by clicking on this image
Download a large scan of HMS Hecla returning to Devonport on 29 July 1982 by clicking on this image
Download a large scan of HMS Hermes returning to Portsmouth on 21 July 1982 by clicking this image
Download a large scan of HMS Hermes returning to Portsmouth on 21 July 1982 by clicking this image
I hope that you have found the images contained on this page of interest and hopefully you will pause from time to time and remember those fallen, from both sides, and in all conflicts.If you would like to do something positive give to a charity, lifeboat, hospital, school, you can do this in whatever country you are in. To aid this I have put below on this page some very large indeed scans of RN vessels returning to Devonport and the Hermes returning to Portsmouth. If you download them which I hope that you will, I would like you to donate £0.50p or $1 for every image you download, to a local good cause or charity.
If you do not do this, you are robbing those who fell, and yourself of pride and self-respect
Are you in Argentina? Do you have any photos to put here and share with the world, perhaps tell your story? Were you in the Royal Navy, RAF, Army or Merchant Navy? Do you have any photos to tell your story also? Perhaps you live in the Falkland Islands? Let me know.
please do not forget to give, they did
Plymouth and it`s naval families are no stranger to loss at sea. In 1941, on December 10, HMS Prince of Wales was lost due to enemy action in the China Sea. A relative of my mother, Gladys Eileen Fleming was killed. He was the Uncle to her by marriage, being the wartime husband of MY Aunt Muriel of Dean Cross, Plymstock, Plymouth. His name Edwin Brewer, a plumber by peacetime trade. (half way down second column from left on contemporary linked image)
War touches all of us
City of Plymouth Welcomes Home the Task Force
Friday 20 November 1982 was the day of Plymouth`s civic salute to the Task Force, or in every body`s words, a Victory Parade. Crowds once again were out in force and a white dressed man appeared giving away red roses. Union Jacks appeared like flowers in bloom. This was the Order of March.
All aspects of the armed forces marched with pride along Royal Parade. Flags waved and rustled in the breeze as the forces marched by to the cheers and applause of the keenly attentive crowd, bands played, boots pounded the tarmac usually reserved for a no.48 bus. Then a fly past of many of the aircraft that saw service in the Falklands, here is seen a Victor tanker and two harriers.
In Plymouth it has been many years since the armed forces were allowed to be on the street in uniform - .due to terrorist risk, yet on this day, they were every where, even in the pubs. Here two sailors proudly show a portrait of the Queen passed out to the forces.Here we see veterans from two very different wars and Dr. David Owen, a local politician and MP for Devonport talking to two sailors, in the city centre.
The air day of 1982 at RNAS Yeovilton saw a strong influence of Falkland material, here is a Sea Harrier and it`s armament and a Pucara aircraft, captured from the Argentine forces. Ice creams and coke cans now surround these two objects, more used to a far different environment.
Plymouth Navy Days were renamed "Plymouth Open Days" and several of the ships carried stencilling only seen before in images of World War II. These stencils related to missions on active service that the vessel had been deployed on.
Graham Hart was kind enough to allow me to use some of his personal photos. Here they are. These are on South Georgia. Ever heard of a road block - not like this you haven't. It is a mega huge elephant seal - and he`s not shifting - possibly iron lady no2, who is not for turning - as was often said. It is such an amazing shot I have also scanned it in at 250k for a good print out. He even has a road sign in his honour - surely this is not in the Highway Code. For that matter what is this "Weetabix" (breakfast cereal) tractor doing here also? Black and white photos often add a certain feeling to photography. I feel it`s worked well here for these two images of old whaling hulks - - .note harpoon. Next to the small church in Gritviken, South Georgia was a cinema - .I said was - must have been windy - .result of force of nature. These "preserved" bullet holes date from the first incident with the Argentine scrap dealers on South Georgia that sparked the whole affair off - .or at least that is the story?! The ship badge or crest of HMS Endurance, the Royal Navy`s Antarctic patrol vessel honours the grave of the famous early 20th. century explorer Shackleton. Also found was this icon effigy, but really a crucifix of Jesus Christ. Made of wood, carved simply, adorned with a Crown of Thorns made of old nails - it says a lot in it`s silence.
Back on the main islands, this Southern Night Heron - .a feathered friend is spied on by a face peeking out of the window - hello, hello! San Carlos Water looks beautiful now peace has returned - once it was a place of great danger, for our navy and army, and Argentine flyers.The same goes for Mount Tumbledown - now so peaceful, once the scene of intense and deadly combat. These sheep fleeces seem to be hung out on a fence like washing - to dry? This is a heavy lift and troop carrying Chinhook helicopter - .when in the air, the whole scene just looks like Dartmoor, near where I live in the UK. This image is perhaps what many of us in the UK seem to think what the Falkland Islands are like, but the reality is more like this. This garden path, lawnmower and dwelling could easily be in the UK - .even with the sheep! This however could be on a different planet - ice, snow,sea and mist mix - into an abstract landscape.