Herewith the Memories page of the SAMA82 website, which includes two messages from former Marine Peter Robinson - the subject of what has to be the most iconic image of the Falklands Conflict.
This makes very interesting reading - highly recommended.
HMS MINERVA, not quite ship shape and Bristol fashion..... sandbagged around the forward director for a wee bit of cover the lucky action stations anti aircraft crew with their GPMG and SLR'S. Pic also shows the rapid attempts to grey out the black waterline to make the old girl less visible.
Greetings from Spain.
RAF's Falklands Role in War and Peace
By Harold Briley
Falkland Islands Newsletter No.85, November 2003
The Royal Air Force has played a vital role in conflicts around the world since its pilots earned undying fame in 1939-45. But its contribution to the 1982 Falklands War has been overshadowed by the greater numerical presence of the Royal Navy and the Army.
Falklands Veteran as Chief of Air Staff
Marking the recent retirement of the first Falklands veteran to reach the pinnacle of his profession, Air Chief Marshall Sir Peter Squire, a Harrier pilot in 1982, this article puts into perspective the RAF's crucial role in the war and its activities since 1982, providing continuous front-line defence of the Falkland Islands and its life-line air-bridge from Great Britain.
Air Chief Marshall Sir Peter Squire, GCB, DFC, AFC, ADC, D.Sc, was the first front-line officer of the Falklands War to become professional head of one of the three armed services, as Chief of Air Staff. He was one of the RAF's pilots who in 1982 joined their Royal Navy counterparts in the Harriers and helicopters in the vital protective shield for the Task Force, in dogfights with Argentine pilots, and in attacking Argentine ground forces.
RAF Harriers during the Falklands War
Wing Commander Squire was the commanding officer of the RAF's Number One (Fighter) Squadron of Harriers, hurriedly mobilised to become the first RAF aircraft to operate from an aircraft carrier, HMS Hermes, since the Second World War. His squadron of six Harriers flew a total of 151 sorties, often two a day for each pilot, mainly ground attack and battlefield air interdiction, in dangerous low-level flying. Three of the Harriers were brought down by enemy fire and one crash-landed at Port San Carlos but attrition replacements were flown down from the United Kingdom.
Wing Commander Squire flew his Harrier off the cargo vessel, Atlantic Conveyor, a few days before she was sunk by an Argentine Exocet missile. He was in action, day after day, with no respite, attacking Stanley Airport and other Argentine targets including Dunnose Head air strip in which an Islander, Tim Miller, was blinded in one eye by shrapnel. The two men later became friends. He became the first ever RAF pilot to launch a laser-guided 'smart' bomb - attacking the Argentine troops on Mount Longdon. He had narrow escapes when he crash landed at Port San Carlos airstrip, and again just days before the war ended when a Blowpipe missile exploded near his Harrier, and a bullet penetrated his cockpit. After the war, engine failure forced him to eject before his aircraft crashed into the sea off Cape Pembroke.
Wing Commander Squire kept a fascinating personal day-to-day diary of operations. His awards include a Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Force Cross. In his last year of nearly forty in the RAF, he visited Argentina and met Argentine Air Force Chief, General Walter Barbero, who flew Boeing reconnaissance aircraft in the Falklands War, which Wing Commander Squire was tasked to intercept. Commenting on the possibility he might have shot him down, Air Chief Marshall Squire remarked: "We had great respect for the Argentine Air Force. They flew with great courage and skill. Having now met General Barbero, I am delighted that in 1982 I was unable to locate him."
Air Chief Marshall Squire has occupied senior command during intense and challenging activity as the RAF has carried out missions over Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. He has now joined the War Graves Commission.
The Harriers with deadly sidewinder missiles for air combat and bombs for ground attack were one of the great success stories of the Falklands War. And it was an RAF Harrier pilot, Flight Lieutenant Dave Morgan, who proved perhaps the most effective in destroying several Argentine aircraft. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
The Black Buck Bombing Raid on Stanley Airport
The most spectacular RAF exploit was the Vulcan bomber raid on Stanley airport on May 1st, which had significant impact on the conduct of the war and on morale on both sides, far beyond the damage inflicted on the runway. It demonstrated the undreamed of reach of RAF retaliation, and caused colossal psychological repercussions in Argentina, with the realisation that mainland targets were within bombing reach.
Code-named 'Black Buck', this was an astonishing feat of arms by any standards. It was the longest operational bombing mission ever attempted, a 6,760 miles round-trip from Ascension Island for the ageing delta-winged bomber whose inadequate navigational system and long-abandoned flight-refuelling capability had to be restored. No fewer than 14 aircraft were deployed to get just one Vulcan to its target. With no intelligence on Argentine fighter and missile defence, the operation had to be carried out at night, in radio silence, with no rehearsal. As soon as the bomber/tanker force roared off the runway at Wideawake Airfield, one of the two Vulcans had to abandon the mission when its pressurisation failed, as did one of the 12 Victor refuelling tankers with a defective hose.
Catastrophe was averted when four of the refuelling Victors arrived back at Ascension almost simultaneously, desperately short of fuel. Only the skill of the pilots narrowly avoided a disastrous pile-up on the crowded runway which would have destroyed a quarter of the RAF's total South Atlantic tanker force. Another tanker had a fuel leak and one of the last two tankers broke its probe in a violent tropical storm, leaving only one Victor to press on with the Vulcan, both acutely short of fuel, and in danger of ditching. To maintain surprise, no radio SOS was possible.
As the Vulcan began its bombing run, it was detected by Argentine gun-control radar. But its twenty-one 1,000 pound bombs straddled the runway. The explosions woke the startled Islanders from their sleep, but it tremendously boosted their morale. Tony Chater recalls: "The whole house shook, as though there had been an earthquake. There was terrific jubilation. From then on, we felt confident the British forces would come to our rescue."
The aircraft broke radio silence with the code-word 'Superfuse' indicating the raid had succeeded. Despite more refuelling problems, the Vulcan managed to get back to Ascension and complete its sixteen-hour mission. Its pilot, Martin Withers, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Victor pilot, Box Tuxford, the Air Force Cross. The effort expended was out of all proportion to the damage to the runway which the Argentines continued to use. But the psychological impact was enormous. The Argentine Air Force removed its only dedicated fighter interceptor squadron, the Mirage fighters of Gruppo 8, from Rio Gallegos and Falklands operations, to re-deploy further north at Comodoro Rivadavia for mainland defence. The Argentines had conceded defeat in the crucial battle for air superiority over the battered Task Force. Harriers could hunt down and destroy attacking aircraft without interference from enemy fighters.
What the British did not know is that, according to the Argentines, President Galtieri had decided on April 30th to withdraw his forces to comply with the United Nations resolution and to seek negotiations on sovereignty. He reportedly changed his mind as a result of the Vulcan and Harrier attacks on Stanley Airport on May 1st.
The Sole Chinook
Of the many different types of RAF and Royal Navy aircraft, the busiest of all was probably the lone Chinook helicopter (code-sign ZA 718) which survived the sinking of the Atlantic Conveyor, in which three other Chinooks were lost. In seventeen days of non-stop support of the land forces, the Chinook made an unrivalled contribution to the campaign. It flew for 109 hours, carried 2,150 troops, including 95 casualties and 550 prisoners of war, and moved 550 tons of supplies. Its chief pilot, Squadron Leader **** Langsworth, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The Falklands Air Bridge
Since 1982 the RAF has maintained the lifeline air bridge from Brize Norton to the Falkland Islands, the only direct UK link providing a unique passenger service for the 2,400 Islanders as well as the military. Its aircraft have transported many thousands of troops to maintain the garrison. RAF personnel man Mount Pleasant Airfield; the three radar stations - at Byron Heights and Mount Alice in West Falkland and Mount Kent in East Falkland - keeping constant watch for marauders; rapier missiles; the front-line fighter defence of Tornadoes; maritime reconnaissance and freighter Hercules; and VC-10 refuelling tankers, to keep aircraft airborne over vast areas of ocean in tempestuous weather.
The air bridge - code-named 'Cannonball' - was operated first by Hercules transport aircraft which had to refuel at Dakar in West Africa, at Ascension Island, then twice in the air to the Falklands, landing on the short Stanley Airport runway. Now passengers, military and civilian, Islanders and tourists, travel in comparative comfort in former commercial Tristars, refuelling only once, at Ascension Island. These 250-seater airliners and a fleet of VC-10 tanker refuelling aircraft are operated by 216 Squadron at Brize Norton. It originated from a Royal Naval Air Squadron in the First World War. Its motto, 'Dona Ferens', meaning 'Bearing Gifts', refers to its deadly initial unit as a bomber unit, not to its more benign peaceful Falklands role today. Its indefatigable pilots have flown more than 100 million miles, on the 16,000 mile return flight, burning 140 tons of fuel each way. They also maintain tanker aircraft on permanent quick reaction alert (QRA) in the Falklands to refuel the Tornado fighters for combat.
The Sound of Freedom
The four Tornadoes of 1435 flight are affectionately known as 'Faith', 'Hope' and 'Charity' - as were that flight's three Gladiators which defended Malta in the early days of World War Two - and 'Desperation'. The forces welcome the unique Falklands facilities for tri-service training including low-flying. The Islanders call the RAF fighters 'the sound of freedom'.
The RAF in co-operation with military and civilian medical teams from the hospital in Stanley have saved the lives of several Islanders with severe heart problems and even a baby born dangerously ill and also the lives of foreign seamen on the fishing fleets rescued by RAF helicopters.
Maritime radar reconnaissance Hercules patrol the vast two-million square miles of ocean of the South Atlantic Overseas Territories to keep a check on illegal fishing vessels and maintain a military presence as far south as the South Sandwich Islands and Southern Thule. The RAF's worst enemy now is the weather - treacherous cross-winds when landing, howling gales in the air, often poor visibility, and snow on the ground. The nearest diversion airfields are a thousand miles away on the South American mainland.
Phantoms: Gone but not Forgotten
After the War, the Falklands were defended by Phantom fighters, led by Wing Commander Ian Macfadyen, one of the RAF's top aerobatics display flyers. In one of the longest and most challenging flights of his forty year RAF career, he flew the first of eight Phantoms to the Falklands to replace the Task Force Harriers. Accompanied by 19 tanker aircraft, he had to refuel in flight 35 times as well as at Ascension. Air Marshal Ian Macfadyen, CB, OBE, later commanded British forces in the first Gulf War as Chief of Staff, then successor to General Sir Peter de la Biliere. He is now Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man. In a reunion there exactly twenty years since Harold Briley watched him land at Stanley, Air Marshal Macfadyen said his one regret is that professional duties in 1982 were so hectic with no time off that he met so few Islanders, who, he said, were utterly friendly and welcoming. RAF pilots say it is much the same now!
This article appeared in the Falkland Islands Newsletter, Edition 85, November 2003. The Falkland Islands Association is an independent organisation which brings together those who support the continuing freedom of the people of the Falkland Islands. Its Constitution states that its objectives are to assist the people of the Falkland Islands to decide their own future for themselves without being subjected to pressure direct or indirect from any quarter.
[DW58 - Operation Black Buck 1 - Then the longest bombing mission in history - was carried out twenty five years ago today.
Longest RAF bombing mission commemorated 25 years later
1 May 07
Veteran pilots who took part in the longest bombing mission in the RAF's history during the Falklands War have met up 25 years later under one of the aircraft they flew and which helped alter the course of the conflict. Report by Steve Willmot.
Vulcan XM607 and probe
[Picture: Alan Chandler, AC Photographic]
On 1 May 1982 Operation 'Black Buck' carried out the first of many successful missions – to destroy the Islands' Argentinian air and air defence assets. This included a hastily planned raid which saw the Falklands' Stanley airfield put out of use before the UK forces retook the Islands.
Some of the retired crews of the Vulcan bombers that carried out the raids and the Victor tankers that enabled the bombers to carry out their missions met up at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, this week to mark the anniversary of one of the most daring air raids in British history.
Meeting under the nose of the delta-winged Vulcan XM607, the actual aircraft that spearheaded the raids and now in preservation at RAF Waddington, were former Squadron Leaders Hugh Prior, **** Russell, Derek Aldred, Bob Tuxford and Tony Wright.
The Falklands lie some 300 miles (483 km) off the east coast of Argentina, but 8,000 miles (12,872 km) from Britain. Days after Argentina invaded the Islands in April 1982 a Royal Navy task force left for the South Atlantic. Meanwhile the RAF was planning its part in the campaign, from airlifting supplies to Wideawake Airfield on Ascension Island in the Atlantic to providing frontline fixed-wing jets and support helicopters.
Vulcan and Victor crew members: (left to right) former Squadron Leaders Hugh Prior, **** Russell, Bob Tuxford, Derek Aldred and Tony Wright
[Picture: Alan Chandler, AC Photographic]
Squadron Leader **** Russell, a Victor pilot and one of just a few RAF experts in Victor-Vulcan air-to-air refuelling (AAR), was selected to fly as advisor on board XM607 during Black Buck:"I was told I had just 12 days to train up Vulcan flight crews in the art of AAR techniques before we were deployed," he said, "and I was told to go along so they could learn while the actual mission was underway!"Three Vulcan B2s were drawn from 44, 50 and 101 Squadrons, based at RAF Waddington, and flew in secrecy to Ascension to prepare for the assault which would become the first military engagement in the re-taking of the Islands. Victor K2 aircraft from 55 and 57 Squadrons provided AAR.
Squadron Leader Martin Withers, who captained XM607 during the raid, said:"The Vulcan was the last of the RAF's heavy bombers. In 1982 the Vulcan was coming out of service and being delivered to museums as the new Tornado squadrons were building up – in fact the first few Vulcans had been retired. So air refuelling was hardly a skill that was top of the training schedule.
Vulcans, Victors, Harrier GR.3s and Nimrods at Wideawake Airfield, Ascension Island
"The primary mission of the Vulcan was as a Cold War strategic bomber capable of carrying a nuclear weapon to the enemy. It could do this without any air-to-air refuelling so it was small wonder that when we realised we were going to be used for the first time in anger in a mission thousands of miles from land, the skill needed honing rapidly."Re-equipping the aircraft was another challenge. We had to cannibalise Vulcans from all over the UK and world for their refuelling probes and equipment. We even had to 'borrow' a probe from a Vulcan gate guardian at Goose Bay in Canada – I think they are still awaiting its return!"At the end of April 1982 two Vulcan bombers armed with 14 1,000lb (454kg) bombs set off on the 8,000 mile round trip to the Falklands. Vulcan XM607 was the reserve aircraft but shortly after take off the lead Vulcan, XM598, now preserved at the RAF Museum, Cosford, had to return to Ascension due to a pressurisation failure. XM607 was now on her own, although she had support from no fewer than 15 Victor tanker aircraft in a carefully-designed pyramid of support to the sole bomber as well as to themselves to ensure there was sufficient fuel for all to complete the mission.
A Vulcan bomber dropping its bombs during a training mission
On 1 May 1982, XM607 cratered the runway at Stanley with her 1,000lb bombs. This sole runway on the islands was central to the build-up of the Argentinians' supplies and defences and by rendering it largely unusable the Argentine fast jets such as the Super Etendard were also unable to operate from the Islands. Had they been able to, instead of at the limit of their endurance from the South American mainland, they would have caused even greater havoc among British forces re-taking the Islands.
But the message to the Argentine government was even starker – if an all-out conflict between the two nations began, 'Black Buck' had demonstrated that the RAF could also reach their country.
Squadron Leader Prior, speaking under XM607, said:"It's fair to say this single probe above our heads probably changed the course of the Falklands War. Without it we would never have got there and back. We halved the runway and even when the Argentines filled in the craters it was never to a standard that could be used by heavy supply aircraft or fast jets. It had a real bearing on the outcome of the conflict and cutting off their ability to re-supply the Islands and conduct the air war from the Falklands may have shortened the time it took for our land forces to re-take the islands. I was proud to have played what turned out to be such a significant part in restoring one of our dependencies to British rule."
XM607's 1,000lbs dropping on the runway at Stanley on 1 May 1982
Seven 'Black Buck' missions were flown in total between 30 April and 11 June 1982 including three sorties by XM607 targeting other important Argentine targets on the Falklands. Each mission is represented by a bomb painted under the cockpit above a representation of the Argentine flag.
Squadron Leader Withers, now retired, hopes to fly the restored XH558 Vulcan down the Mall as part of the Falklands National Commemoration flypast over London this summer. He added:"We all deeply regretted having to engage in conflict to resolve the Falklands issue but proud of what we did. We dropped old 1,000-pounders that had been lying around in store at Waddington for years but they did the job. In other missions, once we had taken out some radar cover, we found that the Argentines actually switched off their systems to prevent us attacking them, which gave our taskforce fighters relative freedom of operation."The longest bombing campaign in the RAF's history earned Squadron Leader Withers and another Vulcan captain the Distinguished Flying Cross. Squadron Leader Tuxford, who captained a Victor aircraft, was awarded the Air Force Cross and four more crew members were Mentioned in Dispatches.
Defence Internet News - Falklands 25
incredible pictures and posts,thanks guys.........I learned a bunch
please accept my apology..it's probably been discussed on this mega link but when the Conveyor was struck by the exocet and burned out, were there Harriers in containers that were lost?. I have read conflicting reports ranging from 4 lost aircraft to no fixed wing aircraft lost..... only helicopters and beans n bullets..........there is a Wings channel (now Military channel) episode covering Falklands air war from both sides
that was very interesting because in an interview with one of the Argentine pilots he indirectly claimed his crew had accounted for the hit on the Conveyor.....interesting to me especially since the Ecet, if decoyed from the original target will re-acquire ........the Argentine pilots were flying "obsolete" types.....(.Etendards and Skyhawks) and still did some serious damage
The successful attack by (Lynx) rotary wing aircraft on the former Santa Fe using Sea Skua was huge. A direct hit on the conning tower rendered the sub useless
The Argies were convinced they had hit one of our carriers, but the truth was that as with previous Exocet attacks, they had launched at the first larger target picked up by their radar without making any effort to get any confirmation of target identity - in other words they used highly indiscriminate "Scoot and shoot" targeting, and on all occasions hit lesser ships or missed. The results were the sinking of Sheffield and Atlantic Conveyor, both of which had been thought in error to be carriers.
Read this article which gives an Argie account of one of the Exocet raids. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, some Argentine sources still claim that both Hermes and Invincible were hit.
Last edited by DeltaWhisky58; 05-04-2007 at 07:56 AM. Reason: Added link and further information.
Today (4th May) is the 25th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Sheffield a Type 42 Destroyer- The "Shiny Sheff" - the first British warship to have been sunk in action since WW2. Sheffield sunk under tow several days later. 20 men were killed in the missile strike and ensuing fire, many more were badly wounded.
Here is a link to the initial Board Of Inquiry report into the sinking by an Argentine-launched Exocet missile.
The HMS Sheffield Memorial on Sea Lion Island (The Falkland Islands).
BBC - On this day - 4th May 19821982: Argentines destroy HMS Sheffield
The British ship HMS Sheffield has been hit by an Argentine missile fired from a fighter bomber.
It is not clear how many of the 268 crew have perished.
The sinking has shocked the British nation and foiled any possible diplomatic solution to the current dispute over the Falkland Islands between Britain and Argentina.
The ship caught fire when a French-made Exocet missile penetrated deep into HMS Sheffield's control room. The blaze caused a poisonous smoke and most of the crew abandoned ship.
A major rescue operation has been launched in the South Atlantic as relatives thousands of miles back in the UK wait for news of their loved ones.
The 4,100-ton destroyer was struck as it carried out a scouting mission off the Falkland Islands, although its exact position is a secret.
Announcing the news on television, the spokesman for the Ministry of Defence Secretary, Ian McDonald, said the ship was "in the course of its duty within the total exclusion zone around the Falkland Isles".
Two missiles were fired by a Super-Etendard fighter bomber. One missed but the other scored a direct hit and ignited a fire.
The Exocet missile is designed to skim the sea to avoid radar detection. It has its own radar that guides it to its intended target. The attack follows yesterday's sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano. An Argentine diplomat in the United States said the destruction of HMS Sheffield was "justified after the massacre that the English have done shelling our men and our ships".
More on a nautical theme ... ...
Herewith an excellent site dedicated to the South Atlantic role/service of the passenger liner Canberra - "The Great White Whale".
This is a diverse and very interesting site with many photographs - highly recommended.
Last edited by Robbee; 05-07-2007 at 11:51 AM. Reason: Added URLs
Nott in my lifetime
8 May 07
In a new series, we talk to former Defence secretaries about the crises that marked their time in office. 25 years on from the Falklands, Sir John Nott shares powerful memories. Report by Lorraine McBride.
John Nott, right, with Admiral Fieldhouse, Commander of the Falklands Task Force during the campaign
A middle-aged chap recently approached Sir John Nott and recounted how as a schoolboy he'd been glued to TV news reports of the Falklands invasion. He told him:"I cannot believe it was so long ago." The Tory grandee agreed wholeheartedly.
At his home just off London's King's Road, the peat bogs, rocky mountains and bomb craters of the tiny islands with their muted tints of grey and brown seem every inch of 8,000 miles away. Yet his memories remain in vivid Technicolor as Sir John, now a youthful 75, recalls with amazement how the world and modern warfare have changed:"A lot of new technologies have come in. The Falklands War was fought with planes, ships and weapons which sometimes dated back to the Second World War, but since then there has been a dramatic change in battlefield technology."
When he first heard that the difficult situation with Argentina was escalating towards conflict, Sir John was visiting British Aerospace at Warton to review plans for Eurofighter, then in its infancy. That night, he returned to the Commons and requested an update on the Falklands. He was stunned when MOD officials revealed that they had intercepted Argentine signals suggesting they planned to invade the Falklands within 48 hours. Knowing he must tell the Prime Minister immediately, Sir John Nott, his private secretary and permanent secretary went across to see a "horrified" Margaret Thatcher in the Commons:"And that", he says, "was really the beginning of the drama."
Later, as Nott was holed up with the Prime Minister and mandarins, the flamboyant First Sea Lord, Henry Leach, interrupted them and bolstered their resolve:"Of course, ladies like seeing men in uniforms," says Sir John. "Margaret Thatcher was very impressed when Henry came in. He showed great selfconfidence and really did persuade us that we could get the fleet to sea the following week."
Flying the flag: an Argentine soldier stands on Ross Road, in front of the government secretariat
Alone after the meeting, the Iron Lady turned to Nott and said:"I suppose you realise, John, that this is going to be the worst week of our lives."He agreed, fearing, however, that each week would bring gloomier news than the last.
Today, he admits having felt "great scepticism" that the fleet really would be able to recover the Falklands:"There hadn't been any proper contingency plans, frankly. There should have been, but it was so far away, and people forget that we were in the middle of the Cold War. We were really threatened by the Soviet Union, there were huge forces in Germany and this little place was 8,000 miles [12,875 km] away with 20 marines looking after it. It wasn't in the front of our minds at all."
With the Commons baying for his blood in the subsequent emergency debate, Nott braced himself for the rocky ride he received – unlike the Prime Minister who, he says, "got away with it":"I was going to have a very difficult task," he said. "I was given a draft of the speech the night before which I just knew wouldn't work, so I tore it up and wrote it myself at four in the morning. After the chaos of the debate, we all went into Margaret's room and everyone else was in a worse state than I was. I was quite calm, though I knew the whole thing had gone badly."Then Willie Whitelaw came in a frightful panic, saying the Tory party was in rebellion and everyone was threatening to resign. We had to organise a parliamentary meeting when the chaps went for Foreign Secretary Peter Carrington."
The Falklands conflict 1982
Hours later, Lord Carrington resigned and John Nott tendered his own resignation:"The Falklands had been invaded and I was the Defence Secretary. I therefore felt some responsibility. I said: 'This puts me in an impossible position. Peter Carrington looks like an honourable man and if I don't resign, I'll look like the dishonourable one.' So I sent my resignation over. But Margaret Thatcher persuaded me to stay on, saying the Falklands were really the responsibility of the Foreign Office."
Today, Sir John admits the thought of going through an operation at the other end of the Earth made him very nervous. But after Carrington's resignation he noted a growing confidence spreading through the MOD's Main Building:"As soon as there is a challenge, the military is transformed. There was an initial sense of shock on the day of the invasion but by the following Tuesday, the Chiefs of Staff had come to the conclusion that this was a do-able operation, and that increased my confidence. I never really thought we would lose the war, but I have to say I thought we would lose more men and ships than we did."Ivory Tower
He should know about military attitudes. He is, after all, no wimpy politician talking from an ivory tower, but a general's grandson who served with the Gurkhas.
He agrees that if Britain hadn't embarked on military action the alternative would have spelt humiliation:"I would certainly have had to go. There are so many 'what ifs' in history, aren't there? I think Margaret Thatcher would have survived. But certainly it would have been a disaster if it had gone wrong."
Sir John today
He thinks the tension of war accentuated the War Cabinet's personalities and Mrs Thatcher's courage. He said that despite prevarication from the Foreign Office, there was a feeling of inevitability about military action:"Margaret was a fairly aggressive and pugnacious lady. She had an underlying caution but in the last resort she showed pugnacity towards the Foreign Office. She didn't like the slow negotiations one little bit. I think she had made up her mind that we were going to have to retake the islands."
His most poignant memory of the crisis is talking to the dockyard workers at Portsmouth after announcing that he was closing a major proportion of the dockyard:"These poor men had their redundancy notices about a week before the Falklands invasion and they worked day and night over that weekend to get the ships ready. Can you imagine what it was like knowing they were losing their jobs?"I talked to the dockyard workers and they knew I was responsible for putting them out of work. I always remember they were restrained and polite and I thought it was wonderful that they didn't take advantage of the visit to abuse me. They put their shoulders to the wheel, and that was my abiding memory."Finally, came the first good news of the war. When Nott learned South Georgia had been recaptured it was late at night. He slipped across to No 10 clutching a statement.
He felt Mrs Thatcher should announce the first victory. But she insisted that the task fell to him. As they emerged, blinking under the glare of flashbulbs he realised in horror that he was wearing what he calls his "spiv suit," one made by the only tailor in his constituency:"I felt out of duty, I had to have a suit made by him," he groans. "I travelled back from Cornwall to find the world's press had bedded down outside Downing Street. We went out to face them and I thought: 'Oh God, I'm wearing this ghastly suit.'"
After the ceasefire on 14 June 1982, he was immensely relieved. But he only wanted to hide. He empathised with the Duke of Wellington who famously said:"Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won."
Now retired after a second career in the city, how does he now view the conflict?"I think the Falklands was enormously valuable at the time. It showed we were prepared to stand up to aggression."Defence Internet News