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The human face
AS BEFITS the 25th anniversary
of the Falklands confl ict, there is
of the Falklands
a plethora of books appearing on
the shelves to mark the occasion.
For an overview of the war
on a day-by-day basis, Gordon Songs of
Smith’s revised Battle Atlas
of the Falklands War (Naval, £11.50 ISBN
978-1847539502) provides an
excellent, easy-to-use breakdown
ETERANS of the
1982 confl ict in
the South Atlantic
often complain
CONSIDERING the important
of what happened where and
that their ship was the
part they played in the confl ict,
when, accompanied by a solid
‘forgotten’ ship of the it was inevitable that the Royal
narrative and scores of useful
Marines Band Service would
mark the 25th Anniversary of
Performing a similar function,
Others grabbed the glory, or the
Operation Corporate.
although in a more general
headlines, but their ship made the
When the task Force left
narrative form is The Falklands
decisive contribution to victory.
England it carried the Band of
War 25th Anniversary: A Day-
It is a claim Captain David
HM Royal Marines, Commando
by-Day Account From Invasion
Hart-Dyke would never make on
Forces, on the SS Canberra and
to Victory (Marshall Cavendish,
behalf of HMS Coventry, but it’s
the Royal Marines Band of Flag
£9.99 ISBN 978-0-462-09909-
probably fair to say her role in
Offi cer 3rd Flotilla on board SS
the Falklands war has often been
Uganda which was the Task Force
Max Arthur is one of Britain’s
Hospital Ship, writes John Ambler
foremost oral historians. He
She wasn’t the fi rst ship to be
of the Royal Marines Museum.
recorded the impressions of a
lost in the war; she would not
The bands were attached to
couple of dozen veterans of the
be the last. She did not blow up
the Medical Squadron of the
conflict shortly after the war’s
spectacularly for the cameras like
Commando Logistics Regiment,
end and reprints their stories
Antelope. She did not venture
and to provide medical support
in Above All, Courage (Orion,
into Bomb Alley like Ardent. She
on the hospital ship respectively.
£7.99 ISBN 0-3043-6257-3).
did not survive an Exocet hit like
They were told that they
It is by far the most
would not need their musical
moving book on the war; Ken
She did, however, fi ght with
instruments, but senior RM
Enticknap’s harrowing account
supreme distinction and bravery
offi cers told them to secretly pack
of the loss of HMS Ardent is
– and made the supreme sacrifi ce,
their instruments and their music
as emotional now as it was two
as her former commanding offi cer
into containers which would be
decades ago.
describes in the outstanding Four
put on board.
The men of HMS Ardent
Weeks in May (Atlantic, £18.99
This recording will transport
are also excellently served
ISBN 978-1-84354-590-3).
many veterans of that war back 25
by Mark Higgitt’s pacey and
The emotions, the nerves, the
years. Old music was reprised and
vivid Through Fire and Water
strain the Coventry men felt were
new music was written to capture
(Mainstream, £12.99 ISBN 978-
identical to those felt by their
the mood and feelings of those
predecessors 40 years before. The
months in 1982.
Ardent’s fatal duel with the
previous Coventry was subjected
Professionalism was what
● A cartoon drawn by Coventry’s captain for his children at home in Hampshire a couple of weeks before
Argentine air force on May 21
to repeated enemy air attack in the
the destroyer’s sinking
it was all about and, with this
1982 is recounted in minute-by-
Mediterranean; like her successor,
recording, Major Nick Grace and
minute, even second-by-second
she fought with distinction but the
detail by Higgitt, who spoke not
odds were against her.
“He had nearly and vivid memoirs of Among John Lippiett’s many
the Band of HM Royal Marines,
merely to former Ardents, but
The sailors talked of home, of
reached the top of life – and war – at sea tasks aboard the Type 21 frigate
Portsmouth – the Royal Band,
also the relatives of those lost in
loved ones, they drifted oft silently
the ladder and you will ever pick up. was censorship of his crew’s
salutes the task force in its own
this superlative biography of a
into thought, tears rolling down
someone had Meanwhile, John letters, a laborious duty he did not
professional way.
their cheeks, they turned to God stretched towards Lippiett offers two sides enjoy. Well, not always.
Following a new fanfare
Another personal look at
– irrespective of whether they were him and tried to of the war in In May 1982 a video tape
– Corporate – the William Tell
the war is provided by Barrie
religious or not. And if the worst catch his hand. his War & Peas arrived in the post, one of the
Overture is played. This featured
Fieldgate in The Captain’s
came, they prepared to die. “You It was too late: (Pistol Post ‘creature comforts’ for the sailors
as the fi rst item in the fi rst
Steward (Melrose, £24.99
know, sir, some of us are not going consumed Publications, when off duty.
concert played for the Royal
ISBN 978-1-905226-46-7), a
to get back to Portsmouth,” Hart- by fi re, he £12.99 The rest of the Fleet was already
Marines on the journey south.
lower-deck view of war in HMS
Dyke’s XO confi ded to him as the could go no via www. on VHS, but Ambuscade still had
Next comes the very popular
war dragged on. further and fell back with a fi nal,, the fighting an old Betamax tape system, so
bugle feature High on a Hill and
Fieldgate, as the title
This was the real war, too despairing cry for help.” front and the home front. the choice of films was limited.
a new drum static Fitzroy in
suggests, was steward to Capt
honest to be trumpeted in the Seven men were burned alive The story of those left behind Imagine the crew’s delight, then,
memory of the men who died as
Bill Canning, but there’s little
jingoistic press or to be reported in the computer room – or were has largely been ignored in when Lady in Paris arrived in the
a result of the air attacks on Sir
stewarding recounted in his diary/
to loved ones in letters home. killed by the blast of one of the accounts of the 1982 conflict post – a potentially ‘blue movie’.
Galahad and Sir Tristram.
memoirs; instead vivid accounts
For his daughters Miranda and bombs. A dozen of their comrades (unlike, for example, World War It had to be passed by the
Sailing, a piece of music still
of life in Bomb Alley (where
Alice, David Hart-Dyke sketched were also lost. 2 where books abound on life in censor, of course, and the ship’s
much in demand by the public
the Argentine Air Force rudely
a cartoon of Coventry blasting an The author paints a vivid picture the UK). chaplain.
has, at last, been recorded again.
interrupted Broadsword’s ‘speed
enemy patrol boat out of the water of Coventry’s fi nal moments, John Lippiett and his wife Jenny It turned out not to be lots of
This is followed by the march San
feed’ lunch of steak and kidney
and an enemy aircraft out of the drawing upon the accounts of wrote to each other almost daily rumpy pumpy in the shadow of
Carlos, written by the Director of
pudding on May 21) abound.
sky. numerous former comrades. as the war in the South Atlantic the Eiffel Tower, but a rather
Music, Commando Forces Band,
The last third of the book
It was something at which Survivors of the Barham, raged. tedious short film of a
Captain, later Lt Col, John Ware
is dedicated to an overview of
the destroyer was particularly Prince of Wales, John was a lieutenant model wearing
whilst onboard Canberra.
Broadsword’s war, life aboard,
adept; on the fi nal day Gloucester, Repulse commander and executive various lingerie
One of the Falklands veterans,
poems and a fair smattering
of her life, May 25 and countless officer of HMS accompanied
BdCSgt Gary Halsey, then takes
of unpublished images of the
1982, Coventry had more vessels will Ambuscade. by an even
centre stage to play A Time for
frigate’s campaign.
dispatched three identify strongly His wife Jenny, at more tedious
Love. This big band number
For a ‘higher-up’ view, Cdre
Argentine aircraft with the scenes in home in West Sussex, voiceover.
is followed by a jazz ensemble
Michael Clapp and Ewen
with Sea Darts. the destroyer in her was carrying the Such a story
playing Europa – another direct
Southby-Tailyour cover almost
Fate was death throes. couple’s third didn’t appear in the
connection since it features the
every aspect of the seaborne
against her as Training reaped child (nicknamed letters home. Nor too
saxophone playing of George
invasion of the islands from
the day waned; dividends. There was Alfonso in the fears of Ambuscade
Morrison who played this
planning to liberation in
HMS Broadsword’s no panic, no selfi shness. honour of simply breaking up.
particular piece in 1982 to
Amphibious Assault Falklands:
Seawolf played up, Each man helped the next to our foe, but The South Atlantic
Argentine prisoners who were
The Battle of San Carlos Water
Coventry’s own Sea escape the stricken Coventry. eventually named campaign took a terrible
onboard the Uganda to receive
(Pen & Sword, £14.99, 1-84415-
Dart couldn’t get a lock Some 250 of them survived. the rather more British strain on man and machine.
medical treatment.
on Argentine Skyhawk jets, His crew, Hart-Dyke wrote just Oliver).
Winds of Power is a modern
Cracks certainly appeared in
The book is peppered with
whose pilots showed undeniable a few days after the sinking, had The author arrived on
piece which has no direct link
the latter, as hairline fractures
high-level insights, revealing
bravery as they raced in towards been “nothing short of heroes”. Ambuscade in late April 1982
with the Falklands confl ict.
began to show in Ambuscade’s
diary entries and brutally honest
the destroyer. Many of the heroes struggled to with his new ship preparing to
However it is music of many
hull as the elements and high-
moods and its episodic form
descriptions of combat and some
Coventry’s crew responded with adjust to life after the Falklands. leave Gibraltar. speed dashes took their toll of
seems to suit the various stages of
of the political and military
equal bravery; every machine-gun It took Coventry’s captain From then until the frigate’s the ship.
the confl ict and the emotions of
infighting behind the scenes.
fi red, the 4.5in main gun blasted perhaps 18 months to come return to Devonport in mid-July, Victory did nothing to lessen
those who were there.
Aerial war buffs can do no
away, the Oerlikons chattered around. the correspondence between the Nature’s ire, but surprisingly, it
Those who fell are remembered
better than to pick up Sharkey
(until one jammed); the sailors He regards himself as one of Lippietts provides a snapshot of did not noticeably lift the men’s
by Hymn to the Fallen, followed
Ward’s Sea Harrier Over The
even tried to blind the Argentine the lucky ones; he never suffered the everyday life in the task force spirits in Ambuscade.
by Last Post and Reveille before
Falklands (Phoenix, £8.99 ISBN
pilots by shining the beam from the fl ashbacks or nightmares like some and of task force families. “There were no fireworks or
the recording reminds us of the
978-0304355426) which remains
bridge wing signalling projector in of his former shipmates. Many of the letters from home champagne,” John Lippiett recalls.
homecoming with the patriotic
the definitive account of the
their faces. And it was only back in the are about the mundane: the dog “We were suspicious that it could
music of Rule Britannia and Pomp
battle above the South Atlantic
It was, sadly, to no avail. Three UK that the captain realised the escaping, children earning top all flare up again.”
and Circumstance March No.1.
bombs tore into the side of the scale of Coventry’s contribution marks at school, shopping, paying Thankfully, of course, it did
The fi nal piece of music
Ward’s memoirs are – at times
ship – and tore her heart out. to victory. bills, fixing the car, digging the not. But what is interesting from
acknowledges the men of all the
– as blunt and controversial as The operations room where “I really had taken part in a garden (hence the peas in the these letters is how frustrated and
Armed Services – the Regimental
you might expect from such a David Hart-Dyke had been momentous event in the country’s book’s title). depressed sailors were after the
March Medley.
legendary figure in the world of directing the battle ceased to exist history,” he writes. “The confl ict And many of the letters from victory.
Then there is the encore,
the jump jet. as he knew it. His headset and was not just something to be played sea concern the routine of life If war at sea is monotonous,
a rousing piece of music that
Equally brutally honest is microphone had vaporised, his down as having been merely in the aboard ship, sprinkled liberally ‘Groundhog Day’ if you like, then
became the band’s special fi nale
David Morgan’s Hostile Skies anti-fl ash hood and gloves were in line of duty.” with cartoons and diagrams (quite uneasy peace at sea is even more
number: Hootenany.
(Phoenix, £8.99 ISBN 978- tatters. And yet he was one of the Fifteen years ago, reviewers what Jenny Lippiett made of monotonous.
It is not easy to produce a
0753821992) but for different lucky ones. praised Sandy Woodward for the her husband’s description of a “Life is now boring – no action,
recording that celebrates an
reasons. Morgan was an RAF “I looked to my left and saw a frankness of his account of the replenishment at sea we’ll never no news, same position day in, day
anniversary. This is not only a
pilot flying Sea Harriers and sheet of orange fl ame leap out of campaign, and in particular the know...). out,” John Lippiett wrote a week
fi ne tribute, but also a very good
aside from the descriptions the hatch down into the computer strain of command. Some of the stories here are after the Argentine surrender.
recording in its own right.
of dogfights, the author gives room below and envelop a man David Hart-Dyke gives you the familiar: reaction to the loss of “Oh to know when we are
a surprising glimpse into his as he attempted to climb up into ‘business end’ of that confl ict, the Coventry and Sheffield, the battle returning to where we belong. Available from Cpl Nev marina
personal life and the effect of war the operations room,” recalls story of the sailors in harm’s way. It of Bomb Alley. And oh that we don’t have to Dednum RM on 023 92724980,
on him and his family. Coventry’s captain. is one of the most moving, honest Others are not. come rushing back here.” priced £12.
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