As the Duke of York leaves the Royal Navy after 22 years service, he has been recounting his war experiences as a naval helicopter pilot in the Falklands Conflict.
In an interview with the Ministry of Defence Magazine "Focus", Prince Andrew reveals that he was flying his Sea King helicopter in dangerous circumstances in some of the most momentous actions of the conflict, including the Vulcan bomber raid on Stanley airport and the Argentine exocet missile attacks which sank the destroyer HMS Sheffield and the vital transport ship Atlantic Conveyor, attempting to transport helicopters to the war zone.
Was his helicopter flying as a decoy? "A lot has been made of being a decoy for exocets," he says. "It's a moot point of whether I was or wasn't. But I did actually fly that mission (near HMS Sheffield). Whether we would have been in harm's way is anybody's guess because I certainly didn't see a missile go past."
The Prince cites the loss of the Atlantic Conveyor as the other moment when "things got a bit hot .....Bullets and missiles were flying about. We could have got in the way of that because I was airborne at the time".
When the Vulcan bomber, flying from Ascension Island, made its surprise bombing raid on Stanley airport, Prince Andrew was airborne conducting a search patrol just to the east of the Falklands capital. "Security didn't tell us why we were there", he says. "But it was fairly obvious when we saw lots and lots of smoke coming out. It wasn't until we came back that we discovered something had been shot down".
Prince Andrew, then only 22 years old, says: "Danger didn't actually occur to us. I probably had my overdose of adrenaline for my life. I get a hot rush every now and then thinking about it. What do they say? 'I laugh at danger?' Absolute rubbish, it's a risk you take. But for some reason, when you're actually there, you don't think it will happen to you. You make the best of it."
Terror -- and Boredom The magazine says: "The Duke proved himself a worthy Serviceman - and then some". He says: "The Falklands war was 99 per cent boredom and one per cent terror. There were very, very short moments when you think: 'Is this sensible?' Then you just get on with it". Flying aside, the Duke recalls the grinding routine with its non-stop cycle of eating, sleeping and flying, blurring the line between night and day. In May, 1982, he flew 113
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