Sailors and military personnel in the Falkland Islands saluted the last Royal Navy ship damaged in the 1982 conflict, according to a Royal Navy report. A small group from HMS Forth – the patrol ship which serves as the Islands’ constant guardian – and Mount Pleasant gathered at Hookers Point outside Stanley and the imposing monument of Welsh granite erected to HMS Glamorgan.
It was near this remote site that Argentine forces fired two Exocet missiles at Glamorgan on June 12 1982. One hit, killing 13 men that day while a 14th succumbed to his injuries two months later. She was the last of around 20 British vessels damaged or sunk in the conflict. Two days later, Argentine forces surrendered.
Laying a wreath on behalf of HMS Forth was 21-year-old Able Seaman Harvey Lewis, whose grandfather Phillip Bowers survived the attack.
During a 30-year career ending as a chief petty officer, Mr Bowers spent three years as a steward aboard Glamorgan. He lost five close shipmates who worked in the destroyer’s galley.
Glamorgan had been pounding Argentine defenses outside Stanley on Two Sisters hill using her main 4.5in guns, supporting a successful attack by the Royal Marines of 45 Commando.
Bringing her guns in range of the defenses also brought her in range of an Exocet launcher rigged by Argentine sailors, who struck as the destroyer completed her bombardment mission.
Skilful evasive manoeuvres by Glamorgan’s team helped to minimize the impact of the missile, but it still caused devastation aft as it struck the hangar, destroying the fully-fuelled and armed Wessex helicopter.
The burning fuel poured through a hole in the deck – and into the galley, starting a fire which killed four cooks and a steward.
Valiant efforts by the ship’s company brought the fires under control and barely three hours after being hit, Glamorgan was back under control again.
Four decades on AB Lewis, who’s experienced his first sustained spell at sea with Forth over the past couple of months, saluted alongside the ship’s gunnery officer Lieutenant Owen Long, Bugler Sgt James Buckley and Flying Officer Ian Wallis.
The wreath the ship left read:
On all the oceans, white caps flow
There are no crosses row on row
But those who sleep beneath the sea
Can rest in peace, your country’s free.