exocet launcher  

No bloodthirsty warriors here!

The image (left) shows the exocet launchers on ALACRITY. BOUCHARD was an Argentine destroyer and the painting of a 'target's' name on weapons system was done to show bravado.

In our case any bravado had diminished not long after the paint was dry.

 
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Everyone who served on ALACRITY during the months of April, May and June of 1982 was a volunteer. More precisely the Royal Navy was (and is today) manned by men who have freely signed up to serve and, the vast majority of the men in the Navy of '82, given the option, would have probably volunteered to be there with us. Heading southwards to war it was clear that the obvious emotion permeating through the ship was excitement. Excitement of heading off to war, well trained, well equipped (we believed) and part of the biggest task force the Navy had put together since the Korean war. Most of us assumed that the Argentines would pack up and return home once they saw the might of the British armed forces rushing down on them. The 1st May changed all that for us..

We were lucky in that we survived our first engagement but we were now very aware of our vulnerability. Our weapons were not state of the art (other than the Lynx helicopter) and not up to any real defence against fast jet attack; our training was good but we reacted less than perfectly to that first attack and we now understood the value of being 'blooded' in action. As our war progressed we gained confidence in each other and the ship. For some crew members the war became a miserable experience, for some an ever developing adventure and for others a professional challenge. Whatever their personal feelings everyone put 100% into their jobs. To get through the conflict we had to rely on everyone doing their job to the limit of their ability. Sailors probably understand the value of being able to rely on colleagues more than any other professional group bein self-contained floating villages. The sinking of the BELGRANO was welcomed as a military outcome- especially as a key player in the surface action group (SAG) and armed with Exocets, we would have been likely to face Belgrano and her escorts if (and probably when) they attacked the Taskforce. We were much less comfortable with the loss of life and this hit home harder after the sinking of SHEFFIELD. Every Sunday Cdr. Chris Craig held a short religious service in the sick-bay flat for the few who were not in their defence watches or snatching rest. This very Christian captain led these short services, at each of which sincere prayers were said for the Taskforce, the Fleet and for our enemy. Bloodthirsty warriors we certainly were not! Later horrors of the war including the loss of our sister ships ANTELOPE and ARDENT gave all of us lots to think about but also steeled us to get on with the job to the best of our ability, to see this conflict to a rapid end and finish the madness.

memorial

ALACRITY was probably responsible for the deaths of young Argentine soldiers during our regular naval gunfire support (NGS) activities, and certainly for the sailors of the supply ship Isla de los Estados, sunk by our gunfire in the Falkland Sound. It was fitting that some time after most of us had retired from Naval Service, a memorial stone (image: above) was commissioned to be placed at Fannning Head in the entrance to the Falkland Sound- the headland that marked our safe exit at each of our clandestine trips through the Sound.

Courage: The state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution.