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After our return to Devonport, annual leave was granted and the ship had a spell in dry dock for much needed maintenance. The ship's routine was maintained including the daily SOCs -systems operator checks - a start of the day routine where all the key ship's systems are tested. Just before 0800 the action stations alarm would be sounded to check it was working. Just like Pavlov's dogs we had been conditioned to respond to this particular stimulus (our lives had depended on it!), and even after weeks of coping with nothing more dangerous than bored barmaids in local hostelries, we were compelled to respond to the alarm test. Each day dozens of battle hardened ALACRITYS could be spotted dashing to their action stations positions only to stop in mid-flight with embarrassed expressions. Tinged with relief as consciousness took over, but with hearts still pounding, they remembered it was only a test! I'm sure that even today the sound of that alarm would have many of us out of our seats.
Laugh- I nearly died! Tom McCrimmon
I'm not sure which day this was but it may have been the action in which Atlantic Conveyor was sunk. My action station position was in a corner of the SCC (ship's engineering control centre) and what a crowded compartment it was. On the day in question 'Handbrake' had been called and we knew an Exocet attack was imminent. Tension was raised as ALACRITY fired chaff and the ship began to take violent avoiding action: the Ops. room team clearly saw us as a likely target.. At some point the order was given 'Take cover, take cover' and all over the ship bodies dived to the deck to minimise injury from flying debris in any explosion. In the SCC, deck space was eagerly sought but there was never going to be enough room for everyone. Senior ratings monitoring key machinery stood by their dials with their usual resigned focus on the task in-hand; the Fleet Chief, resplendent in his white overalls muttered that he wasn't going to lie on the deck for any Argie missile (and French made at that); POMEM 'Jan' Blane sat at the ship's throttles concentrating on, and responding to, the stream of commands from the bridge.
From my seat in the corner I found myself gazing at the bulkhead that we knew had now been turned towards the Exocet as this was the smallest radar target the ship could present to the missile. I can remember trying to reason whether the missile would explode on contact with the hull or burst through the ship's side first. Would I see it come through that bulkhead? The silence in the SCC had been total but was broken by Jan who could never abide too much silence, " Did I tell you about the grief I've been getting in my letters from home? Here I am being shot at, people trying to kill me, no chocolate to be had................ and my wife's giving me grief about her being chased to attend coffee mornings to raise money to buy nutty for the Taskforce." His commentary was delivered as only a natural comedian could. I found myself laughing at both the unreal situation and Jan's natural humour. Thanks Jan.....if we had have been hit I would have died with a smile on my face.
Steve Hall (This was 'half-inched' from the British Legion Website!)
FALKLAND 25 (Embarrassment and Guilt to PRIDE IN 25 YEARS) I was an 18 yr old AB (R) serving onboard HMS ALACRITY in 82. On leaving the RN in 85 I threw my medal in the bottom draw, somewhat embarrassed that I was awarded it after all I was an AB and not a very good one at that , for the next 25 years I didn't discuss the Falklands or my experiences, I felt somewhat guilty that despite Exocet , torpedo and bombardment attacks we all came home safe and so many didn't- this I didn't understand. Then Falkland 25 came around my wife asked if I'd go. "No," I replied. Then over the coming weeks more questions or 'nagging' as we men call it, I decided that maybe it was time to face my ghosts. I attended a reunion for ALACRITY and found most people had ghosts, it was a great help. Then the big one- Falkland 25,17 June 2007. I applied and tickets arrived, then one evening I recived a phone call that would change my life, asking if i would attend a lunch on 15th june with other veterans and the under Secretary of State. I decided in for a penny, in for a pound, so I accepted. We arrived on 15th as planned in St James Park it was very formal full of MBEs, OBEs etc and I thought to myself what on earth was I doing here, I started chatting to a veteran from the forgotten ship (HMS GLAMORGAN) when in the corner of my eye a figure appeared as he approached me I remember thinking how ill he looked ,he was sweating and quite flushed, He stopped infront of me and started to explain he was onboard Atlantic Convayer on May 25 1982 when it was hit by an exocet (this ship had caused many a nightmare for myself and my ship mates). Our ship had gone to its aid and rescued the survivors. He went on to explain this was the first time in 25 yrs that he had met one of the crew. As he started to thank me for what we had all done that evening, the emotions for both of us became overwelming and instead of a memorable reply I simply said "No worries, it was nothing". We chatted and went our own way.
I can say now that was the most emotional day of my life. I now realise that onboard HMS ALACRITY there were 200 crew of which I was one, and no matter how small a contribution I had made, I formed part of a team that encounted many dangers and saved many lives. I would like to Thank the crew of ALACRITY on behalf of Gary (Atlantic Convayer) I will now wear my Medal with PRIDE.
FOZZIE's MEMORY (he is the 'X' factor star above)
War is a scary place to be! Could the following have been seen in any other navy at such a time?(Ed.)
WEM Mika (Rodney) and WEM Matthews (Stan) were put on DC patrol. Rodders was very intense and excitable.... Stan was laid back. One day on patrol, Rodders starts to tap his feet to an imaginary tune..... Stan picked up on it, and instead of telling Rodders to stop, thought he would have some fun, so.......he said to Rodders " Hey that's good Rodders, have you had tap dancing lessons?" "No?", replied Rodders. "Tell you what, I`ll hum a tune, you try and tap to it" Said Stan. So he proceeds to hum singing in the rain. Rodders obliges by tapping along. Anyway, time comes for them to report to the SCC. Stan gets away from Rodders and gets to the SCC before him.
" Haven't got much time lads, but just follow my lead when Rodders comes in" Said Stan to a bewildered SCC.
On cue Rodders walks in........" Guess what lads! ", says Stan. " Rodders can tap dance! Come on Rodders show the lads"
" Yeah! Come on Rodders!" the SCC watch add encouragement.
"He does a mean Singing in the Rain," says Stan. Rodders goes all shy, but with some encouragement agrees to show the Watch. So the SCC bursts into Singing in the Rain, while Rodders taps and shuffles along. Then the SCC bursts into rounds of applause!
Stan and Rodders sign for their rounds and go on their merry way. Over the course of the next week or so, Stan is winding Rodders up suggesting he do a skit at the Sod's Opera BBQ on the way home. The big problem is no tap shoes, so Stan suggests Rodders orders a set of golf shoes from the NAAFI catalogue.......
Meanwhile the war is going on, and on that fateful day (the only one I remember our scran being interrupted - I was eating spag-bol when the action stations sounded, and never finished it!), the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR got hit. We all carried out our jobs, and after rescuing the survivors, and stowing all the gear, we returned to the mess decks. 4 Mess had opened the bar and was giving some poor shocked survivors traditional Stokers' hospitality. Then it happened............ Stan and Rodders had completed their watch and returned to the Stokers' Mess. As they came down the ladder into 4 Mess someone shouted out " 'Ere lads, we got a treat for you! Come on Rodders, give these poor bastards a show! Show them your tap dance!" The whole mess erupted in cheers and everyone started humming Singing in the Rain! Rodders starts his pathetic effort......
The look on those survivors’ faces will stay with me forever! They didn’t know whether to laugh, or jump back into the sea!