T H E A F
T S E C T I O N B A S E
|"Hands to Action Stations" was a
familiar pipe and one we all dreaded in the After Section of the Ship, but our first day
at Action Stations was very quiet with no enemy action and we were all crimped out on the
deck trying to snatch some "Z"sŤ We were all very confident about our ship's
weapon system and had no worries about Argentinian Air attacks. But this was only the
21st May. As the morning came up we had a quick look at San Carlos Bay from the quarterdeck, but there wasn't much to see, just rambling hills and the odd sheep, which made me think of camping holidays in Wales. An hour passed quickly by, which gave way to another familiar pipe, "Air Raid Warning Red" and hearts were beating fast, people were going to the heads like it was going out of fashion: Seawolf was fired; there was a moment of silence and then tremendous cheering. Seawolf had made a kill.
Two minutes later we heard the Bofors open up, followed by the sound of small arms from the Flight Deck. We looked at each other. ... suddenly the headset was alive with "Take cover", shouted to the rest of the Section, who hit the deck and then followed by the thudding of 30mm cannon shells ripping into the ship and planes passing overhead with a "Whoosh".
Then it was time to blanket search the after end. Damage was minor with holes everywhere, and then we discovered the dhoby had been hit, and that all the Flight along with the Leading Reg had suffered shrapnel wounds.
This was the first day: our initiation into the Bomb Alley "Suicide Squad". The days then moved slowly on. We had more attacks with no more damage and we had shot down several jets. It was on 25th May when we were all praying for darkness that Air Raid Warning Red was sounded and we were subsequently attacked with COVENTRY. A bomb passed through the ship shortly before COVENTRY was hit, causing damage to our hangar, helicopter and 2R passage and destroying the Tailor's shop. Everyone was surprisingly calm and men worked hard repairing our damage and tending to COVENTRY'S Survivors who were in very high spirits and who gave us all something to admire. We were very lucky the bomb didn' t go off. That was one of our last days in Bomb Alley. We were tired but remained cheerful, and thankful we made it, though we will not forget those who didn't.