On the 1st April 1982, David Yates was a 24 year old Leading Catering Accountant…

Warships are the most complex military vehicles ever built. They are symbols of national pride, expected to operate in any part of the world, in multiple roles. The other unique point is that the ship is home to the crew, their entire world for many days or weeks. Totally dependent on the ship and each other, there is no place to run when trouble starts.

On the 1st April 1982, David Yates was a 24 year old Leading Catering Accountant, filling in a year’s sea time before promotion and a shore draft. His main interests where birds, booze and upholding the ancient Navy tradition of Zippo bashing*.

By the morning of the 2nd of April, news came through that Argentinian scrap merchants had landed on the British dependency of South Georgia. Antrim and her crew began to follow the course of another Royal Naval tradition. That which leads to the South Atlantic and war. A place where if the enemy doesn’t get you, the weather will have a try.

Covering over 100 days at sea this book is the story of ‘Jack’ the men of the warships lower deck. The Falklands was the first conflict where modern ships met modern aircraft equipped with high technology ship killing missiles. The story gives an insight into naval life, the good the bad and the funny. It includes brief glimpses into the world of Special Forces and the Royal Marines carried by Antrim during the course of the conflict.

First in and one of the last out, Antrim and her crew were always where the trouble was, coming out with a record second to none.

This book does contain material the Royal Navy would probably prefer did not come to public attention, it is a genuine tale of the lower deck, not always a nice place to be. Though the author is very unassuming he shows a world where not only courage but endurance is a key requirement of men. From storm force winds to unexploded bombs, and the ever present thoughts of friends killed or injured, and the chance it could happen to you. The author has received criticism that why should he write such a book, when he wasn’t even in a ‘combat’ branch of the Navy? Not that the enemy or the weather made any such decision, indeed his position was such that he was able to see a larger picture than most, everyone eats and everyone wants to be friends with the cook! I enjoyed the book, it is written by an ordinary man amongst ordinary men asked to do extraordinary things.

*Zippo Bashing: US Warships have Zippo cigarette lighters with the ships name number, and silhouette on them. The Royal Navy lower deck consider it their duty to liberate as many of these as possible. By all means available.

Published by Pen & Sword Maritime
ISBN: 978 1 84415 624 5 

Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longstanding friend of WHO, providing features, photography and reviews. He has contributed to The Times of London and other publications. He is the author of The Liberation of Europe (pub 2016) and If War Should Come due later in 2020.