On their way to war: Argentine soldiers are seen 13 April 1982 in their way to occupy the captured Royal Marines base in Puerto Argentino/Port Stanley, a few days after the Argentine military dictatorship seized the islands Malvinas/Falklands, starting a war between the Argentina and the United  Kingdom. *Photo by AFP PHOTO Daniel GARCIA
On their way to war: Argentine soldiers are seen 13 April 1982 in their way to occupy the captured Royal Marines base in Puerto Argentino/Port Stanley, a few days after the Argentine military dictatorship seized the islands Malvinas/Falklands, starting a war between the Argentina and the United Kingdom. *Photo by AFP PHOTO Daniel GARCIA
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A Bermudian Royal Navy sailor was one of the first of the Senior Service to see action in the Falklands War, which started 31 years ago this week.

Daniel Little — then a young communications specialist on HMS Alacrity — was on board when the first shots were fired at the Argentinian troops that had invaded the South Atlantic islands owned by Britain.

And Mr Little, one of two Bermudians known to have seen action with the UK Task Force sent to retake the Falklands in 1982, said the experience of coming under hostile fire had changed his life.

He said: “When I got back to the UK, I swore I’d never complain about anything again. When we were raising our four daughters, I frightened myself because I realised that experience meant nothing I could encounter would deter me as a parent or as a man.

“Nothing would faze me because I had already looked at death. It changed me that way. I might have complained once or twice since then, though.

“But it really made me appreciate the short time we have and the tentative nature of life.”

Christian faith

He added that it had also reinforced his Christian faith — a faith that also meant his crewmates looked to him for reassurance as the reality of war sunk in.

HMS Alacrity — a frigate — was ordered to the Falklands at short notice while it was taking part in exercises in the Portland area in the south of England after the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands on April 2, 1982.

Together with sister ship HMS Arrow and the County class destroyer, HMS Glamorgan, they were the first ships to see action — and the first to be fired on by Argentinian forces dug in on the islands.

Mr Little, who joined the Navy in 1971 aged just 16 straight from school, said he had told his wife Josephine as his ship steamed south that by the time it docked in Gibraltar, the Argentinians would have backed down — but they remained on the islands.

The Bermuda Harbour Radio communications specialist added that when the ships arrived at Ascension Island, a UK/US base 3,800 miles away from the Falklands, he was still convinced it would not come to a shooting war.

But by May 1, when the ships arrived off the Falklands, the crews realised they were going to war.

Mr Little said: “When we appeared over the horizon near the Falkland Islands, they started shooting at us. We were on the eastern side of Port Stanley and started bombarding the airfield.”

The three ships were almost immediately targeted by three Argentinian Mirage jets, who swooped into the attack.

One was shot down by its own side, but another managed to drop two bombs over Alacrity, one landing just to starboard and the other passing through the two masts before landing in the water on the port side.

Mr Little, from St David’s,  said: “I saw one plane heading straight towards me from the bridge and there were little splashes coming across the water towards us — it was cannon fire.”

The ship went to full power as the 1,000 pound bombs exploded in the water only yards behind the frigate, causing damage to Alacrity’s rudder gear.

Mr Little said: “It was really close for our first day.”

The engagement also saw the first UK casualty of the war — a crewman on HMS Glamorgan was injured after being hit by shrapnel caused by cannon fire.

Alacrity was used for shore bombardments, dropping off troops from the SAS and the Royal Navy special forces, the SBS, at key points around the island.

The ship also had the grim task of helping to battle fires on HMS Sheffield and the requisitioned container ship Atlantic Conveyor, both sunk by Argentinian air force Exocet missiles with heavy loss of life.

And, as the cheapest ships in the fleet, they were also regarded as “sacrificial lambs” used to screen major ships like HMS Hermes and the requisitioned cruise liner QE2, which was converted to a troop ship.

In addition, Alacrity was asked to steam through an area north of the Falklands prior to the land attack by British troops — to check there were no mines in the area.

Mr Little said: “The captain asked the Admiral if he would like us to zig-zag back and forth — it was a wonderful insight into the the command structure and thinking processes.”

During the operation, Alacrity found an Argentianian supply ship and sank with its 4.5 inch gun — and they only found out later that, as they steamed out of the Falkland Sound at high speed, that an Argentinian submarine had fired a torpedo at them, but it failed to hit its target.

Mr Little said the crew were lucky because, as they had fired more than 500 rounds of high explosive at land-based targets, the gun barrel of the main armament had worn out and there was no suitable areas to replace it, so they were ordered to head for home before the war was over.

He added: “We were passing the Canary Island when the surrender was announced… we headed straight for Plymouth and there were thousands of people lining the shoreline. That was entirely unexpected and the men were standing there openly weeping, with tears running down their faces. It was amazing.”

Mr Little added that the war also had had other unexpected side effects — the planned second child, daughter Naomi, whose conception was delayed by the war, was born on the first anniversary of the invasion.

And a Plymouth college, where he had already applied to study a radio technology course for which he had no formal qualifications, decided to waive the interview and entrance exam in light of his war service.

Mr Little said: “The entrance exam and interview would have screened me out because I didn’t have the qualifications, I came top in my class in the first two years and I worked my backside off to do that. It was a great satisfaction.” n

By Raymond Hainey

rhainey@bermudasun.bm

A

 Bermudian Royal Navy sailor was one of the first of the Senior Service to see action in the Falklands War, which started 31 years ago this week.

Daniel Little — then a young communications specialist on HMS Alacrity — was on board when the first shots were fired at the Argentinian troops that had invaded the South Atlantic islands owned by Britain.

And Mr Little, one of two Bermudians known to have seen action with the UK Task Force sent to retake the Falklands in 1982, said the experience of coming under hostile fire had changed his life.

He said: “When I got back to the UK, I swore I’d never complain about anything again. When we were raising our four daughters, I frightened myself because I realised that experience meant nothing I could encounter would deter me as a parent or as a man.

“Nothing would faze me because I had already looked at death. It changed me that way. I might have complained once or twice since then, though.

“But it really made me appreciate the short time we have and the tentative nature of life.”

Christian faith

He added that it had also reinforced his Christian faith — a faith that also meant his crewmates looked to him for reassurance as the reality of war sunk in.

HMS Alacrity — a frigate — was ordered to the Falklands at short notice while it was taking part in exercises in the Portland area in the south of England after the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands on April 2, 1982.

Together with sister ship HMS Arrow and the County class destroyer, HMS Glamorgan, they were the first ships to see action — and the first to be fired on by Argentinian forces dug in on the islands.

Mr Little, who joined the Navy in 1971 aged just 16 straight from school, said he had told his wife Josephine as his ship steamed south that by the time it docked in Gibraltar, the Argentinians would have backed down — but they remained on the islands.

The Bermuda Harbour Radio communications specialist added that when the ships arrived at Ascension Island, a UK/US base 3,800 miles away from the Falklands, he was still convinced it would not come to a shooting war.

But by May 1, when the ships arrived off the Falklands, the crews realised they were going to war.

Mr Little said: “When we appeared over the horizon near the Falkland Islands, they started shooting at us. We were on the eastern side of Port Stanley and started bombarding the airfield.”

The three ships were almost immediately targeted by three Argentinian Mirage jets, who swooped into the attack.

One was shot down by its own side, but another managed to drop two bombs over Alacrity, one landing just to starboard and the other passing through the two masts before landing in the water on the port side.

Mr Little, from St David’s,  said: “I saw one plane heading straight towards me from the bridge and there were little splashes coming across the water towards us — it was cannon fire.”

The ship went to full power as the 1,000 pound bombs exploded in the water only yards behind the frigate, causing damage to Alacrity’s rudder gear.

Mr Little said: “It was really close for our first day.”

The engagement also saw the first UK casualty of the war — a crewman on HMS Glamorgan was injured after being hit by shrapnel caused by cannon fire.

Alacrity was used for shore bombardments, dropping off troops from the SAS and the Royal Navy special forces, the SBS, at key points around the island.

The ship also had the grim task of helping to battle fires on HMS Sheffield and the requisitioned container ship Atlantic Conveyor, both sunk by Argentinian air force Exocet missiles with heavy loss of life.

And, as the cheapest ships in the fleet, they were also regarded as “sacrificial lambs” used to screen major ships like HMS Hermes and the requisitioned cruise liner QE2, which was converted to a troop ship.

In addition, Alacrity was asked to steam through an area north of the Falklands prior to the land attack by British troops — to check there were no mines in the area.

Mr Little said: “The captain asked the Admiral if he would like us to zig-zag back and forth — it was a wonderful insight into the the command structure and thinking processes.”

During the operation, Alacrity found an Argentianian supply ship and sank with its 4.5 inch gun — and they only found out later that, as they steamed out of the Falkland Sound at high speed, that an Argentinian submarine had fired a torpedo at them, but it failed to hit its target.

Mr Little said the crew were lucky because, as they had fired more than 500 rounds of high explosive at land-based targets, the gun barrel of the main armament had worn out and there was no suitable areas to replace it, so they were ordered to head for home before the war was over.

He added: “We were passing the Canary Island when the surrender was announced… we headed straight for Plymouth and there were thousands of people lining the shoreline. That was entirely unexpected and the men were standing there openly weeping, with tears running down their faces. It was amazing.”

Mr Little added that the war also had had other unexpected side effects — the planned second child, daughter Naomi, whose conception was delayed by the war, was born on the first anniversary of the invasion.

And a Plymouth college, where he had already applied to study a radio technology course for which he had no formal qualifications, decided to waive the interview and entrance exam in light of his war service.

Mr Little said: “The entrance exam and interview would have screened me out because I didn’t have the qualifications, I came top in my class in the first two years and I worked my backside off to do that. It was a great satisfaction.” n