You do not have to be an ex service person or a serving member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces,anyone can join!

For more information,please contact the PRO Mr David Winterbottom on 01952 691131 or


Former Petty Officer David Burr recounts the day he feared he may never see his family again.

I joined in 1965 and did 13 years in the submarine service doing naughty stu underwater,where most of the time we didn’t know what we were up to. I worked my way up,but to get my Chief’s buttons I had to work my way up through the eet. So,the rst ship I got was the HMS Ardent – the second ship to be sunk down in the Falklands.

“I thought,‘I’m never going to see my wife or kids again.’”

It was bomb alley. It was on 21 May 1982 and we were in the middle of San Carlos Bay taking all the ak so we could get Task Force troops ashore,and then give the landing troops protection as they went ashore. There were so many ships down there with troops,but we were earmarked by the Argentinians to be written o and they had a pretty good go at it – leaving us having to abandon ship in the evening.

There were bombs hitting us all the time,from 0800 onwards. We had done so many exercises in training,that’s why we managed to last the majority of the day containing res – but training doesn’t substitute for real experience. I can remember being in my action station at 0900 hours and all I could hear was missiles skimming along the outside of the hull. It was then that I thought,“I’m never going to see my wife or kids again.”

In the end,what took us out was our own helicopter coming in to refuel on the ight deck. Just as it was coming down,by chance a rocket hit the shearing of the Sea Cat,which fell onto our helicopter as it was refuelling. AVCAT (aviation fuel) really goes,and it went up like a ball of re. In a way,we were lucky because it could have been much worse,but when a helicopter crashes on the deck with AVCAT fuel,you haven’t a chance. So,we abandoned ship and jumped a 40-ft drop down onto HMS Yarmouth. They didn’t know what to do with us. We were the second ship sunk that day after the She eld,so they took us to the Canberra.

We lost 22 guys from HMS Ardent that day,and four of them were from my Division. One was fatally wounded as he moved from his part of the ship because he saw someone in distress – he got hurt trying to help a mate. If he’d stayed where he was,he might be here today,but he saw someone a few feet away,he tried to save them and got killed in the process.

We came back on the QE2 and it brought the rst survivors – the wounded Royal Marines and any other injured troops who had been down there. On my return,I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder,which I found out isn’t uncommon in people who have had to abandon ship.

I stayed in the Service for another three years,leaving the Royal Navy in 1985,and after that I served with the Merchant Navy on safety ships in the oil and gas elds.

David Winterbottom –PRO for the Gnosall and District RBL Branch.

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