As a Commando helicopter pilot, the author served with 846 Naval Air Squadron in the Falklands War and was decorated for gallantry (DSC). The author re-lives his part in operations, in particular Special Forces intelligence gathering and direct action missions, including the Pebble Island raid. Events are described in detail including the development of pioneering night operating procedures and the conduct of covert and other operationally sensitive missions. The book includes hitherto undisclosed material relating to Operation MIKADO, the ill-fated Special Forces mission in Argentina with its disastrous consequences for the Task Force. Dick was Captain of the Sea King that carried the Special Forces team into Argentina. The operation is described in detail including events in the air and on the ground in Argentina and Chile. Dick recalls his encounter with the Chilean authorities, meetings with British Embassy officials in Santiago, the international press conference, his eventful repatriation to the UK, debriefings in the MoD and time spent in an MI6 safe-house somewhere in England. The book concludes by describing a follow-up visit to Chile by the author in November 1982, at the behest of the Chilean Government.
One of the great untold stories of the British services is that of the Royal Navy Submarine Service which entered the fray in World War I with 100 underwater craft. Through World War II, where submariners’ prospects of returning safely from a mission were only 50:50, the Falklands conflict and the sinking of the Belgrano, to present-day elite machines, the Silent Service has played an enormous part in British defence. John Parker’s in-depth investigation is very much personality led with diaries from the early part of the century to substantial first-person testimony from survivors of wartime heroics (when many VCs were won).
This book was written at sea, on HMS Fearless, during evenings sat down in front of the technical office computer, as the ship gently swayed around me. It was almost written as it happened. Once each event had occurred, the requisite chunk was written and sent on to the close-in-range weapons workshop where Terry captured the mood of each occasion deftly with his pen and ink illustrations. It tells of the events during one year near the latter end of the life of the Fearless; one of the Royal Navy’s most unique ships, both in history and construction –not to mention the human and mechanical idiosyncrasies that seemed to be in manifest abundance within its metal hull.
The Fearless was a left-over from a previous generation of ships; the last steam powered vessel in the Royal Navy, and as such, its crew were also a left over; many had been coming back to it time and again from as far back as the ‘seventies. This meant that it was also ‘Old Navy’ in the outlooks and attitudes of the ship’s company.
The story is told from the point of view of the lower deck, to be precise from that of NCOs, and attempts to capture the tone and humour and attitudes of that now-vanished microcosm of Navy Life. For that reason it is unapologetically ‘politically incorrect’, and is not in any way a reflection of the Navy as it is now. Moreover, the opinions expressed within are those of the author and the people he knew and in no way reflect the policy of either the Royal Navy or the MOD.