In March 1982, HMS Yarmouth was on its way to a Far East deployment, but Argentinian President General Leopoldo Galtieri had other ideas.
Aged 22, I was serving my 18 months’ notice and expecting to leave the navy in a few months’ time after 6 years of service.
I was a Leading Radio Operator in charge of the Starboard Watch Communications team. We were Far East bound and were happily sailing across the Mediterranean towards Naples when a FLASH (Z) signal came in over the teleprinter. We knew the islands had been invaded by this time and were half-expecting this to happen. I was on watch, saw the signal coming through … and it didn’t read well:
“Turn around, head back to Gibraltar, refuel, take on ammunition and stores. Proceed to join the Hermes battle group in the Atlantic…”
So no Far East deployment for you, HMS Yarmouth. You’re going to war instead…
The diary takes up the story from here. By way of a taster, we’ve reproduced some of the pages below. Please read on…
Pages 6 to 31 are not reproduced here, but all 32 pages will be included in the forthcoming online eBook publication.
HMS Yarmouth‘s actions during the Falklands Conflict. Excerpt from Wikipedia
Falklands War – HMS Yarmouth
She arrived off the Falklands in late April 1982 and began protective escort for the Task Force. On 4 May, when Sheffield was hit by an Exocet missile, Yarmouth provided anti-submarine protection as Arrow attempted to fight the fire. After Sheffield had been abandoned, Yarmouth took her in tow in order to get her to a safe area. However, after 29 hours the winds rose to gale force and Sheffield finally sank on 10 May at 7 am.
When the amphibious task force arrived on 19 May, Yarmouth provided an anti-air and anti-submarine escort as the force moved into San Carlos Water as part of Operation Sutton. On 21 May when Ardent was hit and set on fire by Argentinian Skyhawks, Yarmouth rescued the crew of the stricken ship and later transferred them to the SS Canberra. For the next ten days she continued to act in an air defence role during the battle of San Carlos by day, but by night operated a variety of missions including shore bombardment, anti-submarine patrols, covert operations and escorting merchant ships to and from the landing area.
In the early hours of 23 May, along with Brilliant, she intercepted and engaged the Argentine coaster ARA Monsunen with her 4.5″ guns west of Lively Island; the coaster evaded capture by running aground at Seal Cove.
On 25 May Yarmouth claimed to have shot down A4C Skyhawk (C-319), flown by Teniente Tomás Lucero, with her Sea Cat missile system, although this aircraft was subjected to the full force of the San Carlos‘ air defences, with other claims from Rapier, Blowpipe and ship-based gunfire.  Lucero ejected and was recovered by Fearless.
After two days of maintenance in the repair area, she returned to bombardment duties beginning on 6 June. These she carried out by night while by day she travelled some 200 miles back to the task force to replenish fuel and ammunition. During one of these missions, she came across a small coaster whose propeller had become fouled with rope while ferrying Gurkhas and supplies to Goose Green. Her diving team managed to free the ship. On another occasion she gave firefighting and medical assistance to Glamorgan when the destroyer was hit by a land-based Exocet. On 13–14 June, she and Active shelled Argentine positions during the Battle of Mount Tumbledown. During the war, she fired over 1,000 shells from her main guns, mostly during shore bombardment, and 58 anti-submarine Limbo mortar rounds.
After the Argentine surrender of the Falkland Islands, Yarmouth, HMS Endurance, RFA Olmeda and the tug Salvageman sailed to the South Sandwich Islands where Argentina had established a base in South Thule since 1976. Following a demonstration of the Yarmouth’s guns, the ten Argentine military personnel surrendered.
Purchase your copy of RETURN TO BOMB ALLEY, MY FALKLANDS WAR DIARY by Paul Cardin very soon.