SUBMARINERS who fought in the Falklands War were reunited in Gosport yesterday – 30 years to the day HMS Conqueror sank the General Belgrano.
The veterans gathered for the launch of a new exhibition at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum which features their stories from the war with Argentina.
‘Falklands 30 War Patrols’ presents personal pictures and reflections from some of the men who played a key role beneath the waves.
Among those featured is David Hall, 67, who was the engineering officer aboard HMS Conqueror.
He said: ‘It was 30 years ago but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. It still feels like it was yesterday.
‘The exhibition is great. It’s a good opportunity for the general public to come and connect with their armed forces and see what it was like down there.’
On May 2, 1982, Conqueror blasted the Belgrano with two Mark 8 torpedoes, sinking the cruiser and killing 323 enemy sailors.
Vice-Admiral Sir Tim McClement, 60, who was second-in-command of the nuclear-powered submarine, said: ‘It was something we just had to do. The Belgrano posed a real threat to our Task Force. If one or both of our aircraft carriers had been sunk or disabled that would have been the end of the campaign as far as the UK was concerned.’
Colin Way, 63, who was a Petty Officer in Conqueror, told of the moment the Belgrano was hit.
He said: ‘There was a big cheer – it was a release of adrenaline. But that was followed by long, long moments of sadness.’
The exhibition is not just about Conqueror, however.
It’s also about the five other boats which went to the South Atlantic – HMS Courageous, Onyx, Spartan, Splendid and Valiant.
Frank Muscroft, 69, of Gosport, was Onyx’s marine engineering officer.
His boat had to sink RFA Sir Galahad with the bodies of British troops still inside it following devastating air attacks on June 8.
He said: ‘It was terrible. I will never forget it.’