Falklands 40: Headlines from The News, Portsmouth on Wednesday, May 5, 1982

This is what was making the news 40 years ago today, as more horrific details emerged about the bombing of HMS Sheffield.

Thursday, 5th May 2022, 4:55 am

Warship toll 87, but crippled Sheffield refuses to die

Nearly 90 crewmen of the Portsmouth-based destroyer HMS Sheffield have been killed, wounded or are missing, it was disclosed today.

News of casualties has been relayed to 87 families by the Ministry of Defence, according to reliable Whitehall sources.

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HMS Sheffield, damaged by an Exocet missile attack near the Falkland Islands during the Falklands War, May 1982. Twenty people lost their lives in the incident and the ship later sank in the South Atlantic Picture: Martin Cleaver/Pool/Getty Images

But Sheffield - the warship that would not die - was still afloat today, more than 24 hours after being blasted by a missile from an Argentine fighter-bomber.

Royal Navy officers are understood to have returned to the fire-ravaged hull during the night to inspect the damage.

And, as news of the battle toll emerged, Portsmouth was a city in shock - grieving for its menfolk.

Telephones set up by the Navy for next-of-kin rang for hours as mothers, wives and sweethearts desperately sought word of the tragedy, which is thought to have claimed at least 30 lives.

The News on May 5, 1982

Civic leaders - horrified by the disaster - spoke for Portsmouth, home of the Sheffield and the Royal Navy.

Said the city council leader (Mr John Marshall): ‘It is a very black night.’

And Mr. Marshall promised: ‘If there is anything the city can do to help, then it will do it.’

And the Rev Michael Brotherton, Vicar of St Mary’s, Portsea, said: ‘We will pray daily for a peaceful solution.’

Said the defiant Portsmouth North MP (Mr Peter Griffiths): ‘Whatever happens, we just cannot give up now.’

Emergency meeting

An emergency Cabinet meeting was called today to consider the latest developments in the Falkland Islands crisis.

The meeting was hastily convened after a two-hour meeting in Downing Street of the War Cabinet, which was also attended by the Attorney General (Sir Michael Havers).

It was the first meeting of the full Cabinet since the destruction of HMS Sheffield yesterday.

Suggestions for a ceasefire in the conflict between Britain and Argentina are understood to be contained in proposals reaching Whitehall from Washington and New York.

Anxious wait for wives

Helpless Portsmouth naval wives sat by their telephones early today, waiting for the call they prayed would never come.

Dramatic news of the attack on HMS Sheffield brought a sudden reality to the fears and tears as the Task Force made its colourful exit from Portsmouth Harbour last month.

Everywhere the story was the same - anxious wives consoling each other in the belief that no news was good news.

Mrs. Sue Coates (28) of Hilsea, summed up the feelings of most wives.

Her husband was a radio operator on board Sheffield: ‘We are just waiting. There is nothing else we can do. We are completely hopeless,’ she said.

Welcome back poppet

Heartbreak turned to happiness yesterday as Poppet the Paulsgrove pony was reunited with her ‘family’.

Fourteen-year-old Jackie Hoare thought she would never see her favourite pet again when Poppet escaped from her Blakemere Crescent home and ended up in the city council’s stray horse compound.

Jackie’s aunt Mrs. Flora Ball, who owns the pony, was faced with the task of raising £75 to get her back - and had little hope of getting the money.

But after Jackie’s sad story appeared in The News, a man walked into Cowplain Police Station, handed over £75 which he asked to be given to Mrs Ball, and walked out again.

‘He wants to remain anonymous but I would like to say thank you to him for what he has done,’ said Mrs Ball.