AFTER an Argentinian plane’s missile struck HMS Coventry during the Falklands conflict, Jamie Miller had to think fast in order to survive.
As the Type 42 destroyer began to sink, he scrambled onto a lifeboat – but it was struck by another missile as it travelled away.
Luckily Commodore Miller survived the ordeal – and he recalled the dramatic moments at an event which marked the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.
Scores of visitors turned out at Explosion! The Museum of Naval Firepower, at Priddy’s Hard, Gosport, on Saturday for the chance to listen to veterans’ experiences of life on the front line.
Cdre Miller, who is now the naval regional commander for Wales and western England, told the crowds in the museum’s conference room how he was left trapped under the water after the lifeboat was attacked.
He said: ‘I was huddled in the foetal position and I had a rope caught around my leg so I could hardly move. All I could think about was the fact I had only just got married so I needed to get myself out of this situation.
‘I moved my left arm a few times and somehow I managed to break free of the lifeboat.
‘I then clung to a spare anchor that was attached to the ship for around 15 minutes and then I was airlifted away.
‘When something like that happens to you time slows down. You get a strange sense of calmness and your survival instinct and training knowledge kicks in.’
He added: ‘It’s so important that people continue to remember the Falklands conflict. People need to learn from the past so we know what not to do in the future.’
John Strange, who was a chief petty officer onboard HMS Sheffield, recalled how he suffered 48 per cent burns to his hands after the ship’s fuel store was struck by a missile.
He was airlifted to HMS Arrow before being taken to a hospital ship and transported back to the UK. Mr Strange, 68, was then treated for his wounds at The Royal Hospital Haslar, in Gosport.
‘The conflict is something we should never forget,’ he said.
During the day veterans stood by different Falklands War exhibits in the museum and gave visitors more information about them.