The last of the 6 vessels sunk during the Falklands War and the one that perhaps brought the face of war home to the British Public as pictures and stories of the casualties trickled back.
She sailed for the Falklands Islands from HMNB Devonport with 350 Royal Marines on 06 April 1982, arriving there on 21 May. 3 Days later she was attacked for the first time by Argentine Jets who strafed her with cannon fire and hit her with a single 1000lb bomb which failed to explode.
After removal of the unexploded ordnance, she carried out supply runs to the Teal Inlet with her sister ship RFA Sir Percivale.
On the 8th June her fate would be sealed. While waiting to unload soldiers of the Welsh Guards in Port Pleasant Sir Galahad was attacked by three Argentine Skyhawk Jets dropping retarding tail bombs. Sir Galahad was struck and set alight. 48 Crew members and passengers were killed in the explosions and the resulting fires.
Chiu Yiu-Nam was awarded the George Medal for his heroic actions rescuing crew trapped in the lower decks by fire.
A number of Royal Engineers were also aboard the vessel to support the landing forces as well as members of the 16th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps. The Engineers featured prominently in contemporary footage and images of sinking.
Royal Navy Helicopters hovered in the thick smoke from the burning vessel to pick up survivors. Others used the life rafts to make for shore.
Sir Galahad’s hulk, after burning out was towed out to open water by HMS Onyx and sunk. The wreck is now a protected official war grave.
The Patron of Forces Reunited, Simon Weston was a survivor of the attack. Suffering 46% burns, his story has been widely told.
The official board of enquiry question the decision to have Sir Galahad and her sister ship Sir Tristram in port at the same time and their subsequent vulnerability. But ruled that the intensity of Operations recently, the losses in ships and aircraft and the urgency with which the final push were the ultimate cause.
Combat Air Patrols by harrier Jump Jets were undertaken on the day as usual and it was only fortunate circumstance that the Skyhawks were able to penetrate the British defences. The lack of defence from Royal Navy vessels however was attributed to placing too much risk on increasingly important war ships to the security of the Royal Navy task force.
You can to a certain extent understand the arguments presented by the Board of Inquiry. However that is no resolution for the 48 men, 48 families so badly affected by the loss of Sir Galahad.
So it is that we pay tribute today to the 48 men of Sir Galahad’s crew, the Welsh Guards, the Royal Engineers the Royal Army Medical Corps, the Army Catering Corps and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
The 48 Casualties of the RFA Sir Galahad:
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
• Electric Fitter Leung Chau
• 3rd Engineering Officer Christopher F. Hailwood
• 2nd Engineering Officer Paul A. Henry, G.M.
• 3rd Engineering Officer Andrew J. Morris
• Butcher Sung Yuk Pai
1st Battalion, Welsh Guards
• Lance Corporal Anthony Burke
• Lance Sergeant Jim R. Carlyle
• Guardsman Ian A. Dale
• Guardsman Michael J. Dunphy
• Guardsman Peter Edwards
• Sergeant Clifford Elley
• Guardsman Mark Gibby
• Guardsman Glenn C. Grace
• Guardsman Paul Green
• Guardsman Gareth M. Griffiths
• Guardsman Denis N. Hughes
• Guardsman Gareth Hughes
• Guardsman Brian Jasper
• Guardsman Anthony Keeble
• Lance Sergeant Kevin Keoghane
• Guardsman Michael J. Marks
• Guardsman Christopher Mordecai
• Lance Corporal Stephen J. Newbury
• Guardsman Gareth D. Nicholson
• Guardsman Colin C. Parsons
• Guardsman Eirwyn J. Phillips
• Guardsman Gareth W. Poole
• Guardsman Nigel A. Rowberry
• Lance Corporal Philip A. Sweet
• Guardsman Glyn K. Thomas
• Lance Corporal Nicholas D. M. Thomas
• Guardsman Raymond G. Thomas
• Guardsman Andrew Walker
• Lance Corporal Christopher F. Ward
• Guardsman James F. Weaver
• Sergeant Malcolm Wigley
• Guardsman David R. Williams
Army Catering Corps
• Lance Corporal Barry C. Bullers
• Private Albert M. Connett
• Private M Anthony Jones
• Private Richard W. Middlewick
Royal Army Medical Corps
• Lance Corporal Ian R. Farrell
• Major Roger Nutbeem
• Private Ken Preston
9 Independent Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers
(These men were actually members of 3 Troop, 20 Field Squadron, 36 Engineer Regiment. 3 Troop was temporarily attached to 9 Para for the Falklands conflict.)
• Corporal Andrew G. McIlvenny
• Sapper Wayne D. Tarbard
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
• Craftsman Mark W. Rollins
• Lance Corporal Anthony R. Streatfield
Check out this link for a full copy of the Board of Inquiry report into the sinking of Sir Galahad:
Here is the link to Simon Weston’s website. He is a supporter of numerous charities and his story is known across the UK. Please show your support for him and his work just by having a look around:
Image Used: Wikipedia
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