WAR & PEAS. Intimate Letters from the Falklands War 1982 By Rear Admiral John Lippiett CB MBE

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            Plymouth                                                      22nd May, 1982

My dearest one,    All the awful news last night of the landing on the Falklands and the damage to 5 ships - I was telephoned last night to say that you were all safe, but life here is twitched beyond belief, and more than two days here would put me in a madhouse within a week!   Supper last night consisted of our fingernails and sherry - neither very good for Alfonso, so I sneaked an egg and some salad while L and D adhered themselves to the TV and the telephone, which never stopped ringing!

 

22nd May

0830 Join Carrier Battle Group (CBG), challenged by light and pass coded reply. 0930 commence zig-zag. Action Stations. 1045 Close up for RAS. 1245 collision with tanker, 1400-1530 RAS(L). 1600 helo CO to Flagship, HMS HERMES. 1700 fall out from Action Stations. 2000 sunset. 2220 collision with HMS ALACRITY narrowly averted. Overnight screening carriers, 6-8 miles from centre of force, altering course every 3 minutes.

(Wind NW, Force 4, Sea State 4. Miles steamed: 407)

 

FROM DAILY ORDERS:

PREPARATIONS FOR WAR

a) Censorship of Mail. After we sail all mail will be censored. Further instructions will be issued after sailing. Until then no post will be accepted after the final collection. (0715) 

b) Securing for Action. A considerable amount of work has already been completed securing the ship for action. When in NBCD States 1 & 2  the ship is to be fully secured for action, but at other times relaxations may be made. After sailing the bogey time for the fully secured for action state is 15 minutes. Mattresses will be left in position on individual bunks, but they are to be lashed.

c) Name Tallies.  It is particularly important at this time that name tallies are worn and are legible.

25 May  23.30

Not mentioned, but I understand that yesterday they announced that Antelope had been sunk.   As ever a bitter blow, but thankfully only 1 dead.

This evening has been one that I will remember for life.   We came under missile attack at dusk.  I cant tell you here, except that we, AMB, were exceptionally lucky and survived by good drills alone.   Another (merchantman) was hit and is on fire and abandoned.   You will have heard about it by the time you read this.

 I must to bed as Im on call all night.  All my love to you my darlingest wife.   I shall be back.   J

 

 

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HMS AMBUSCADE at sea                                               2 May

Darling, The will enclosed is a requirement for everyone onboard and needs depositing with bank or solicitor (former I should think).  But not needed, please note!!

 Westbourne                                                                      6 June       First Runner Bean up, peas looking good, the sweet corn all planted out, French beans plopping up daily, artichokes and sprouting and leeks all hardened off ready for planting out, all clematis doing well, two dahlias peeping through, broad beans as big as a pencil, apple blossom all set and snowing down, one nastily purple (!) flower on the magnolia, several tiny buds on the peonies, plum suckers everywhere, and my fingernails black and broken.   All we poor deserted wives agreed at a birthday party on Thursday that the worst bit of absent men was having to water the garden all by ourselves!  

                                                                     18th May

Jenny, my darlingest, We are going to try to get some more mail away this evening to a ship northward bound.   Sent 2 earlier today.  Now dusk, and we go in to replenish fuel in the small hours of the morning.   We have to do it by a rather difficult method - so it will be pretty testing in pitch darkness. 

falk-ras-approach.jpg
Preparing to Replenish fuel at dusk

 

                                                                        Friday 28th May

My beloved one,  Letters today, which I thought would be a great treat, but in fact it has just made me miserable!  I just cannot see an end to this, and I fear that even if the Islands are retaken, you will not be able to return.  I long with every part of me to see Ambuscade sailing safely into Plymouth Sound, and to know that you wont have to go south again!   The loss of four ships so far, though, may mean that you have to stay there longer, and return to patrol there even after immediate hostilities have cooled down.   Both Nott and Thatcher say emphatically that there is no question of Argentina being given sovereignty - but that is the only way to stop this lunatic war, and in my opinion the islands are just not worth the price.

 

                                                                              Mon 0100

What a funny old day Saturday was.   Sat/Sun night spent up and v. busy.  All Sunday pm spent ammunitioning in terrible weather.  Soaked to the skin - took 5 hours!   Then more excitements - another attack on us all - I can say this because it was on the world news an hour ago.   Also on news that Stanley came under heavy bombardment on Sat night, so you can put 2 + 2 together to see why we wanted ammo yesterday!

 Another mission tonight in progress, and so it goes on.   I’m off to bed, exhausted.   I love you.   J  

                                                  Still Mon 31

Back from that - no incidents.   Prepared to take on ammo this morning on the forecastle in horrible weather in the dark; then they decided to fly it on instead.  As soon as that was underway they decided we should refuel immediately after - off we went (missing lunch), 1 hrs tied up to the tanker but failed to take fuel - their gear didnt work.  So now we abandoned all, and are back doing our thing, with more excitements through the night and no doubt two replenishments tomorrow.  And so it goes on.

 Its snowing now and pretty cold.   Been on upper deck for 6 hours but have kept fairly dry this time.  Could all change.   Must finish this, lest mail closes.

John Lippiett is now Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. War & Peas is on sale in the shop there, and all profits will go towards the restoration of King Henry 8's Flagship of 500 years ago. Please visit it, and buy your signed copy there, if you don't order it from this website!

visit:www.maryrose.org

War & Peas  (3 pages on website)