‘If I should die…’

Richard, one of our volunteers, writes the following…

The American Major Olmsted’s contemplation of his own death on active service sent me searching for an example from an earlier conflict.

When a young naval lieutenant, David Tinker, was sent to the Falklands he requested that if he were to be buried in earth the following be inscribed on his grave: 

“He wears
The ungathered blossom of quiet; stiller he
Than a deep well at noon, or lovers met,
Than sleep, or the heart after wrath. He is
The silence following great words of peace.”

Although Lt Tinker was familiar with the work of Wilfred Owen (whose unsentimental war poetry has been more in favour in modern times), it is interesting to note that the quotation is from the work of a poet often regarded as more idealistic and patriotic, Rupert Brooke’s ‘Fragments written during the voyage to Gallipoli April 1915′. (see A Message from the Falklands: The Life and Gallant Death of David Tinker, Lieut. R.N., compiled in 1982 by his father, Professor Hugh Tinker).

                             

Damage to the port side and helicopter hangar HMS GLAMORGAN caused by an Argentine Exocet missile on 12 June 1982.In the event, David Tinker was killed by the Exocet attack on HMS GLAMORGAN on 12 June 1982, and buried at sea with twelve of his comrades the same day. 

                          

Consequently, it is only with the recent unveiling of the Armed Forces Memorial that he is officially commemorated, although he appears on local memorials at Great Hampden (Buckinghamshire) and Clungunford (Shropshire).  The losses on HMS GLAMORGAN are commemorated by a window in Portsmouth Cathedral and on the Falklands Naval memorial on Plymouth Hoe.

  

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The photograph above shows the damage to the port side and helicopter hangar of the destroyer HMS GLAMORGAN caused by an Argentine Exocet missile on 12 June 1982.  The missile was launched from a land-based mobile launcher near Port Stanley, some 18 miles away. Radar systems failed to detect the missile but in the few seconds available after making visual contact, GLAMORGAN was able to turn rapidly and the missile struck the hangar instead of the ship’s side. Thirteen lives were lost but the damage failed to put GLAMORGAN out of action, making her the first British warship to survive an Exocet missile strike.

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5 comments
  1. Ian Inskip said:

    Comment by Ian Inskip: The missile launch on HMS Glamorgan was seen by S/Lt Mark Garratt on the bridge, but not recognised as such – he thought it was an ammunition dump exploding. The missile was first detected by me at 8 miles on the bridge radar display, set to Type 992 radar, on a bearing of 020. The ship’s course at the time was 150. I ordered full starboard rudder to be applied, with the intention of taking the missile at a 10 degree inclination to bounce it off the ship’s side. Unfortunately, there was insufficient time to complete this manoeuvre and full rudder was still on, with the ship heeling at 14 degrees, when the missile clipped the spermwater, initiating the delayed action fuse. The angle on the deck deflected the missile up so that it exploded a foot above the upper deck, just short of the hangar. Had the missile been flying just three inches lower, the missile would have penetrated the ship’s side and exploded in the Seaslug main missile magazine.

    • Anonymous said:

      Ian, your a hero.

  2. Anonymous said:

    I served on Glamorgan for about 18 months, leaving prior to the “conflict”. I still remember vividly the faces of some of those killed. I doubt that Ian sees himself as a hero. He was a competent officer, carrying out his duties on the bridge.

  3. mal said:

    I served on HMS Glamorgan shortly before it deployed to the south Atlantic. i remember very vividly some of those who died. I doubt that Ian sees himself as a hero. He was a competent officer doing what he was trained to do.

  4. Anonymous said:

    The ops room played an important part in activating the missile systems and putting a track on the incoming missile, which was observed and identified correctly, at an early stage. !!!!

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