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:
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).
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.
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.