HMS FEARLESS: THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FALKLANDS CAMPAIGN, THE ANTHOLOGY

Reviewed by: DR JAMES BOSBOTINIS

This is a valuable and timely book, intended to mark the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War, in particular the contribution of those embarked on HMS Fearless. It is not intended to provide a history of the conflict, rather it provides the recollections, thoughts and anecdotes of those who served. This ranges from the ship’s Captain, Jeremy Larken, writing on his preparations for the campaign and approach to command, through to anecdotes from the youngest sailors onboard, as well as visiting personnel, and extracts of reports written by Max Hastings whilst on the ship. This approach provides for a diverse and fascinating text.

Divided into 11 parts, the book covers subjects including the aforementioned reflections of Rear Admiral Larken, the sailing from Portsmouth, the initial phases of the War and the loss of HMS Sheffield, the experience of Fearless in the face of Argentine air attacks, through to the landings from 21 May 1982, supporting Special Forces’ operations ashore, and the Argentine surrender. The recollections of the loss of Sir Galahad and the contribution of personnel from Fearlessto fire-fighting and the disposal of unexploded ordnance on HMS Antelope, Plymouth, and the RFAs Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram are poignant and for this reviewer, provide much food for thought with respect to the current war in Ukraine. The book also includes a foreword by Admiral Sir Philip Jones, who served on Fearless in 1982 as a young officer. The section by Commander John Prime, then the Operations and Navigating Officer on Fearless, regarding the loss of one of the ship’s Landing Craft Utility, F4, is also particularly interesting and poignant, highlighting the sacrifice of those in the Task Force, and in this case, the only wreck of a vessel lost in the War to have not yet been located. The back cover illustration depicting Fearless was also provided by John Prime.

This is an excellent book, providing a highly readable account of the experiences of the crew of HMS Fearless in the Falklands War. It will greatly appeal to those with an interest in the conflict, whether historical, as a case study in maritime operations or strategy, or for those with a personal or familial connection. The book features extensive illustrations, photographs, cartoons, maps, and diagrams; there are occasional typos but they do not detract from the quality or readability of the book. HMS Fearless provides a fitting tribute to all those who served in the South Atlantic in 1982 and proceeds from the sale of the book go to three charities: the Falklands Islands Veterans Association, the Falklands Islands Memorial Chapel Trust and the Trinity House Maritime Charity. A DVD, ‘A Sailor’s Story of the Falklands War’, by Captain John Kelly OBE, is also included. This is a recording of a speech by Captain Kelly, providing an account of the War, with much of the content also in the book. This book provides one with much opportunity to reflect on the events of 40 years ago, and it is highly recommended.

Available via https://hmsfearlessfalklands40thanniversarybook.co.uk