Margaret Clarke with picture of her son

Orpington mum remembers Falklands disaster

Tuesday, April 3, 2012
4.22 PM

The mother of a Falklands veteran spoke of the fear she experienced when she heard his ship had been attacked.

Monday (2) marked the 30th anniversary of the start of the war and Margaret Clarke, 73, watched her 18-year-old son Nigel sail off to the conflict on HMS Glamorgan in 1982.

The ship was hit by an Exocet missile on the last day of the conflict, June 12, killing 13 people.

Nigel, 48, who is now the Commanding Officer of the Chislehurst and Sidcup Sea Cadet Unit, was lucky to survive.

Mrs Clarke, who lives in Berrylands, Orpington, said: “We didn’t even know the Glamorgan was going to be going to the Falklands - it was on its way back from the Middle East and we were looking forward to it docking in Portsmouth for families days.

“We received a phone call to say the ship would not be arriving in Portsmouth and it transpired that the ship docked in Gibraltar to pick up Commander Woodward before making its way to the Falklands.”

Mr Clarke, who was away with the Sandy Lane based sea cadets on the anniversary celebrated his 19th birthday on the damaged ship back to Portsmouth after the attack.

There are reunions for survivors of the Glamorgan every five years, and the ship was refitted in late 1982 and was de-commissioned in 1986.

Mrs Clarke said: “Even now 30 years on I am moved to tears when I recall those days, no feelings of triumphs or victories just a deep sadness of the wasted lives.

“The captain sent a very moving message to all the families - I remember he said it was a beautiful sunset as they lowered their bodies into the sea.”

Coming from a military family, Mrs Clarke was a telephonist in the Women’s Royal Air Force and her husband Alan, 77, was in the naval police.

The couple have been volunteering for the Orpington District British Royal Legion branch since their retirements.

Their son, who lives on Avalon Road, Orpington, left the Navy in 1988 and has worked for the Met ever since and stays active in the naval set-up through the sea cadets.