BBC1 - Ex-CDs to talk about the Falklands conflict

Episode two of BBC1 TV's Remembrance Week series will feature ex-Clearance Divers Tony Groom and William 'Stan' Bowles recalling their bomb disposal experiences during the Falklands conflict in 1982. The programme is due to be screened at 0915 tomorrow (Tuesday 9 November).

BBC website said:
In 1982 Tony Groom and William Bowles were part of the Royal Navy divers team but when they were deployed to the Falklands little did they know how dangerous their job would be. Instead of diffusing (sic) bombs under the water they had the lives of hundreds of colleagues in their hands as they attempted to make safe the unexploded enemy bombs which were landing on Allied warships.
For further background, see 'The Forgotten Few of the Falklands' in the MCDOA website's Dit Box.

(Edited to show amended time)
Ninja_Stoker said:
Cheers NG, I must record this as I'm pretty sure Argonaut, my first ship, will feature.
Ninja - Somehow, I think Argonaut will feature quite prominently.


S(D) Stan Bowles and LS(D) Dave Southwell
with 1,000 lb bomb on board HMS Argonaut

You will see a marked change in Stan Bowles' appearance when he shows up on the telly.

Best we not forget at this time of year that attempts by a Royal Engineers bomb disposal team to render safe two bombs in the ill-fated Antelope resulted in the death of Staff Sergeant James Prescott (posthumously awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal) and severe injuries to Warrant Officer John Phillips (later awarded the DSC).
It was mentioned Ninja a Interesting piece by Tony and Stan just glad I did not become aquainted with them

Ninja_Stoker said:
Cheers NG, I must record this as I'm pretty sure Argonaut, my first ship, will feature.
Fantastic book Tony Groom's. Really interesting and at some points funny as hell. Worth a gander as it mentions the Falklands incidents in some detail


War Hero
Again, thanks for the heads-up on this one - I've just watched it having been on a tour of the bazaars this week for careers adviser updates on Raleigh, CTC, BRNC, Bovington, AIB, Sultan, Collingwood, Nelson etc.

That short clip was certainly a blast (literally) from the past. Inevitably, over time the sequence of events gets jumbled-up, but although the Antelope explosion (resulting in the tragic loss of SSgt Jim Prescott) was mentioned, it actually happened after the Argonaut's boiler-room bomb was made safe. (It was made safe by the same bloke that died on Antelope).

What wasn't mentioned in the TV Remembrance programme, rather surprisingly, was any reference to the two lads killed in the magazine, Matthew Stuart & Ian Boldy, when the bombs struck. They were recovered and later transferred & buried at sea from HMS Plymouth, the very same ship that heroically & successfully defended Argonaut with a barrage of 4.5" bricks overhead, when the aircraft returned to finish off the job.

During the 5 days it took to remove the magazine bomb, 75% of the ships company were twice ferried over to Fearless & Intrepid overnight, with my "lucky" watch (2nd Port - isn't it always?) left behind. The bomb, was hoisted out of the mag by a series of ropes leading back to the flight-deck. The watch hauled on the ropes as directed by the divers over the ships main broadcast.

Myself & POMEM Phil Phillips were left down below to steam the undamaged starboard boiler with just a full diesel tank between ourselves & the divers fiddling with the bomb. Phil had a couple of hardwood wedges on the deckplates on the boiler front. "What are they for?" I remember asking. "Well" said Phil "If that bloody thing goes pop, they're my starting blocks to get out of that bleedin' hatch before you do".

At the time we thought we had heard tapping noises on the hull so picket boats (whalers) were patrolling the San Carlos anchorage every night, armed with 14oz Scare Charges to drop on unwary Argentine divers, if they turned-up. (They never did).

The magazine bomb was hoisted up three decks & out through a hole cut on the starboard side of the PO's mess. It was then lowered into the sea. I remember hearing over the broadcast. "OK, check away, down 5 feet" as the bomb was lowered. "OK, hold it there, bomb on the waterline" followed by KABOOOM!

We were out twoards the boiler room hatch like a shot, me winning (without the blocks), amazed we hadn't been killed. The main broadcast crackled, "Erm, that was a scare charge dropped on the port side, midships. Someone tell them to piss off". We slunk back into the boiler-room, no-one any the wiser. I could think of other things to say to them.

When the divers eventually thinned out, the Chippy off Fearless began to weld-up the bomb evacuation route, which was cut through the decks. We had noticed there were "salt crystals" on the bulkheads after we had pumped out the flooded magazine & mess-deck. As the chippy was welding an air raid came-in & strafed the ship with cannon-fire. The welding torch ignited the "salt crystals". After about an hour and a half of solid firefighting, we extinguished the blaze.

Several years later I was to learn that the "salt" was in fact explosive that had leached out of the damaged missiles - hence the ferocity of the blaze.

An interesting first sea draft, after which all others were 'subdued' by comparison.
NS - Enough interesting (i.e. hair-raising) memories to give you the screaming habdabs. I know the divers were 'hands on' but ship's company members of several vessels were just as vulnerable while cutting access routes and lifting and shifting bombs.

A belated BZ - Your experience and <<......An interesting first sea draft, after which all others were 'subdued' by comparison.>> goes a long way to explaining how you have so much patience when too many of us here flash up at some of the more mongish Newbie postings.....

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