Royal Marines remember lost Falklands landing craft

Topic: Fighting armsRoyal Marines

Royal Marines and sailors from HMS Bulwark’s 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines (ASRM) gathered on Eastney Beach in Portsmouth for a poignant commemoration of the loss of Landing Craft Utility F4 from HMS Fearless during the Falklands Conflict in 1982.

With the British Army’s 5 Brigade separated from their vital communications vehicles back at Goose Green, F4 under the command of C/Sgt Brian Johnston was been dispatched in poorly charted waters and under significant threat of air attack.  

In a remarkable feat of pilotage, in darkness and without modern navigational aids, Brian Johnston reached Goose Green in good order and loaded the vehicles

Shortly afterwards, the landing craft was bombed and sunk by Argentine Skyhawks and all but two of LCU F4’s crew were killed including C/Sgt Johnston, Mechanical Engineering Artificer (Propulsion)) A S James, Sergeant R J Rotherham, Leading Marine Engineer (Mechanical) D Miller, Marine A J Rundle and Marine R D Griffin.  

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Fuller, Commanding Officer of 4ASRM said, “4ASRM gathers every year on the 8 June to remember the crew of LCU F4 and this year’s event was made even more poignant by the presence of 4ASRM LCUs on Eastney Beach. Today was also so very well supported by members of the Royal Marines Association and former members of HMS Fearless’ ship’s company.”

Corporal Allenby, Second Coxwain of LCU B2 said, “We understand it was typical of Brian Johnston’s ‘can do’ attitude that on that day, in spite of the clear and present threat, he decided to sail back down Choiseul Sound in daylight.”.  

For an earlier action rescuing sailors from the stricken HMS Antelope, Brian Johnston was awarded a posthumous QGM for bravery. Despite the severity of the fire and the threat of an unexploded bomb CSgt Johnston remained alongside until he had successfully completed the evacuation, rescuing over 100 HMS Antelope sailors.

One of HMS Bulwark’s Landing Craft Utility has since always been named as “FJ” in recognition of CSgt Johnson and the rest of the crew of F4.

The 4 ASRM LCUs were midway through an independent transit from Scapa Flow to Plymouth and will shortly re-join HMS Bulwark in Plymouth for a short period of maintenance.  

The ship will subsequently visit Sunderland and take the opportunity to exercise the Freedom of the City of Durham and act as a maritime backdrop for the Sunderland International Air Show.  

HMS Bulwark will lead the Royal Navy’s Joint Expeditionary Force (Maritime) deployment later in the year.