HMS Albion’s virtual service remembers Falklands heroes

Sailors and Royal Marines from UK flagship HMS Albion filmed a unique ‘virtual service’ with relatives and veterans to remember a Falklands War tragedy.

Six men were killed when landing craft Foxtrot Four was attacked and sunk by Argentine aircraft on June 8 1982 as she ferried a cargo of vehicles to help troops in the closing stages for the liberation of the South Atlantic islands.

Each June 8 since, Foxtrot Four’s parent unit – 4 Assault Squadron Royal Marines – has staged a memorial service, originally on veteran assault ship HMS Fearless, more recently on her successor, Plymouth-based HMS Albion, the Royal Navy’s flagship.

Albion is currently undergoing a spot of maintenance in her home base and the original plan was to invite families of those killed in the action in 1982 aboard for the memorial service.

The Covid lockdown ruled that out, so instead, the ship devised a virtual Service of Remembrance instead.

Serving members of 4 Assault Squadron and ship’s company have recorded the Service, interspersed with contributions from relatives of the fallen including Mandy Kazmierski, the sister of Marine Robert Griffin, and Bryan Miller, whose brother David was one of two naval marine engineers killed in the attack.

Foxtrot Four had already made a name for herself in the 1982 conflict, having rescued more than 100 men from HMS Antelope shortly before the frigate spectacularly exploded and broke in two. 

Bill Parry, who was only 18 years old and on his first ship, recorded a moving account of his experiences that day. He remembers clearly the actions of Foxtrot Four, and describes its commander Colour Sergeant Brian Johnston as “the bravest man he never got to thank”.

The Royal Marine demonstrated his skill and bravery again when he took his landing craft to Goose Green to collect vital communications vehicles for the Army’s 5 Brigade.

In a remarkable feat of pilotage, in darkness and without modern navigational aids, he loaded the vehicles and was returning to Fitzroy when Foxtrot Four was bombed and sunk by Argentine Skyhawk aircraft. Only two of the eight crew survived.

Captain Peter Laughton, Albion’s Commanding Officer, said “It is entirely fitting that each year we take time to reflect and pay tribute to the crew of Foxtrot Four. We pay tribute to their selfless commitment, their courage, their heroism and sense of duty. They are an inspiring example to us all.”

Two Sea Harriers patrolling the Falkland skies immediately avenged the loss, bringing down three of the Skyhawks with Sidewinder missiles.

The final resting place of Foxtrot Four has never been found – the only wreck from the Falklands War still unlocated.

But the memory of Colour Sergeant Johnston and his men lives on. In addition to the annual service, a new Foxtrot Four replaced the lost craft and was renamed Foxtrot J – J for Johnston, a tradition maintained to this day.

Watch the full memorial service here

 

It is entirely fitting that each year we take time to reflect and pay tribute to the crew of Foxtrot Four. We pay tribute to their selfless commitment, their courage, their heroism and sense of duty. They are an inspiring example to us all.

Captain Peter Laughton