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Looking Back

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Looking Back

 

July 1982

 

An ‘Enriching Experience’ with the Falklands Task Force

From the Rev Charles Stewart, serving on HMS Hermes

 

ONE has the impression that the people back home considered this venture as something of a walkover. Should it come to a landing there will be many people in for a sorrowful awakening, make no mistake about that.

Whatever the outcome of this rather sad affair for all of us, I can truthfully say that it has been a more enriching experience to have identified in the name of God with many fine and dedicated men.

In these past few weeks I have seen the most appalling injuries and suffering, physical and mental. Fine and brave men folded up under the stress, whereas others previously quiet have shone with a quality quite unique. For the past 16 days we have been eating and sleeping in boiler-suit and anti-flash gear. Walking around with our lifejacket AGRs and rubber survival suit becomes second nature.

Each morning I have a chat and prayer over the main broadcast system. Even now psalms like 27 have a pertinent relevance. ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?.......Though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.’

The major drip on board is the lack of information coming down from FOFI staff. It’s crazy that we have to listen to the World Service to find out what is happening around us. Having approached the captain about it, the situation has improved slightly.

Two nights ago, we committed the body of one of the Sheffield ship’s company. It was so sad, a young lad whose birthday was in ten days time; all he had on him was a felt tip pen and a 6” rule – not much to leave behind.

Many people are changing their perception of life as a result of this affair. Little things like the laughter of children suddenly become very precious. The demand for Bibles is increasing! Pray God this event ends soon.

 

The Rev Charles Stewart, a Church of Scotland chaplain with the Royal Navy, sent this report as a letter to the Principal Chaplain.