I kind of knew that something was going to happen, even when i was on leave, so unusually for me i scrapped some paper together and decided to keep a record of my thoughts and feelings during this deployment. I am so glad i did!

 

One point that needs to be said is that the Americans were in overall charge of all events and NOTHING could be done without their final approval.


So when you have a potential missile coming at you you simply don’t have time to ASK for approval.


F-cking yanks had the best equipment but by far were the WORST operators I have ever work alongside. That goes for this war when I was a Radar Specialist but then even more so when I was an Aircraft Controller later in my career.

Let me first mention the ship you see in the picture. This is HMS Exeter and is without question the ship that played the biggest role in my Naval career. I served on her for about 8 years throughout my career with the most challenging times being that of the Gulf War.


She was a true war horse, very rough at the edges, but a true legend and I am very proud to have served on her. Unfortunately Exeter is no more as she was retired from service in 2009 as the last remaining operational ship that served in the Falklands.

January 1991

Event:  Gulf War

Age: 21

From: January 2nd 1991

To: February  28th 1991

To sleep in your overalls was the only way to go however sleeping was difficult in the heat and worry about what may happen.

hhh

Friday 1st

Defence watches!


Saturday 2nd

Defence watches! Making for Jebil Ali for the engine change. Transiting the Straight of Hormuz.


Sunday 3rd

Arrive JebilAli. Commenced the engine change and embarked thr Ram panels (these are panels that are put are put all around the ships structure to help reduce out radar echo to the enemy missile).


Monday 4th

Jebel Ali. Had an unexpected trip to Dubai today. Before going though we had a beech party and BBQ, water was lovely food not so! It was good to be away from the ship. Arrived in Dubai and was completely lost, we got dropped off the the other side of Dubai to where we were last time so it was a case of keep walking and see where we end up. Bought Rebecca Louisa some Walt Disney video's but i think i might keep them for myself! Especially the Jungle Book.


Tuesday 5th

Sailed from Jebil Ali. Back to defence watches and reality. Engine change went well and we now expect to stay in the southern gulf until the 13th when we move north to relieve the Cardiff or Gloucester. Limited info about the war all we do know is that allied air force still bombing Iraqi positions apparently with good results, No more info on the land side and naval ops are still contained to enforcing the cargo embargo and patrolling the northern gulf.


Wednesday 6th

Defence watches patrolling in the southern gulf!


Thursday 7th

Defence watches patrolling in the southern gulf! It's dead frustrating being stuck down here, we want to get up there and do something

purposeful.


Friday 8th

Defence watches patrolling in the southern gulf!


Saturday 9th

Defence watches patrolling in the southern gulf!


Sunday 10th

Defence watches patrolling in the southern gulf!


Monday 11th

Defence watches patrolling in the southern/northern gulf! Signal arrived to say that allied forces were to take Faylakah island just 10 miles off Kuwait. Exeter was to take part and move north to be given further instructions later. HOORAY!! At last we started moving north late

evening.


Tuesday 12th

Defence watches! Told that now we are north the Cardiff can go home but unfortunaley for Gloucester has to stay on. H.M.S London also has to stay on a little longer. Up north now and stationed in the Dorra Box.. 29-00 degrees north 049-00 east with H.M.S. Argus, Dilligence and the rest of the support ship. Gloucester only 5 miles to the north of us with the mine sweepers and USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin.


Wednesday 13th

Defence watches! Still in the Dorra Box babysitting. Silkworm sites believed to be operational on Falakah island so operations are suspended and aircraft are sent in to take the sites out. We are now only 15 miles off Kuwait and tension is so high. Eyes are glued to my radar screen watching for any fast contacts coming off the Kuwait coastline. Those Silkworms are the size of a double decker bus. My god we are at war! Quite frightening. For me anyway. Waiting with bated breath for the B.D.A.(battle damage assessments) from the aircraft and Missouri's R.P.V. on the silkworm site. Air raid warning now RED!


Thursday 14th

Defence watches. Remain in the Dorra holding box with support ships. Operation still on hold. Just as they think all the silkworms are disabled they then get a sweep of silkworm targeting radar which obviously means those bastards are still working and looking for a target! Everything has to be put on hold yet again. Sweepers now under the protection of Manchester and Gloucester. A start is made to sweep for mines outside the swept channel made early on to Faylakah.


Friday 15th

Defense Watches! Just a normal kind of day really. Situation still on hold and the "Chemical Safety Rule" is now in force as we have moved even further north, plus we have had intelligence reports that movement of chemical weapons was taking place within Iraq. Lets just hope that they don't use the chemical weapons, I mean it frightens the shit out of me so i've got everything crossed. Starting to see a big crack within the Iraq's will to fight! No doubt they still pose a very real threat and that can not be ignored but with the yanks dropping leaflets on the Iraqi soilders saying they'll be killed if they don't run away, well reports are that alot seem to be taking notice and running.


Saturday 16th

Defence watches! It is like night during the day in fact it has been like that for the last week or so. Constant night time, when you are in 8 hour defence watches you forget actually when it is day and when it is night.The fires that are ongoing on the Kuwait coastline you can see really clearly, orange just fills the skyline and the air is pungent with thick black oil and death. Silkworms still operational according to the latest B.D.A. so air raids are ordered yet again to blast away the suspected sites. B52 bombers are tasked to do the job. Tthey tell us when the raids will be, its not a problem bacause you see the aircraft on your radar obviously going in land to do their business. The problem for me is when they have finished. They have a strict set, defined area of the coastline at which they must exit the battle area so we can tell that they are friendly aircraft, but do they do it NO! some do but some don't. We are a Destroyer and a air defence ship when we see things coming off land, on occasions, less then 15 miles away at speed you shit yourself.


A couple of times we got to the stage of full alert and locked the target up with our fire control radar preparing to shoot it out of the sky. It could have been a missile coming straight for us!! You know what happened............the decision was made on all those times NOT to fire. Now i tell you now, yes they were friendly aircraft but what if they weren't??? Those bastards flying should have flown as to the rules agreed and exited at the agreed points. If it were a missile we would have what 45 seconds to lock it up and get a missile off before it would reach the point where nothing could be done. A terrible experience this morning when we found 3 dodies expected to be Iraqi military from a small boat the got destroyed by one of our helo's a couple of days ago. Anyway we found them just floating around so the sea-boat was sent away to have the unpleasant job of picking the bodies up. The first 2 came back and were a mess, not a nice sight and i will never forget that, but when they went to the 3rd and tried to pull him into the boat, we could all see that his head had been blown off. The decision was made to have a short service for this poor gut and then we attached a sinker (large concrete weight) to the body and sent him to the bottom. It shook me up and i was standing on the ship, those two guys in the sea-rider were really upset. All in all today we had recovered 5 bodies. All were put into body bags and sent over to R.F.A Argus where once the war is finished they will be given back to the Iraq's or so we are told.


February 1991

February continued HERE

Wednesday 2nd

Returned from Christmas leave today to prepare the ship for deployment to the gulf. Had a good leave although i did have a few problems with my hire cars. First an Astra from Southern Self Drive got broken into i then had a Montego from Kennings in Leeds. On the morning i was due to set off for Pompey i woke up to find the car had gone. Thankfully the police found the car late afternoon. It wasn't just me that i had to drive back, i had brought a lad from Barnsley home as well so you can imagine how we both felt to actually get in the car and head back to the ship safe in the knowledge that we weren't going to be adrift.


Monday 7th

Right then off we go! Sailed from Portsmouth this morning to commence a 1 week shake down at Portland where we go through an intensive routine to get rid of some cobwebs in our procedures. Ships that joined us for this shake down were H.M.S. Brilliant, Brave and Manchester.


8th

Portland at sea.


9th

Portland at sea.


Thursday 10th

Portland at sea. Today a Thursday War (an exercise that's lasts all day and most of the night. We simulate being attacked, fighting fires, floods and practice all the routines that will come in if we come into conflict with the enemy) our last one for a while, next time it will be for real. Had a group 'Y' photo and then proceeded for a couple of days in Gib, get pissed and hopefully meet Sharon from the Wimpy again


Friday 11th

Still in Portland areas but that's now behind us as we prepare for our high seas firing (where we fire a couple of our Sea Dart missiles to check all is working well). Manchester departs making a quicker transit for the Gulf, lucky sods sooner we get down there the better. I think we've nearly worn out our respirators with all the chemical exercises and many more to look forward to.


Saturday 12th

Just on the edge of the Bay of Biscay in the areas for the Sea Dart firings. There have been quite afew problems, very encouraging! We eventually get two off with both assessed as hits but what is a hit when the chukka target still flies towards you? Yeah we've still got snags which will be sorted out in Gib (Gibraltar), or so they say. Situation in Gulf still very tense with the deadline set by Bush only two days away now -- it's quite an intriguing thought about the outcome if things kick off, will he use chemicals? will we be coming back? the question is known the outcome is not!!


Sunday 13th

Transit to Gib starts with many exercises planned, however today we relaxed a little -- thank god.


Monday 14th

One day to go before deadline, will he or won't he?


Tuesday 15th

Transit to Gib! Well it's started at approx 0013 local after keeping the first watch, reports were coming in of an allied air attack on Baghdad and other targets in Iraq. The offensive had started and i'm going to be with only one thing in my

thoughts................


Wednesday 16th

Continuing reports of air attacks as well as reports of things going well so far. Can anything really go well when your at war -- maybe it can.


Thursday 17th

The war goes on and our engine goes tits up! Maybe an early arrival in Gib? I hope so BEER!


Friday 18th

Picked up speed and are planning to enter Gib sometime tomorrow. Still listening closely to world service radio to find out what we can, it's amazing, in the Navy and we are kept so much in the dark, why? people back home know more than we do.


Saturday 19th

Reached Gib! Arrived approx 2130. We were all ready to tie up and get ashore when we were moved to a different beth way out on the far wall. Then a pipe came that it was the intention to ammunition ship tonight. Moral.... well it hit the deck. As it turned out i wasn't required so it was a case of straight into civvies and straight ashore. About 2245 for our first drink wasn't that bad i suppose considering.


Sunday 20th

Worse for wear this morning we moved berth again, for an engine change this time. Only to be told that the jetty wasn't suitable so we moved yet again. Typical of this bloody ship. Myself well i was ashore scoffing, drinking and shopping whilst all the duty bods dug out. Oblivious to all the hassle that was going on with the engine change but i suppose someone got their revenge as we had a hell of a long walk to get back to the ship. Yep of-course i got a taxi! No sign of Sharon which was a shame, apparently she has returned back to Yorkshire (Skipton). I guess i'll have to do without now as i'm duty tomorrow. It's amazing how beer and the thought of getting a bit takes your mind off things..... the war goes on a we are heading straight towards it.


Monday 21st

Duty! Throbbing.......... Engine is now in place a we sail first thing in the morning.


Tuesday 22nd

Sailed from Gib. Next stop Port Said (Egypt).


Wednesday 23rd

Embarked the fleet NBCD (nuclear biological defense) team....OH NO! Big exercise tomorrow but for now it is quite relaxed.


Thursday 24th

Fleet NBCD team run riot, however (unlike Portland) they are guiding us through it not jumping down our throat which is good. Just a thought......Next time it's for real.


Friday 25th

This was the first day when the whole ship reverted to defense watches as theoretically we were within reach of an attack from Iraq. How mad, we haven't even got to the Suez Canal yet! Many more defense watches to come though living life 6 hours on watch, 6 hours off watch day after day after day. We are making steady progress to Port Said, due to arrived Monday 28th.


Saturday26th

Defence watches!


Sunday 27th

Defence watches!


Monday 28th

Defence Watches! Arrive Port Said around mid-afternoon. No gully gully man or trips to Egypt this time but the place still stinks and the ragheads are still in their floating shops flogging some bargains as well as some rip offs to the ships company. Start transit through the Suez around 1900. Hints of yet another engine going tits up, what's going on?


Tuesday 29th

Defence watches! through the canal now and being told we are heading straight to Jebel Ali for another engine change.


Wednesday 30th

Defence watches!


Thursday 31st

Defence watches!