Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (13 October 2021)

Date of Auction: 13th October 2021

Sold for £1,400

Estimate: £1,400 - £1,800

A Falklands campaign group of five awarded to Warrant Officer Catering Accountant D. ‘Rowdy’ Yates, Royal Navy, whose vivid recollections of his service with H.M.S. Antrim during the conflict were published in his book Bomb Alley, Falkland Islands 1982 Aboard H.M.S. Antrim at War. He later went on to serve with H.M.S. Exeter during the Gulf War 1991

South Atlantic 1982, with rosette (APOCA D W Yates D159012R HMS Antrim); Gulf 1990-91, 1 clasp, 16 Jan to 28 Feb 1991 (CPOCA D W Yates D159012R RN); Royal Navy L.S. & G.C., E.II.R., 2nd issue (CPOCA D W Yates D159012R RN); Saudi Arabia, Liberation of Kuwait 1991; Kuwait, Liberation of Kuwait 1991, 4th Grade, first three mounted as originally worn, and last two mounted separately in reverse order to above as worn, light contact marks overall, therefore nearly very fine or better (5) £1,400-£1,800


David ‘Rowdy’ Yates was born in Taplow in September 1957. He joined the Royal Navy, aged 18, in 1976. Initially employed as a Stores Accountant, he was subsequently posted to H.M.S. Salisbury and served as a Catering Accountant. Yates advanced to Petty Officer Catering Accountant and was posted for service with H.M.S. Antrim in April 1981.

H.M.S. Antrim, a County-class Destroyer launched in 1967, served during the Falklands War under the command of Captain B. G. Young, D.S.O. As part of the advance-guard sent South, she served as flag-ship and played a prominent role in Operation Paraquet, the recapture of South Georgia in April 1982, and assisted in the movement of S.A.S. troops.

Between 20-21 May Antrim led the Naval Forces in the Falkland Sound during the amphibious landings. At this time she was hit by a 1,000lb bomb delivered by a Dagger fighter-bomber. The bomb struck the flight deck, gashed two missiles in the magazine and came to rest in the Seaman’s After Heads, without exploding. In further attacks by Daggers she was sprayed with 30mm. shells causing two serious casualties. After 10 fraught hours the unexploded bomb was dealt with by C.P.O. Michael Fellows of the Fleet Clearance Diving Team - an action that was to earn him the D.S.C.

Yates’s book Bomb Alley, Falkland Islands 1982 Aboard HMS Antrim at War gives an extensive account of his service with Antrim during the conflict. In particular for the 20-21 May:
‘Being part of an attack in any ground, air or sea situation is not pleasant, but leading it offers a greater risk, or so it appeared in the minutes that ticked past after the alarms had sounded, as tension heightened even further. As well as all the usual user checks on guns, weapon systems, sonars, radars, damage-control apparatus and every other defence and attack mechanism, we were also paying very close attention to our own personal defence preparations. We user checked how we might react if a missile came through, what fire-fighting gear we could use, which way we could try to escape, and how we could increase our personal protection.... We were now doing everything possible to ensure our best chance of survival under any circumstances...’

On the 20th: ‘Already at full action stations, as we moved closer and closer to the Falklands we knew that the next warning of attack would be in the form of a ‘yellow’ or ‘red’. And sure enough at 1520, the ship’s broadcast beat out the message we had all been dreading, ‘Click -AIR RAID WARNING YELLOW - AIR RAID WARNING YELLOW - TASK FORCE COMING UNDER ATTACK FROM TWO MIRAGES AND TWO ENTENARDS.’

We blinked at those around us and our hearts beat faster and faster. Hairs stood like porcupine quills on the back of our necks, and some even felt physically sick. There really were forces out there which were coming straight for us to try and blast us out of the water and wipe us off the face of the earth.....’ (Ibid)

On this occasion the attack was beaten off by Sea Harriers from the carrier air protection, and the Antrim was left to proceed towards the Falklands. The following day the Antrim entered the North Falkland Sound with H.M.S. Ardent, and after two hours of bombardment had decimated the Fanning Head anti-tank and mortar stronghold overlooking the landing sites.

After the successful bombardment: Our priority was to prepare the ship even further for the air attack which we all knew must be inevitable... We knew the Argentineans would have a go later on, but at least we would have a lot of ships nearby to assist us, and the CAP flying overhead to fend off the counter-attacks. In fact most people had actually calmed down a lot from the previous night, and were now relatively confident of seeing the rest of the day out safely.’

The first of many constant air raid warnings was sounded at 1200hrs: ‘We felt like rats in a barrel running round and round in crazy spiral patterns to avoid the farmer’s stick. And this was only the start, for the raids kept on coming. At 1255, another ‘yellow’ was broadcast. At 1315 as the jets screamed ever closer, the alarm level was raised to ‘red’. Ten minutes later we fired “chaff” again, closely followed at 1326 by three Sea Cat missiles, more “chaff”, and then our 4.5. inch gun again. Argonaut had had her dose of rough medicine, now it was our turn. Antrim was their next target, and the next entry in the rough diary that I kept was 13.30 Fire Sea Slug. HIT.

The attacking jet had hit us!.... we could clearly hear the loud ‘swoosh-swoosh’ as our two Sea Slug missiles were fired from the launcher. Then we felt something like a giant mule kick us up the stern of the ship, followed by some horrendous crashing and exploding sounds, only a few yards from where we sitting. Immediately, the operations room broadcast that we had received a direct hit aft, and that the aft damage control party should investigate at the rush....

One of the teams came charging through the adjacent door to let us know what was going on. In a panting voice, the initially unrecognisable anti-flash hooded man yelled, ‘Listen in lads. We’ve been hit by a large four foot six inch bomb back aft. Looks like it’s come in through the Sea Slug launcher doors and passed straight through the magazine. It did not go off, but it did cause a lot of damage and the unexploded bomb is still on board in the aft heads. Recce parties are still combing all the adjacent compartments to check for casualties and the full extent of the damage. So far, miraculously, we don’t appear to have lost anyone, or had any major fires break out.... We think we’ll probably have to evacuate the rear end of the ship and try and make the bomb safe... Less than 10 minutes after the strike, some joker made a ‘pipe’ to say, “The aft heads are now out of bounds” - no shit!’ (Ibid)

The Antrim was attacked and hit again, and continued to run the gauntlet in ‘Bomb Alley’ until the Argentineans ceased the offensive at around 1800: ‘With the air attacks over for the day because of encroaching darkness, we now had to try and get rid of the bomb from our aft heads. Much of the ship aft of midships had already been placed out of bounds since the bomb had struck. Now, a specialist team was hurriedly convened to make the bomb safe and to cut it free from its web of tangled metal, deckhead panels, twisted pipes, shattered doors, urinals and toilet pans. While this dangerous work went on, another team started cutting a suitably sized hole above the bomb flight deck, ready to lift it out and drop it over the side....

The bomb-extraction process ran smoothly, and at almost 2230, with an A frame and lifting gear rigged above the hole on the flight deck, a ‘pipe’ was made for everyone not involved in the lifting operation to move even further for’ard - a command that did not need to be repeated!’ (Ibid)

The bomb was eventually released over the side of the ship at 2300. As a result of the damage sustained, including having her main weapons system knocked out, the Antrim reverted to escort and ferry duties for the remainder of the campaign. Yates retired from the Navy in 1985, only to rejoin two years later. He returned to the Falklands in 1988, whilst serving with H.M.S. Nottingham. He saw further active service with H.M.S. Exeter during the Gulf War in 1991, advanced to Warrant Officer Catering Account, and retired as a result of ill-health from the latter conflict in 2000. His book Bomb Alley, Falkland Islands 1982 Aboard HMS Antrim at War, was published in 2006.

Sold with a signed copy of recipient’s book, Bomb Alley, Falkland Islands 1982 Aboard HMS Antrim at War.