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Area 4 - Tony's Talk

Andrew Fawkes (Area 4 Rep) | Published on 6/23/2022
Tony's Talk... that's a somewhat flippant way of describing a visually stunning and emotionally moving presentation by Lieutenant Commander J. A. Ellerbeck DSC Royal Navy (Rtd) about his time serving on HMS Endurance during the Falklands War of 1982. Tony was the commander of the helicopter flight teams on board.

Tony's presentation coincided with the 40th anniversary of the end of hostilities following the Argentine surrender. However, he took us back to happier times in 1981 when HMS Endurance, a converted merchant marine ice breaker, was surveying the Antarctic sea bed and visiting Buenos Aires to make friends with Argentinian sailors. Endurance was the only Royal Navy ship south of the Equator when a veiled 'attack' by scrap metal merchants raised the blue & white flag on the island of South Georgia and claimed it as Argentine territory. Whilst the rest is history, as they say, only now are more facts being released from secret files enabling Tony and others to tell we lucky few, their personal experiences of that time.

We 'lucky few' consisted of 19 Members and guests from Areas 4, 1 and 18.

This report cannot do justice to Tony's stories, save for these two examples:

1. At the end of the evening, Area 4's David Birkett praised Tony. As a fellow helicopter pilot, he stated how difficult it is to fly in high winds and how easy it is to get lost, even when maintaining visual connection with the ground below. How on earth were Tony and his colleagues able to do their jobs in raging winds at massively sub-zero temperatures with driving snow, with zero visibility (and so flying on instruments), keeping below a 200ft anti-radar safety ceiling whilst flying in and out of icebergs, glaciers and mountains that soar 10,000ft and then land on a heaving deck?! His question pretty well summed up part of Tony's role for those of us who have no real comprehension of what was happening in the south Atlantic in 1982.

2. Tony described in detail how his little Wasp helicopter disabled an Argentine submarine (the Santa Fe) using a 'guided-by-wire' missile. It was part of an elongated action that saw his helicopter come under increasing ground-based fire as their Wasp pressed home its attack. He mentioned in passing that he has a mountain named after him. He didn't mention the Distinguished Service Cross he was awarded for his skill and bravery. Neither did he mention the postage stamp that commemorates his and other's actions and their named landmarks...

There are some photographs below of a truly memorable event that it was a privilege to attend.

Thank you, Tony!

Thank you too to your colleagues.

Tony describes the Antarctic ice flows...

...and his role on HMS Endurance...

... and his 'little' Wasp (following it's repainting from day-glow red to dark camouflage).

Meanwhile, outside for dinner before Tony's talk (L-R: Andy Webber and guest Dan, Gillian Fawkes and Tony Ellerbeck). Other attendees in the background tables-but-one).

And on the car park:

David Birkett's Rapide opposite the bright orange Vantage V8 of Rick Cullen.

David Bryers' Fiat 124 Spider is dwarfed by Martin & Liz Jaehme's DB9

Tony's DB7 Vantage Volante opposite the DB9 GT of Andrew & Gillian Fawkes and Andy Webber's Rapide.

No prizes for guessing who's car this is!