Buckingham Covers - First Day Covers

Rear Admiral C B Layman DSO

 

Captain Christopher Layman commanded the Frigate HMS Argonaut during the Falklands campaign.

HMS Argonaut (F56) was a Leander-class frigate of the Royal Navy. She was built by Hawthorne Leslie of Hebburn. She was launched on the 8th February 1966 and commissioned on the 17th August 1967. That year, Argonaut had the prestigious honour of escorting the great old liner Queen Mary on her final voyage to the USA where Queen Mary would then become a hotel and museum-ship.

In 1971, Argonaut, like many other RN vessels, took part in the long-running Beira Patrol, an operation that was designed to prevent oil reaching Rhodesia via the Portuguese colony of Mozambique, due to Rhodesia having declared unilateral independence under the rule of Prime Minister Ian Smith in 1965, a move that was widely condemned across the world.

In 1974, Argonaut had to evacuate British civilians from Cyprus after Turkey had invaded the Mediterranean island. Argonaut underwent Exocet modernisation between 1976-80, giving her a potent anti-ship capability. In 1981, Argonaut deployed as the Armilla Patrol ship in the Persian Gulf, a deployment that had actually only been created the year before.

In 1982 the Falkland Islands were invaded by Argentina. An advanced group of British vessels began to steam towards Ascension Island on the 2nd April, a territory that would play a strategic part in the eventual liberation of the Falkland Islands. On the 19th April, Argonaut, along with Ardent and two RFA ships Regent and Plumleaf finally headed for Ascension Island. On the 29th, the group finally arrived at Ascension, and on the 6th May the Argonaut Group departed the island for the Falklands. On the 16th, the Group joined the large Amphibious Group centred around Fearless and Intrepid, and on the 18th the Group met up with the Carrier Battle Group. On the 21st, Argonaut, along with other destroyers and frigates, provided close escort for the amphibious vessels during the successful San Carlos Landings. On that day, Argonaut was attacked twice by Argentinian aircraft. The first attack caused some damage, including to her Type 965 Radar, while the second attack was launched by six fast A-4 Skyhawks. Two bombs hit Argonaut. Neither exploded, though unfortunately one of the unexploded bombs killed two sailors, Able Seaman Iain M. Boldy and Able Seaman Matthew J. Stuart, when it entered the ship's Sea Cat missile magazine, detonating two missiles. Plymouth came to the assistance of Argonaut and towed her away from immediate danger. Both bombs were still active, and it took a number of days to deactivate them, as this was very risky work, proven on the 24th May when Antelope sank after an unexploded bomb detonated while experts were attempting to deactivate it.

On the 20th June, the Falklands were liberated and the war was declared over. On the 26th June, Argonaut finally returned home to Devonport Dockyard after a long journey, where she underwent repairs for her battle damage. During the repairs, new sonar equipment was fitted. Argonaut came into the spotlight in 1987, when Richard Branson, attempting to cross the Atlantic in a hot-air balloon had to ditch. Argonaut rescued Branson, retrieved his balloon and transported it back to safety.

In 1990, Argonaut was present at the 75th Anniversary of the Gallipoli Landings, where many Government officials from a number of countries, as well as Gallipoli veterans, were present to mark the event. Three years later, on the 31st March 1993, Argonaut was decommissioned, her long career now over. She was broken up a few years later.

 

 

Collectables Signed By Rear Admiral C B Layman DSO