Captain Nick Barker joined the Navy in 1951 and saw service in most parts of the globe, with eight sea-going commands including commanding Endurance before and during the Falklands War. He retired from the Navy whilst in command of HMS Sheffield in 1988 and began his commercial career, founding and managing an international trading company. He sadly died in 1997.
--This text refers to the
'Si vis pacem, para bellum' - Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, De Re Militari, book 3
There will be many books published and re-published to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of our victory in the Falklands. This is the one to start with.
Command of the Ice Patrol Ship must have been the most unusual Captain's job in the Royal Navy. Besides a conventional naval presence - in an area where Defence Diplomacy presents unusual challenges, and relating to a continent where national jurisdiction is not well defined - there was support to be given to the British Antarctic Survey, the Scott Polar Institute, and other scientific bodies, and continuing hydrographic tasks for which the ship was additionally equipped. The 1980 HMS Endurance also carried an intelligence gathering suite in advance of anything in any other British warship, and its manning included fluent Spanish speakers. In 1980-2 there was also support needed for several BBC and other filming projects. There was a responsibility to the Governor of the Falkland Island Dependencies which included taking the Governor on an annual tour of his parish. The MoD, the Department of Education and Science, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office jostled for priority, and presumably back in Whitehall reams of paper poured forth contesting funding for what, although basically unarmed, was from 1975 to 1982 the only regular British warship presence in the entire southern hemisphere. Barker explains all this and, even without the war which comes upon him in the second half of the book, he provides an entertaining and comprehensive guide to this (to most of us) unfamiliar area.Read more ›
In the greater scheme of world affairs and history the Falklands war is little more than a foot note and a war which is probably of limited interest to anybody not from the belligerent nations of the islands themselves yet this short, brutal war was a pivotal event in the recent histories of both the UK and Argentina and it has produced a remarkably rich literature. In the aftermath of the war memoirs proliferated from British participants, from those at the top of the command chain such as Sandy Woodward down to enlisted men. Some of these memoirs fully deserve the status of classics of their genre, in particular "Amphibious Assault Falklands", "Reasons in Writing" and "100 Days". This book is one of the best books to be written by a participant and one of the more important books written on the war and deserves a place in the library of anybody with an interest in the subject. As offered in the title, Nick Barker was the Captain of the ice patrol ship Endurance, the Endurance was a slightly navalised Danish merchant vessel bought by the Royal Navy, although ice strengthened she was not actually an ice breaker and with the exception of a powerful communications and signals intelligence suite and her helicopters was pretty much still a merchant vessel in terms of capability. Remarkably, despite her humble origins and limited military capabilities she flew the flag for Britain's naval presence in the Antarctic for many years and had a political importance far above anything her humble origins and capabilities might suggest.Read more ›
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This a fascinating read that just confirms the astonishing stupidity of the Whitehall mandarins, politicians and senior military prior to and during the Falklands war. After reading this book I re-read the Franks report on the war. In it there is the statement Captain Barker did not give any warning of imminent invasion. This is astonishingly disingenuous statement since the warning given could only have been interpreted as very strong clues to the fact that an invasion was being planned. A lamentable failure at the highest level of Government and the MOD who could have saved hundreds of lives and millions of pounds of expenditure.
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