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“I watched the metal burn like paper” 

“In the Falklands I was part of a two man bomb disposal team whose job was to make safe any unexploded bombs.

The Argentine pilots were brave and skilled – they had to approach at sea level and pick their targets instantly. But because they came in low their bombs had little time to arm before hitting their targets, so many of them didn’t detonate.

“Jim and I were tasked with making safe a bomb on HMS Argonaut, which we did and the next day the same on HMS Antelope. It was this one that exploded.”

“As we approached the ship we could see a hole in the side. The ship had been hit twice and we decided to tackle the bomb in the refrigeration unit first. After the third or fourth time of trying to extract the fuse the bomb exploded, killing Jim and taking my left arm off at the shoulder.

“Jim was standing right next to me and we had enough time to look each other in the eye. That was the last time I saw Jim alive. When the blast hit us there was a whooshing sound, like two trains passing at high speed, and I was flung through the air. In my mind, it was in slow motion, and I thought I had died because I was floating through the air with no pain.

I remember thinking: ‘If this is death, it isn’t so bad.’ Then I hit a metal wall which very quickly brought me back to my senses!

“I now know Jim and I were both hit by one of the hatchway doors being blown off. It killed Jim instantly and severed my left arm. I could see my arm flailing around out of control and I started to check myself for other injuries, thinking I must have broken some bones.

Then I started to try to look for Jim through all the fire and smoke. That was when one of the crew put his hand on my shoulder told me that Jim was dead and said to follow him. Just as bluntly as that. I put my hand on his shoulder and followed him to the escape hatch.”

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HMS Antelope sank in San Carlos Water on 24 May 1982
John Phillips 0027
Blesma has helped John over the years


The Falklands War in numbers...


British lives lost, six ships sunk and 34 aircraft lost during the war


servicemen wounded who became Blesma Members


days long the war lasted

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