'I Saw A Comrade Die' - Survivor Recalls Falklands Warship Sinking

On this day 35 years ago, Royal Navy warship HMS Sheffield sank in the South Atlantic. 

It had been struck several days before by an Argentinian missile, the first major British casualty of the Falklands war. 

Forces News has been speaking to Mark Snow, who survived those events in May 1982.

He was 19 years old when he deployed to the Falklands on HMS Sheffield, as a chef approaching the end of a six-month deployment.

War broke out between Britain and Argentina, and the Type 42 Royal Navy warship became part of a 100-strong task force.

On May 4, 1982, when the ship was carrying out a scouting mission near Port Stanley, things were to change forever.

HMS Sheffield was hit by an Exocet missile fired from an Argentinian warplane, starting a huge fire across the ship.

Mark says had he not overslept that afternoon, he probably would have died in the blaze.

"The first thing really was the smoke, and then someone shouting 'fire fire fire', and then smoke started drifting down," he says.

"Hearing screams - shouts of 'casualty casualty'."

Three hundred sailors were on board that day as fire raged through the ship.

Mark says: "I don't think the enormity of it occurred to me whatsoever - you just knew that something was wrong, and you were doing a job.

"It wasn't until about halfway through the afternoon that I saw one of the ship's company die... things were happening that you never thought you would experience."

Twenty men lost their lives, many of those had been in the galley at the time of the attack.

Many suffered terrible burns and lung damage from the smoke as they fought the flames.

The men were evacuated on to HMS Arrow, which had come to assist them in the firefight.

Six days later on 10th May, the burnt out hull of HMS Sheffield went down.

She was the first British warship to be lost in conflict since the Second World War.