This bloke would probably still scare the Argies

Even though he has chalked out.

Rear-Admiral Linley Middleton, who has died aged 83, was the last captain of the strike carrier Hermes, flagship of the Task Force which won the Falklands conflict 30 years ago.

Middleton was appointed in 1980, while she was being refitted at Portsmouth with a 12-degree ski-jump to operate Sea Harriers . But in June 1981, a few months after she had emerged from the dockyard, Middleton learned that under the 1982 Defence Review his ship was to be scrapped. It required all Middleton’s leadership skills to reconcile his crew to this development, and he had just sent the ship’s company and the aircrew on Easter leave when Argentina invaded the Falklands. Middleton returned from his holiday in the Mediterranean, and in the course of a single weekend recalled his crew and stored his ship so that she was ready to sail three days later, on April 5 1982.

Hermes’s Sea Harriers had been increased from five to 12, and they were lined up on the flightdeck as she left Portsmouth to the cheers of crowds. In mid-Atlantic Hermes was designated the Task Force’s flagship, and Middleton became senior aviation adviser to the Task Force commander.

That is a testament to his organisational skills. HMS Hermes performed well int eh Falklands War under a typical Pommy officer who was humble.

During the 10 weeks of hostilities, Hermes’s air group was further strengthened to 16 Fleet Air Arm Sea Harrier fighters, 10 ground-attack Harriers of the RAF, and 10 Sea King helicopters. With this complement of aircraft Hermes took part in every type of operation during the Falklands conflict: air defence, ground attack, anti-submarine operations, and troop-lift, including Special Forces missions and air-sea rescue.

Between the first aerial combat on May 1 and the last on June 8, Sea Harriers from Hermes shot down 13 Argentine aircraft and destroyed three more on the ground. She also bombed and strafed the spy trawler Narwal, which, after capture, sank on May 10; the carrier’s helicopters also took part in the attempted salvage and subsequent evacuation of the destroyer Sheffield.

When Hermes returned to Portsmouth after an absence of 108 days, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was flown onboard to congratulate Middleton and his ship’s company. For his part, Middleton was modest about their achievements: “It was all absolutely routine, daily attacks, nothing untoward,” adding that “The battle was won on the ground, but they couldn’t have done it without us.” He was awarded a DSO.


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  • ConwayCaptain

    What you left out WO from the DT Obit was that he ditched 3 times off carriers and on two occasions the carrier steamed over the top of him and he released his canopy when cler. On the 2nd occasion he had to revived on the flight deck of the carrier and he alsmost died.

  • David Broome

    A real shame but a great man. And the Hermes lives on still in the Indian Navy proving, unbeleivably, buy British, not Russian. I hope to god when she finally pays off, Hermes will be bought back to Britain to become a museum. She deserves that fate, not to become razorblades.

  • ConwayCaptain

    Operation Corporate will go down in history for many reasons.
    1 They got the Task Force of the wall in 3 days!!!
    2 The longest supply lines ever, 14,000 miles round trip.
    4 Longest bomber raid and this using WW 2 methods of navigation and heaven knows how many refuelling in flight done.
    4 Longest a fleet kept at sea and all sustained by the Fleet Replinsihment System of the RFA and STUFTs
    5 The Argies had overwhelming air superiority but were up against well trained and motivated FAA and RAF pilots.
    6 The Land Forces went ashore roughly equal in numbers to the argies when the rule of thumb is you need 3-1 superiority.
    7 The land forces MARCHED across East Falkland Is as they lost the choppers in the Atlantic Conveyor.
    8 As Wellington said after Waterloo it was a near run thing and if the Argies hadnt surrendered the Brits wiuld have had to go in with the Bayonet as they were that short of ammuntion.
    Read Vice Admiral Sandy Woodward’s 100 Days.

  • kiwiinamerica

    Extraordinary footage of what was likely the last of a bygone era for the Brits. The Falklands war was the last time that Britain alone was able to project its military might across oceans. Thatcher did a very brave thing against the wishes of even the Americans and fought a good old fashion territorial war that restored freedom to the handful of British subjects on those windswept islands. This campaign was waged close enough to WW2 that was within the memory of a sizable minority of British’s population such the notion of waging war to regain lands invaded by dictators was still considered a moral imperitive – hence the vast crowds who came to see their warriors home. One would hope the British would do it again if so threatened but one has to wonder what it actually could do given how it has gutted its military so.

    • AnonWgtn

      Typical of Americans to object to anything Britain would do, not under American control and command!
      How dare anybody do that to the Americans – they rule the World remember – or did once, but no more – My next boofk will be entitled – The Fall and Decline of the American Empire – short lived by empirical other standards.
      Same as Suez in 1953 – if the Americans had left well alone lot of the current troubles in the Middle East may not have occurred in the way they did.
      Britain was threatened by America with currency collapse after the WW2 if they did not get out of Suez. Britain had no option as they owed so much money to America – Lend Lease payments, ramped up by America.
      But of course children in America all know that America won both World Wars in Europe and America were/are therefore invincible. Then there was Vietnam and it is down down from there on.

      • ConwayCaptain

        Yes the American Empire is on the decline and all Empires collapse from withing with a little bit of push from the outside. The US Empire is collapsing under huge debt to pay its social welfare bill and the outside nhelp is embarking on unwinnable wars.
        The British Empire was unusual in the fact that after it had finished it was still on pretty good terms with its old colonies and fell with v little bllodshed. That in the Inmdian sub continent was caused by religious intolerance. What would have happend if Jinnah et al had kept India together?? We wouldnt have had East and West Pakistan and the terrible war on independence of Bangladesh

      • David Broome

        Steady on, the invasion would not have been possible without the help of the US (intelligence) and though it sticks in my throat, the French (Exocet intel).

        The US had to walk a tightrope in public but behind the scenes Reagan was prepared to loan Britain the USS Iwo JIma in case Invincible or Hermes were sunk or damaged (

        Since the Falkland’s Britain’s capacity for amphibious operations has grown (Ocean LPH, Albion class LPD’s and the Bay class axillary landing ships). Then you have the two carriers being built – see here for fantastic pix: – with both now certain to be commissioned and built to last 50 years too.

        The F35B after a few hiccups is making progress and Britain is to buy 48 in the current strategic defence timeframe. The F35B has three times the range of the old Harrier let alone weapons capability.

        All this backed by the RN”s SSN’s.

        All up the Royal Navy come 2020 would be able to take out Argentinian forces that are evidently so scared, their ships sink while moored!

      • kiwiinamerica

        You may have mistaken my comment as being latently anti American – that I am not. Without America Germany and Japan would never have been defeated – end of story. Without a massive American backed invasion of
        France, the Germans could’ve withstood a one front defensive war with the
        Soviet Union. Britain was only ever able to maintain any military pressure on
        Germany via Bomber Command’s night raids with massive US financial aid. Even with USAA daylight precision raids AND British nighttime raids the German war machine kept going. It took a two front invasion to finally finish them off. You take the US out the European theatre and there would’ve been a Russian retake of eastern Europe to German borders and then a truce as Stalin was uninterested in liberating western Europe. Perhaps the French would’ve grown some and overthrown the Germans but even that would’ve been difficult without US background support.

        America never “ruled the world” – the European and Asian countries it
        invaded or attacked was for the purposes of liberation not control of land –
        after losing 400,000 soldiers they then spent billions rebuilding Germany and
        Japan – all things they didn’t have to do and had they stayed at home as
        isolationist Republicans urged them to do, you’d be whining about how selfish and insular the Americans were.

        Do you honestly believe that the British still wanted a long term presence in
        the Middle East after its experience with the Palestinian mandate? By the
        1950’s she was rapidly dismantling her empire because she could barely feed her own domestic population after the crippling debts of WW 1 and 2.

        30,000 Americans sailors lie dead at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean defending freedom in the Pacific after the Battles of Coral Sea and Leyte Gulf stopping the advance of the Japanese dead in its tracks – an advance that would ended finally at invading New Zealand and all you can do is sneer about US imperialism – pathetic.