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Through Fire and Water - HMS Ardent: The Forgotten Frigate of the Falklands

The average age of the 200 men on board HMS Ardent was 23 when she made her lonely midnight run into Falkland Sound, an hour ahead of the British amphibious group about to retake the Falkland Islands. In the crucial hours that followed, her naval gunfire support kept enemy troops and aircraft pinned down at Goose Green and Darwin. Despite a few scares it all looked good. Until 5.44pm.

At that precise moment, out of the gathering dusk, Ardent came under the most concentrated attack of any ship taking part in the landings. She was hit 17 times in 22 minutes and one in four of her ship’s company were either killed or wounded. She lost a higher proportion of her men than any other fighting unit in the entire war. So why has the British public forgotten her name?

Through Fire and Water tells the frigate’s story, from Christmas 1981 in Amsterdam, to her sinking in Falkland Sound – and beyond. It follows the families who waved off sons, lovers, brothers, husbands and fathers as she left the dockyard. It explains what it was like for British sailors in the Falklands and what it was like for the families waiting at home for the news. It describes the sickening fear of being in a defenceless warship singled out for destruction, the feeling of despair as those on board tried to save their ship and their mates – in that order – while bomb after bomb came crashing down.

In a war so well documented, this book is the first to give them a collective voice and be heard, the first to explain why it all happened, the first to tell the true story of the forgotten frigate.