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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
'Terror' under fire in Falklands
William Sutherland
William Sutherland in Leith at HMS Exeter
A Falklands War veteran has recalled how he felt "extreme terror" as the first British ship to sail into the conflict came under attack.

William Sutherland, 49, from Edinburgh, was a petty officer on HMS Plymouth and has had nightmares every night about the moment bombs hit his ship.

The father-of-one, who was in charge of sonar equipment, said everyone was bouncing off the deck in the bombing.

The incident on 8 June, 1982 happened just shortly before the war ended.

Mr Sutherland said: "On the day we got hit by bombs during an aircraft attack, I was lying on the deck as was everyone who wasn't firing at the enemy and I remember looking around me and seeing the sonar operators bouncing into the air each time we were hit.

There were moments when I thought I was going to die, people were shouting because they were injured, I have nightmares every day from that incident
William Sutherland
Falklands War veteran

Mr Sutherland told the BBC Scotland news website: "From my perspective I felt as if everyone was bouncing into the air apart from me but afterwards I was told I was as well.

"We then went into automatic mode to ensure everyone was okay. It was extremely terrifying, grown men were trying to crawl into the smallest places possible during very close calls.

"There were moments when I thought I was going to die, people were shouting because they were injured, I have nightmares every day from that incident."

On the 25th anniversary of the end of the Falklands conflict he said he remembers feeling "utterly exhausted" when the announcement that the Argentine forces had been defeated was made.

Mr Sutherland said: "I remember we docked in Port Stanley and seeing the utter damage and the burning buildings.

"The sanitation facilities there were for 1,500 inhabitants and not for the 10,000 people who came during the war, so you can imagine the complete mess that was before us."

He described how men had shrapnel removed from their heads while others had injured limbs and smoke infested lungs.

Mr Sutherland said some colleagues have been undergoing surgery 25 years after the conflict.

'Morale boost'

He said: "The amount of support we had from the public was absolutely staggering. We had little old ladies knitting balaclavas, mittens and gloves as well as shops sending big boxes of sweets and biscuits.

"Public opinion has swayed in some way nowadays. The armed forces get support from their families but not from the country as a whole.

"I remember everyone looked forward to the mail drops, it was a fantastic morale boost that all the stuff was being sent to us."

Mr Sutherland said he would be thinking about his fellow comrades who did not return home during a parade and service in Edinburgh to mark the anniversary.

He said: "I will remember the feelings I had 25 years ago, I will remember the friends I lost. I will give thanks I came back and that the islands were liberated."

The naval war veteran visited HMS Exeter at Leith docks ahead of Thursday's commemoration. The vessel is one of only two surviving warships from the Falklands War.


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