In 1982, North Sea ferry MV Norland transported passengers and vehicles between Hull and Rotterdam. Requisitioned as a troop ship to take the 2nd Battalion Paras to the Falklands, the 'volunteer' merchant navy crew were told it would only be as far as the Ascension Island: they should think of it as an extended North Sea booze-cruise run. Without notice, on changing its role, it became the first vessel to enter San Carlos Water and ended up a sitting duck in 'Bomb Alley' air raids when disembarking troops and carrying out resupply runs.
Narrowly escaping sinking, the ship was used as a shelter for RN survivors and again for collecting the Gurkhas from the QE2 in South Georgia ready for disembarking in San Carlos Bay, before repatriating Argentine POWs. Long after surrender, MV Norland provided a ferry service between the Falklands and Ascension Island. All others involved in the war had a 10-week deployment; for the Norland it was ten-months.
This is the Norland's story, told by one of its two night-stewards, who never expected to find himself at war.
Author(s): Reg Kemp & Michael Wood
First Publishment Date: 31 August 2021