Derbyshire chef who served on HMS Conqueror submarine during torpedo attack that sank General Belgrano ship reflects on 40th anniversary of Falklands War

A Derbyshire chef has shared his memories of Royal Navy service aboard a submarine that sank an enemy ship during the Falklands War.

Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 6:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2022, 7:23 am

Steve Tyler, who lives in Ripley, was part of the crew of HMS Conqueror that was dispatched to the Falkland Islands 40 years ago.

One of their missions was to locate the General Belgrano ship. Steve said: "We found her, were told to keep watch on her and then received a signal saying 'sink her'.

"We carried out the order to fire and then did what every submarine does, run away and turn around to look at what we'd done. One of her escorts was slightly damaged, the other was throwing depth charges over the side - they were nowhere near us so we were quite safe.”

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The General Belgrano was sunk by the British submarine HMS Conqueror in 1982 (photo: AFP via Getty Images),

Steve was one of three chefs working in the galley on the afternoon that the Belgrano was sunk. He said: “What normally happens on board the boat is that the chefs reload the torpedoes if required. But we were told to stay in the galley and make sure that the tea was ready!

"When the Belgrano was hit, there was euphoria - a cheer went up in our galley and we thought we'd done something good. Then two days later we started losing our ships and it brought it home. There were 323 people who died on the Belgrano."

Two days after the Belgrano went down, HMS Sheffield was damaged by Exocet missile. Other British fleet casualties included HMS Ardent and HMS Antelope which were bombed and later sank.

Steve, 60, admits that the dates from April 2 to June 14 (spanning the war period) have been difficult for him in the ensuing years. He said: "I just go quiet and don't want to talk to anyone."

Steve Tyler at the National Arboretum in Alrewas earlier this year.

War horrors aside, Steve looks back on his 16 years in the Royal Navy with fondness. He said: "It's a wonderful life - you're a big family, you look after each other. I'm still in touch with all my crew, the ones that are still alive."

Steve’s experiences have inspired his 21-year-old stepson Joshua Brougham to sign up. Steve said: "It's a lovely life and that's why I'm glad Josh has gone into submarine service. He's completed his first patrol, just under six months away at sea.

"I would recommend any of the armed forces to youngsters these days. The hardest bit is coming out. I can't get used to civvy life and I've been out since 1994."

After leaving the Royal Navy, Steve went into security, worked in a soft drinks factory in Kegworth, was employed as a chef at care homes in Ripley and Smalley, at the Poet and Castle pub in Codnor and at the Thorntree Inn in Waingroves.

He is now chef at The Codnor Kitchen working alongside business partner Chris Bateman, who also served in the Royal Navy.Steve said: "Jonty Powis, who was the navigating officer in the submarine that took us down to the Falklands, came into our kitchen a few days ago. He lives in Swanwick and that was the first time I've seen him since 1986."On the 40th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War, Steve will join 10,000 people in paying their respects at the National Aboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.