On This Day In History -- 25 May 1982
After shooting down three Skyhawks, Coventry and her comrade Broadsword came under attack by four A-4 Skyhawks. The first wave each carried one 1,000 lb bomb, while the second carried three 250 kg bombs each. They flew so low that Coventry’s radar couldn’t distinguish them from land, and failed to lock on. Of the bombs released, one struck Broadsword’s deck and failed to explode, wrecking the ship’s Lynx helicopter. The second pair of skyhawks headed for Coventry. With her Sea Darts not locking on and her 20mm cannon jammed, only rifles and machine gunners were left to defend Coventry. She was struck by three bombs just above the water line, on the port side. One bomb exploded beneath the computer room, destroying it and the nearby operations room, incapacitating almost every senior officer. The other entered the forward engine room, exploding beneath the junior ratings dining room, and the ship immediately listed to port. The latter hit caused critical damage, as it breached the bulkhead between the forward and aft engine rooms; exposing the largest open space in the ship to uncontrollable flooding.
Within twenty minutes, Coventry was abandoned and capsized, sinking shortly after. Twenty of her crew were killed and 29 injured. Afvter the ship was struck, her crew, waiting to be rescued, sang “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
Her losses are as follows:
Marine Engineering Mechanic (Mechanical) 1 FRANK O. ARMES
Acting Chief Weapons Engineering Artificer JOHN D. L. CADDY
Marine Engineering Artificer (Mechanical) 1 PAUL B. CALLUS
Acting Petty Officer Catering Accountant STEPHEN R. DAWSON
Stephen is commemorated with a headstone in St. Mary’s Churchyard, West Butterwick, Lincolnshire and also on the local war memorial. West Butterwick CofE Primary School present the Stephen Dawson Achievement Award each year to the pupil who shows the best progress and achievement.
Acting Weapons Engineering Mechanic (Radio) 1 JOHN K. DOBSON
Petty Officer (Sonar) MICHAEL G. FOWLER
Weapons Engineering Mechanic (Ordnance) 1 IAN P. HALL
Lieutenant RODNEY R. HEATH
Laundryman KYE BEN KWO
Acting Weapons Engineering Mechanician 1 DAVID J. A. OZBIRN
Lieutenant Commander GLEN S. ROBINSON-MOLTKE
Leading Seaman Electronic Warfare BERNARD J. STILL
Marine Engineering Artificer 2 GEOFFREY L. J. STOCKWELL
Acting Weapons Engineering Artificer 1 DAVID A. STRICKLAND
Able Seaman (Electronic Warfare) ADRIAN D. SUNDERLAND
Marine Engineering Mechanic (Mechanical) 2 STEPHEN TONKIN
Acting Cook IAN TURNBULL
Acting Weapons Engineering Artificer 2 PHILIP P. WHITE
Weapons Engineering Artificer (Apprentice) IAN R. WILLIAMS
Marine Engineering Mechanic (Mechanical)PAUL T. MILLS
Paul died on 29th March 1983 from a brain tumour caused by a skull fracture sustained during the the attack on 25th May 1982.