HMS Ardent was hit by 17 bombs in less than 22 minutes. Sir Alan was the last person to leave the ship before it sank.
In 1982 I was a student at Leeds University and had recently joined the Territorial Army. I volunteered for a residential course over Easter with 29 Commando Regiment (Royal Artillery). It was without doubt the hardest and most demanding thing I have ever done. We all arrived by train in the evening (about 25 students, male and female) and told to go for a meal at the mess and to start the course the next morning. Half way through the meal we were told to finish up and change into overalls and boots for a run. There then followed an hour’s run up and down Plymouth followed by us all jumping into the sea, fully clothed, from a local pier, then running back. The rest of the course was pretty much of the same. Lots of running with kit and rifles, timed assault courses, swimming with webbing through outdoor water tunnels, death slides, abseiling and finishing with an overnight exercise on Dartmoor.
For an afternoon off we had a visit to Plymouth Naval base to visit a local warship. We spend a pleasant afternoon on board. The crew were very friendly, enthusiastic and obviously proud of their ship. They showed us all around the ship, practiced emergency drills and what to do if equipment failed. Our chief guide was a very relaxed Aussie (?) who loved the navy. I remember thinking how small the ship was and how close its community must get on active service. The visit was a welcome respite with no one shouting at us or making us do horrible things. The ship was of course HMS Ardent. The next month it was sunk and over 10% of its crew was dead. I don’t know how many were injured. The average age on board was 23 years old. I was then 19.
The course ended with an exercise in Dartmoor in freezing cold conditions. We bivouac overnight before a dawn mock infantry attack. During the evening one of our senior 29 Commando instructors was holding forth about the terrible state of the youth of this country and how the whole country is "going to the dogs". I am sure that in every army (or navy or air force) and in every age there has ever been, senior non-commissioned officers have been saying this same sort of thing. He finished his diatribe by saying “what this country needs is a bloody good war!” A few weeks later he was shipped out with his battery to the Falklands'.