THE MAIL took a deep look at the effects of the Falklands war had on the Furness area in 1982.

Barrovian Paul Fitzsimmons celebrated his 18th birthday on the sea on the same day as the infamous sinking of HMS Ardent.

It was wartime and it was the Falklands. He was in the thick of it.

Paul was a diving engineer mechanic on the Barrow built British Navy flagship Hermes, doing four-hours-on and four-hours-off tours of duty being flown all over the island in helicopters, kipping and catnapping in any space he could find.

Paul said: "When they handed me a gun and told me not to use the safety catch it was an overwhelming sense of responsibility. I think I aged 20 years instantly.

"Being under fire put a lot of pressure on our resources. We had to fill in when other people were out repairing machinery."

The Sheffield was launched into Walney Channel by the Queen in 1971. Eleven years later she was sunk, the first Royal Navy to be hit by hostile action since World War Two.

She was hit by an Exocet missile early on in the 1982 campaign to regain te islands from the Argentinians, and according to Sir John Woodward, it was the result of an extraordinary succession of lapses.

In his book 'One Hundred Days' Sir John, Commander of the Task Force that retook the Falklands, recounts the last few hours in life of the 9100 ton type 42 guided missile destroyers.

The Royal Navy's loss of the Sheffield was particularly sad to the Admiral as it had been his first command.

Ten years ago on May 4 as Exocet missile weighing half a ton launched from an Argentinian jet ripped a 60ft hole in the ship's hull.

Falkland survivor Stephen Donnell, formerly of Penrith, returned to the islands barely a year after the war and was shocked by what he found.

"I went out there from April to July 1983on naval work. Being part of the sea forces, I had not seen the islands, I was there when the Norland brought down and the relatives of the people who died. I was talking to them and each of them wished they had not come down."