John Gibson: Yarmouth’s old salts meet here

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In the navy you can sail the seven seas but not every one can claim they served on the Yarmouth. She played a crucial role in the Falklands.

She was the first ship to reach the stricken Sheffield and rescue casualties from the destroyer. A drama recalled in Edinburgh at the weekend.

Ninety veterans, all ex-Yarmouth sailors – 15 actually were at the Falklands war – had a reunion in the Capital, the connection being that the Yarmouth, along with sister frigate, were at Rosyth when ordered to sail for the South Atlantic.

North Berwick man and Yarmouth veteran Colin Townsend let me in on the salty get-together. “We had a big reunion on the 25th anniversary of the Falklands but this being the 30th we made sure we’d do something special, closest we could get to what was the Yarmouth’s home port, Rosyth.

“We don’t want people to think we’re a bunch of alcoholics but, yes, the weekend was a sort of drowning-our-sorrows affair.

“We started on Friday at the Roseburn Bar at lunch, then the Standing Order that evening. Saturday lunchtime the Haymarket Bar before capping it all at the Guards Club at Haymarket on Saturday night.”

What had the old salts crying into their beer was the fact that the Yarmouth was sunk in the Atlantic, in the late eighties by our own Royal Navy, used as target practice and torpedoed.

An inglorious end for a brave ship. The Plymouth has been preserved, a floating museum at Liverpool but a there’s a fundraising campaign to have her brought to Plymouth.

All of which is enough to drive worthy old sailors to drink.