Captain Mike Barrow: Naval commander who served with distinction in the Falklands War

Captain Mike Barrow was one of the most universally loved of the Falklands naval commanders, even though 14 of his crew died when his ship, the County Class guided-missile destroyer HMS Glamorgan, was struck by an Exocet ground-launched missile on the penultimate day of the conflict. His decision to stay an extra two hours on the in-shore gun line off Port Stanley extended the naval artillery support to 45 Commando, Royal Marines, while they fought a harder-than-expected battle.

The Marines were five miles from the islands' capital and less than 48 hours from victory, but it had taken them all night to dislodge very strong Argentine positions on Two Sisters ridge. Keeping up support for the land forces meant, Captain Barrow knew, putting his ship and crew at risk. Glamorgan's men should have fallen out from action stations at 04.00 hours, when according to her orders she would have sped away at 26 knots to reach, several hours later, the safety of the Carrier Battle Group around the Falklands Task Force flagship HMS Hermes 150 miles out at sea.

Instead Barrow kept her at her position south of Stanley, pounding the barren South Atlantic hillsides until 05.30. Moments after she at last called it a day, the approaching missile was sighted. Barrow gave the order "full ahead", and the ship turned rapidly, heeling over. It is thought the sharp turn saved her. Glamorgan was the only ship in the Falklands conflict to take a direct Exocet hit and survive. The missile clipped the upper deck and exploded just short of the hangar.

Eight men were killed instantly, about 20 injured, and the ship's Wessex helicopter destroyed. Five more lost their lives when burning fuel poured through the hole in the deck into the galley below, and another died soon after the ship returned to Britain. Whether Barrow misjudged the limits of the Royal Navy's already-marked-out "envelope" of danger from missile-launchers around Port Stanley, or whether the Argentines had a piece of luck having moved the lorries to new positions, is still an open question. It is known that by the time of Glamorgan's misfortune, the missiles' arcs had changed.

Glamorgan's service to the land campaign is acknowledged by Major General Julian Thompson, who as a Brigadier led much of it, and he notes in his book, No Picnic (1985): "HMS Glamorgan... bravely remained later than ordered to support 45 Commando".

Barrow, who was awarded a Distinguished Service Order for his service in the Falklands, never forgot his men, and only two years ago, in his 79th year and in failing health, made the pilgrimage to the East Falkland, where the Welsh granite memorial to those who died was raised at Hooker's Point, opposite the position where Glamorgan was hit. A regular Anglican churchgoer, Barrow also led the fundraising campaign for the memorial window for Glamorgan's crew that in 1997 was installed in Portsmouth Cathedral.

His DSO citation attributes Glamorgan's successes to Barrow's "calm and inspiring leadership", which "kept his ship at the peak of efficiency over prolonged periods in the face of the enemy". Barrow had led the Falklands campaign's first naval gun line on 1 May, and spent "seven gruelling nights" the citation says, firing star-shells and having Glamorgan's helicopter fly close in-shore in ill-charted waters in Choiseul Sound, East Falkland, as troops in fact prepared to go ashore at San Carlos on the island's other side. After Glamorgan was damaged, the citation adds, Barrow took on the unglamorous task of organising support ships in the tug, repair and logistics area (TRALA).

Michael Ernest Barrow, the son of a naval captain, attended Wellesley House School, Broadstairs, before joining Britannia Royal Naval college, Dartmouth aged 13 on the same day as the Falklands Task Force's future Admiral, John "Sandy" Woodward, a lifelong friend. In those days Barrow outdid Woodward by being made one of the College's two chief cadet captains, or joint head boys.

Woodward later described Barrow in his account of the conflict, One Hundred Days (1992) as "an outstandingly brave commander". Barrow trained in the heavy cruiser HMS Devonshire, the light cruiser HMS Liverpool, and joined the destroyer HMS Agincourt and the light cruiser Euryalus before serving for two years, from 1954, in the Royal Yacht Britannia, where he was noted as "one of the most able young officers in the Service today."

He was Flag Lieutenant to the Commander in Chief of the Far East Station, HMS Tamar, Hong Kong, Vice-Admiral Sir Gerald Gladstone, from 1956-58, after which he had a string of seagoing commands, before attending Staff College at Greenwich in 1966, and again commanding at sea.

He and his wife Judy, whom he married in 1962, are remembered as "excellent hosts and most charming company" during his time as Staff Flag Officer at HMS St Angelo in Malta in 1970-71. The then Flag Officer, Rear-Admiral Derrick Kent, said of him: "He takes part in all activities going on around him and actively supports all naval interests whether they be in the Mess, the busy social life of Malta, or the sports field."

Barrow became from 1971-73 Commander, RNC Dartmouth, where, Admiral Andrew Mackenzie Lewis, Commander-in-Chief, Naval Home Command, noted: "he ran an unusual and lively Wardroom with a light touch which is a delight to watch."

Barrow was deputy director, recruiting, from 1975-77, and rose to be Assistant Chief of Staff (Ops) to the Commander, Allied Naval Forces Southern Europe at Naples. His commands before Glamorgan, which he took over in 1980, included the minesweepers Caunton and Laleston, and the frigates Mohawk, Torquay, and Diomede.

Barrow's last post in the Royal Navy was as ADC to the Queen, and he retired in 1983, being appointed, from 1984, a Gentleman Usher to the Queen. He became Clerk – that is, chief executive – to the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers in 1983, supporting in particular many projects in education until 1995. Thereafter he maintained a passionate interest in the Company's affairs, sitting as "assistant honoris causa emeritus" on the governing body, the Court, of whose proceedings he was reading the Minutes only two days before his death. He is survived by his wife, Judy, sons Roddy and Andrew, and daughter Suzanne.

Michael Ernest Barrow, Royal Navy captain: born Hampshire 21 May 1932; married 1962 Judith Ann Cooper (two sons, one daughter); DSO 1982; CVO 2002; died Portsmouth 28 April 2013.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum