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
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'