Campbell D and Esther on 10th August 1984

Campbell D and Esther on 10th August 1984

July 1984

One of the girls obviously enjoyed the company of men. While I was away on leave she started her first relationship with Dave S, an engineer who arrived while I was away. We all knew where she was, her tiny boots were outside his room. Someone rearranged them so that his boots faced one way and hers were facing the other way between his.

Campbell D got into a relationship with another girl called Holly, one of LMA's secretaries, and later married her.

Many people tried to get home by "medivac" but anyone going home before the end of their tour or sacked had the cost deducted from their final pay cheque. Some feigned madness, one sat outside a building fishing, saying "look at my fish". Another walked around with a toy parrot on his helmet and was sacked for refusing to remove it, another tried to run people down with his landrover at the Frying Pan river, another got into his D9, the biggest bulldozer, and drove it at the accommodation block where someone he disliked was inside. His mates climbed onto the bulldozer as it was moving and restrained him.

On 7th July 1984 I moved room again, to my sixth room. First the ship, next Mount Pleasant House, then B1 on the shore at East Cove, then D2 at site, then H3, then D1.

As I moved rooms I put my white pioneer chest of drawers in the corridor just for a few minutes. When I returned it had gone. I rushed to the end of the block and looked down corridors but couldn't see anyone carrying it. I tried rooms along our corridor but they were all locked. Mark T came by later carrying a white drawer to his new room. I said "How would you like to be thrown from here to the other side of the camp?"

He said it was revenge for the time I had rushed down to our old East Cove cabin and turfed all his clothes onto the bed in order to take both white chests up to site before LMA snaffled them. I'd done him a favour! The dozy bugger hadn't cleared up before that move as he should have. I didn't really need it so I let him keep it. He already had another inherited from James M, so his room must have been crowded.

Rumour said that a kelvin woman had brought in crabs.

A strange thing happened to lots of landrovers. They started losing wheel nuts and Campbell D twice lost a wheel while driving, once the wheel overtook him. It happened to me once. I felt wobbling and heard a noise, Dave D and I got out and found all nuts completely loose. It seemed that when wheels were refitted, some mud got behind the nuts and behind the wheel where it touches the hub and this worked its way out gradually, so that the nuts were loose. They just unwound after that. Leyland ran out of nuts and several of us had nuts pinched.

12th July 1984 - Dave S came into our office smelling strongly of perfume. His girlfriend obviously used a lot. You could smell it in the corridor when you passed his room.

We found that a squash court had been built in a lower hold of the Merchant Providence. You had to climb down a vertical ladder to get to it. Ply panels for floor and walls, all properly marked out. The floor sloped a bit and the court got narrower towards the back, but a great effort. I used it on 16th July 1984 with Tony D, Harry H and Ewan S.

Because the court was wider at the front than at the back, when the ball followed the wall back towards you it seemed to get closer to you. I was borrowing Ewan's racquet once and hit the wall as it was difficult to judge compared with a truly rectangular court. When Ewan started to play the next game his racquet head broke. It must have been cracked by me. I apologised and offered to pay for it, but he dismissed the suggestion. If you're still playing squash and want a racquet, Ewan, get in touch with me. There was also circuit training in one of the camp bars.

There was still a problem with showers not working and some of us took to using the women's shower rooms (four showers to a shower room) because the elements got covered in peat dirt and burnt out quicker in our showers. There weren't many women at this time and their showers seemed to last longer before packing up. I never found a woman in there, though. I don't know when or where they had their showers, probably spread out among the various men's shower rooms, or perhaps they didn't wash. Dave S's girlfriend used our shower room when it was working; he started standing outside when she was in there. I'm sure she wouldn't have minded anyone coming in.

The camp doctor died on the night of 24th July 1984 of a heart attack. Our usual doctor, Doctor Death, was on leave and this was a 45 year-old locum. There were three deaths now. One man had slipped off a curved roof in the store area and smashed his skull. Another had jumped overboard from the England. The ship turned round but couldn't find him.

Dave S's girlfriend had arranged to go to Stanley to see a doctor there. The Islander had turned back due to snow and Dave S was fussing around her worried how she was to get there and back as she had expected to get the evening flight back. Mike S and several LMA guys were to go too, in order to catch the airbridge. There wasn't enough room in Bert's landrover. The girl wasn't at all worried about where to stay, she said Lookout Camp had large rooms and if none were available she'd sleep on the floor. Mike S, when Dave S was out of the room, said she could share his room.

There was much speculation about why she was going - an abortion?. When Frank took her to Stanley the next day she told him she was going for an "internal fitting". Sensible girl. When he called to pick her up in the evening, Mike S was with her. Suspicious.

I went out one night with the astronomy club and looked in detail at the southern sky. I thought it was a bit boring compared with the northern sky.

The landrovers were permanently covered with thick sticky mud from May 1984 through the winter. They stood in liquid mud overnight and if it froze, their wheels were stuck. I thought some clutches would burn out as people tried to get away. The windscreen wipers froze too, and many wiper motors did burn out. Generally Falklands temperatures never went below about minus 4 degrees C and snow cover was light. Just damp, wet and windy, like Dartmoor.

The main runway excavations flooded the whole winter

The main runway excavations on 4th July 1984, flooded the whole winter

The process area and thunderbox on 4th July 1984

The process area and thunderbox on 4th July 1984

Landrovers in mud on 22nd July 1984

Dave D and landrovers in mud on 22nd July 1984

Drying room at the site camp on 22nd July 1984 after a party

A drying room after an LMA party at the site camp on 22nd July 1984

Cleaning landrover on 29th July 1984

John G and Dave D cleaning our landrover at L'Antioja river on 29th July 1984

Cleaning landrover on 29th July 1984

John G and Dave D cleaning our landrover at L'Antioja river on 29th July 1984