On the 8 June 1982 at the height of the Falklands conflict, RFA Sir Galahad was at anchor in Port Pleasant, about 3 cables from RFA Sir Tristram and about a mile from Fitzroy, preparing to disembark elements of the Welsh Guards. At about 17:15 Z, five Skyhawk jets of the Argentinean Air Force commenced an attack on the two LSL’s at anchor.

 

 

On the 8 June 1982 at the height of the Falklands conflict, RFA Sir Galahad was at anchor in Port Pleasant, about 3 cables from RFA Sir Tristram and about a mile from Fitzroy, preparing to disembark elements of the Welsh Guards. At about 17:15 Z, five Skyhawk jets of the Argentinean Air Force commenced an attack on the two LSL’s at anchor.

Two of the jets attacked Sir Tristramwho was hit by two bombs. One went straight through the ship, the other exploded inside the ship killing the Bosun Yu Sik Chee and a crewman Yeung Shui Kam, the force of the explosion caused immense damage and started fires in the accommodation.

 

sir-galahad

 

The remaining three aircraft attacked Sir Galahad and caused devastating loss of life. One of the bombs went through an open hatch and exploded, causing a massive fireball that swept through the tank deck, where the Welsh Guards were waiting to disembark with devastating consequences. The second bomb exploded in the Galley area, killing the Butcher Sung Yuk Fai instantly and injuring several other crewmen 

The order was given to abandon ship. Mr. Chiu however knew that soldiers of the Welsh Guards were still trapped in the ship. He also realized that his detailed knowledge of the ship’s layout and his training as a fire suit man gave him a chance of saving lives. So not withstanding the order to leave the ship, he put on his asbestos suit and went back into the conflagration.  After bringing out one man, he disappeared again into the smoke and flames and continued to bring people to safety until he had rescued all those he could find. Several Welsh Guardsmen, probably eight to ten owe their lives to Mr. Chiu Yiu Nan 

The Commanding Officer 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, Lt. Col. John Ricketts OBE was anxious that these deeds should be recognized and after hostilities had ended he started enquiries to identify the hero. It was comparatively simple to determine that Mr. Chiu was the sailor concerned; it was more difficult to persuade him that he should be recognized for his bravery. It was thought at first that his reluctance might owe something to the old Chinese adage that the rescuer of a life is responsible for that life. Later it was clear that Mr. Chiu is an extremely modest man 

Eventually he agreed to be officially recognized and he was nominated for a gallantry award.

On 26 July 1983 at Buckingham Palace Mr. Chiu was invested with the George Medal by Her Majesty the Queen

 Sailor Chiu Yiu Nam Sir Gah medal group

Sailor Chiu Yiu Nan GM RFA's medals

Mr Chiu died in Hong Kong on 14 February 2012 while in retirement

Mr Chiu, for his bravery, can quite correctly be described as a Hero of the RFA

 

Copyright © 2008 – 2017 Christopher J White

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