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Cdr 'Sharkey'Ward RN

Old 29th Aug 2007, 22:12
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***k me. We almost got away with a thread that mentioned the word 'SHAR' or 'Seajet' without WEBF getting involved.
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Old 30th Aug 2007, 10:44
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As a civvie (albeit a well-read one!) I'm in no position to start an argument! Genuine question as it seemed an incredible situation to be in - I couldn't help but come away with the feeling that the different squadrons had been working up in complete isolation to one another and reading a completely different manual about the jet. Bizarre.
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 20:18
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I wonder if the difference between the 800 and 801 in their attitudes to radar had something to do with the reduction in air defence skill levels as the Fleet Air Arm was run down in the 1970s. Did all the pilots have experience in using the radar? I believe some sets of Blue Fox were delivered on the way South. That might explain it.

Also, the FAA run down may have meant that the Flag (Woodward) and his staff lacked experience of using a fighter as a task force weapon?

My theory as to why Sharkey Ward comes across as frustrated and angry.

Whilst in a bookshop I noticed one called Forgotten Voices Of The Falklands, a collection of comments relating to various incidents during Operation Corporate. In the section on the loss of HMS Sheffield the then Operations Officer of Broadsword comments that since the run down of the FAA in the seventies, there had been little practice of using aircraft as a task force weapon for air defence (or anything else).

This would appear to support my theory.
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Old 6th Sep 2007, 23:22
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"Forgotten Voices" also puts much of the Sharkey / Woodward ego battle into context, very much on the side of Sharkey Ward, with a significant amount of frustration and disbelief at some of the actions of Sandy Woodward. I've done a fair bit of reading on the Falklands, and this book certainly bridged some of differences of opinion on many of the autobiographies, and answered some of the credibility questions.

EDIT: Sorry, dont get me wrong, I still thenk hes egotistical, but others who probably aren't quite as self promoting as him have put both his and Sany Woodwards autobiographies in a bit more context.

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Old 7th Sep 2007, 16:24
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Just started reading the book and it only took a couple of pages for me to decide he was an egotistical, self-promoting a*se

oh hang on...just looked in the thesaurus under fighter pilot.......egotistical etcetc

He should have transferred to the RAF - he would have made CAS easily

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Old 7th Sep 2007, 16:44
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One seems to remember from the actual time, that part of the deal in allowing the US to have a base on Ascension was that the US had to supply all the fuel required for UK operations. So the Yanks provided the fuel free of charge, in effect. Could be wrong of course, long time ago.

Enjoyed reading Ward's book when it came out. Have to say a lot of you are coming over being very bitter about such a brave man.
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 17:13
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Don't think anyone disputes his courage, slim_slag.

The reason Ward gets it in the neck (at least from me) is that there's now a lot of evidence about to sustain the charge that while the book is a cracking, forthright read, it is deeply unfair in many places, inaccurate in others and seems to be accompanied by the faint whiff of vinegar from the chip he appears to have on his shoulder (not just about the RAF), evinced by a mildly Monty-esque tendency to denigrate the efforts of other, equally brave, men.
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 17:22
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I don't think anybody is disputing his courage either, but there is a lot of bitterness towards him.

To those of us who are now approaching late middle age, the Falklands conflict was the first real 'war' that came along. The people who fought out there were the first real war heroes the lads of my age (although a bit older than a lad) really had. We weren't around when we actually won anything else before that.

So people like Ward and Col H, and all the others who fought out there and whose names are forgotten, are sort of special, if you know what I mean. Now I think when the historians look at these people they may find character flaws and mistakes they made, like we all have, but I think it's wrong of so many of you lot to have a go at him in such a bitter fashion.

Ward is the sort of person you need to make people sign up, IMO.
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Old 7th Sep 2007, 18:09
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At time of first publication of SHAR over the Falklands, I was considering a service career (which didn't happen in the end for reasons which need not detain us here). Having read Ward's portrayal of incompetent command, petty jealousy and general petulance, I concluded that I would not be seeking employment in the RN if further investigation revealed that his representation of the service was halfway accurate...

The problem many people have isn't bitterness - it's the fact that his attacks upon certain people are way over the top and deeply unfair, while his criticism of his own service and of the RAF verges on the pernicious. Should we just leave him be and let the impression that some equally brave men were incompetent knaves and fools persist?
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Old 8th Apr 2011, 23:34
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Pierre Argh has very kindly explained the possible differences between the Royal Navy SL and GL officer listings, namely:

Most aircrew were recruited onto the SL, it got them through the training pipeline quickly as they started flying training on graduation from Dartmouth. Therefore an SL(X)(P) with career aspirations would a. have to request transfer to GL, and b. go off to complete his Bridge Watchkeeping ticket and gain seamanship experience.

In fairness to Cmdr Sharkey Ward and what is being said on this thread this person did serve at sea prior to going to Fixed Wing Flight Training and he did gain his Bridge Watchkeeping Ticket Bridge, plus Ocean Navigation Ticket.

I have read a number of articles written by this retired Naval Officer and yes they are perhaps embarrassing, BUT..... There is None So Deaf as Those Who Do Not Want To Hear and although his remarks are 'perhaps' OTT, they are spoke with passion and from the heart with probably not enough thought and definitely NOT ENOUGH TACT!

Cmdr Ward was quite clearly a highly\extremely highly qualified Fleet Air Arm fighter pilot who could talk the talk and walk the walk. The Admiralty recognized that talent and put it to the best possible use regarding the introduction of this much loved aircraft.

Unfortunately this person appears to be a flawed diamond but may I respectfully suggest that we should listen to what he says and perhaps treat it with some respect?

My thoughts were that he was under tremendous strain during the Falklands conflict and sadly it might be possible that this condition may not have been recognised, or if it was then possibly the medical officer was not strong enough to deal with this strong will, self opinionated person?

I say this with the greatest of respect and hopefully folks will take this in the way i am trying to put it across?

To all those folks that have been so critical of this retired officer I will respectfully ask you all this one question:

How many of you have been under the same extreme and prolonged stress as this person? I tend to not listen very much to folks I call armchair critics and it is easy to offer insults from the comfort of the keyboard, but perhaps not so easy when you are ordering your fellow pilots to put their lives on the line day in, day out for weeks on end in an extremely hostile environment where they was a good possibility of being shot down\killed. Plus of course he was also flying these missions and if required writing that last letter to the loved ones of a lost pilot.

Cmdr Ward is clearly Royal Navy through and through but if we all take with a pinch of salt some of the more outrageous remarks and read what he is saying then I would suggest that those who have not read his book should go out, buy a copy and then when we read the criticism regarding the Royal Air Force, perhaps we should remember that a pilot in his squadron was indeed an RAF officer. Flt Lt Mortimer.. (respect to this officer)

I salute all those brave pilots of both the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force that were embarked onboard both the aircraft carriers that fought in the Falklands campaign

I just hope that all their brave efforts are not for nothing and yes I do disagree with the scrapping of our conventional aircraft carriers.

Yours sincerely
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Old 9th Apr 2011, 02:12
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Puhlease, stop with the Sharkey Ward bollox......irrelevant old gipper!
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Old 9th Apr 2011, 09:23
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Out of the two, One Hundred Days is the better read. I thought Ward's book was quite irritating and concentrated more on how he was right and everybody else was wrong, whilst largely forgetting that Sandy Woodward had a lot more to think about than just Sea Harriers. Not really surprising that Ward didn't go much further in the Service, which was a shame because he was obviously very capable but afflicted by some kind of personality disorder.
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Old 9th Apr 2011, 09:30
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Originally Posted by Shaft109
Why did he try to contact the Vulcan on Black Buck 1?
Because he's a bit of a t1t who thought that the rules, common sense, COMSEC and best practice didn't apply to him?
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Old 9th Apr 2011, 10:30
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In his defense it was a better READ than Vulcan 607...
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Old 11th Apr 2011, 10:03
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Sharkey Ward

Like many others who have commented in this thread, I have great respect for Ward’s skill as a pilot (F-4 and SHAR) and it is a shame he appeared to appreciate the efforts of others so little. His book is all me, me, me (he must have met Clive Loader somewhere).

Not everyone realises one aspect of the war that only came to light when the official history of the Falklands Campaign written by Sir Lawrence Freedman was published. As well as providing help in many areas, Chile also collected information on Argentinean air movements, using a powerful radar supplied by Britain that was sited near the border with Argentina. Although it has never been exactly confirmed, Britain probably supplied the S259 radar used by 1 Air Control Centre (1ACC) to Chile. The information obtained by the radar was quickly relayed back to the UK via a satellite link and then onto the Task Force, enabling the air defence Sea Harriers to anticipate the eventual arrival of Argentinean aircraft in the Task Force area of operations.

Presumably Sharky had access to this information which allowed him to know when the Argentinean jets would arrive over East Falkland, so did he arrange the flying programme to give himself the best opportunity to mount a successful engagement in an attempt to rack up the highest score?


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Old 11th Apr 2011, 11:54
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Originally Posted by heimdall
Like many others who have commented in this thread, I have great respect for Ward’s skill as a pilot (F-4 and SHAR) and it is a shame he appeared to appreciate the efforts of others so little. His book is all me, me, me (he must have met Clive Loader somewhere).
I guess quite a few books go down that route but prior to the Falklands was he that person!

I am not a doctor and have no medical qualifications but may I respectfully still suggest:

Commander Ward is clearly a person that believes in calling a spade a spade, but his comments are now most certainly not welcome, not constructive an maybe even offensive and I still maintain that he is yet another casualty of the Falklands conflict. The book was obviously wrote after that battle and I believe that a number of issues were still very raw in that person's mind and he used the book as his own personal soap box.

Was he a victim of post traumatic stress disorder and did this ailment effect his conduct just as the Falklands conflict was being won and when he should have been celebrating a brilliant effort by EVERY SINGLE person that was involved? Instead of that he was removed from his command and flown home.... A sad end to what was developing into an excellent Naval career.

Sometimes the last person to know they have that illness is the victim and sometimes those closest to them do not realise they are ill, they just think 'the war has changed them!'

I apologise for being 'A bloke on t'Internet' that is playing at being a doctor' but I feel that perhaps we might just try to ignore the objectionable words of someone who was at one point in their career a very exceptional talent.

Regarding Chile,
I think you make an excellent point and they offered more assistance than the radar issue you highlight. Maggie Thatcher never forgot the huge part that that country paid in helping us and that was shown by her loyalty towards General Pinochet when she went to visit him whilst he was here for a short period (Under house arrest)

I have NEVER met Commander Ward and have no connection whatsoever with any one that knows this person and all I am suggesting is that we might cut this person 'a little slack'
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Old 11th Apr 2011, 17:32
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Maverick at work

I could suggest that just as a book and one that gives an insight into some of the events it is well worth a read.
Ok there may be some "non PC comments" re events,people and the high command, but it is still a good read and he is not seeking to win a popularity contest (no argument there).
It is no different to any other book, you either find it interesting for some of the information that gets left out in "official accounts" and also make your own mind up re any "personal comments".
On balance the reader can decide on the above and his "direction" in later years is his affair,he will not get any prizes for going quietly !!

PS i really liked the bit about landing at the BBC Pebble Mill Sudio's;Ok a bit of a stunt,but prooved how versatile the Navy was in those days,what are they allowed to do now.I seem to recall he also gives great credit to the RAF for giving the Navy a good start on operating the Harrier.

Last edited by POBJOY; 11th Apr 2011 at 17:43.
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