This page is dedicated to the memory of:
Ian Harry North, DSC
SS Atlantic Conveyor
Atlantic Conveyor sailed for Ascension on the 25th April carrying Wessex and Chinook helicopters, having been requisitioned on the 14th April and converted at Plymouth. On arrival, she embarked Sea Harriers and GR3 Harriers and departed on the 7th for the Main Battle Group whereupon the Harriers were transferred. On the 25th May, 90 miles north-east of Port Stanley en route to San Carlos Water, the ship was hit by an Exocet missile. The explosion and resulting fires caused her to be abandoned with the loss of twelve lives. She remained afloat but sank in heavy seas on the 31st May whilst under tow.
It is known that Ian North successfully abandoned the ship but could not make it from the rope ladder to the life raft. He disappeared, possibly following a heart attack induced by the very cold water. He has no living relatives and was unmarried. His officers liked him very much and especially his eccentricities which included clever cartoons sketches of people. Perhaps the loveliest tribute to him comes from Captain Jorge Colombo, the commanding officer of the very effective Super Etendard squadron which sank the Atlantic Conveyor as well as HMS Coventry. He has written “Captain North was a real sea-dog with his snowy beard, he was a great and brave man. And when I think of him, I think of these lines by the English poet John Masefield:”
“I must go down to the sea again,
to the lonely sea and sky,
and all I ask is a tall ship,
and a star to steer her by.
And the wheel’s kick,
and the wind’s song,
and the white sails shaking,
and a grey mist on the sea’s face,
and a great dawn breaking …”
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
HONOURS AND AWARDS
MONDAY, 11th OCTOBER 1982
The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to approve the Posthumous award of the Distinguished Service Cross to the undermentioned in recognition of gallant and distinguished service during operations in the South Atlantic:
Distinguished Service Cross
Captain Ian Harry NORTH, Merchant Navy.
On 14th April 1982 SS ATLANTIC CONVEYOR was laid up in Liverpool. On the 25th April she deployed to the South Atlantic converted to operate fixed and rotary wing aircraft and loaded with stores and equipment for the Falkland’s Task Force. This astonishing feat was largely due to Captain North’s innovation, leadership and inexhaustible energy.
SS ATLANTIC CONVEYOR joined the Carrier Battle Group on 19th May 1982 and was immediately treated as a warship in most respects. Almost comparable in manoeuvrability, flexibility and response Captain North and the ship came through with flying colours. When the ship was hit on 25th May Captain North was a tower of strength during the difficult period of damage assessment leading up to the decision to abandon ship. He left the ship with enormous dignity and calm and his subsequent death was a blow to all.
A brilliant seaman, brave in war, immensely revered and loved his contribution to the Campaign was enormous and epitomised the great spirit of the Merchant Service.