The missile streaked across the wave tops at the speed of sound. A single metallic sliver, packed with high explosive and spouting smoke. It shimmered against the dull blue of the South Atlantic swell, its warhead primed, its homing radar locked onto the British destroyer.
In November 1981, at just 17 years old, and only a few weeks out of his naval training, Adam Joe Lawton was drafted onto HMS Sheffield, a type 42 destroyer. What began as an adventure soon changed into a nightmare when Sheffield, on her way home from protection duties in the Iran/Iraq war, was deployed to the South Atlantic following the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentinian forces.
Journey to Peace tells the story of the author’s baptism by fire onboard HMS?Sheffield when she was hit by an Exocet missile. Twenty of his shipmates died in appalling circumstances, which for a young man on his first watch was beyond comprehension.
In the months following the war, Adam became what he himself called ‘a nightmare’. Unable to grieve, he was filled with anger, hatred, and aggression. To the despair of his family, one violent episode followed another. Forced by a particularly astute Naval Lieutenant to confront his behaviour, he promised to reform.
Some years later, now living in Australia, Adam found the events of 1982 replaying themselves in his head. Increasingly affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he resolved to return to the Falklands, and then to travel to Argentina to meet the two fighter pilots carrying the Exocets, one of which sank HMS Sheffield.
Only two other sailors on Sheffield were younger than Adam Joe Lawton at the time of the war. One is now in psychiatric care. The other is dead, having taken his own life. In writing this book, the author hopes to refuel the agenda so that those who take the nation’s young men and women into war do so with the knowledge of what it can do to those who survive.