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Commander of the Canberra during Falklands war passes away

Commander of the Canberra during Falklands war passes away

CAPTAIN Christopher Burne, who commanded the SS Canberra during the Falklands war, has passed away. He was 80.

Captain Burne was placed in command of the luxury cruise liner after it was requisitioned as a troopship by the Navy following the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands in April 1982.

His task was to transport 2,200 Royal Marine Commandos and paratroopers to the South Atlantic so that the Falklands could be retaken.

Captain Burne is credited with using his great skills to impose naval discipline on a vessel which not only included army and navy personnel on board but also many civilian crew members who had volunteered to accompany their ship to war.

When the vessel arrived at San Carlos Water in the Falklands, the Canberra and other ships involved in the invasion faced a series of attacks from Argentinian fighter planes. Captain Burne could be seen commanding his anti-aircraft gun crews from the upper deck.

After troops had been transferred to shore, the plan was for Canberra to remain in place as a casualty station and supply centre, but the risk from air attacks was so high that Captain Burne was forced to sail out of range during the day and return to the Falklands under cover of darkness each night.

When the conflict ended, Captain Burne had the delicate task of returning more than 4,000 prisoners of war to Argentina. When this task was completed the Canberra then returned to the Falklands to taken on board the victorious marines and commandos for the return trip to the UK.

The troops received a heroes’ welcome (see below) when the Canberra arrived back at Southampton after 94 days at sea and having steamed more than 25,000 miles. 

For his service during the Falklands conflict Captain Burne was made a CBE. 

He had entered the Royal Navy College in 1945 and completed his service in command of HMS Glamorgan.

Captain Burne passed away after suffering a heart attack while cycling in a Diamond Jubilee celebration.

To view footage of SS Canberra’s return to Southampton from the Falklands War, click here.


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