Luton war veteran launching memoir 'Three Stripes, I'm Out' in Leighton Buzzard tomorrow

'I want to get this out there as I don't feel the war has enough coverage'

By Joanna Gravett
Friday, 28th January 2022, 12:31 pm
Updated Friday, 28th January 2022, 1:48 pm

A Luton war veteran is officially launching his memoir at Leighton Buzzard's BOOK this Saturday (January 29).

Darrel Gregory, 59, is proud to have published 'Three Stripes, I'm Out', detailing his time serving in the Falklands War and his work for NATO.

The ex-serviceman will be visiting the Leighton Buzzard shop from 10.30am - 4pm and will happily answer any questions about his career in the RAF.

Darrel, who became a Sergeant before retiring from service, pictured with his medals. Right: Three Stripes I'm out. Images: Darrel Gregory.

Darrel said: "When the Falklands was invaded I was in Germany and got recalled back to the UK.

"I was 19 years old at the time and it was quite surreal. I was actually in London when I got called up; there was a news bulletin saying that all military were to report to their base. It was scary really.

"That sort of thing hadn't been seen since the Second World War."

Darrel travelled to RAF Odiham, Basingstoke, where he was a member of 18 B Squadron.

Darrel's medals. Photo: Darrel Gregory.

It was his job to manage the logistics of the helicopters, making sure the technicians had the right equipment when required.

However, Darrel had a lucky escape...

He said: "The helicopters were put on the Atlantic Conveyer - an aircraft carrier - to travel down south.

"But the Argentinians fired a missile - we lost our helicopters, we lost harriers, tanks...

A Chinook. Photo: Three Stripes, I'm Out.

"I had been one of the first to go ashore on the Ascension Island. We were called together and they said they Atlantic Conveyer had been hit. We didn't know what was going on.

"But back home the news got out and our families didn't know we'd been moved off it days before."

He added proudly: "We had only one helicopter, the BN Chinook ZA 718, for the war. [The aircraft had been carrying out a task at the time the Atlantic Conveyer was hit].

"During it's time, it carried 1,500 troops, 95 casualties, 650 POWs, and 550 tons of cargo."

Darrel: "Manning the General Purchase Machine Gun on board MV Norland" and, right: "the SS Atlantic Conveyor on fire, after being hit by an Exocet missile." Photos: Three Stripes, I'm Out.

Readers can discover more Darrel's adventures and the BN Chinook - including a frightening engine restart - in his memoirs, which are not just aimed at military personnel.

Darrel said: "It caters for everyone. It's got banter, sadness, happiness.

"It's just coming along to the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War and we have lost so many veterans since.

"I want to get this out there as I don't feel the war has enough coverage."

Darrel himself comes from a military family - his father served in India - and describes his childhood as "rebellious".

However, after originally joining his local Croydon Cadet group to play for their football team, he found his feet, and it was his Cadet experience that led to a career in the RAF.

The Chinook BN ('Bravo November'). Image: Three Stripes, I'm Out.

After the Falklands War, Darrel married his wife Imelda in 1983, before going on to carry out NATO operations in Italy, as well as work for them in London.

He's even served the likes of Cliff Richard, Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Regan and Jack Nicholson whilst carrying out secondary duties in Wimbledon's Royal Box.

"Cliff bought me a drink once or twice!" smiled Darrel.

It was his war stories and anecdotes like this that made Darrel's family suggest that he should put pen to paper.

"I can't remember what happened yesterday but I can remember events from 40 years ago," he laughed. "My family said I should put it in writing. It was a lockdown project when it started...although I can still remember things now that I didn't put in!"

You can meet Darrel tomorrow (January 29) in BOOK, High Street Mews, who will be attending with Imelda, their son Patrick and daughter Tamara.

To read more about the Falkland's War (April 2 1982 – June 14 1982), visit: https://www.britannica.com/event/Falkland-Islands-War