Meet Ron Carter 56: former Merchant Navy seaman, Falklands veteran and survivor. Ron, from Torpoint, claims to have been blown off by an Argentinean during his service with the MN. Such a claim might not be that unusual, as I’m sure Ron would not be the first to have been fellated by a swarthy foreign devil on some long and lonely voyage. However Ron claims to have been blown off his ship by an Exocet missile. The ship? None other than the Atlantic Conveyor.
That’s some claim, almost as imaginative as claiming to have been on the Titanic – or be an original Dambuster.
It all came to light when The Western Morning News and Plymouth Herald both mentioned Carter in 2007 during the Falklands Conflict 25th anniversary. The WMN again ran a story again in December 2007 after recently declassified documents revealed that MoD lawyers deemed it illegal to fit the merchant vessel with defensive measures. Fat lot of good that soul searching did.
Well it’s all come bubbling to the surface again as the Merchant Navy Association are being given the freedom of Plymouth, and they’re not happy in the slightest about some impostor muscling in on their parade.
The MNA is adamant Mr Carter was never in the Falklands during the war and was never on board the doomed vessel, and as far as the association hierarchy are concerned Walter can hoop it!
Here’s Jack Evans, a member of the MNA Plymouth Branch: "The council wants to give the Merchant Navy Association the Freedom of the City. That's a very high honour. "We don't want Mr Carter to claim any glory at this important event when we say he doesn't deserve it. We also don't want other members of the MNA to be tarred with the same brush."
Carter claims the impact of the missile threw him off the deck of the Atlantic Conveyor in to the sea and he was so monged out by the experience that he has no recollection of the events of that fateful day. Ron said he did not regain consciousness until he was in hospital – presumably a floating one - and cannot remember anything after the missile struck. How convenient.
Needless to say, real survivors from the Atlantic Conveyor are pretty miffed. Charles Drought, the 3rd Officer of the Atlantic Conveyor - and the author of a book which details the drama - is pretty adamant: "Records show there were no walking wounded on that ship. You either survived pretty much intact or you died."
He went on: "Those who served on that ship find his claims are very hurtful to anyone who was onboard and to those who genuinely served in the Falklands." Charles Miller, an ex-merchant seaman and a member of the MNA, added: "Mr Carter says he has no recollection of the incident. We say he was never there. "If he served in the Falklands, he should have a record of when he was discharged, but he hasn't."
The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) publishes a registry of ships and seamen on its website. Guess whose name isn’t on the list? Shades of Eric Jephcott here methinks. A spokesman for the MCA said: "We have no record whatsoever of any Ron Carter on either the crew's list, the deaths' list or the survivors' list in connection with the Atlantic Conveyor."
Former HR manager of Cunard – the vessel’s owner - Captain Tony Braithewaite stirs the pot: "We had thirty-five crew members on board and six of them, including Captain Ian Harry North, were killed. There was never any Ron Carter on board." So that’s it then? You’re not on the list you aren’t coming in!
Carter might have actually been in the Falkland Islands - but as one of the many construction workers that were shipped out there after hostilities had ceased to undertake the various building projects that abounded.
Never having actually been in the 'Merch' didn’t stop him joining the Merchant Naval Association's National Branch, but for some reason he was expelled in 2004. He then became the secretary of the Federation of Plymouth and District ex-Services Association and chairman of the South East Cornwall MNA, which he founded himself. Oh this is pure walting at its finest, i.e. someone who does not know when to stop. Booted out of the club? Form your own. Straight out of the Legion of Frontiersmen Manual of Ethics.
When some local newshound phoned him up to query his outrageous walting, it was answered by his wife Veronica. Guess what? He was 'at hospital'. Yeah, fcuking right he was! She said:
"My husband was on the ship under his birth name and has since changed his name. People don't know his birth name. He has got his medal. He has got his discharge book. What people say is all lies. What's wrong with these people?" (Amazing the business eBay does these days!)
So thats a good question pet. Well pointed out. Its all lies – and what IS wrong with these people?
Mrs Carter refused to say which name her husband used when he was allegedly on board the Atlantic Conveyor, but one in particular springs immediately to mind. Quite why people do this is a mystery, but anniversaries do seem to steam them out of the woodwork. So look out for Piper Alpha walts.