VETERANS GATHER TO REMEMBER THE FALKLANDS WAR
On Friday 16th June, over a hundred-people attended a Service of Commemoration at Stowmarket’s St Peter and St Mary’s church to mark the end of the Falklands War thirty-five years ago in 1982. The war, which saw 74 days of bitter fighting to re-take the islands after Argentine had invaded in a dispute over sovereignty, resulted in 255 British servicemen, 3 Falkland Islanders and 649 Argentine servicemen killed in action. There were an additional 777 British and 1,188 Argentine non-fatal casualties.
Attending the service were a small group of Falklands War veterans, who found themselves amongst a naval task force dispatched to the South Atlantic to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force before the successful amphibious assault could take place. Pete Chivers, who was with the Royal Navy, gave the first reading, with Lidda Luxton, a Falkland Islander who now lives in Stowmarket, giving the second reading.
Following the service, the congregation, along with twelve ex-service association standard bearers, escorted by sea and air cadets, made their way to the town’s Memorial Gates to lay wreaths and observe a minute’s silence. Stowmarket born Nick Huffee laid the South Atlantic Medal Association wreath, which was particularly poignant as he was serving on HMS Glamorgan during the conflict when it was hit by an Exocet missile, killing thirteen member of the crew.
Lidda Luxton, who during her time on the Falklands hosted many veterans visiting the islands on personal pilgrimages, said a few words about the continuing gratitude felt by islanders to all those who had sailed 8,000 miles to the South Atlantic and unselfishly liberated the islands from its invaders and uphold its right to self-determination. From the sea came freedom.
A buffet was then held at Stowmarket’s Royal British Legion Club where a candle was lit to remember “Absent Friends” before Councillor Dave Muller, Stowmarket’s Town Mayor, spoke about his own personal recollections on having seen the task force sail from Portsmouth in 1982. Proceeds from the sale of remembrance booklets and a raffle raised over £500 for the South Atlantic Medal Association charity, which continues to care for veterans of the war and their families.
The picture shows Falkland Islander Lidda Luxton (front and centre) with veterans of the Falklands War at Stowmarket’s Memorial Gates. To the far right is Stowmarket Town Mayor, Councillor Dave Muller with his wife Lois.
NOTE TO EDITOR: On Friday, 2 April 1982, Argentine forces invaded the British sovereign territory of the Falkland Islands in a dispute over sovereignty. It resulted in a naval task force being dispatched from the UK, which eventually comprised a total of 127 ships: 43 Royal Navy vessels, 22 Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships and 62 merchant ships. Nearly 30,000 British service and merchant personnel took part in the war, which was conducted over 8,000 miles from the UK. The 10-week war was fought in appalling weather conditions, both at sea and on the land, with the logistics of supplying ammunition, equipment, food and fuel stretched to near breaking point. The Navy lost 4 ships, with many others being badly damaged whilst protecting the forces that were required to land and re-take the islands. The RFA and merchant navy also saw ships lost, most notably the Sir Galahad, which resulted in a total of 48 soldiers and crewman killed, 32 of whom were from the Welsh Guards. Two Victoria Crosses were won during the war, both by members of the Parachute Regiment. Lieutenant Colonel Herbert ‘H’ Jones, VC and Sergeant Ian Mackay, VC.