Memorial Events to Mark Falklands 40th Anniversary

Veterans of the Falklands campaign have until the end of April to register their interest in one of this year’s key 40th anniversary events.

Four decades to the day that the fighting in the South Atlantic came to an end, the National Memorial Arboretum near Lichfield will be the setting for a ‘liberation day’ commemorative event, organized by the Royal British Legion on June 14.

It is inviting veterans, civilians, and bereaved family members to join them to remember the sacrifices made and the freedom re-gained by the inhabitants of the remote island community.

Those who wish to attend should either contact their respective regimental or service association to register interest, contact the Legion directly at falklands@britishlegion.org.uk.

Distance, cost, the few flights to the islands – and extremely limited space on them – plus Covid quarantine rules all make a return to the Falklands for veterans difficult this year, although the MOD is striving to make as many ‘veterans’ pilgrimages’ take place as possible.

For those unable to return to the islands, in the UK there are numerous anniversary events – national, regional, local and unit focused – running from early April through to the end of June.

Aside from the liberation day event in the arboretum, the other national commemoration is the 40th Anniversary Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral (home of the national Falklands monument) on April 5 (invitation only; invitations now closed).

The service is being organized by the South Atlantic Medal Association 82 – the umbrella organization for Falklands veterans.

It’s holding its annual general meeting in Derby from April 1-4, including a service at the National Memorial Arboretum on April 3.

The Royal Naval Association is combining its annual general meeting weekend and parade with commemorations in Portsmouth (June 17-19).

Friday 17th is dedicated to the theme of ‘reunite with an evening reception on HMS Warrior, a civic dinner hosted by Portsmouth City Council and a chance for RNA Special Interest Groups, including golfers, cricketers and classic car enthusiasts, to get together.

The RNA’s AGM will be held on Saturday morning, and the theme for the rest of the day is ‘re-live’, which will include a Falklands Forum at HMS Nelson Wardroom, featuring a panel of South Atlantic veterans.

Sunday June 19 is dedicated to remembrance, including a service of at the Falklands Memorial near the Square Tower in Old Portsmouth.

An application form for ticketed events, can be found on the RNA website at royal-naval-association.co.uk/members/downloads/2022/

The sacrifices of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary will be remembered with two major events. On June 8, 40 years to the day of the tragedy at Bluff Cove – when RFA Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram were bombed and 56 men killed – a memorial service/wreath laying takes place at Marchwood Church in Hampshire. Sir Galahad’s CO that day, Captain Phil Roberts, is due to attend.

And on August 3, the National Memorial Arboretum is once again the setting, this time for a service at the RFA Memorial for RFA Association members.

There is a commemoration at the Falklands Memorial Chapel in Pangbourne College, near Reading, on June 12 (details: https://falklands-chapel.org.uk/annual-service/).

Regional commemorations are planned in Liverpool (April 25) and Hull (June 17-19), a freedom parade for veterans in Gosport (May 29) and Plymouth (June 14).

As for unit/ship associations, green berets of 42 Commando will remember fallen comrades in Plymouth on June 11, veterans of destroyer HMS Cardiff will converge on their namesake city (May 27-29), while former shipmates of assault ship HMS Fearless and survivors of HMS Coventry will gather in Portsmouth (May 28-29) and HMS Glamorgan veterans meet in the home of the RN the following week.

Later in year, the annual Remembrance Parade at the Cenotaph in Whitehall will have a strong Falklands theme.

For details, see sama82.org.uk/40th-anniversary-overview/ and Rbl.org.uk/falklands40.

Meanwhile Emsworth Museum in Hampshire is focusing on the role of a single ship to tell the story of 1982.

It’s selected HMS Antrim, which first led the operation to liberate South Georgia, then joined the main effort to re-take the Falklands themselves, during which she ‘collected’ a 1,000lb bomb which passed through her main missile magazine and thankfully failed to detonate.

The museum’s Christopher Morrison wants to hear from her ship’s company, or any from the Royal Marines/Army, and any families, who were involved with HMS Antrim in 1982 to help complete the exhibition, which will run on weekends (Saturdays 1030-1630 and Sundays 1430-1630) throughout May at the site in North Street. Contact morricl@aol.com.

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