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By Richard Graham, Office Volunteer

Thirty years ago this month the Falkland Islands were invaded by Argentine forces. The Falkland Islands were a British Dependent Territory, and had been under British care since 1833, the UK responded with military action. This conflict led to the deaths of 255 men of the UK Task Force, three female civilian Islanders killed by ‘friendly fire’ and 649 Argentinians, before the surrender of Argentine forces in June 1982.

 Since 1915 government policy, with very few exceptions, had been that there should be no repatriation to the UK of those who fell in war. This was for both hygienic and logistical reasons, reinforced after the Armistice by the principle of equality of sacrifice, i.e. that the wealthy should not be able to repatriate while the poor could not. The lack of a grave at home at which to mourn had led to the great number of war memorials created after 1918.

Falklands Memorial Chapel (ukniwm 12815, Terry Nicolson)

Following the Falklands conflict however, requests were made by some of the bereaved families for the return of their sons and this was permitted. Most of the British Falklands dead have no grave but the sea, but, of those whose remains were recovered, 65 were repatriated, while 16 remain on the Falklands: 14 are buried at Blue Beach Cemetery at San Carlos on East Falkland, and two in isolated graves on West Falkland. The three women civilians were buried at Port Stanley, while 237 Argentines lie in the Argentine Military Cemetery on East Falkland.

Since 1982, of course, it has become customary to repatriate military casualties, and the reception of the casualties of Iraq (2003-2009) and Afghanistan began to take place at Wootton Bassett (now Royal Wootton Bassett) in Wiltshire, a tradition now carried on for casualties of Afghanistan in Carterton in Oxfordshire. 

UKNIWM has so far recorded 355 Falklands memorials on its database, among them the Falklands Memorial Chapel at Pangbourne College in Berkshire and the Falklands Merchant Navy memorial on Tower Hill in London.

 

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Richard, one of our volunteers, writes the following…

The American Major Olmsted’s contemplation of his own death on active service sent me searching for an example from an earlier conflict.

When a young naval lieutenant, David Tinker, was sent to the Falklands he requested that if he were to be buried in earth the following be inscribed on his grave: 

“He wears
The ungathered blossom of quiet; stiller he
Than a deep well at noon, or lovers met,
Than sleep, or the heart after wrath. He is
The silence following great words of peace.”

Although Lt Tinker was familiar with the work of Wilfred Owen (whose unsentimental war poetry has been more in favour in modern times), it is interesting to note that the quotation is from the work of a poet often regarded as more idealistic and patriotic, Rupert Brooke’s ‘Fragments written during the voyage to Gallipoli April 1915’. (see A Message from the Falklands: The Life and Gallant Death of David Tinker, Lieut. R.N., compiled in 1982 by his father, Professor Hugh Tinker).

                             

Damage to the port side and helicopter hangar HMS GLAMORGAN caused by an Argentine Exocet missile on 12 June 1982.In the event, David Tinker was killed by the Exocet attack on HMS GLAMORGAN on 12 June 1982, and buried at sea with twelve of his comrades the same day. 

                          

Consequently, it is only with the recent unveiling of the Armed Forces Memorial that he is officially commemorated, although he appears on local memorials at Great Hampden (Buckinghamshire) and Clungunford (Shropshire).  The losses on HMS GLAMORGAN are commemorated by a window in Portsmouth Cathedral and on the Falklands Naval memorial on Plymouth Hoe.

  

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The photograph above shows the damage to the port side and helicopter hangar of the destroyer HMS GLAMORGAN caused by an Argentine Exocet missile on 12 June 1982.  The missile was launched from a land-based mobile launcher near Port Stanley, some 18 miles away. Radar systems failed to detect the missile but in the few seconds available after making visual contact, GLAMORGAN was able to turn rapidly and the missile struck the hangar instead of the ship’s side. Thirteen lives were lost but the damage failed to put GLAMORGAN out of action, making her the first British warship to survive an Exocet missile strike.

A crowd of a thousand gathered yesterday in Cardiff to witness the unveiling of a new memorial to the Falklands conflict.  Veterans and relatives of the fallen were among those attending the remembrance service.  The memorial consists of a 5 tonne memorial stone carved with the names of the 255 British servicemen and 3 Falkland Islanders who were killed.  The stone itself is a gift from the Islanders and has been shipped 8,000 miles from the Falkland Islands.

Read more from BBC News

In Brighton there is recent controversy over the local council’s decision not to add the name of a Falklands war casualty to the memorial in Old Steine.

 Read more from The Argus

Many local authorities do choose to add additional names for later conflicts to existing First and Second World War memorials.  Just this week we received an enquiry from a local authority in Scotland seeking advice about adding the name of a serviceman killed in Northern Ireland. 

There are no set rules about adding names.  As with most things relating to memorials, it is down to the owner and local community to decide what they wish to do.  Several casualties from Northern Ireland have already been added to memorials, such as at Sternfield in Suffolk.

A remembrance service was held today at the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel, Pangbourne, Berkshire, to mark the liberation of the Falkland Islands 25 years ago.  The service was attended by the Queen, Tony Blair, Baroness Thatcher and Falklands War veterans.

Read more about the service 

At A paratrooper of 2 Parachute Regiment © IWMImperial War Museum London, there is a free Falklands 25th Anniversary Exhibition until January 2008.  Explore the experiences and personal memorabilia of those involved from politicians and Service personnel to Falkland Islanders and war widows. 

Imperial War Museum North, near Manchester, is holding small exhibition of photographs from the conflict. This runs until 22 July 2007.

Friday saw 25 years since the bombing of the Sir Galahad during the Falklands War.  The anniversary was marked by a memorial service in Swansea.

Forty-eight men were lost during the attack on the ship. One unusual and touching memorial to those killed and injured on the Sir Galahad is a lifeboat stationed at Tenby.

Tenby Memorial Lifeboat

It was thought fitting that the lifeboat that bears the name Sir Galahad should be sent to a Welsh station, since the ship was attacked whilst disembarking units of the Welsh Guards at San Carlos Bay.  The lifeboat is considered, ‘a modern war memorial that saves lives’.

Meanwhile, on Friday it was also announced that Wales’ memorial to the victims of the Falklands War will be unveiled in Cardiff on 30 September 2007.  The memorial will be made up of a five tonne stone, which has travelled 8,500 miles from the Falklands Islands. The stone was found at Mount Harriet, a significant battle site for the Welsh Guards.

Read more about this unusual memorial stone

Baroness Thatcher unveiled a memorial to the Falklands conflict last Saturday in the Hampshire town of Fareham.  The unveiling of an ironwork arch was part of a commemorative event to mark the 25th anniversary of the conflict.  This included Falklands veterans as well as local dignitaries and serving members of the forces.

BBC NEWS | Thatcher unveils Falklands arch

With the 25th anniversary of the conflict this year, it’s likely there will be other new memorials unveiled.  We currently have 308 memorials to the Falklands on our database.  Many of these are memorial plaques to individuals, but they also include names that have been added to existing First and Second World War memorials, such as this one at Landrake in Cornwall.

Lankdrake War Memorial