In 1982 Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. My father had worked there in the 1950′s, so we were one of the few families in the United Kingdom that knew that somewhere north of Scotland had not been annexed by Spanish speaking invaders.
I went to Argentina and then to the Falkland Islands in 2007 as part of the Daily Telegraph’s coverage of the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War. I met conscripts from desert areas of Argentina who had never even seen the sea. They had been told that the population of the Falkland Islands was Spanish and would greet them as liberators.
I met Falkland Islanders who risked their lives and would do again to stay British. My general opinion was that despite the potential oil riches and the already obvious riches from fishing which have sustained the economy, it wasn’t really about cash. The Falklands’ are a dreadfully harsh place. The people are hardy. No, the people are hard, they are tough. Imagine the roughest, toughest Yorkshireman bred with the hardest Hebridean, crossed with an Eastend hardman. You could describe them as many things, but the one term you would come back to is ‘British’. More British than the British.
Here are some of the photographs I took during my visit.
A permanent military guard at the War Memorial to all those from Argentina who died during the Falklands War, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Commandante Hector Bonzo, Captain of the Argentinian naval cruiser ‘General Belgrano’
which was destroyed during the Falklands War. Commandante Bonzo was photographed at the ‘Association Of Friends Of The Belgrano’ in Buenos Aires where a board listing all those who died is kept.
Former General Mario Benjamin Menendez at his home in Buenos Aires. He lead the Argentinian forces on the Falkland Islands during the invasion.
Maria Fernanda Araujo whose brother Elbio, a conscript, died during the Falklands War.
Maria Fernanda Araujo visiting the Memorial To The Falklands War in Pilar, Argentina. The memorial consists of a replica of the Argentinian war cemetery on the Falkland Islands.
Maria Fernanda Araujo at the Memorial To The Falklands War in Pilar visiting a Replica of St Mary’s Church Port Stanley.
Crosses at the Memorial To The Falklands War, Pilar, Argentina.
Whilst on the Falkland Islands, Argentinian war veterans paid homage to their fallen comrades.
The Argentinian War Cemetery, Darwin, Falkland Islands, on the 25th anniversary of the invasion and the start of the Conflict , visited by five Argentinian war veterans. One of the veterans, Ramon Robles wore a jacket which said “We fought with honour and we will return….”
These crosses are not the only markers for the fallen. Every major battle that cost the lives of British soldiers is marked with a memorial.
A steel cross marks Wireless Ridge were the final battle took place in the Falklands War. Following the victory of 2 Para on the ridge which overlooks Port Stanley, the Argentinan Army surrendered.
Wireless Ridge. The memorial remembers Colour Sergeant Gordon Findlay and Private Francis Slough and Private David Parr who died there during the battle.
Near to Goose Green, a cross and a headstone mark the grave of Lieutenant Nicholas Taylor, 800 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Hermes, Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy, the first member of the British Armed Forces to die in combat during the conflict on May 4th 1982.
He was buried by the Argentinan Army with full military honours , a ceremony which was broadcast on Argentinan television.
The memorial to 3 Para, Mount Longdon where twenty-three British soldiers lost their lives on June 11th and 12th 1982.
One of many scattered Memorials relating to members of 3 Para, Mount Longdon.
Shrapnel and casings on Mount Longdon.
The memorial to 2 Para, positioned between Darwin and Goose Green on Darwin Hill.
The memories are kept fresh with a memorial in Port Stanley too.
2007-Current and veteran Falkland Island Defence Force members marching in Stanley today 25 years after they were called out to defend against The Invading the Argentine Army.
A service held at the War Memorial in Port Stanley.
Many of the Falkland Islanders who lived through the invasion and liberation are still happily living there.
Trudi McPhee at Brookfield Farm, where she lived with her family during the Argentinan Occupation in 1982. Trudi received a commendation from the British Army for her work moving troops around during the conflict.
Falkland Islander Tony Smith, who conducts battlefield tours, with the remains of an Argentinan Puma Helicopter between Mount Kent and Two Sisters Mountain.
Patrick Watts, who was broadcasting from the radio station in Port Stanley as the Argentinan troops invaded and who is now involved in the tourism industry, conducting battlefield tours, pictured here on Wireless Ridge with a 105 mm Gun from the war.
Mike Butcher with the skull of a Killer Whale at his house in Stanley, where he was during the Argentinan occupation in 1982. He wandered around during the occupation dropping tacks and nails to puncture tyres on Argentinian vehicles.
Tourism is one of the industries on the rise in the Falkland Islands. Port Stanley itself, alongside the penguins that live nearby, draw in crowds from visiting cruise liners.
Gentoo Penguin Colony , Bluff Cove Lagoon.
Upland Geese in flight, a characteristic of the Falkland Islands landscape.
The famous Totem Pole , at Government Megabid, Airport Road , Port Stanley.
The Lady Elizabeth, a ship which was holed in the late 1800′s and now lies beached on a sandbank in Port Stanley.
The mountains in the background were the scenes of famous battles during the Falklands War and running from left to right are : Sappers Hill, Mount William, Mount Harriet, Mount Tumbledown, Two Sisters Mountain, Mount Kent and Mount Longdon rising behind Wireless Ridge.
Stone runs, a characteristic part of the landscape.
A rainbow near Fitzroy River in ‘The Camp’ which is the Falkland Islanders name for the countryside between settlements.
Typical ‘Wriggly Tin’ roof in Stanley.
Ross Road, Port Stanley.
The Globe Tavern near the Jetty Visitors centre, Port Stanley.
View of Port Stanley from between Wireless Ridge and Mount Longdon.
Thatcher Drive, Port Stanley.
And right at the other end of the Island there is a little settlement called Goose Green.
School playground Goose Green Settlement, recaptured by 2 Para after a battle lasting more than 12 hours on May 28 1982.
A legacy of the 1982 conflict , many areas of The Falkland Islands are designated Out of Bounds due to Argentinian Mine-fields.
I think my most enduring memory of my visit was the memorials at the battlegrounds. Looking at the ages of some of the soldiers that died, Argentinian and British and meeting the Islanders and wondering if it was worth it .
Look closely at the ages on this memorial to 3 Para, Mount Longdon where twenty-three British soldiers lost their lives on June 11th/12th 1982.
Rest In Peace.