Brave men of NP8901 are completely vindicated

Sian Crips, Georgia Perry and Abi Robinson, from Oaklands School, Waterlooville, celebrating their A-level results. Picture: Habibur Rahman PPP-170817-140116006

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For 35 long years, they have had to put up with the taunts, the hurtful label of ‘cowards’ who surrendered the Falkland Islands when Argentinian forces invaded.

It was so far from the truth and it must have hurt. But the story of what really happened on that momentous day of April 2, 1982 was never told. Instead, myths grew and in newspaper stories and even official reports, the 60 men of Naval Party 8901 were derided for giving up the Falklands while barely firing a shot.

Well, now’s the time for those smears to stop once and for all. Because today, ahead of the 35th anniversary of the beginning of the Falklands War, we reveal how a new book by military historian Ricky D Phillips has totally vindicated men who should be regarded as heroes.

The First Casualty includes first-hand accounts from those who were involved in fierce fighting when a force of 2,800 Argentinian invaders swarmed the British territory.

People like ex-Royal Marine Sergeant Mark Gibbs, who was just 22 and had only been on the island for two days when that attack was launched.

He says: ‘It’s nice to know the truth is finally coming out and Joe Public is going to see it and not write us off as a bunch of cowards.

‘People calling us cowards, without knowing what we had done, made me feel pretty sick at the time. But it’s one of those things you just have to get on with. We know what we did.’

Thankfully, everybody else can know discover how this band of brothers, far from surrendering, were prepared to give their lives to defend the islands and their people.

Hugely outnumbered, the Marines refused to admit defeat and battled ferociously for five hours against the unstoppable tide of Argentinian commandos.

Eventually, they were ordered to stop fighting and hand themselves in by the island’s governor.

Mr Phillips said: ‘This story deserves to be told to set the history books straight.’

Cowards? Absolutely not.

Courageous? Most definitely.