‘THEY were the heroes who fought tooth and nail to protect the Falklands. Now their courageous last stand against overwhelming odds needs to be recognised’.
That is the demand going out today to honour the 60 brave men of Naval Party 8901 who risked their lives to defend Port Stanley from an armada of thousands.
Their efforts remained a secret until revealed by military historian Ricky D Philips in his book, The First Casualty, earlier this year. The writer is pictured. second from left, on the front page, with some of the veterans he wrote about
Now the author is spearheading a campaign for the Royal Marines to be awarded a defence of Port Stanley clasp to be added to their South Atlantic Medals in recognition of their efforts.
It’s a petition which already has the backing of almost 3,500 people from across the UK – and has received the blessing of those who lived on the island when it was invaded.
Ricky, who launched his book in Portsmouth in April, said none of the men wanted to ‘big up’ their role – but just wanted their efforts to be finally recognised.
They will always be the heroes of the islanders. They deserve to be recognised.Dave Colville, former Port Stanley resident
He said: ‘In an age when we need heroes and role models more and more, the real deal has been living quietly and largely ignored under our noses for 35 years.
‘Now is their time and the reaction of the British public to their story tells me that this is something the people want and think they deserve.’
As previously reported, the men of Naval Party 8901 had been on the island for only a matter of days when a force of about 2,800 Argentinean invaders attacked, on April 2, 1982.
The men scrambled to hold the city, splitting into small teams, fighting for hours before laying down their weapons at the request of the island’s governor.
Reports at the time said the defenders surrendered without firing a shot.
But Mr Philips’s research claims they in fact fired no fewer than 6,462 rounds and 12 rockets during their defence, killing and wounding 100 Argentinians.
Among the men defending the island was retired Sergeant Mark Gibbs, who was born in Portsmouth and grew up in West Leigh. He was 22 during the war.
He said: ‘It was terrifying. It was the worst part of the war for me. We all thought we were going to die. So being recognised for our efforts would mean a lot to all of us.’
The News’s own Dave Colville was a journalist living in Port Stanley when the fighting erupted and witnessed the Commandos’ valiant fight first-hand.
He said: ‘They were superbly brave – of course completely outnumbered. They will always be the heroes of the islanders. They deserve to be recognised.’
To sign the petition, see goo.gl/FK3Ge4