Falklands 40: Headlines from The News, Portsmouth as relief ships HMS Southampton and HMS Birmingham head to South Atlantic

Here’s what The News reported on June 18 as relief ships left Portsmouth in the aftermath of the Falklands War.

By Mollie Delahay
Saturday, 18th June 2022, 4:55 am

Relief ships cheered out

The crowds roared, flags were waved, and women wept as Portsmouth’s Round Tower witnessed another historic naval departure.

The hundreds who packed the ramparts gave a rapturous farewell to their menfolk in the Falklands reinforcement ships.

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HMS Southampton steams past the Round Tower on her way to the South Atlantic on June 18, 1982. The News PP4135

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They craned their necks for a glimpse of their loved ones as HMS Southampton - graceful and gleaming on her first commission - and HMS Birmingham sailed down the Solent surrounded by an armada of small boats.

But there was disappointment for many as the news filtered through the frigate that HMS Rhyl would not be sailing with the destroyers as planned.

The News on June 18, 1982

The 2,800-ton ship had developed a mechanical defect but was expected to leave later today.

The expressions of pride and sadness on the faces of the crowd told their own story to the proud men lining the decks.

There was no mistaking the thunderous three cheers and cap waving given by the men in Birmingham.

The men on Southampton, the first to leave, remained most impassive, the odd one or two giving a final wave and blowing a last kiss.

For some among the fiercely patriotic crowd, the fleeting look as the ships slipped past made the journey to Portsmouth worthwhile.

Mrs Jackie Lashmar had travelled from Aberdeen to see her son Stephen off in Southampton. ‘It is just the least I can do,’ she said. ‘I am so proud of him.’

Argentina gives safety guarantee

The Red Cross in Geneva today told the British government that Argentina had cleared the way for the Canberra and Norland to take some 5,000 prisoners to an Argentine port with a guarantee of safe passage.

The two vessels are expected to sail today and more runs are possible. The port has not yet been identified.

If a continuous shuttle service between the Falkland Islands and Argentina is maintained then most of the prisoners could be back before the beginning of next week.

The ‘War Cabinet’ met at Downing Street this morning to consider latest development and Argentina's proposal for the use of some of her own ships to aid the evacuation process.

No decision on dead

Mrs Thatcher has not yet decided whether the bodies of servicemen killed in the Falklands are to be brought home for reburial.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister is considering a report on the pros and cons of the situation, and no decision has yet been taken.’

He said that the most conversations with the relatives of the fallen indicated a preference for their menfolk to remain buried on the Falklands, rather than endure renewed agony of mind.

If it is decided not to bring the bodies home, they will probably be buried in the official War Graves Commission cemetery in Port Stanley.

Retirement all carved out

A Portsmouth lecturer, who has taught hundreds of students to be expert craftsmen in wood, begins retirement with a do-it-yourself portable workbench to help exercise his own woodworking skills.

Binoculars were also presented to Mr Robert Stunt when he retired after 26 years as a full-time lecturer at Highbury College of Technology, Cosham.

Mr Stunt, lecturer-in-charge of wood machinist courses in the college Department of Construction, was involved in part-time teaching between 1951 and 1966.

The gifts were presented by Mr J Canham, the construction department's lecturer-in-charge of timber trades.

The occasion was a farewell luncheon in the college restaurant attended by 50 staff and guests, including Mr Stunt's son and daughter.