Falklands vets honour the dead with tot from bottle of victim’s rum

Hugh Upward with the bottle of rum he and fellow veterans will be taking with them to the Falkland.  ''Picture: Sarah Standing (110276-4469)
Hugh Upward with the bottle of rum he and fellow veterans will be taking with them to the Falkland. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (110276-4469)
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HE HAD bought it to drink with his father when he returned from the Falklands.

But Kelvin McCallum never made it home from the war.

Now, almost 30 years after the 27-year-old was killed in a missile attack on HMS Glamorgan, his naval comrades will take the bottle of rum back to the Falklands and raise a toast to honour him and 12 other sailors who died.

The touching tribute will take place at Hookers Point – the place where Argentine troops fired a deadly Exocet missile at Glamorgan.

Among those going back will be Hugh Upward, 68, from Hilsea, who served as a chief artificer on the destroyer.

He was given the bottle of rum by the family of the late Mr McCallum, an aircraft artificer from Portsmouth, whose wife was six months pregnant when he died.

Mr Upward said: ‘When we were in Gibraltar before going to the Falklands, Kelvin bought this bottle of rum for his dad.

‘He didn’t come back and one of his shipmates delivered the bottle to his mother and father and it’s been kept sealed all these years in his memory.

‘But his mother wants us to take it with us now.

‘We’ll each have a small tot to remember him and all the others that lost their lives that day.’

A total of 38 Glamorgan veterans will return to the Islands from February 12 to 23.

A stone memorial will be unveiled at the spot to remember the fallen.

Mr Upward added: ‘It’s going to be a very emotional trip.

‘I’ve never been back there before and I’ve wanted to get it out of my system for many years.’

Glamorgan was struck with a missile at 6.30am on June 12, 1982.

It blew a hole in the deck outside the hangar, which was severely burnt out.

It destroyed aircraft and punched below deck, causing serious flood and fire damage to compartments below.

A frantic day of damage control and firefighting ensued.

As the sun set just after 7.30pm, all the dead were buried at sea.

The ship was repaired and eventually returned to Portsmouth on July 10, 1982 after 104 days at sea.

The irony for Mr Upward is that he needn’t have been on the ship at all.

He said: ‘I was not ready to leave the ship so I’d signed on for an extra year in March ’82.

‘I got that one wrong didn’t I?’

During the remembrance trip, Falklands patrol ship HMS Clyde will take veterans out to the place the ship was hit, where wreaths will be thrown in to the water.

Also travelling to the Falklands is Ian Inskip, 67, who was the ship’s navigating officer.

His actions on that fateful morning are credited with preventing the ship being sunk.

He said: ‘I saw the missile on the radar eight-and-a-half miles away. ‘It was heading for the midship so I started turning the ship round and managed to bounce it off the deck.

‘After it hit I went down to fight the fires.

‘It was a pretty harrowing experience.

‘I will never, ever forget that day.’