Hundreds of veterans and their families, including dozens from the Portsmouth area, took part in a ‘very, very moving’ ceremony to mark the 35th anniversary of the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands.
Jane Adams, secretary of the South Atlantic Medal Association 1982 (Sama 82) who organised the event, said ‘there was many a tear’ as people of different ranks and ages gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire yesterday.
She said: ‘I could see what it meant to the veterans in being with other colleagues and it was interesting to see people from various services there.’
Derek ‘Smokey’ Cole, chief executive of the Falklands Veterans Foundation, said there was an ‘excellent turnout’ for the memorial.
The Gosport resident said: ‘The service was quite sombre, with a bit of humour in as well. There was laughs and tears.
‘It was very well-attended. The turnout was a bit better than we were expecting.’
Reverend David Cooper, who served with the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment (2 Para) during the conflict, led the service.
He spoke of the struggles that people faced after coming home but also of those who managed to forge successful lives.
Veterans could be seen wiping away tears, the Royal Marine band played and members of the public laid wreaths.
Sama 82 chairman Gordon Mather said that 255 people serving with the Armed Forces were killed during the fight to recapture the islands from Argentina and three civilians also lost their lives.
The service, which was open to the public, was to ‘pay tribute to all those involved in the conflict, and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country,’ he said.
Sama 82 also said the Falklands Memorial is important as so many of the men killed in the conflict have no grave.
It serves as a restful space for contemplation for their families, comrades and friends.
On Saturday we told the story of 60 brave marines who have been vindicated after 35 years of humiliation since the conflict ended.