Portsmouth's unsung dockyard heroes remembered with Falklands plaque

THE hard work of thousands of men on the ships that liberated the Falkland Islands has finally been officially recognised.

By David George
Friday, 30th October 2020, 1:23 pm
Updated Friday, 30th October 2020, 1:24 pm

In April 1982, the Royal Navy was dispatched to the Falklands to reclaim the islands, following an invasion from Argentinian forces.

Much of the naval task force set sail from Portsmouth, including aircraft carriers HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes.

But for this to happen, the workforce at the dockyard – many of whom were set to be made redundant – had to work around the clock to get everything in order.

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Commodore JJ Bailey, left, with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Portsmouth at the unveiling of the new Falklands plaque at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Picture: David George

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Today, a plaque was unveiled at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to mark the efforts of these unsung heroes.

Top naval brass, veterans and politicians all gathered for the unveilling in Boathouse 7.

Naval base commander, Commodore JJ Bailey, said: ‘It’s testament to the pride, patriotism and passion of the dockyard workers, who had been issued with their redundancy notices on April 2 and faced the loss of their jobs, returned to their workplaces.

‘Without them, this would not have been possible and there is a danger that they would have become the forgotten heroes of this national maritime achievement.

‘It echoes, to me, our ethos of Team Portsmouth today, with our collaboration between the Royal Navy, civil servants and our indusrty colleagues to get things done.’

Veteran Andrew Cave initially came up with the idea, pitching it to Portsmouth South MP, Penny Mordaunt.

Many more plaques are now set to follow around the country, but Portsmouth’s is the first of its kind.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘What is often forgotten is that these guys worked around the clock to do things people thought were impossible – they pulled out all the stops to get the fleet ready.

‘At a time when we are really hoping for a resurgence in shipbuilding, I’m glad that the maritime golden age is being remembered.’

BAE Systems apprentice Rohann Pearce, 23, crafted the plaque over the course of two weeks.

Having served as a marine cadet when she was younger, she felt the full responsibility on creating a commemorative plaque.

She said: ‘Seeing the plaque being unveiled was a great feeling.

‘I hadn’t seen the finished plaque until today so it was nice to see it all done.’

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