Royal Marines' rousing welcome to Falklands heroes in Portsmouth leaves veterans in tears

EMOTIONAL Falkland heroes welled up with tears of pride as they were given a rousing welcome to Portsmouth to mark the start of a weekend of commemorations last night. note-0

By Tom Cotterill
Saturday, 18th June 2022, 4:55 am

More than a 100 veterans of the 1982 conflict gathered on the steps of Guildhall to watch the stunning Beating Retreat display by the world-acclaimed Royal Marines Band.

Patriotic pride was in full display as stirring renditions of Royal Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory rang out across Guildhall Square before a booming performance of God Save The Queen rounded off the spectacle.

The showcase was the opening salvo of events to mark the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War, with the ex-servicemen all the guests of honour at a civic dinner in the Guildhall afterwards.

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Dozens of Falklands veterans were given a rousing welcome to Portsmouth by the Royal Marines Band to mark the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War. Picture: Sarah Standing (170622-119)

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Among them was Fratton veteran Chris Purcell and his wife Louise.

Chris survived the sinking of HMS Sheffield when it was hit by an Argentine missile on May 4, 1982. The attack killed 20 men and left Chris with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Speaking of last night’s show, a visibly-touched Chris said: ‘It’s an honour and a privilege to be here. It’s fantastic that this has been put on for us.

Dozens of Falklands veterans were given a rousing welcome to Portsmouth by the Royal Marines Band to mark the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War. Picture: Sarah Standing (170622-7029)

Portsmouth is a naval city and it’s just fantastic the people of Portsmouth came out tonight to watch this.’

Louise added: ‘It was really emotional. Some of the veterans were in tears.’

Hundreds of people packed into the city centre to marvel at the Royal Marines Band.

Poppy Hollis, 20, of Southsea was with her young children. She said: ‘It was amazing. My little one was loving them. She was kicking her legs and really enjoying it.’

Pictured: Admiral Lord Alan West, a Falklands veteran who commanded frigate HMS Ardent that was sunk during the war. Picture: Sarah Standing (170622-71)

Sister Sapphire Hollis, 22, of Portsmouth, added: ‘I live near the naval base so I can hear the band all the time. But I’ve never seen them live like this. It was a great experience.’

The Falklands were invaded on April 2, 1982. In Portsmouth, the whole dockyard was mobilised to ready an armada to retake the islands.

Ultimately, the war claimed the lives of 255 British military personnel – whose names are today featured on The News’s front page.

Falklands veteran Admiral Lord Alan West, a former First Sea Lord, insisted the nation should be proud of what Britain achieved during the war – and must never forget the sacrifice of all those killed.

Hundreds of people watched the display in guildhall Square. Picture: Sarah Standing (170622-7012)

He added: ‘The Falklands was a “just war”. A really obscene dictatorship, that disappeared and killed thousands of its own people without any trial at all, decided that because they had a bit of a shaky grip on power to invade the Falklands.

‘They wanted to take over a country full of people, who wanted their freedom of self-determination and to live their lives in peace. Argentina invaded them and stopped that.

‘The fact we stood up to it was fantastic…People should feel proud that we stood up for freedom and they should be proud of what we achieved.’

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, added: ‘It’s so important we remember those people who 40 years ago went to the Falklands so the people of Falklands could choose who would govern them.

‘It’s incredibly poignant now when we have got exactly the same thing in Ukraine with a dictator wanting to trample over the views of real people.

Pictured is: (l-r) Sisters Poppy Hollis (20) with her daughter Amira Hollis-Austin (5 months old), her sister Sapphire Hollis (22) with Poppy's daughter Skylar Hollis-Austin (15 months old) and Sapphire's son Archie Hollis (4) from Portsmouth. Picture: Sarah Standing (170622-205)
Lord Alan West, a former First Sea Lord, receives a salute from a member of the Royal Marines Band during Beating Retreat display in Portsmouth Picture: Sarah Standing (170622-7035)
Dozens of Falklands veterans were given a rousing welcome to Portsmouth by the Royal Marines Band to mark the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War. Picture: Sarah Standing (170622-7008)