Falkland flags to fly in Portsmouth to mark islands’ liberation

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FALKLAND Islands flags will fly across Portsmouth this week to mark the 36th anniversary of the British territory’s liberation from Argentine invaders.

Two flags are due to be raised in the city on Thursday to commemorate the UK’s hard-fought victory in 1982.

The flag flying last year ''Picture: Sarah Standing (170730-9061)

The flag flying last year ''Picture: Sarah Standing (170730-9061)

One of the symbols will fly in Guildhall Square, outside the Portsmouth Civic Offices, with the second being raised aloft alongside the Union Flag above the Square Tower, in Broad Street, Old Portsmouth.

Survivors of the conflict are expected to join with city leaders and members of the Royal British Legion to stage a small ceremony at Square Tower from 10am.

Among them will be Royal Navy veteran Barrie Jones.

Mr Jones, who served more than 23 years in the Senior Service, was on board amphibious warship HMS Intrepid during the 74-day war.

Last year's Falklands liberation anniversary ceremony in Portsmouth''Picture: Sarah Standing (170730-9027)

Last year's Falklands liberation anniversary ceremony in Portsmouth''Picture: Sarah Standing (170730-9027)

The 58-year-old, of North End, said: ‘This day means so much to so many people. This was a massive date in my life.

‘I spent 70 days out there wondering if I was going to be alive the next day.

‘When we heard that the Union flag was raised (in Port Stanley) it was a massive feeling of relief. I’ll never forget it.’

An armada of 2,800 Argentinians invaded the Falklands on April 2, 1982, capturing the capital of Port Stanley.

Then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher lashed out immediately, assembling a task force of Royal Navy and merchant navy vessels to retake the territory.

The first ships arrived in early May, with British forces landing on May 21.

The land-based task force, made up of Royal Marines, the British Army and special forces elements, took part in a number of vicious firefights, eventually retaking the Falklands on June 14, 1982.

The conflict cost the lives of three Falkland islanders and 255 British servicemen.

The number of Argentinians killed is estimated at 650 – although recent research by historian Ricky D Phillips has revealed the true toll could be much more.

Speaking of liberation day, Mr Jones said he was ‘proud’ and ‘grateful’ to have survived.

But he added: ‘This shows that ultimately, as a country, we’re not going to be pushed about or dictated to.

‘Invade anything that is British and you will get your comeuppance.’

As well as flags being flown in Guildhall and Square Tower, a flag is expected to be raised at the Semaphore signal tower at Portsmouth’s dockyard.