COMMENT: Yomper '“ so sometimes the powers that be DO listen
To yomp '“ a verb which overnight in 1982 became part of the national lexicon.
Until then it had been confined to barracks – those belonging to the Royal Marines.
Its meaning? An enforced long-distance march carrying full kit. Paras tab, marines yomp. It’s best not to confuse the two...
After disembarking from ships at San Carlos on East Falkland during that South Atlantic war, Royal Marines and members of the Parachute Regiment yomped (and tabbed) with their equipment across the islands – 75 miles in three days carrying 80lb packs on their backs.
As they approached Port Stanley, picking their way through an Argentine minefield, 24-year-old marine Pete Robinson attached a Union Flag to his pack. The moment was captured by a Royal Navy photographer and it became one of the defining images of the Falklands War.
It has also become one of the defining images of a proud Portsmouth and its centuries-old military links, in the shape of the Yomper statue outside the old Royal Marine barracks and the now-closed museum celebrating the corps.
We are delighted it will stay in place overlooking the beaches at Eastney where commandos the Cockleshell Heroes trained before their Second World War heroics. Eastney is its natural home, where it can be seen by everyone, not hidden away in the Historic Dockyard which will soon become the new home for the green berets’ museum.
When the National Museum of the Royal Navy mooted the move it said it would consult. We were sceptical. ‘Consultation’ so often means ‘done deal’ and simply pays lip service to the word.
So hats/berets off to the NMRN’s trustees. They have kept their word and Eastney keeps its icon.