Falklands 40: Portsmouth sees hundreds of Falklands veterans take part in 'emotional' parade

VETERANS of the Falklands War from across the country have joined a colourful and rousing commemorative parade through the streets of Old Portsmouth, leaving many ‘emotional’ as they recollected life-changing moments from the conflict 40 years ago.

Sunday, 19th June 2022, 4:15 pm
Updated Sunday, 19th June 2022, 4:45 pm

The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines led the procession of several hundred veterans – ranging from former Commandos to Royal Navy sailors and paratroopers – as they marched from The Camber Docks to the Square Tower, where a new plaque has been unveiled to commemorate the anniversary of the Falklands War.

Marching past crowds of cheering well-wishers and one home draped with a 14ft Union flag, the veterans broke out into a rendition of Monty Python’s classic Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life – a tune sung by HMS Sheffield’s crew as they were being rescued following a deadly missile strike on their ship.

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Falkland Veterans march through Old Portsmouth. Picture: Keith Woodland

The spontaneous singing was an emotional moment for Simon Westbrook, as the former air picture reporter had tracked the incoming missile as it flew towards him and his friends.

The 63-year-old said: ‘I don’t need to watch video clips of the attack – it’s there, engraved in my brain.

‘I had a lot of guilt about it for a long time. At the time, the support wasn’t there. So many people didn’t get the help they needed – you had to bury a lot of guilt for a lot of years.’

But Simon said the large turn-out from the city’s residents had left him feeling ‘very, very honoured’ – and events like the parade helped put ‘some demons to bed’.

Crowds gathered along the walls around Old Portsmouth to witness the parade. Picture: Keith Woodland (190621-130)

The Christchurch resident added: ‘I have met fellows I haven’t seen for years, from HMS Arrow and HMS Yarmouth, which came to our rescue after the attack. There’s a wonderful sense of family.

‘Today has left me feeling very proud, very chuffed. That’s why we do these events.

‘I look back on what I did, and I am proud to have served my country.’

For Dot Doran, from Cheshire, the day also provoked complex emotions, as her son Stephen had been due to serve as a chef on HMS Antelope, which was bombed by Argentine jets and sunk.

Former HMS Sheffield crewman Simon Westbrook said he was 'very, very honoured' to be part of the parade.

Dot said: ‘Stephen had a medical problem so he was taken off the ship and the one that took his place was killed.

‘I have been reliving it. At the time I was coming home from work and I heard it on the radio. When he was taken off the ship we were devastated, but when the attack happened, I thought, ‘my God – God moves in mysterious ways.’

‘It’s been an emotional day.’

From the Milton area of the city, retired Royal Marine John Williams – who left the service shortly before the conflict – came to honour fallen friends and said the parade had been a ‘brilliant’ commemoration.

Standard bearers pass the crowds. Picture: Keith Woodland (190621-105)

He said: ‘At the time, I thought we would be pushing our luck given the distance the task force would have to sail – and they sailed in just five days.

‘It was an incredible achievement.’

Pictured is: Royal Marines Picture: Keith Woodland (190621-82)
Pictured is: Royal Marine Cadets who will act as wreath bearers. Picture: Keith Woodland (190621-155)