Falklands veterans come together to pay respects to fallen comrades on 40th anniversary with memorial benches and plaque at Square Tower in Old Portsmouth

FALKLANDS veterans came together to remember their fallen comrades on the 40th anniversary of the conflict, with memorial benches and a plaque unveiled during a moving ceremony.

By Steve Deeks
Saturday, 18th June 2022, 5:46 pm

The benches poignantly stated ‘forever on patrol’ and ‘never forgotten’ with a reference to HMS Fearless LCUF4 and HMS Intrepid which were lost during the Falklands War between April and June 1982.

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The thought-provoking messages summed up the feeling of those who attended the unveiling at the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth, on Saturday.

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Falklands war 40th anniversary bench and plaque unveiling at Square Tower Old Portsmouth. Pic Steve Deeks

Bishop Paul Miles-Knight led the service with blessings before a laying of wreaths and a two-minute silence.

Thanks was shown to Portsmouth veteran Barrie Jones, who organised fundraising of the memorials. With a surplus of money from the £11,000 donated, Barrie was able to hand over the remaining £4,200 to the Falklands Veterans Foundation.

Derek ‘Smokey’ Cole, chief executive of the foundation, said: ‘Barrie has worked tirelessly to achieve his aims. It is superb when a dream comes to fruition.

‘We are very grateful for the support with these much needed funds.’

A Falklands memorial bench at the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth.

Meanwhile Barrie, although irked someone had stolen a naval flag from one of the benches overnight, was left fighting back the tears at the emotion of the occasion. He said: ‘I am as proud as punch. I did not expect this many people to turn out.

‘I’ve been fundraising for 12 months and I never expected to raise £11,000. It was nice to be able to give the remaining money to the veterans foundation.

‘I spent all my spare time doing fundraising – taking calls, working until midnight. My wife deserves a big thank you.

‘It’s important to remember those who never came back.’

Falklands veteran Simon Westbrook at the bench and plaque unveiling for the 40th anniversary at the Square Tower Old Portsmouth

Veterans from all over attended the unveiling. Simon Westbrook, 64, from the New Forest, served in the operation room on HMS Sheffield D80 - the first British ship to be hit by the Argentines on May 4 at 2pm. ‘It’s embedded into my head,’ he said. ‘We knew things were starting to kick off.’

The ship was struck by an Argentine missile, leaving a ‘fireball’ before she went on to sink, resulting in 20 deaths and nine serious injuries.

‘It was horrific,’ Simon continued. ‘We fought for about six hours before we had to abandon the ship. We had to jump onto HMS Arrow, which was terrifying.

‘The heroes are the ones that died. We have these events to commemorate our boys who never came back.’

Falklands veteran Steve Nye at the bench and plaque unveiling for the 40th anniversary at the Square Tower Old Portsmouth

Steve Nye, 67, of Northamptonshire, was on HMS Arrow when it came to the rescue of HMS Sheffield. Referring to Simon and others the crew helped save, he said: ‘We are like blood brothers now.’

Despite terror and tragedy striking all around them during the enemy attack, Steve said: ‘You just got on with the job and went into auto pilot mode and started bringing the survivors across. There were lots of people with burns injuries.

‘I was not scared. At the time you do not realise the extent of everything. Your training kicks in. We were just trying to help as many people as we could.’

Falklands War plaque unveiling for the 40th anniversary at the Square Tower Old Portsmouth