PICTURE GALLERY: Falklands veterans march through Gosport on 35th anniversary of conflict
HUNDREDS of people burst into spontaneous applause after more than 200 Falklands veterans paid solemn tribute to fallen colleagues at a ceremony.
Crowds gathered at the Falklands Garden in Gosport for the 35th commemoration of the conflict, which claimed the lives of 255 British service personnel and three civilian islanders.
All of their names were read out by youngsters from St Vincent College.
The fallen included Paratrooper Neil Grose, who was shot during the Battle of Mount Longdon on June 11, 1982. He died the next day, his 18th birthday.
His mother Ann, 77, of Fareham, took part in the ceremony. She said: ‘Even though it was 35 years ago sometimes it feels like yesterday when the army officer knocked on the door and told us Neil has been killed in action.
‘They can’t tell you any detail and that’s the one thing you need to know. You find out over months and years.’
Ann was at the service with her son Mark Grose, 54, who learnt of his brother’s death in a newspaper after returning from serving in Northern Ireland.
‘It’s great that people still appreciate what was done,’ Ann said.
Mark added: ‘It’s great that it’s never forgotten and always remembered.’
Around 240 veterans from the conflict marched in a single squad, as well as sailors based at HMS Sultan who served in the conflict.
Taking the salute in the march past following the ceremony was First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, who served on the amphibious assault ship HMS Fearless in the South Atlantic.
Speaking to The News he told of the ‘special link’ between the navy and both Portsmouth and Gosport.
He said: ‘Being a Falklands veteran it’s then even more poignant on a day like this. I can remember sailing out of here 35 years ago and coming back four months later and that extraordinary reception we got.’
He said efforts are being made to ensure the conflict, which saw British troops land on May 21, 1982, is not forgotten.
Jessica Golding, 12 from HMS Sultan’s Volunteer Cadet Corps, was chosen to lay a floral tribute during the roll call.
Her mother Amanda, 46, of Stubbington, said: ‘It’s probably one of the highest honours you can get, it’s a very proud moment. It’s an honour to remember and a mark of respect.’
The service was led by Gosport’s mayor, Councillor Linda Batty, with an address by veteran Rev Brian Williams.
Gosport has hosted the ceremony every five years since 1997.