Last month saw the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War.
Local resident Kevin Harper was one of the Royal Marine Commandos who served in the conflict. He kindly shared his story with the Bramley.
The 74 day long Falklands War started on 2nd April 1982 when Argentina invaded the Islands in the South Atlantic. This was the first military action since the Second World War that utilised all elements of the Armed Forces.
After I left Plymouth onboard the Canberra with my fellow Royal Marine Commandos on 9th April, daily military training started with drills, physical and weapons training, intelligence briefs and first aid instruction.
Having stopped at Ascension Island, on 19th May we cross-decked to HMS Fearless amphibious assault ship. We knew that there was no turning back.
21st May 02.00 hours my fellow Commandos and I got into small landing crafts and head toward San Carlos. It was a still, clear night and we crept towards the beachhead silently, ready at all times for the unexpected. Once at San Carlos we secured the beachhead for the rest of the Brigade.
At first light a wave of Argentinian warplanes came in low firing at the landing force and the sky lit with tracer rounds. This was the start of recapturing the Falkland Islands.
During our advancement we got caught in a minefield and my Troop Officer and a Marine just behind me both lost a leg. It was a long night getting out of the minefield crawling on our stomachs searching for mines with our bayonets in the dark.
We had to yomp across the island with all our kit weighing over 120 pounds to reach out final objective, Port Stanley
The surrender happened 20:59 hours local time on 14th June 1982 and it was my greatest privilege to be there wearing my Green Beret, alongside the best fighting force in the world.
I finally arrived arrive back in Southampton 11th July 1992, three months and two days after leaving the UK.
A Royal Marine Sergeant Major commented at the time: “We went to the South Atlantic with boys, but came home today with men”. How true that is.
During the conflict seven ships were lost to enemy action, nine aircraft were shot down, and 255 British personnel lost their lives. Their names are inscribed on the Armed Forces Memorial at the Arboretum.
There will be a wreath laying at the War Memorial on The Burgage ,Southwell on Tuesday 14th June at 11am to mark the 40th Anniversary of the Falklands War. All are welcome to attend.
Kevin Harper, Ex WO2 Royal Marine Commando
Publishes May 2022