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President’s return to the Falklands

Falklands January 2023
Since before the Falklands 40 events last year, I and a few others have been working with John
Beale, a historian working on a Phd about the Falklands war. John’s tutor for the course was Dr
Helen Parr who just happens to be the niece of Dave Parr of 2 Para killed in the final hours of the
war on Wireless Ridge. We had originally planned this trip to take place before covid, so it was a
great relief that we were finally able to secure accommodation space at Liberty Lodge thanks to
the Falklands Veterans Foundation (FVF) and the South Atlantic Medal Association (SAMA82) who
were our sponsors for the military trooping flights.
In addition to John and myself there were two veterans who had not been back to the Falklands
since 1982 so this trip was a very big deal for them. They were – Paul Youngman (RN Medic
attached to 45 Cdo) and Ian Davis (a 17.5 year old EW operator on HMS Ardent). My role on the
trip was to support to the other guys and provide local knowledge and information having been
down before and have plenty of local contacts. This arrangement worked well for me as I just
went with their programme with little responsibility for organising anything other than introducing
everyone to my Falklander friends and sometimes acting as a guide. My ‘other role’ was to take
the Wreath of Respect to the Falklands. This was the first visit to the Falklands for the wreath, yet
my first thought was ‘Baggage Allowance’, although luckily, this did not seem to be a major issue
at RAF Brize Norton.
Although we had online meetings, except for John we had never actually met. However, on
meeting up at Brize it was as if we had known each other for years. On arrival in the Falklands, I
took the opportunity to introduce the wreath to my ‘housemates’ in Liberty Lodge who were all
Falkland veterans and their partners, they included Andy (HMS Coventry) and his lady Louise, Tom
MacMillan (2 Scots Guards) and his lady Elaine, and Mark (40 Cdo) and his son Dan. Over the next
several days we visited places that will be familiar, such as Darwin and Goose Green, Fitzroy, San
Carlos, Ajax Bay, Teal Inlet, Mt Kent, Mt Tumbledown, Mt Harriet, Mt Longdon, and Wireless
Ridge. I have to say that the best part of this trip was purely because we were a very mixed group,
and therefore listening to the experiences of the others was very enlightening, sometimes sad or
funny, but always very interesting. On top of that, the Para – Marine – Navy – 2SG banter was
One location we did go that I had never been to before was Mt Campito and Ajax Bay, the site of
the famous ‘Red and Green Life Machine’ that so many of our friends owe their lives to the skill of
Surgeon Commander Rick Jolly and his teams of nurses and medics. The top of Mount Campito
where the HMS Ardent memorial is, a 2.5 hour journey with about half of it across country,
overlooking Falkland Sound where the ship and her crew lie at rest. A big ‘Thank You’ to Keith
Heathman our very expert driver. This was the first time that any of us had been there, but it was
especially significant for one of our group – Ian Davis – who had been a 17.5 year old EW operator
on board his first ship when it was hit by at least five 500lb bombs on 21 May 1982.
Our itinerary was such that we did not have a lot of time at each location, but where we could, as
much time as possible was taken to mark our respects, listen to the eye-witness accounts and
especially meet the Falklanders who were there too. The wreath was always taken out to be
passed from hand to hand by anyone who had not yet seen it, and an explanation given of its role
and purpose on our journey, and that they too were part of the wreath’s journey by handling it

and passing it on. None of the Falkland Islanders that we met had heard of the wreath before but
were extremely engaged by the ethos behind the wreath, and many had their photographs taken
with it, both out in the field and in Stanley. News travels fast in the Falklands and the wreath
made it onto BFBS and Falklands news while we were there.
The trip was not all visiting battlefields and cemeteries though. In June 1982 I had been billeted in
7 Philomel Street so I took the current owner – Nancy Jennings for lunch at the waterfront, and
visited friends Geof (NP8901) and Bernadette Pring for tea. We were also invited to a farm for tea,
attended a PWRR band concert in the town hall and taken to see a colony of King penguins that
now inhabit York Bay which until recently was a minefield. We had a very nice visit to meet the
Governor but she was away, and the Deputy Governor was at MPA on business, so we had tea
with the Estate Manager John who was ex-RN. We also managed to pop into the hangar at
Stanley Airport to visit my old pal John McLeod who is the Chief Engineer there and who had been
a hostage in Goose Green as a boy. I also did some important ‘recce and liaison’ for the October
‘SAMA Ride in the Falklands’ which myself and Charlie will do later. We also met two police
officers in Stanley that are both former Parachute Regiment. Sgt Mark and PC Pete are both now
wearing Airborne Forces Rider pins in Stanley !
One of the important aspects of visiting – especially for those who had not been back – was to see
how the Falklands had developed since 1982, and is now a thriving and lively, independent
community. We saw fishing boats in to collect licences, we saw the farming process of sheep and
wool and the tourist industry is huge. On one day alone three large ships arrived in port and
delivered nearly 5000 tourists, thus tripling the population of Stanley in one day. It was chaos! By
lunchtime it was difficult to get served in a shop and there was a queue out the door at the Globe
pub and the Victory bar too. I made a tactical retreat back to Liberty Lodge and had a beer on the
balcony in peace and quiet. To be fair, in the summer season a lot of the Falklanders are involved
in the tourist industry so who can blame them, especially when the neighbours are still rattling on
about sovereignty 40 years after being kicked out.
We ended the trip by John conducting his final interviews with us all and later having all our
Falkland friends around for food and drinks in Liberty Lodge. All in all it was an excellent trip, and
extremely rewarding for those making the first trip back since 1982 and who now wish they had
done it years ago. Finally, I can only strongly recommend to any Airborne Brother who has not
been back to do so soon. It will be worth it.

Paul Moore
President Airborne Forces Riders
Ambassador to the Wreath of Respect
30 January 2023