Vulcan flypast at Falklands’ memorial in the Arboretum at Staffordshire
A Vulcan bomber which launched air raids on Stanley Airport thirty years ago has flown over the peaceful countryside of central England to mark the dedication of a new Falklands Memorial to the 255 British servicemen and three women Islanders killed in the conflict.
The Vulcan was flown by the same pilot who led the raids on Stanley airport runway. A Chinook helicopter also took part in the flypast.
The memorial is located within the British National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, along with 200 memorials to those who served or died for their country all over the world not just in major wars but all other wars.
The new memorial was commissioned by the Falklands veterans’ organisation, SAMA 82, the South Atlantic Medal Association, which rose more than £60,000 to fund it.
Designed to reflect the Falklands’ landscape, it includes a curved stone wall and two benches, providing a “restful space for contemplation”.
The site also features several granite plaques on rocks from the Falklands, including one engraved with the names of three British Islanders killed by a British shell, Susan Whitley, Doreen Bonner and Mary Goodwin.
Several hundred veterans of 1982 and family members gathered on Sunday for the unveiling of the memorial and for a service in the arboretum chapel led by the Reverend David Cooper, a padre with the Task Force in 1982.
It included music by the band of the Royal Marines and a bagpipe lament by former members of the Scots Guards. The daughter of Major Roger Nutbeem, one of 48 men killed on the troop ship Sir Galahad, Kathyrn Nutbeem, sang a folk song.
The lesson was read by Mrs Sara Jones, widow of Colonel H Jones, killed at Goose Green and awarded the Victoria Cross. Mrs Jones, who chairs the Falkland Families Association, said: It is very important for our families to have somewhere special to come to. It is a beautiful setting where they can be quiet and contemplate and remember.
A single candle was lit to mark the anniversary. It will remain alight for 74 days - the length of the conflict.
SAMA’s aims are to keep in touch, promote pride and comradeship, relieve hardship, and foster rapport with Falkland Islanders.
Theirs is just the latest of many memorials and monuments to those who died in the conflict, including a plaque in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, and a memorial chapel in the grounds of Pangbourne College in Southern England, with naval links.
There are several memorials in the Falkland Islands, the main one in Stanley, and others marking specific battles, including Goose Green and Mount Longdon, and sunken ships. There is a cemetery and memorial at San Carlos where the Task Force landed. And a forest of remembrance in Stanley is looked after by the children of the Falklands. A unique example of Islanders’ gratitude is a small uninhabited island donated by a farmer to the family of the last British soldier killed in the conflict. It contains a memorial stone and plaque in memory of all the British dead.
Many of the memorials, carved in stone or featuring crosses, are traditional. But SAMA has employed modern technology to create a “Garden of Remembrance” on the World Wide Web, inspired by the surgeon whose teams saved so many wounded, Rick Jolly, founder and custodian of the website. On images of gravestones, the roll of honour lists the names, backgrounds and individual experiences.
The main Argentine monuments to their dead are in Buenos Aires in the Plaza San Martin and in the Argentine Military Cemetery at Darwin near Goose Green where many of the graves contain an unidentified “soldier known only to God”.
By Harold Briley OBE, London