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RAF Chief at Battle Day Ceremony

Sunday, December 9th 2001 - 20:00 UTC
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On a wintry but sunny morning, the traditional Battle Day Act of Remembrance in London took place at the Cenotaph in Whitehall on the exact anniversary of the day the battle took place in 1914 -- on 8th December. Police halted the traffic as members of the Falkland Islands Association stood in silence as wreaths were laid first by Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire, GCB,DFC,AFC,ADC, Dsc, who led low-level Harrier attacks on the Argentines in the 1982 Conflict and is now head of the RAF as Chief of Air Staff.

Other wreaths were laid by Sir Rex Hunt for the Falkland Islands Association; Miss Cameron for the Falklands Government; Mrs Sara Jones, widow Colonel H. Jones, VC, and Mr Des Keoghane for the Falkland Families' Association of servicemen killed in 1982; by the South Atlantic Medal Association; by Daniel Biggs for the young people of the Falkland Islands; and by Sir John D. Grugeon, on behalf of the Association of Men of Kent and Kentish Men, recalling HMS Kent's part in the 1914 battle.

The service was conducted and prayers said by the Reverend Peter Millam, Chaplain to Stanley's Christ Church Cathedral from 1966 to 1970. Royal Marine Buglers sounded the Last Post and Reveille, and Air Chief Marshal Squire inspected the Royal Navy Colour Party, and the Pangbourne College Escort Cadets. The parade marshal was Air Commodore Peter Johnson, a former commander of British Forces in the Falklands.

One naval veteran of 1982 travelled all the way from Gibraltar to attend the ceremony -- Chief Petty Officer, Timothy Trebarthen, who in the Falklands conflict, survived the sinking of HMS Coventry, his first ship, then volunteered to serve on HMS Charydbdis.

Commemorates 1914 Falklands Battle

Why Battle Day? Association Treasurer Ted Clapp, in a brief history lesson, told the meeting this is often asked even by the Royal Navy, whose resounding victory it was in 1914. It destroyed the five-cruiser German fleet, with 2,260 killed for the loss of only six British, and several more who died later from wounds, some now buried in Stanley cemetery.

The battle frustrated an attempt to destroy the Royal Navy's Falklands base and occupy the Islands, by the Kaiser's elite East Asiatic Squadron, commanded by Vice Admiral Graf Von Spee, which had earlier sunk two British cruisers with the loss of 1,600 men, off the Chilean Coast, in the Battle of Coronel.

These battles had echoes in the Second World War Battle of the River Plate, again in December, in 1939. It ended off Montevideo with the scuttling of the battleship, Graf Von Spee, which sank several British merchant vessels, before being engaged by the Royal Navy's Falklands flotilla of three smaller warships - Ajax, Exeter and Achilles.

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Categories: Falkland Islands.

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