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White flags over Stanley

Tuesday, November 12th 2002 - 20:00 UTC
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20 years after the end of the Falklands War the myth of 'white flags flying over Stanley' on the morning of 14 June 1982, has finally been exploded.

The famous words, spoken by Major Bill Dawson, were quickly communicated back to Downing Street and jubilantly announced in Parliament, to the listening world, by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Major Dawson, who was 2nd in command 7 Ghurka Battalion, was filmed (after several re-takes, according to one eye witness) emerging from a hastily constructed communications tent on Two Sisters mountain, wearing headphones and a beaming smile. He told the on looking war reporters, 'I can confirm that white flags are flying over Stanley, the Argentines have surrendered - Bloody marvellous'. Cheers all round.

Visiting the Falklands this week with more than 200 Falklands War veterans, Major Dawson, who was later promoted to Lt.Colonel, has now courageously admitted that that the whole episode was without foundation. He explained that it all began when 'A' Company reported that they thought they could see a white flag flying over the town. 'I repeated it, or yelled it out, and eventually the press people came up and interviewed me and I said, "Yes I can confirm that there are white flags flying over Stanley", because by that stage it was a quick method saying I think the surrender is imminent, but subsequently I discovered that there were NO flags flying there at all, it was a complete mistake'.

He went on to say, 'I was repeating what I thought I had been told by 'A' Company. But I can't find anybody from 'A' Comapny who actually remembers sending the message, so how the hell I managed to get it through I don't know'!

Major Dawson, who was speaking shortly after Sunday's Remembrance Day Service in Port Stanley, said that the Commander of the British Land Forces Major General Jeremy Moore had also later tersely told him that there had been no white flags flying over Stanley.

Islanders in Stanley at the time have long insisted that the Argentines had not raised white flags to signal their intention to surrender.

So what was the mysterious white object which was sighted by 'A' Company? Major Dawson readily agrees that 'It was probably someone washing hanging on a clothes line'.

Patrick Watts, (MP) Stanley

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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