The United Kingdom Falklands War veterans' association, SAMA 82, has a new chairman ? former Merchant Navy Captain Martin Reed. He was Chief Officer of the liner ss Canberra which played a vital part as a troop and hospital ship in 1982.
He takes over from founder chairman, Doctor Rick Jolly, the Royal Navy surgeon whose medical teams saved so many severely wounded men, both British and Argentine. Dr Jolly, a former Royal Navy Captain, now takes on a new role as Special Projects Officer, especially helping veterans still troubled by their experiences, and by post traumatic stress disorder.
Dr Jolly said Captain Reed's appointment acknowledged the vital part played by the Merchant Navy. He had been a keen supporter of SAMA as well as fulfilling a critical role and doing so much hard work in 1982, helping to get the fighting men to the Falklands and ashore at San Carlos. The liner, known as "the Great White Whale", saw much action and was in dire danger from Argentine air attack. As Chief Officer, Captain Reed was in charge of discipline, navigation and seamanship.
Martin Reed is 59 and now retired from the Merchant Navy. But he remains on the naval reserve list as a Captain, and could be recalled in an emergency. He comes from Hampshire and now lives near Oxford.
He is a founder member of the South Atlantic Medal Association and played a major part in organising the recent SAMA veterans' pilgrimage to the Falkland Islands. "It went brilliantly", he said. "Better than we could ever imagine".
More SAMA members One of Captain Reed's aims is to increase SAMA's membership, after the positive publicity of the pilgrimage, as more men who fought in the Falklands War retire from the armed forces.
He recalls how in 1982 ss Canberra was homeward bound from a world cruise when it received a mysterious message to pick up some surprise extra passengers at Gibraltar to prepare the vessel for war. The liner sailed three days later for the South Atlantic, carrying paratroops, Royal Marine commandos and vast supplies for war. She later also landed the Welsh Guards and the 5th Infantry division, transferred from the QE2.
He returned to the Falklands in 1984 as Executive Officer of the ss Uganda, which was the 1982 hospital ship. He later commanded several luxury liners.