UK launched on Monday at the National Arboretum in Staffordshire a series of low key commemorative events to be held over the next 11 weeks, to remember 30 years of the day the Falkland Islands were invaded.
A Falklands flame was lit in the arboretum’s chapel for the first of the 74 days of the conflict. Up until Thursday June 14 – the anniversary of the Argentine surrender – visitors can use this to light their own candle of remembrance.
Some 18,000 Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary sailors and Royal Marines took part in the 11-week campaign to re-take the Falklands, which saw a force of more than 100 warships, support vessels and merchantmen dispatched to the South Atlantic at short notice.
Six vessels never returned – four Royal Navy warships, one RFA landing ship, and the supply ship Atlantic Conveyor – and the 130 sailors and commandos killed accounted for more than half the 255 British dead; in addition, 257 men from the Naval Service were wounded.
Those sacrifices were honored at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where a short service of remembrance was held.
The first commemorations come as the British Government reaffirmed its commitment to the Islanders right to determine their own future.
In a message marking the anniversary, Prime Minister David Cameron said it was a day “to remember all those who lost their lives in the conflict – the members of our Armed Forces, as well as the Argentine personnel who died. Today, we salute the heroism of the Task Force which set sail to free the Islands.
“We are rightly proud of the role Britain played in righting a profound wrong. And the people of the Falkland Islands can be justly proud of the prosperous and secure future they have built for their islands since 1982.
“Britain remains staunchly committed to upholding the right of the Falkland Islanders, and of the Falkland Islanders alone, to determine their own future.