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Falklands send condolences to family and friends of Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward

Monday, August 5th 2013 - 15:55 UTC
Full article 19 comments
Sandy Woodward (left) arriving aboard HMS Hermes to assume command of the Falklands task force in 1982. (Photo: PA) Sandy Woodward (left) arriving aboard HMS Hermes to assume command of the Falklands task force in 1982. (Photo: PA)
Sir Sandy Woodward supported the sinking of ARA Belgrano saying Britain never realised how close it came to losing the war (Pic: PA) Sir Sandy Woodward supported the sinking of ARA Belgrano saying Britain never realised how close it came to losing the war (Pic: PA)

In a brief message Gilbert House, seat of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly made public its condolences to the family and friends of Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward who was commander of the carrier force sent to recover the Falklands invaded and occupied by Argentine forces.

“The people and Government of the Falkland Islands were very saddened to hear of the death of Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward. They recall with gratitude the important part he played in the Liberation of the Islands from Argentine Forces in 1982. Their thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this sad time”.

Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward was commander of the carrier force sent by PM Margaret Thatcher in 1982 to retake the Falkland Islands that had been invaded by the Argentine military junta. He served as deputy chief of the defence staff from 1985 and was made admiral in 1987.

David Cameron said the UK was “indebted” to Adm Woodward for his role in ensuring freedom for Islanders.

“The admiral was a truly courageous and decisive leader, proven by his heroic command of the Royal Navy Taskforce during the Falklands conflict,” said the prime minister.

“We are indebted to him for his many years of service and the vital role he played to ensure that the people of the Falkland Islands can still today live in peace and freedom. My thoughts and prayers are with Admiral Woodward's family and friends at this difficult time.”

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said he would be remembered as the “Fighting Admiral”. “Admiral Woodward served his country with distinction throughout his career,” he said.

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas said: “Undaunted by the challenge of fighting a capable enemy over 8,000 miles from the UK, in the most demanding and extreme of weather conditions, and against uncertain odds, Admiral Woodward's inspirational leadership and tactical acumen -meshing the realities of the higher political command at home with the raw and violent fight at sea- was a major factor in shaping the success of the British forces in the South Atlantic.

”Highly regarded and widely respected within the military, he will be sorely missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.“

Sukey Cameron, the Falkland Islands' government representative in the UK, tweeted: ”Sad to learn of the death of Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward; remembering with gratitude the important part he played in #Falklands Liberation.“

Adm Woodward was born John Woodward in Penzance, Cornwall, on 1 May 1932, according to the Who's Who database. He trained at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, joining the navy in 1946 at the age of 13, and quickly rising through the ranks to command submarines.

During his time serving in submersibles, Admiral Woodward married Charlotte Mary McMurtrie in 1960 and they had a son and a daughter.

When Argentina invaded the British overseas territory of the Falkland Islands on 2 April 1982, he was a newly appointed rear admiral and acted as commander of the Carrier Battle Group from the flagship HMS Hermes.

Three days later the first British task force ships left Britain, and by 14 June, following a number of key battles, the British had liberated the capital, Port Stanley.

Among the most controversial actions of the British during the war was the sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano, killing 368 crew members.

BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said Adm Woodward had wanted to torpedo the ship because of the threat he believed it posed to British forces, even though it was outside the exclusion zone when sunk - a decision agreed by Mrs Thatcher. He did not regret the move, saying Britain never realised how close it came to losing the war.

During the conflict, an estimated 600 Argentines were killed along with 255 UK servicemen and three Falklands civilians.

Adm Woodward, who also went on to be the Flag Aide-de Camp to the Queen, was knighted for his service in the Falklands campaign in 1983.

He retired in 1989 but never forgot his time in the Falklands, later writing a book titled One Hundred Days on his experiences and chairing the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel Trust, which raised money to build a chapel in Pangbourne, Berkshire, in memory of those who had died.

Robert Fox, defence editor of the London Evening Standard, said Adm Woodward had to take ”some of the biggest risks of any commander in modern British history“. ”He knew how to take risks... the lack of air cover, the way the whole thing was conducted against the unknown - it would simply be deemed as unacceptable by Westminster today,“ he said.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph earlier this year, Admiral Woodward described working with Mrs Thatcher between 1985 and 1987, when he was the head of defence staff operations and would attend cabinet meetings.

He said their relationship was one of mutual respect, describing Mrs Thatcher as ”the best top executive I'd ever met“.

In June 2011 Adm Woodward wrote in the Daily Mail that he feared the Falkland Islands were “now perilously close to being indefensible.

”Twenty-nine years ago today, we reclaimed the Falklands for Britain in one of the most remarkable campaigns since the Second World War,“ he wrote. ”The simple truth is without aircraft carriers and without the Americans, we would not have any hope of doing the same again today.”

And in written evidence to the Commons Defence Committee in May of this year, he warned Britain would be unable to defend itself if cuts to the navy continued to be made.
 

Top Comments

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  • Mr Ed

    RIP good sir, he restored freedom to the Falklands and democracy to Argentina.

    The decision to attack the Belgrano was taken in Northwood, not by Woodward, Conqueror was not under the Admiral's command, he recommended that the Belgrano be attacked, and the Argentine Navy accepted that it was a legitimate target.

    http://www.lanacion.com.ar/700676-cartas-de-lectores

    Aug 05th, 2013 - 04:54 pm 0
  • Conor J

    Goodbye Sandy, a great loss for the nation and those liberated from the Argentines. A finer man if ever there was one.

    Aug 05th, 2013 - 04:54 pm 0
  • LEPRecon

    RIP Sandy.

    You lead a group of good men on a mission that the world said was impossible, and you liberated the people of the Falklands from a brutal murderous dictatorship.

    The knock on effect of these actions also liberated the Argentine people from the dictatorship, although they'll never admit it.

    Good Luck with your 'new command' at God's right hand.

    Aug 05th, 2013 - 05:03 pm 0
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