In the early hours of June 12th, at 7 Ross Road, to the west of Stanley, three Falkland Islanders, civilians, tragically lost their lives. This was due, not to ‘direct’ Argentine action, but to a computer ‘glitch’ on a Royal Navy frigate that had been shelling Argentine positions.
Two shells were fired before the ‘spotter’ (hidden on Beagle Ridge, north of Stanley) was able to stop the action. The second ‘air-burst’ shell had accounted for the lives of the three ladies, Mary Goodwin, Doreen Bonner and Sue Whitley
7 Ross Road was the home of John and Veronica Fowler and their two children Rachel and Daniel. John was the expatriate Superintendent of Education and on April 13th 1982 he had witnessed the birth of Daniel, during the Argentine occupation.
7 Ross Road is a four bed-roomed house of a more robust construction than many houses in the Falklands and as such was registered locally as ‘safe’. Consequently John and Veronica played host to a number of friends and neighbors.
John had built an air raid shelter in the dining room from tea chests filled with material (he hoped would resist bullet penetration) and covered them with mattresses. This was protection primarily for the children.
A standard ‘impact’ shell would undoubtedly have accounted for more lives than the air-burst: “As it was, Doreen, who was lying on the floor embraced by my wife had her life snuffed out by a piece of shrapnel passing through her spinal column and Sue, who had been standing, cup of tea in hand, looking back into the recently vacated kitchen, was killed by the blast. Neither uttered a sound”
John, expecting a third shell, covered the bodies of his sleeping children with his own.
‘In the process I woke up my still-sleeping two year old, who asked, “Is this a bad day, Daddy?”
From ‘1982 and All That’ , available from Amazon on Kindle - author John Fowler.
Mary Goodwin died later in hospital. John later realized he had shrapnel lodged in his leg, which had been outside of the shelter.
Captain Hugh McManners led a five man team secreted on Beagle Ridge looking south toward Stanley. This courageous man surely prevented further deaths by his rapid action, but this did not stop him blaming himself for events over which he had a limited control. John Fowler met with him in later years and was able to tell him that he was profoundly grateful for his professionalism which probably saved the lives of his family.
Captain Mc Manners wrote an excellent book on his service in the Falklands. ‘Falklands Commando’
Susan Whitley, originally from Wales and science teacher became a well known artist and much loved teacher in the Falklands, and every year there is an event remembering her artwork and dedication