AGAINST a background of increasing tension between the UK and Argentina, the country has remembered the 30th anniversary of the Falklands conflict this week.
During the 74-day war, 255 British personnel died including local lads Craig Jones, from Greens Norton, and David Scott, from Winslow.
Lance Corporal Scott was a member of the 3rd Battalion of the Pioneer Regiment and was killed in the final stages of the battle.
His commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Hew Pike, rembers clearly the regiment leaving Southampton on Good Friday, 1982, to go to war.
“It was a very memorable departure. We sailed with two Royal Marine battalions. It was a large liner and we were able to keep fit because three times around the promenade walk was a mile. We used all the spaces on the ship for training.”
They stopped on Ascension Island while the plans for capturing back the Falklands ‘were crystalised’ and the decision was taken to land at Port San Carlos.
“We went on an assault craft early in the morning and landed at Port San Carlos, secured the settlement quickly and defended our part of the bridgehead for the next few days,” said Lt Col Pike.
The battalion played a key part in the Battle of Mount Longdon. Seventeen soldiers were killed in the battle, including Lance Corporal Scott.
“It was a close call for everyone and most of the casualties during that night were from shelling,” said Lt Col Pike.
Despite heavy losses, the battle was a success, which he puts down to good training.
In the most recent tensions, Lt Col Pike feels the situation has changed little.
He added: “The principles for which we fought remain unchanged and uncompromised – the rights of the islanders to self-determination, which is why we fought in 1982. If there is any challenge to their rights now, the British government would have to respond in a similar way.
“The Argentine government has done very little to endear themselves to the Falkland islanders. The relationship between the Falklands and Argentina is more difficult than it was before 1982.”