Seeing the Timeline for Falklands War, some 30 years on, by the BBC made us think... Family History in the Making is not always so very long ago. Shocking it is thirty years already since the Falklands.

In every conflict any loss on either side is a tragedy. In just two months fighting, 250 British and approximately 650 Argentinian Service personnel were killed and all for what?  

  • Almost 1,000 families devastated and how many severe casualties?
  • What a terrible waste in hindsight and still more war mongering goes on, let’s pray it doesn’t happen again for both sides sake. Have we learned nothing?

Can you remember where you were and what you were doing?

I recall I was still at University (Polytechnic) and my father, working for the MOD in Science, was working all hours fitting military navigation and additional equipment on the Canberra.

  • Our dear late Dad was mobilising the Canberra as a Troop Ship (not just him of course) there were many others. Were your relatives involved I wonder?  Dad had told my Mum in his very patriotic way, “don’t worry if I am late home love, if I am not back, I may have to go to the Falklands.”
  • I am sure my Mum was genuinely worried that just maybe my Dad was not being dramatic…
  • It didn’t seem real to me at the time.  Now I look back and realise that for their generation who had lived through the horrors of WWII there was more they were probably concerned about than I could ever have imagined.
  • We were lucky he didn’t have to go and with all the young lives lost in other recent conflicts lets hope there is no reason for anyone to fight for the Falklands again.
  • An intriguing connection for me, some years later I won a cruise for a  fifty pence raffle ticket I bought at the Bat and Ball Hambledon. Yep it was on the Canberra, it was getting a bit old by then and we hit a force 11 on the first night in the Bay of Biscay but it was still sailing from Southampton then. There were pictures on the Ship of it deployed I recall but it is only now with hindsight, I am really making the connections between events in even our quite recent past.
  • Canberra was nicknamed the ‘Great White Whale and served as  a troopship during the conflict, sailing from Southampton after being requisitioned and quickly refitted. Canberra sailed out on 9th April 1982.
  • Canberra played a vital role transporting the crucial Parachute Regiment and Royal Marines to the islands some 9,000 nautical miles into the heart of the conflict. The role of those troops and significance is well documented.
History and Hindsight:
I was just too young and too wrapped up in my own life to realise what I was witnessing.  Sight of the BBC Timeline of the Falklands,  placed it all in context for me, not only the specific  experience of my own parents but all of the families who have lost lives far too young in too many conflicts and still it keeps happening…It’s the hindsight and a detachment that have made me realise how much I failed to realise the significance of what was going on in my own family let alone all the others that did have to go and the far too many who did not return.
This is a stark image and I hope it will not upset your sensibilities but it’s a stark and scary subject. I started this with a flashback to the connection to my Dad and Mum and how it must have felt for them with a deeper and direct knowledge of what it was really like to be at war on a huge scale. The connections for me have definitely sparked a deeper thought and start of my own investigations into what this means going forward. It certainly it about the past informing our future…But that’s a rather longer subject for debate at another time and medium.

Intriguing , disturbing and ongoing issues and connections to the Falklands War:

  • Argentina still claims sovereignty over the islands, which it calls the Malvinas.
  • Britain continues to maintain active and vigilant presence and state of preparedness to defend this far flung territory.
  • Echos of Empire, some far and distant land..colonialism still at work defending territory, and with the hope value maybe of prospective oil in the area
  • Dangers of Jingoism and the brainless ‘let’s bash the Argies’ mentality.
  • Nationalism is a frightening force more often for evil than good, or maybe not? What do you think?
  • Did Margaret Thatcher survive with government just becuase of the Falklands War?
  • Timeline and Maps help us understand the context of history and relevance to our own families lives
  • History sadly repeats more often than we care to acknowledge, who would have thought we would have seen so many conflicts and lost lives post the Falklands. Certainly not me.
  • Need we even say it, Afghanistan, Iraq (twice), Iran, and now the dangers of Syria guess we all know those stark facts
  • In historic context why oh why don’t we ever seem to learn enough to deal better with these difficult situations.
  • Will family and social history bring home the reality of what war means and has meant to too many families by personalising history and not just gloryifying it, sometimes just maybe it becomes more real to us all.
  • Certainly found family history has made me think quite carefully about my family and our past and even our future and the impacton the lives of all the families who have had such losses.

Links to consider:

  • BBC Timeline Falklands War Key Dates
  • Veterans UK Roll of Honour Database
  • National Memorial Arboretum
  • Supporting Combat Stress this one is a personal call to action, in memory of all my folks held good and true, and because (on a bit of a soapbox moment) these guys just should not have to rely on charity with all they have given (whatever your politics), they deserve all the help we can give.
  • Economist Article 31st Mar 2012: “Among historians, the main debates about the war’s legacy concern Mrs Thatcher and her Conservative government. Could she have survived as prime minister had the Falklands not been retaken? (In her memoirs, she says not.) Would the Tories have won the 1983 election had Argentina never invaded? (Probably.) But the conflict also changed attitudes to foreign policy and war itself.”


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