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Falklands Conflict: 35th Anniversary: SAMA82 Remembrance Service

Veterans of the Falklands Conflict attended a moving ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum on the 35th anniversary of the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands on 2 April 1982 to remember the 255 personnel killed whilst serving with the UK armed forces in the liberation of the Falkland Islands from illegal Argentine occupation. The dignity of this service stood in marked contrast to the usual anti-British fervour of the ‘Malvinas’ rallies in Argentina. 

A Service of Remembrance, organised by the South Atlantic Medal Association 1982 (SAMA82), was held at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire on Sunday, 2 April to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Falklands Conflict in which 255 personnel serving with the British Task Force and 3 civilians lost their lives (alongside 649 Argentine service personnel). 

The service was conducted by the Rev’d David Cooper (ex-2 Para) and attended by the Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, Ian Dudson CBE, who laid the principal wreath. Amongst other wreath-layers, Sukey Cameron OBE, the FIG Representative in London, laid a wreath on behalf of the Falkland Islands Government. The Falkland Islands Association was represented by its Chairman, Alan Huckle. Musical accompaniment was provided by the Band of the Royal Marines from HMS Collingwood with a Royal Marines bugler sounding the Last Post and Reveille. 

About 3-400 veterans attended, with many visibly moved, particularly during the singing of ‘The Falklands Hymn’. 

Contrast in Argentina 

This dignified ceremony was in marked contrast to the rabidly anti-British protests of the Argentine veterans attending the annual rally at the Plaza de Mayo and the ‘Malvinas’ War Memorial in Buenos Aires. In Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego (which claims provincial jurisdiction over the Falkland Islands in its constitution), the Argentine Governor, Rosana Bertone (a convinced Kirchnerite) made a fiery (“encendido”) speech saying that she regarded the Islanders as ‘Fueguinos’. President Macri took a more measured approach by hosting a small group of veterans and representatives of the ‘Malvinas’ Families Commission, perhaps to resolve remaining differences in advance of the ICRC-led project later this year to identify the remains of unknown Argentine casualties buried in the Darwin cemetery. But he continued to insist that Argentina’s sovereignty claim over the Falkland Island was ‘unrenounceable’.

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