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Falklands Conflict: 35th Anniversary Service at Pangbourne College: June 2017

Pangbourne College, currently in its centenary year, commemorated the 35th anniversary of the Falklands Conflict in the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel on 11 June 2017. The service was attended by HRH The Duke of York KG and about 900 veterans, their families, and friends of the Falklands. The turnout of so many senior officers from the Armed Forces (and the Merchant Navy), both serving and retired, shows that the liberation of the Falkland Islands from Argentine military occupation in 1982, and the UK’s continued defence of the Islands against any future such threat, remain a matter of sustained national importance. 

The 35th anniversary service of remembrance and thanksgiving for the liberation of the Falkland Islands from Argentine military occupation was held in the Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel at Pangbourne College on Sunday, 11 June in the presence of HRH The Duke of York KG, Patron of the Memorial Chapel Trust.1 

The chapel, opened by Her Majesty The Queen in March 2000, seats 580; so on this occasion, as on the 25th anniversary, extra seating had to be provided in an extension marquee for additional attendees. 

The service began with ‘Eight Bells’ rung on the ‘Sir Galahad’ bell by Captain Philip Roberts, Captain of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Sir Galahad sunk in 1982. The service was led by the Rev’d Neil Jeffers, Chaplain of Pangbourne College, assisted by the Rev’d David Cooper, former chaplain of 2 Para in 1982. The lessons were read Sergt. Jamie Simeon, 1st Battalion Scots Guards (son of Sergt. John Simeon, 2 Battalion Scots Guards, killed in action in 1982) and by Prince Andrew. The Act of Remembrance was led by Major General Jeff Mason MBE RM, Chairman of the Chapel Trust and the address was given by the Rev’d Dr David Coulter CB QHC, The Chaplain General. The Falklands Hymn was sung and the SAMA Prayer said to many a tear. 

Afterwards, refreshments were served in a marquee on the lawn, with guests welcomed by Thomas Garnier, the headmaster of Pangbourne College.2

1 Prince Andrew served as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot during the Falklands campaign. 255 personnel from the British Armed Forces and support services were killed in action during the campaign plus three civilians, a total of 258.

2 Pangbourne College was founded in 1917 as The Nautical College, Pangbourne by the prominent ship owner and broker, Sir Thomas Lane Devitt, BT. It has a proud history of training officers for the Merchant Navy (and the Royal Navy). Pupils wear naval uniform with RN cadet slides. The school was renamed Pangbourne College in 1969. The Queen has visited on several occasions, most recently with Prince Philip to attend the school’s centenary service on 9 May ’17. Every year, it hosts a service at the chapel to commemorate the 1982 conflict on the nearest Sunday to the date of the liberation of the Falkland Islands with the surrender of the occupying Argentine forces on 14 June 1982.

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