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Falklands’ veterans mark 40th anniversary with remembrance service

Members of the 2nd Battalion the Scots Guards march through the streets of Blackpool, Lancashire (Peter Byrne/PA)
Members of the 2nd Battalion the Scots Guards march through the streets of Blackpool, Lancashire (Peter Byrne/PA)

Veterans of the Falklands War have marked the 40th anniversary of the conflict with a poignant remembrance service in Blackpool.

Members of the Tumbledown Veterans & Families Association, many of whom served in the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, gather annually in the Lancashire resort.

On Sunday they marched to the cenotaph on Blackpool Promenade for a special service to remember the Falklands’ fallen, including those who died at the Battle of Mount Tumbledown on June 13 and 14, 1982.

Eight Scots Guards and a lance corporal with the Royal Engineers, who was on attachment with them, were killed as the British forces fought in the heights overlooking the capital, Port Stanley.

Falklands War anniversary
Veterans and members of the 2nd Battalion the Scots Guards, in Blackpool (Peter Byrne/PA)

The successful mission ultimately led to the surrender of their Argentinian counterparts, who had invaded the Falkland Islands some 10 weeks earlier.

Pictured crosses featuring the nine men were laid, some by relatives, at a memorial plaque close to the cenotaph.

Wreaths were also laid at the cenotaph, including from association president Robert Lawrence, a platoon commander with the Scots Guards, whose experiences featured in the BBC film Tumbledown, starring Colin Firth.

Others laying wreaths were Blackpool mayor Kathryn Benson, and Victoria Foulkes-Williams, 55, from Blackpool, whose father Frank Foulkes, the 47-year-old chief mechanic on the SS Atlantic Conveyor, died after the Merchant Navy ship was hit by Argentinian missiles.

Falklands War anniversary
Pictured Crosses at the memorial (Peter Byrne/PA)

Also attending the service were the then commanding officer of the Scots Guards, former Lt Col Michael Scott, and the Rev Angus Smith, the Church of Scotland’s chaplain during the war.

Former Lt Lawrence was paralysed down his left side after he was shot in the head while checking for counter-attacks from snipers.

He said: “I have lived with this injury every day for 40 years.

“I have no major problems with that. It was my choice to become a soldier and my job as a young officer to lead that attack, but it does mean that you remember the event well, and with the event 24/7 ever since.

“It’s very important to get together with the guys. I have always felt a duty of care to my soldiers, unlike the Government who do not seem to be keen on their duty of care to their veterans.

Falklands War anniversary
Veterans and members of the 2nd Battalion the Scots Guards (Peter Byrne/PA)

“I believe in it very strongly to see the boys get together, and for us to remember both them and the fallen, and most especially the families who have lived with the consequences of our actions as young men.”

Major General Scott said: “It didn’t matter whether they were a lieutenant colonel, a lance corporal or a guardsman, they are still all our old friends who basically bonded together.

“You might say like the Band of Brothers – rather a cliche but that’s actually what we are and that’s what you see today.”

Mrs Foulkes-Williams, who attended the service with her daughter, Portia, 29, said Mr Foulkes, a father-of-six, was one of the last off the stricken Atlantic Conveyor, and allowed younger colleagues to be rescued first.

She said: “He was saying to the rescuers ‘please take this young lad’, Eventually he was picked up but unfortunately he passed away. He had a burial at sea.

“He sacrificed himself in the Falklands War. We remember him every day but today is special.

“He is never alone. He is never forgotten.”

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