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tv   Ending the Falklands War  BBC News  June 16, 2022 1:30am-2:01am BST

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right, i'm ready to go. are you keen to answer it as well? oh, yes, yes. you can stop to think about an answer, you don't have to do it all in one go — it'sjust a conversation with me and i'll take you — i'll take you through the experiences. absolutely, yeah. um, yeah, 0k. clapper bangs. you're literally lying face down, pressed yourface into this frozen earth, thinking, "i don't want to die here. "i don't want to die here. "why?" yeah. you know, that, i think — well, it was, for all of us, it was hugely traumatic. there's corpses of your enemy, corpses of your friends, you know, just lying there. it had a massive effect on me and i know it had a massive effect on a lot of my friends, too. that scene of horror will never, never leave my mind. not a single day in the last 40
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years have gone by when i'vel not thought about it. not one day when i don't think of those boys. - i knew every one of them. on the morning of the second of april, 1982, argentine troops invaded the falkland islands. the country's ruling dictatorship had long laid claim to the remote archipelago. en nombre de la... margaret thatcher, against a backdrop of unrest in britain, was determined to take it back. a task force was quickly assembled and steamed 8,000 miles to the south atlantic. no—one was sure how the conflict would play out. but then, controversy — a british submarine sank the argentine ship the general belgrano, killing more than 300 sailors.
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britain was at war. troops landed at san carlos water on may 21st, 1982. days later, one of the bloodiest battles, goose green. but victory for the parachute regiment. cheering having made hard—fought gains, british forces prepared to advance on the capital, stanley, but tragedy was around the corner and it could alter the course of the war. a new plan is hatched — to open up a second front, close to the argentine lines, but it's not without risk. to the south, the supply ships sir tristram and sir galahad arrive at an undefended cove. they're packed full of fuel,
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munitions and solders — mostly welsh guards. they're waiting to come ashore. there's confusion and they're exposed. we go from where we were in battalion headquarters on this motorcycle, cross country. just before we got there, straight over the top of us were five aircraft flew over us. there's been a call gone out, "red, red, red," and then you see skyhawks looping across the sky and suddenly, everybody's shooting at these skyhawks and i'm aiming at the pilot, pumping rounds through, and he goes directly overhead — probably not much higher than the ceiling at the moment. i was sat in the main tank deck, watching the cranei operator who was shifting - equipment and the look of pure horror on the crane operator's face and he leapt out - of the crane. instantly, things went - into slow motion and i saw an aircraft fire — - fire above the hatch, and you could tell. that's not a harrier —
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it looks like a skyhawk. bang and then whoosh. i must�*ve been picked up and thrown about 10—15 foot. bang, the ship got hit. i got hit in the chest with a forklift truck. i fell over, got knocked out. the ship lit up. pure brilliant white. a light went off — - you could feel a whoosh and the heat. running into the tank deck, i was immediately picked up and then thrown back out the way i came. the smoke, the chaos. panic struck in. we ended up in a pile of men in the corner of this foot well. the boys at the bottom of the pile were fine, i was in the middle, and the boys at the top were much more burnt as such, yeah. took a couple of gulps of fresh air, had a look. "where's steve jones?" hmm. went back in, he's under the bloody ship's door. took five of us to lift the bloody door off, got him out. i was about — approximately
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with 20 other men then, and i was in the middle of this corridor. we had to crouch down cos of the smoke. the water through the broken pipes is on the floor. it was probably the most scariest bit that i've been at. the thought was, "which way do you want to die?" that seriously was your decision. were you going to shoot yourself? then, you were thinking, "how would my parents know how idied?" and that, seriously, was in my mind, you know? "my parents won't know the manner of my death." tonnes and tonnes of weight force ammunition, everything, they're going off and you hear boom, bang, smack, wallop, going every couple of seconds. we went in there and... . . my bottle went. i couldn't. i went in there, i couldn't breathe. i could not breathe. i'd do everything i could but you couldn't see that — you couldn't see your
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hand in front of you. the smoke and the smell. a friend of mine, mike, and myself, we cut free an empty life raft. by upturning it, it acted as a buffer between the platform and the ship. so we had a big area down there. some of the guys were climbing — some of the guys, their hands were that badly burned, they were saying, "look," you know, "jump". somebody appeared from the upper level, badly injured. he had a field dressing on and he was burned. there was blood. he just appeared on there, climbed over the railing andjumped. he had his bloody webbing on, so it was full of ammunition and god knows what. but he hit the thing, bounced and went under the water. "oh, my god, he's gone." curley's sort of diving in. so, i grabbed a hold of him.
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automatically, he pulled me down. and, to my relief, mike was standing next to me... i got on the backside of his trousers and his legs and next, he's pulling up in the air. this guy takes an almighty gasp. gasps lucky enough, i still had hold of him and i managed - to get him on the deck there. some sea kings were there, flying about, and they were i trying to fan some of the life rafts that were in the water. containing some of the l survivors and what have you towards the shoreline. i think there were some of the last ones off. and they all had bad burns but some were worse than the others, so you had to give the ones with the worst burns immediate treatment. two para were already ashore, and the field ambulance. they were sort of taking wounded off the lifeboats and putting them on the shore and sort of looking after them. my first thought was, "god, mark, i hope you weren't. on there, mate". he was. that was tough. yeah. you knew that our guys were on that ship. - that was a tough one. it took us actually about three days before we knew exactly what was what — who was
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missing, who was wounded and who we had ashore, so it was quite a... ..a difficult time for us, i would say. it was a dark day for the welsh guards. the regiment suffered more losses than any other in the falklands. but the war was far from won. some of the costliest battles were still to come. friday the 11th — the push, the final push for stanley has begun. the royal marines, supported by the remaining welsh guards, are closing on stanley. heading into battle at mount harriet, two sisters and the brutal mount longdon. there's no other way to do it. time immemorial, the only way
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to win ground is by putting boots on the ground. and you have to get eye to eye and, basically, kill each otherjust within feet of each other. it's medieval. it's known since mankind has been on earth. machine guns is sporadic firing, followed by artillery. 0ur ships at sea — hms glamorgan, i believe — initially was providing naval gunfire support and they were being brought to bear on the argentinian positions on the top of mount longdon, so that there was lots of noise, in some cases lots of screaming where people had been injured. it was difficult to know exactly what was happening. fighting on mount longdon raged for 12 hours before argentine forces withdrew to stanley. as we were moving forward, we would normally have stopped
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but because we'd broken them and they were effectively running away, i physically had to stop some of the boys who wanted to run down the hill and chase after them! but that was the heat of the moment. when that daylight came up, the scene was just awful. you could smell the death — you could smell it. and there was kind of a mist floating over the ground as well and the stillness and the quiet after the noise and the bedlam of battle. for the two days after the battle, we were under heavy artillery fire and a further six members of the battalion were killed. this shelljust — there was zero warning, so therefore, it was possibly a mortar — and boom, straightaway.
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all i remember was being thrown in the air and landing on my stomach. my wounds were catastrophic. traumatic amputation of my left leg. the leg that remains, it wasjust shredded, you know? there was a compound fracture of my femur. it was touch and go whether i could keep that leg, if they could save it. aboard the hospital ship uganda, medics like nicci pugh have been working at full capacity since the galahad attack. we were trying to set up and now successfully run an efficient floating military hospital ashore, 8,000 miles from our working home. it was hands to man the casualty evacuation process
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and casualties started arriving in larger numbers. by now, because we had already received considerable number of burns and badly injured patients, this was a good routine that was working extremely well. that routine was to be tested as the british army continued to fight some of its hardest battles since the second world war. the final push for stanley loomed. the next morning, it was a race to the capital. you could see british troops flooding off the features. to our left, wireless ridge, 2 para, our sister battalion. to our right, mount tumbledown, scots guard. and it was decided that regimental pride dictated we wanted to be the first into stanley, so helmets came off, red berets came on, head down, bum up and... ..into stanley. as soon as the argies saw how
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many of us there were — which was basically a battalion on the ground by the time the helicopter had dropped everybody off — advancing towards the capital, they ran off it, back into stanley. and that was about midday on the 14th ofjune. and great rejoicing. is there a white flag flying? there is a white flag flying over stanley. bloody marvellous. chuckles the argentines had surrendered. after 7a days, the war was won. the long journey home was on the horizon. only now was the cost of the conflict becoming clear to those in the south atlantic and back home. first paragraph to your mum and dad, sad letter to write, because if you don't already know, so far as missing, presumed dead... i was looking for, probably, my best friend for days and days and days after, so we didn't know who had
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survived and who had died. my parents were told, mistakenly, that i was missing, presumed dead. it took several days, really, for the smoke of war, you know, to clear and for people to find out, to gather the information to find out actually who was alive and who was dead. yes, my parents went through hell, but they said that they didn't stop believing, and you don't. after the war had finished we were airlifted back there by the one and only surviving chinook helicopter, back to fitzroy. all this time, this was about ten days after the ship was hit, the ship was still there burning. it was decided, before we were going to move from fitzroy, we would have a service to commemorate the boys. and the boss said to me, would you read the names out?
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so i said of course i would. corporal philip anthony sweet, lance corporal nicholas david mark thomas. . lance corporal— christopher francis ward. last post sounds steve newberry was on the galahad. his sister was anxiously awaiting news at the welsh guards barracks, where she lived. when we were kids, steve and i used to fight like cat and dog, but when hejoined the army, and of course then when i went into quarters, i mean, he used to come to me for sunday dinner and things like that, so i used to see him all the time, you know. obviously, as news started filtering through, everything started being very, very subdued. it was a horrible atmosphere once people started knowing. i didn't know until i phoned home that my brother had died. i don't think it sunk in.
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nobody could believe it had happened. as the task force headed home, many remained in the falklands, dealing with the aftermath of war. and bad luck remained with the welsh guards. what we did underestimate was the numbers, because we had no idea until probably aboutjune i6, 17, when we're having to feed something like 13,000 to 15,000 argentine prisoners of war who were all down at stanley airport. port stanley was an absolute minefield. it was... i would say chaos. there were weapons in the backs of houses, on the road, anybody and everybody was coming ashore and they were all after souvenirs, whether they be pistols, bayonets. i mean, somebody — there was a helicopter landed on the road, argentine — somebody had gone there with a hacksaw and actually sawed — it was a perfectly
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serviceable aircraft before — had gone there with a hacksaw and actually sawn off the joystick as a souvenir. i mean, you know... anyway, it was chaos. so we, i say we — what was left of our battalion, which probably was about 200 of us — were put into stanley, and i was the sort of — the sheriff of stanley, for want of a better word, for about a month. they were in the process of clearing up the airport, well, the strip, there was ice on it, so the harriers wanted to take off normally. and one did and the second one started bumping and weaving unusually, and one of his sidewinders went off and it went straight into the welsh guards again. not one died, but everyone lost a limb, and you start to think, hang on, why is the welsh guards copping all this all the time, wherever we go? the injured welsh guards were taken to the hospital ship, uganda, where denzelle and the other recovering soldiers were coming to terms
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with their injuries. part of our entertainment on board the ship was to watch films. they put on the monty python film, the life of brian. at the end of the film, famously, of course, they sing always look on the bright side of life, and i think every one of us wounded people, and you can imagine the scene, i'll try and paint the picture for you — you know, there's all kinds of people, all different wounds, people that are badly burnt, limbs missing, eyes missing, and yet, you know, theyjoined in, singing this song, always look on the bright side of life, and having to look, and a lot of the staff, you could see the tears rolling down their faces to see all these wounded people singing that song. and it was just in the moment, it was in the moment, and that's a memory i'll carry with me the rest of my life. it was amazing.
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while denzelle and others were being treated, other soldiers were returning home. cheering there were celebrations on their arrival. but for those who fought, and theirfamilies, the victory was bittersweet. well... ..erm... seeing mum, dad, my younger brother, greeting us in, july 29, 1982, spent the night back at brighton, and the next day ijumped on a train and headed home. i come round the corner, there was bunting and flags, "welcome home, mike." ithought, oh, god, i couldn't. i just couldn't face it, like, you know, and all the neighbours were out. don't get me wrong,
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i was not ungrateful, it was wonderful. but i felt like... for the losses we had, i hadn't felt as if i'd done anything, you know, i'd just been there. you know what i mean? i got up, as i got to the house, there was a picture there of the rugby team, and it had "yorkie and cliff", and i just burst. dummy. you used to see them and you used to think, oh, god, you know, and you used to be afraid to speak to them sometimes, because you just — especially steve's friends, used to be afraid to sort of speak to them, cos i used to think, oh, what i say? you know. it was hard on all of them. some of them suffered terrible ptsd when they came back. you know, it was awful. when i wrote letters - to all the fathers of the guys that i knew, the young guy from cardiff, bless him, i another from cardiff, his name was griff — i 22, griffiths, he was from - cardiff, my batman was killed, a young boy of 19.
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so, yeah, it was a difficult time. i it killed my father, definitely. i mean, he was only 56 when he died, you know. he was still very young himself. so, but... ..there we are. we had sent a letter to stephen, didn't we, to tell him how we felt and, you know, he loved him and that, and it got sent back, and that was my father finished then, cos he never got to see the letter. for bernie mills, the end of the conflict came a day too late. her brother, christopher thomas, died the day before the surrender. he was killed by a landmine near stanley. he was the only welsh guard whose body was brought home. his funeral became a focal point for the regiment and the families of those lost on the galahad. it was a bit bittersweet.
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i think it hit home when everyone was coming home, he wasn't. yeah, that was upsetting. seeing everybody having a party. we couldn't. but there you are. yeah, some part of me still didn't believe it until... ..until we actually buried him. because his was the only body, all the galahad people, obviously, rested where they were. but his was the only one that could be brought home, and that they could all... everyone, i think everyone in the whole battalion was there to see him off.
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after the war, argentina's military government was discredited and civilian rule was restored. here, margaret thatcher converted widespread patriotic support into a landslide election victory. the islands remain under british control. at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. all: we will remember them. last post sounds a0 years on, veterans and their families remember. for your tomorrow, we gave our today. i've been diagnosed with ptsd,
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i'm happy that i suffer, because to me, it's my penance, it's my...'s my punishment, really, for coming home and not staying there, yeah. there was a story my fatherl told — this is only going back about ten years now, - when my father is still alive — and he said, "gosh," i said, "i've never had ptsd." - i said, "i went through this with the guys. - "i've never had ptsd." and he said, "when you came back," and i was living - with them after i left - the army, and apparently i was screaming at night and crying my eyes out. | i don't remember that. but apparently — my father said, "you did, boy." - i have, and the majority of us are more or less accepting of what happened. we can't do anything to change that. you know, if we could, we would, but we can't. we've gotta live with it and we've gotta get on with it. you know, i mean, i'm lucky.
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you know, i got a few bad memories. people like denzil, you know, every step he takes, from that day in 1982, for the rest of his life, you know, he's walking that. all war is tragic, it's needless. i wish it didn't happen. by god, as a soldier, i wish it didn't happen, you know. but it does. and we have... and whilst it still happens, we have to be prepared and be able to stand up to the bullies that start these wars. many people say that| all wars are different. and, of course, they are in location, in terrain, - in objective, they are all different. i but at the heart of it, they're all the same. | when you go to primary school or something and you grow up on a small estate with a... you both join the army together and you're seven yards away
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from him and he dies and you both left home town together, you promised to come home together, suffering is the least of my problems now. well, we're certainly turning up the heat
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over the next couple of days. for southern parts of the uk, this is going to be a short—lived heat wave. and this is the peak — by friday, london and the southeast up to around 33—34 celsius. look at the average — so we're significantly higher compared to what we would normally see this time of the year. not unprecedented — the record is actually a little above 35 celsius. so we're not beating any records, but it's not that far away, if you think about it. now, this is what's happening on the satellite picture. here's the heat coming in from the south. we've got cooler air in the north atlantic — that cooler air will eventually win, i think by the time we get to saturday into sunday, things will start cooling off and storms will come our way as well, but not in the short term. this is what it looks like thursday morning — clear skies across england and wales, a bit more cloud in the northwest here with these atlantic weather systems just brushing the northwest of the british isles, and bits and pieces of rain. some of the showers could turn a little heavy in the western isles, perhaps the north of northern ireland through the day.
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there's another weather front heading our way, but that's to come thursday night. but look at the temperatures — 28 in london, widely mid—20s into yorkshire, for example. we could actually hit 30 celsius on thursday. now, here's a reminder of the pollen levels — if you've been struggling with your nose and itchy eyes, the pollen levels are very high. and also, it's worth mentioning the uv levels — we are approaching the longest day of the year, the sun's high in the sky. you know, make sure you're very careful if you're out for any lengthy period of time in that sunshine. so, here's a look at the weather for friday. this will actually be the peak of the heat — so these south—southwesterly winds draw up that hot air from the south, 33—34 celsius, all the hot air coming in from france. the northwest of the country, much fresher here — this is that cooler atlantic air already starting to spread in. 17 celsius in glasgow. and this is what happens during the course of saturday — so that cooler atlantic air wrapping around this low pressure spreads across the country, here's the cold front. the heat is pushed to
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the south, back into france, and we get into this area of storminess. so come the weekend, whether you like it or not, after a hot and sunny friday, it's all going to go "bang".
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welcome to bbc news. i'm rich preston. our top stories: the us announces a further $1 billion in military aid for kyiv and urges allies to provide more weapons to help ukraine battle russian forces. police searching the amazon for two missing men say they've found human remains. more than a million children in afghanistan, are facing malnutrition, as the country struggles with an economic crisis. we hear from families desperately trying to survive. i feel ashamed ifeel ashamed in i feel ashamed in front of my family that i am so poor, i cannot afford to provide good food. my sons are really thin because they are not eating well.
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