Falklands veteran reflects on 'forgotten' war

An Armed Forces charity has found that 35 percent of British adults could not remember the year the Falklands Conflict took place.

SSAFA has also found that three in 10 adults over 50 admit they have little memory of the Falklands Conflict – despite having lived through it – and 92percent had no idea five ships were sunk during the Falklands Conflict.

SSAFA is now calling on the British public to learn more about the Falklands Conflict, as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Falklands Conflict and SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity is calling on the British public to remember those who served during the Falklands Conflict, particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

In a recent survey of UK adults, SSAFA found that 29% know very little about the historical events of their lifetime with more than a third of these adults feeling ashamed they don’t know more about their past.

A staggering 35% of British adults could not name the year the Falklands Conflict took place and a fifth had no idea which countries fought at the time. Six in 10 adults could not identify how long the conflict went on for, 92% had no idea five British Royal Navy ships were sunk, and 74% were unaware 907 lives were lost in total.

Concerningly, more than a quarter of adults didn’t know who the British Prime Minister was during the Falklands war (it was in fact Margaret Thatcher) with one in 10 thinking it was Winston Churchill, and six percent naming Boris Johnson.

Mark Trainor – a Falklands veteran and SSAFA volunteer in Lincolnshire – works with the charity to support veterans and their families, many of whom have experienced different challenges, both directly from recent military operations as well as during peacetime.

Mark, who wants to raise awareness of modern-day conflicts and in particular the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War, said: “In 1980, I joined HMS GLAMORGAN where I spent the next five years. The ship was going 24/7 and it was pretty scary, to be honest, when you heard the aircraft, because then you wondered, ‘is it a friend or foe?’

“When our ship got hit, it was just a thud, that’s all we heard. And then we started hearing we’d been hit. When we went round to the port side, there was a big hole on the deck in front of the hangar. The hangar got taken out…but there was no panic, you’ve got to deal with the situation.

“Though nothing prepared me for burying people at sea and I’m very clear with this because it’s still there, this wasn’t like putting somebody in a coffin. The medics tried to match up parts of the body as best they could, and they were in bin bags with sinkers on. People need to be aware and remember the brutality and horror of this conflict.

“As a Falklands veteran, I think it is incredibly important for the public to ensure that the Falklands Conflict is never forgotten. It’s very hard to believe it has been 40 years since the war, but it changed me, and it changed the person I am today. We must never forget.”

Sir Andrew Gregory, CEO at SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, said: “Protecting its peoples from aggression is one of the prime responsibilities of any Nation. The United Kingdom was required to fulfil that obligation when forced to liberate the Falkland Islands in 1982.

“Having ensured the population could continue to live in freedom, we remember the 255 British military personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice and the many others who were wounded 40 years ago. It is important that this country understands the critical role of members of our Armed Forces in sustaining the democratic rule of law in this part of the South Atlantic and wherever else they are threatened.

“SSAFA supported serving personnel and their families before, during and after the Falklands Conflict, just as we have done for every campaign over the last 137 years. And we continue to support those veterans and their families still living with the lasting effects of their time fighting for the freedom of the Falkland Islands. We were there for them then and will remain so now and into the future.”

SSAFA is calling on the British public to remember those who served during the Falklands conflict, particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice. The charity supports serving personnel, veterans, and their families during times of hardship, providing practical, financial and emotional support when needed.

To find out more and to help SSAFA continue to support the Armed Forces, visit ssafa.org.uk/Falklands-40