After my flight from the UK landed, I was picked up by my son James and driven to the base officers quarters where I threw my suitcase into a cabin and was then whisked off to the Phoenix Bar, an excellent watering hole hidden behind helicopter operations. Needless to say, I slept well that Thursday night!
Friday morning we flew over where the wrecks of ARDENT & ANTELOPE lie and other battle locations such as Goose Green. We landed at Volunteer Point and spent the afternoon on the beach and fields amongst the enchanting penguins.
That evening we were invited onboard the patrol vessel HMS Forth, and after a tour of the ship, we had some scran and beers in the Senior Rates mess. I must admit James had to crowbar me out of the mess at the end of the evening.
On Saturday morning, James drove us to Port Stanley an hours bumpy ride away. We booked into Liberty Lodge, a lovely place with lovely views and comfy beds. Even better was the leftover beers in the fridge! Along the seafront of this quaint little town, the islanders have planted Memorial Wood. One tree for each of the guys who didn’t come back with a plaque bearing their name. It’s a beautiful and very tranquil place. A nice meal and a couple of drinks later it was back to the lodge for some zests.
Sunday was spent at the memorials for the Glamorgan & Atlantic Conveyer then the return to Mount Pleasant.
Monday morning broke to lovely weather so offwe flew to Campito Hill. James brought along a bottle of rum and also got the RAF padre to accompany us with a wreath. We were also joined by four matelots off of HMS Forth, which was the icing on the cake.
The weather changed to wind and hailstones, so the service was carried out in the lee of a rock outcropping. It was extremely emotional for me, but in the end, I felt honoured to be able to pay my respects to the lads. After the weather cleared, we were able to get to the cross and tidy it up a bit. The padre laid the wreath and James secured the rum with some rocks.
It really is an extraordinary place, you can see where both ships lie from the same point and is very quiet and peaceful. Back to the Phoenix Bar that night where I was introduced to a drink of port mixed with a blue wkd which tastes like vimto. Needless to say, I woke up with a sore head!
So goodbye to James at departures (who got me into the VIP Lounge)after thanking him a million times for all he did for me down there and then the long flight home.
I’m so glad I made the trip at long last because it’s laid some personal ghosts for me.
I want to say that if you can go back to the Falklands, you will not regret it.