The admiral who led Britain’s task force in the 1982 Falklands War has died after a long illness, aged 81.
Born: May 1, 1932; Died: August 4, 2013.
Sir Sandy Woodward was commander of the carrier force sent by then-PM Margaret Thatcher to retake the Falklands. He served as deputy chief of the defence staff from 1985 and was made admiral in 1987.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond paid tribute, saying Adm Woodward had served his country “with distinction”.
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas said Adm Woodward would be remembered for his “powerful and clear command” of the Royal Navy Task Force.
“Undaunted by the challenge of fighting a capable enemy over 8,000 miles from the UK, in the most demanding and extreme of weather conditions, and against uncertain odds, Admiral Woodward’s inspirational leadership and tactical acumen – meshing the realities of the higher political command at home with the raw and violent fight at sea – was a major factor in shaping the success of the British forces in the South Atlantic,” he said.
“Highly regarded and widely respected within the military, he will be sorely missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.” Mr Hammond said: “I am saddened by the news that Admiral Sir John ‘Sandy’ Woodward, has died and my thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.
“Admiral Woodward served his country with distinction throughout his career, but he will be best remembered by many as the Navy’s Fighting Admiral after he led the Royal Navy Task Force, sent by Margaret Thatcher, to retake the Falkland Islands in 1982.”
Adm Woodward was born John Woodward in Penzance, Cornwall, on 1 May 1932, according to the Who’s Who database. He trained at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, and joined the navy in 1946. When Argentina invaded the British overseas territory of the Falkland Islands on 2 April 1982, he was a newly appointed rear admiral and acted as commander of the Carrier Battle Group from HMS Hermes. Three days later the first British task force ships left Britain, and by 14 June, following a number of key battles, the British had liberated Port Stanley. During the conflict, about 655 Argentines were killed and some 255 British soldiers.
Adm Woodward, who also went on to be the Flag Aide-de Camp to the Queen, was knighted for his services in the Falklands campaign. He retired in 1989 and later described his experiences of the campaign to take back the Falklands from Argentina’s military in a book titled One Hundred Days. In June 2011 Adm Woodward told a newspaper he feared the islands were “now perilously close to being indefensible”. He told the Daily Mail: “Twenty-nine years ago today, we re-claimed the Falklands for Britain in one of the most remarkable campaigns since the World War II.
The simple truth is without aircraft carriers and without the Americans, we would not have any hope of doing the same again today!