Paras Mark Falklands’ Anniversary
Paratroopers have marked the 30th anniversary of the Falklands Conflict with a drum head service in their hometown of Colchester.
The service was held on 14th June to commemorate the Parachute Regiment’s involvement in the 1982 conflict and honour those who were killed in action. Both 2nd and 3rd Battalions of The Parachute Regiment, then based in Aldershot and Tidworth respectively and now at Colchester’s Merville Barracks, played a key role in the British task force sent to successfully repel the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands. Both battalions landed at San Carlos Water on East Falkland on 21st May and fought during the advance across the island, which culminated in the surrender of Argentine forces in Port Stanley on 14th June.
Local dignitaries joined troops and veterans from the Parachute Regimental Association for the ceremony, which was led by Rev Hector MacKenzie, Chaplain of 3 PARA. Mayor of Colchester Cllr Christopher Arnold; Col Andrew Jackson, Dep Cdr of 16 Air Assault Brigade; Maj Bruce Radbourne, second-in-command of 3 PARA, and veterans laid wreathes during the service.
Maj Radbourne said: “This service was a very poignant occasion, both paying tribute to those who lost their lives in the Falklands and remembering with pride the achievements of our predecessors. As one of the Parachute Regiment’s battle honours, the Falklands form an integral part of our history. The story of the campaign is taught to recruits as an example of the spirit we expect from paratroopers, and has been upheld on subsequent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
CSgt Daniel Chambers, of 2 PARA, said: “As paratroopers it’s important for us to remember our history, which we are very proud of and forms a key part of our identity. What our predecessors did in the Falklands is the standard that we aspire to achieve.”
A total of 255 British and 649 Argentine troops were killed in action. Forty two members of The Parachute Regiment and attached personnel died, with a further 95 personnel from the two battalions wounded in action.
Posthumous Victoria Crosses, the highest UK award for gallantry, were awarded to two members of The Parachute Regiment. Lt Col Herbert ‘H’ Jones, commanding officer of 2 PARA, was decorated for his bravery at Goose Green on 28th May and Sgt Ian McKay, of 3 PARA, was honoured for his actions during an attack on Mount Longdon on the night of 11th – 12th June.
The Parachute Regiment was awarded a battle honour, presented to a regiment for distinguished involvement in a significant engagement or campaign, for the Falklands Islands. This honours the Regiment’s involvement in significant battles at Goose Green, Mount Longdon and Wireless Ridge.