The Royal British Legion Cranleigh and District Branch – Remembrance Events – 10th June 2022

On 10th June 2022, the Cranleigh and District Branch of The Royal British Legion will be commemorating the lives lost in the Falklands, 40 years ago. There will be a Wreath laying Ceremony at 10:30am in the Aldershot Military Cemetary and a second Wreath laying Ceremony at 12pm, in Brookwood Military Cemetary.

At 3pm there will be a Service of Remembrance at the Cranleigh War Memorial. This will be followed by a talk at 7:30pm in the Cranleigh Sports and Social Club, given by Cranleigh RBL Committee member Capt Simon Bevan RN, who served with 820 Sqdn Fleet Air Arm on HMS Invincible, for the duration of the conflict.

Among those whose graves we shall be honouring are Sgt Ian McKay VC and Pte Jason Burt, who was killed in action on 12 June 1982, aged 17.

On the 30th anniversary of the Falklands, Jason’s mother, Terry, said this:

“It’s very important they are recognising the 30th anniversary. There are all sorts of memorial services and events, and I think it is great that the men who died are not forgotten…

“The recent comments from Argentina about the sovereignty of the Falklands don’t upset me. Had Jason ever said to me ‘Mum, I don’t think we should be doing this’, then I couldn’t live with that. But he was convinced it was the right thing to do. The night before he boarded the troop ship SS Canberra he phoned me and said:

‘Mum, we’re going to go down there to kick the Argies off our islands. They are British islands, Mum, and the whole world will be waiting to have a pop at us, if we don’t get these islands back.’

“That was how he felt. That was the last time I spoke to him.”

A small, intensely personal account, of the terrible price paid when Dictators are allowed to run amok: by the time Hitler’s territorial ambitions were finally quashed in 1945, over 40 million lives had been lost in Europe and, ironically, Russia.

General Galtieri’s military junta, which ordered an invasion of the Falkland Islands committed an affront, in full breach of sovereignty and all international convention and law at the time. The invasion was not to serve any strategic, protectionist needs or ambitions of Argentina’s; there was no significant financial or natural resource benefit to be had. It was fundamentally a propaganda exercise to increase Galtieri’s grip on his country and to bolster his Dictatorship.

Today’s devastating War in Ukraine is being fought over sovereignty and the upholding of international laws and boundaries, once again in the face of a Dictator’s aggression.

In the mind of seventeen year old Jason Burt, the Falklands War was fought over the same principles, for which he died. For which he must be forever honoured.

The United Kingdom’s response to the Argentine aggression back in 1982 was decisive and immediate. Within days, and for the first time since the second world war, the nation assembled a task force: effectively an Armada in defence of a peoples right to sovereignty and self determination – in short, Democracy.

The swiftness of the action astonished the world. In the words of a senior US Navy Commander: “what they are attempting is a military impossibility”. When Margaret Thatcher asked her First Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Lord Terence Lewin, “can we really do this”, his response was: “yes, but you must prepare for losses”.

Within a matter of days, the decision was made: ‘the impossible’ was embarked upon. And in outcome, the battle, won.

And losses were indeed suffered, on all sides. British land forces in the battle ashore were outnumbered 3:1. By its end, the campaign had cost 649 Argentine and 255 British lives, alongside 3 Falkland Islanders.

Was it worth it? General Galtieri stepped down from power and a vital principle had been upheld. Russian President Mikhael Gorbachov was later to announce that Britain’s action in the Falklands was an important factor in convincing him that the Cold War could not be won. It is a cruel irony that the subsequent fall of the Soviet Union, and the advent of Democracy in Eastern Europe and Russia, should now be under direct threat from yet another Dictator: a threat in which the whole world might yet become embroiled, with catastrophic outcome.

Once again there are those who, like young Jason Burt, are paying the awful price. And they too, must be Remembered.

Remembrance is the Act of Bearing Witness, for the sake and protection of future generations. Not only the lives lost, but also those who survived, many of whom were irreparably scarred by the experience. The Royal British Legion estimates that some 350 veterans of the Falklands have since taken their own lives.

On Friday 10th June, The Royal British Legion, Cranleigh and District Branch, is hosting a talk to commemorate, and to some extent re-live, the experiences and lessons of the Falklands War, in this, its 40th anniversary year. The talk will be a personal account from the perspective and experience of one who served ‘for the duration’: RBL member Capt Simon Bevan RN, who served with 820 Naval Air Squadron aboard HMS Invincible for the duration of the Falklands conflict, 2nd April – 14th June 1982.

The talk will feature previously unseen photographs and the opportunity for a post talk Q&A.

“At the going down of the Sun, and in the Morning, we will Remember Them”

The Royal British Legion, Cranleigh & District Branch
Cranleigh Sports & Social Club
Time: 7:30 – 8:30pm, Friday June 10th 2022
Admission: Free

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