Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Falklands War Remembered

HMS Protector’s Royal Marines recreate epic Falklands yomp
25 March 2014
Five Royal Marines marched 120 kilometres in four days as they sought to emulate the deeds of their forebears in the Falklands 32 years ago.
The team from ice patrol ship HMS Protector yomped in full kit from San Carlos to the islands’ capital Stanley, following the exact route of 45 Commando in 1982.
Pictures: LA(Phot) Vicki Benwell, HMS Protector
WITH the Union Flag fluttering in the strong Falklands wind, Royal Marines from HMS Protector approach Stanley – just like their forebears in 45 Commando more than 30 years ago.
A team of five green berets from the Navy’s ice patrol ship yomped the 120 kilometres (75 miles) across East Falkland – carrying full kit and following the exact route that the Arbroath Royal Marines marched and fought in 1982.
The team from Protector – which is on an 18-month deployment carrying out scientific research and updating maritime charts in the South Atlantic and around Antarctica – were dropped off at San Carlos, where British forces came ashore in May 1982, with the goal of reaching Stanley and liberating the islands.
It took 45 Commando more than three weeks to cross East Falkland 32 years ago with the threat posed by Argentine forces compounded by the onset of the Austral winter – they fought their way to Stanley in May and June, equivalent to November and December north of the Equator.
It was still late summer when the Protector commandos set off and they found the going relatively benign initially as they headed from the tiny settlement of Port San Carlos to New House, 22 kilometres (13½ miles away), then down to Teal Inlet where they’d left a small supply dump one month earlier when Protector last visited the Falklands.
As the team set off on their next leg, they ran into a 45 Commando veteran making his first visit to the islands since 1982 and was being shown around the islands by C/Sgt Trev Law, the Royal Marine serving with the Falkland Island Defence Force in Stanley. 
After pitching camp at Bluff Cove Peak to the west of Stanley, the five marines moved out across most hallowed ground for 45 Commando – the approaches to Two Sisters, where in 1982 the unit ousted a well-dug-in Argentine force.
From the top of the mountain, there were just 15 kilometres (eight miles) left to go until Stanley – and the chance to recreate the iconic photograph of green berets on the final march into the capital, with the Union Flag flying proudly from the signaller’s antenna.
And in Stanley there was another historic recreation – the raising of the British standard outside Government House, residence of the Falklands’ governor.
A number of Protector’s sailors were waiting for the commandos, as were some fellow Royal Marines undergoing landing craft training in the islands, and green berets who’ve settled in the remote South Atlantic archipelago.
After four days of strenuous efforts, the team paused to pay their respects at the Liberation monument before a celebratory pint at the famous Globe Tavern.
“One of the highlights of the yomp was seeing a Globe and Laurel flag outside an Royal Marines Association veteran’s house in Stanley as we passed,” said Mne Rob Davis.
“As we got closer towards the centre we came across a house with all its windows wide open and the secretary of the Falkland Islands RMA playing Life on the Ocean Wave at full blast for all to hear.
“This was certainly a moment which made us tremendously proud of our week’s endeavours and to be able to say we had retraced the 45 Commando Falklands yomp as accurately as possible in the Royal Marines’ 350th anniversary year.”

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