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Simon Bolivar

My Falklands Story Part 17A: White Flags over Stanley

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Quote Originally Posted by Simon Bolivar View Post
Turns out this part was so long I have split it into two.
Part 17a: White Flags over Stanley.
14th June: As dawn broke Argentine troops were seen fleeing from the hills back down to Port Stanley, by mid morning white flags were seen flying in the town. At 2100 FI time General Menendez surrendered to Major General Jeremy Moore & at 2215GMT Margret Thatcher announced the formal surrender. 9800 Argentines had laid down their weapons.
15th June: Senior British officers flew to various outposts to accept surrenders off isolated Argentine troops.
16th June: The MOD announced the official count of loss of British Military & civilian life was 255 & approx 300 wounded. This was an underestimate of injured & 777 wounded are the most quoted. The Uganda alone had treated 730 casualties, (donít forget Canberra had her share too) performed 504 operations & lost just 3 patients & 3 staff.
The celebrations onboard were modest; the surrender was expected by then, although just a few wks before when the finale would be wasnít clear. We held a party onboard & a let our hair down a little (after 3months at sea, there was a lot more hair than a servicemen would normally have to let down).
The following day we entered into Port William, which is the outer port to Port Stanley. Big ships canít enter Stanley as itís too shallow. We met up with the Canberra & apparently the QE2, although I canít remember seeing her myself. One of our officers was speaking on the open radio to a senior officer he knew on the beach & asked him what the three Hull trawlers were doing, that had passed us heading out to sea as were entering. ĎVery far from homeí was his thought. ĎOh they are converted mine sweepers & they are just going out on patrolí. ĎOh, where is the exercise?í ĎNo exercise there is a large minefield just outside the harbour. Good God, which route did you arrive by?í It was explained. ĎDamn you were lucky!í We hadnít been informed of the minefield as only open comms were allowed to a Red Cross ship & this info was designated Restricted. Hmm, who the fu*k from? They didnít think to tell us in case the Argentines heard there was a minefield outside the port? Wasnít it the Argentines who had laid the mines? I guess there was no deliberate decision to keep us in the dark on this issue, by then they were so used to not telling us anything, no one thought that this would be a time to keep us informed. Iíd like to think some serious questions would have been asked in the house if we had indeed hit a mine, just outside the refuge of safe harbour after the war was over. I guess this was our closest scrape & on reflection one Iíd rather not repeat. In fact yrs later I was offered a job to go out to Iraq picking up casualties from minefields post the first Gulf War & I turned it down. One should never push oneís luck too far & by then I was a married man with daughter.
We were offered an afternoon on the island, our first chance to step ashore since leaving Gibraltar, most of us made the effort to climb in to the open lifeboats & pooter ashore like we were on a P&O cruise. It was strange walking around the town we had just helped liberate. It wasnít exactly like scenes from the liberation of Italy, France or Holland. I canít really recall seeing many locals; they all seemed to be keeping a low profile. We found that the only pub, the Globe & Laurel, for yrs the Bootie hang out had been closed to servicemen. Already the locals seemed to be treating Jack & squaddies as they might in Pompey or Aldershot; as a necessary hassle& not to be fraternised with.
We saw some of the damage to the buildings & a downed puma by the road side. Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	17669I went off the road a little to take a panoramic pic of the harbour, just about 15yds up an incline, picking my way around the gorse & broom. Afterwards I realised that wasnít so smart with small plastic mines scattered at random, I could have come a cropper for the second time that day.This is Government House (note flag).Click image for larger version. 

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That flag had been raised after the surrender by the RM of Juliet Company 42 CDO & my mate, the guy I talked into going down there before the first shot was fired, is the one in the blue beret. So glad to save he survived.Click image for larger version. 

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We made arrangements with the locals & had a large group of children come out the following day, we had jellies & ice cream (canít believe we hadnít eaten it all by then ourselves!) & played party games suitable for 8yoís & matelots. Some of those children still remember that day & mentioned it in the recent write ups this year.This is Port Stanely CathedralClick image for larger version. 

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We began to pack up our remaining supplies, theatre gear, beds, remaining medicines & dressing & they were flown over to the local hospital that we could see from our deck. It was green with red cross on the corrugated tin roof. This passed the time as we were all getting impatient to get sailing & be homeward bound.
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