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News > Dukie News > 40th Anniversary of the Falklands War

40th Anniversary of the Falklands War

1 Apr 2022
Dukie News

This weekend is the 40th Anniversary of the start of the Falklands War

 2nd April 1982.

The conflict began on 2 April, when Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands, followed by the invasion of South Georgia the next day. On 5 April, the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force before making an amphibious assault on the islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with an Argentine surrender on 14 June, returning the islands to British control. In total, 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel, and three Falkland Islanders died during the hostilities. (Wikipedia).

Like many of you, I was at boarding school (down the road in Folkestone) when the news broke of the invasion of the Falkland Islands, not many people knew where they were, I remember some of my friends panicking because they thought they were a group of Islands off Scotland and then relief when everyone found out that they were way down in the South Atlantic! However, as my dad was a Soldier I remember feeling scared that he would have to go to war. I (and he) were very fortunate that he was not called up, but being in the Engineers, he did do a six month tour in 1984 to help with the rebuilding. Our only communication in those days was 'blueys' which took weeks to arrive and the only phone call we managed during the whole six months was on his 40th birthday!

I am sure many of you have memories from that time, perhaps you were involved directly or had loved ones who were involved.

Sadly amongst the casualties was Dukie Paul Neville Lightfoot (1972 - 1977 Haig, Wolfe). L/Cpl PN Lightfoot, Royal Signals attached to the Special Air Service, was on a Sea King ZA 294 helicopter during the evening of 19/05/1982, which crashed into the sea whilst transferring troops from HMS Hermes (an aircraft carrier) to HMS Intrepid, an amphibious warfare ship. At one time, it was believed that the helicopter was brought down because it hit an albatross, but that was later disproved. The exact cause of the crash is still a mystery – there never seems to be a suggestion that it was hit by enemy fire. Paul joined the Royal Signals as an Army Apprentice straight from school, following in his father's footsteps into the regiment.

Len Wilby provided some information about Paul, who was known as 'Nev' to his friends. He was on the swimming team and in the Gym squad and Len remembers a particular story about CCF camp, which I will leave to Len to share. Len and a group of Dukies (the class of 1972) also clubbed together to purchase a plaque in Paul's name which is on one of the athletic benches.

Paul is commemorated in the School Chapel, where a plaque bears his name as well as the memorial in Herefordshire where Paul is also remembered by the SAS Regiments. He is also named on the National Memorial in Staffordshire.

My thanks to Len Wilby (1972 - 1979, Clive) and Stephen King (school librarian & Chaplin) for providing information for this article.

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