DISBELIEF AMONG TROOPS THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE TO DIE FOR THE FALKLANDS
[ 1 May 1982 ]
On 1 May 1982, Labour MP Tony Benn published a letter, although withholding the woman’s name, from the fiancee of a marine on the British task force, which had been sent to seize the remote Falkland Islands back from Argentina.
‘Dear Mr Benn… My fiance is a Royal Marine with the task force and this morning I received a letter and poem from him. It was a very harrowing letter. He says that the majority of his company do not want to fight over islands so far from home and expresses disbelief that the British government can think of letting so many young men die for this issue. The press and TV insist on showing the few who are itching for a fight but most of the ‘men’ under him are 18 years old on average… Please do anything in your power to stop this tragic thing happening.’1
Nearly one thousand men were killed during the battle for the islands, including 258 British forces personnel and islanders as well as 649 Argentinians. Hundreds more were seriously injured, including 777 British personnel and 1068 Argentinians.2 Many of those killed on both sides were either lost or buried eight thousand miles from home in the South Atlantic, so that their loved ones were only able to hold memorial services. Some relatives of British soldiers killed on the islands had to wait over six months for their remains to be flown home.3
- Ruth Winstone (Editor), Tony Benn: The End of an Era: Diaries 1980-90, Hutchinson, London, 1992, p. 201 and p. 219.
- Peter Foster, ‘Determination to reclaim Falklands showed the extent of her ruthless streak,’ The Irish Independent, 9 April 2013 accessed online at url https://www.independent.ie/world-news/americas/determination-to-reclaim-falklands-showed-the-extent-of-her-ruthless-streak-29182801.html
- Walter Bagehot, Remembering and misremembering Britain’s martial past, The Economist, 8 September 2011 accessed online at url https://www.economist.com/bagehots-notebook/2011/09/08/remembering-and-misremembering-britains-martial-past
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