We arrived in Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands on 25th January 2020 on a cold but sunny day. We were fortunate to have a retired Colonel from the British Army as our guide to the Mountain Battlefields of the war where the United Kingdom recovered the Falklands after the Argentine invasion on 2nd April 1982. We were reminded about the assembly of the UK task force, the attempts to negotiate a peaceful solution, the sinking of the General Belgrano and HMS Sheffield, the landing on 21st May at San Carlos on East Falkland and the battle for Goose Green and the town of Darwin. We were taken to Estancia which overlooks Teal Inlet which was where the landing force established a forward supply base. We saw the wreck of an Argentine helicopter. We were then shown and talked through the battles for the mountains of Mount Harriet, Two Sisters, Longdon, Mount Tumbledown, Mount Williams and finally Wireless Ridge. With the British in control of all the mountains overlooking Port Stanley, the Argentinians surrendered on 14th June. We returned to Port Stanley to the memorial to the 255 British Military dead and the three civilian dead. (649 Argentines died.) Nearby is a statue of Margaret Thatcher.
The resident population of the Falkland Islands is now 3,500 with a mix of those born on the islands, many officials posted from the UK on two year assignments and many who service the tourist industry, some of whom are only resident in the summer. The tourist industry is booming with 65,000 visitors a year, most arriving on cruises, like we did. All three elements of the British Military are represented on the islands with three radar lookouts monitoring a 250km circle. When David was there three years ago there were 2,000 military personnel. The number is apparently down to about 700 now. Port Stanley is a small town of one storey houses with colourful roofs, two churches and a small number of shops providing supplies for the locals and knick knacks for tourists. We came across Alice Clarke a young jewellery artist from Yorkshire, who has a Falklander boyfriend who runs adventure activities for tourists. In the Falkland winter they migrate north to Yorkshire for the British summer. A pretty metal bracelet, made by Alice, is now on my wife’s jewellery collection.