British troops who saw action 30 years ago share their recollections with MSN.
Martin Cleaver, PA Archive
"I was an engineer on board HMS Hydra, an oceanographic survey ship. We became an ambulance and hospital ship, with red crosses painted on the white funnel.
"We had just left Sierra Leone when we heard about HMS Sheffield. I thought of a friend I had on board, only to hear later he had died. His name was LMEM Knowles, a sad loss indeed. We realised then it was real.
"We all trained for fire and battle damage, and for casualty handling and nursing duties. We eventually transported over 250 casualties back to the UK in four trips via Uruguay.
"Among those we transported were most of the burn cases from the HMS Galahad and Tristan, including Simon Weston.
"After the hostilities were over, we stayed on to sail round the island with the local dentist. People would greet us whether it was in Port Stanley, Goose Green or other settlements and thank us for what we had done for them. This still makes me feel proud to this day. To this day I feel this is the biggest achievement of my life. I know all my family were immensely proud of me.
- Marine Enginering Mechanic (Mechanical) Mark Rafferty, HMS Hydra. (Left the navy as Leading Marine Engineering Mechanic (Mechanical) in 2004 after 25 years' service.)
"I'd joined HMS Sheffield in 1979 and was due to leave her in May 1982. We'd just completed a nine-month tour on Gulf patrol and were approximately three days away from our home port of Portsmouth when the captain informed us that we were turning around and heading towards the Falkland Islands.
"As a young 22-year old Able Seaman, I and many others were absolutely amazed. Why were the Argentinians invading an island off Scotland? We didn't have a clue where the Falklands were.
"It took ages to get there. The weather was atrocious in the Atlantic. I can remember distinctly five of my mates and I sitting on the Flight Deck gossiping about what was in store for us. We all laughed about how good it would be to get a little damaged and then sail home into our base port as heroes. How little did we know that we weren't far off the truth."
[HMS Sheffield was struck by an Exocet anti-ship missile launched by the Argentinian Navy on 4 May 1982, was abandoned, and finally sank on 10 May 1982.]
- Dilwyn Jones, Rhayader, Powys
"I was in the RAF serving with 18 Squadron. I sailed down on the MV Norland along with 2 Para from the Ascension Islands. We set anchor in "bomb alley" [San Carlos Water, on the north-western coast of East Falkland] and waited for 2 Para to set up a bridgehead. Along with many other ships on the task force, we witnessed many bombing raids by the Argentinian Air Force, which included the sinking of HMS Coventry.
"Once the bridgehead had been established, some of us were then transferred onto the Atlantic Conveyor to sort out our equipment including all the Chinook spares. I stayed on her for one night and then transferred to HMS Fearless where we met up with the rest of the squadron.
"It was on HMS Fearless just after an air raid warning that we heard that the Atlantic Conveyor had been hit and was sinking. We later had it confirmed that all remaining 18 Squadron members on board had survived.
"We were devastated by the news, but then we heard that one of our Chinooks, call sign Bravo November, had survived and was still flying and that had now become our priority. Bravo November was to become legend in her own right. With no spares at all and just a few screwdrivers that the engineers had, she was kept airborne.
"We eventually set up base at Port San Carlos, living and working in sheep-shearing sheds and portacabins. The settlement had a few small houses still occupied by the locals and a farmhouse. From here Bravo November flew many more missions and was eventually joined by more Chinooks that sailed down another container ship."
- Darrel Gregory, Luton
Martin Cleaver, PA Archive
"I don't really talk about it, as I was there as a Royal Marine Commando. I was on the RFA Sir Galahad all three times when we were hit. It does bring back memories for me, especially in Bluff Cove - that was horrific [scene of an attack on the Galahad by Argentinian fighters - pictured above]. I will never ever forget that day for the rest of my life.
"The Welsh Guards should have never have been on that ship, sitting and waiting to get off with around 700 ton of ammo in the hold. They were in the tank deck with the ammo when it went up. Not nice the scenes that I saw, trying to help these guys off. I was one of the lucky ones not to get hit but I was there till the last to get people off the Galahad.
"As you know many a life was lost [56 British servicemen were killed]. It still affects me now and it always will."
- Robert Brown PO30371u, Plymouth
"I was in the WRNS serving on HMS Heron - RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset. Overnight the camp was emptied of nearly all available sailors and equipment, leaving only a skeleton force to keep the camp running.
"I was on duty in the communication centre a few weeks later when news came through that one of our helicopters had crashed killing all onboard. This incident really brought home to us that we really were at war. I also remember that we were shocked at the way some of the press behaved, as they tried to obtain information about those who had died. They pretended to be members of the sailors' families together with other underhand tactics.
"I seemed to be on watch each time an incident or loss occurred, such as the loss of HMS Antelope and Sheffield. I don't know how we managed to work on when we heard such awful news, but we did albeit with heavy hearts.
"I also remember the pride we all felt when our boys came home, and watching in awe as the Chinooks returned to Yeovilton with military hardware slung below them.
- Suzanne Gardiner
"I was 23 years old and sailing to the Falklands was the most exciting thing I and most of us had done in our naval careers so far.
"I had already been in the Navy seven years, and had married the year before, around the time of Charles and Diana's wedding. My only regret on sailing to war was that I hadn't had any children yet. Everyone back home were very proud of us but also very frightened for our safety.
"We arrived in the Total Exclusion Zone aboard HMS Bristol about three weeks later and were armed to the teeth. It was pandomonium, we were at action stations almost all of the time.
"That first day we arrived HMS Coventry was sunk. I heard a neighbour of ours on HMS Glamorgan had been killed, and one of our chefs lost his father-in-law on the Atlantic Conveyor.
"The most moving and memorable sight I remember was seeing the masts of two of our ships almost side by side just poking through the surface in that very dark cold ocean. I fortunately came home safely six months later to great celebrations. It was a part of my life that will always be special to me and all who served."
- Michael Price
Martin Cleaver, PA Archive
"I served in the conflict and was awarded the South Atlantic medal with rosette (for those in the immediate war zone).
"I was proud to serve but was scared, as were all of us. We were driven by a sense of patriotic pride. I read the comments today of some who were not involved and wonder, was it worth it? Not for the rights of the inhabitants of the islands, that was never in doubt and still is not today. But I now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and will never recover fully from what I experienced.
"To hear those who question the reasons for our actions sickens me. My mates died thinking they were representing Britain, a proud and strong country who protected its own. I would do the same again tomorrow as a matter of principal, but I would not believe I had the support of the British people behind me anymore."
- John Lamont, Campeltown, Argyll
"I was serving at the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar in Gosport, which has sadly been closed down. I was a serving Petty Officer Medical Assistant in the Royal Navy. During the war one of my jobs was to collect the casualties from Brize Norton in a converted coach which we called the Jumbalance. The courage of some of the casualties I picked up was unbelievable. Their morale and sense of humour was still very high despite all that they had gone through. Some of them had missing arms and legs.
"My best mate was an Marine Engineer on HMS Coventry which was sunk by a missile. When I heard on the news that it had been sunk it was a long time before I knew that he was safe. I was very relieved when I found out.
"I have also done two tours of the Falklands on Type 42 destroyers. The welcome we got from the locals was out of this world. They were and still are very grateful for all that we had done for them."
- Mike Wood
Martin Cleaver, PA Wire
"The picture you show of the bomb exploding on HMS Antelope (above): I was on board when this went off.
"I was between the main engines. The bomb was located about 10ft away in an air conditioning room, which eventually killed various bomb explosive team members who tried to defuse it. After moving to the flight deck and wearing a fire suit and Bascca [Breathing Apparatus, Self-Contained Compressed Air] it exploded.
"I was blown to the aft end of the flight deck. The other bomb went through the forward petty officer's mess, killing Steward Stephens on its way through. If they'd gone off on entry I would not be here today. The fact that they were released in low altitude saved my life.
"This was all before my 18th birthday. My parents have this picture framed on their wall at home. They did not know for a week if I was alive or not, until a nice policeman knocked on the door to inform them I was. My mother says she lost a stone in weight worrying.
"The next day after transferring to HMS Fearless via landing craft, we were bombed again, then we transferred to the Norland ferry, then on to the QE2, then headed home. I did two further tours of duty down there on HMS Penelope."
- a PVD-III Chief Mechanic
"I served onboard HMS Glamorgan.
"We were on our way home from Gibraltar when we heard that Argentina had invaded the Falklands. The ship was turned round and we headed for the South Atlantic, stopping off at the Ascension Islands to await the Task Force.
"Glamorgan was one of the first ships along with Arrow and Ardent (later sank) to shell the Argentinian positions near Stanley in daylight. The ship was then used for much gunfire support of the land forces, until we were hit by a shore-based Exocet which killed some of my shipmates.
"On completion of repairs we were sent back to the UK. As we sailed into Portsmouth the welcome from the British public was fantastic. I was proud to serve my country. After all these years the memories are still with me, as are the guys who didn't make it."
- Ray Kite, Bristol
"As far as I know, I was the youngest serving soldier to land on the islands during Operation Corporate [to retake the Falklands].
"I was 17 at the time. My 18th birthday was 4 July. The Argentinians' surrender was on 14 June.
"I was a shiny new addition to 656 Squadron Army Air Corps. Please don't confuse us with the Royal Air Force - it's like confusing Man Utd with Man City!
"As a private soldier, or AirTrooper, I wasn't really that concerned with the bigger picture of what was going on, but the minutiae of day-to-day preparations in the run-up to the conflict stick vividly in my mind.
"We sailed on the QE2 on 12 May to much fanfare and tears. It was all a bit overwhelming really. Many things happened in preparation for action but one thing really does stick with me: zap numbers. These were numbers allocated to each individual - a list of which was given to each radio operator - so that in the event of any of us being killed (zapped) our names were not given out over the insecure radio net, just our zap number. Mine was A-013.
"We did lose a couple of squadron members, a pilot and his crewman (Sgt. Chris Griffin and L/Cpl Simon Cockton) when their aircraft was shot down (by the Royal Navy as it turned out). As part of the ground defence section I, along with three others, was detailed to guard the impact site of the aircraft, and we were instructed not to get too close as we might not like what we saw. We ignored the instruction. I wish we had not."
- Nik Bryan, Waterlooville, Hampshire
Grateful thanks to everyone who shared their memories of the Falklands War.