Sunday, April 01, 2007

Recollections of the Falklands – a Telegraph podcast worth listening to

Catching up with the interesting bits of the daily Telegraph podcast (about one in four segments), I stumbled across a fascinating recollection about the Falklands War.

The ten minute piece is still available to listen to.

Ian Martin served on HMS Hermes (of which I made a poor cardboard model while at primary school—very patriotic) and describes what life was like on the aircraft carrier, packed in, hot bunking, telling jokes about the sinking of the Belgrano (which felt right at the time but now seem less appropriate), receiving post from home out of sequence! The piece features recordings of some of the HMS Hermes tannoy announcements from Rear Admiral Sandy Woodward.

Makes me wonder about how the military deal with death. Sinking the enemy’s boat is a victory, seen abstractly as the enemy’s defeat, but not thought of at the time as a series of human deaths. The death of your own countrymen is very personal and drives the war effort on.

As a child in P5, the Falklands was my first taste of big war, world scale. And it was fascinating to follow what news there was. Updates were sparse, no satellite linkups in those days. So hearing about the sinking of HMS Sheffield on Sunday 2 May is quite vivid. Sandy Woodward was somewhat of a hero.

And Max Hastings / Simon Jenkins book The Battle for the Falklands (still available to purchase) about being embedded with the Paras on the Falklands was a great find at the bookstall at a school May fair. Wikipedia explains why Hastings was a prototype for John Simpson:

“When Hastings was with the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment as part of the British press corps reporting the Falklands War, the troops were ordered to stop but Hastings received no order and walked on, becoming the first man with the Falklands Task Force to arrive in the capital, Port Stanley. He then arranged an interview with the commanding officer of the Argentine forces who had occupied the islands.”

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