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SAMA Wales/Cymru           
(South Atlantic Medal Association) 
NEWS Release

Welsh National Falklands Memorial Consecreation - 30 Sep 07Welsh National Falklands Memorial  Consecreation - 30 Sep 07
In the 25th Anniversary year since the conflict the Welsh National Falklands Memorial was consecrated, at a Drum-Head service in Alexander Gardens, Cardiff on September 30th to commemorate the 258 members of the Task Force and three Falklanders’ who died in the campaign.

The concept, three year fundraising, and most of the building was by veterans of SAMA Wales/Cymru – (South Atlantic Medal Association).

On the Portland stone plinth with granite facings will be a five-ton granite rock, which has traveled 8,500 miles from Mount Harriet, a gift from the Falklanders. Welsh Guards veteran Andy ‘Curly’ Jones, from Libanus, near Brecon found the rock at the base of the mountain where the Welsh Guards secured the ‘start line’ for an attack by 42 Commando, Royal Marines.

“I returned to the island, in 2005, to revisit places that had so many memories for me.” Said Andy. “ I also had this dream of bringing back a rock of some sort. It wasn’t till the last day that I saw it and it was as if the clouds had parted and there was the perfect shape. Bit bigger than I imagined! The idea sort of spiraled out of that with all members joining in with wonderful enthusiasm.”

So, this is the remarkable story of some four hundred veterans of SAMA82 Wales/Cymru, and of their families, who took up the idea, and by their own efforts raised the funds, and carried out most of the building work. The final stage being with the wholehearted support of the Welsh Assembly and Cardiff Council.

SAMA Wales/Cymru has achieved a National memorial which is a lasting tribute to all those who gave their lives in the 1982 campaign.

In February 2006 the five-ton granite rock, some seven feet high and almost as wide, was shipped by service people stationed in the Falklands. Some 70 veterans gathered in the Brecon Beacons when the stone was brought to its temporary resting place, from Southampton, by soldiers in the Royal Logistics Corps Territorials based at Maindy Barracks in Cardiff.

Until recently it had, poetically some might say, been resting in the Brecon Beacons, absorbing the
Hiraeth’ of Wales in a lay-by under the brow of Pen-y-Fan the highest mountain in Southern Britain,

Veterans then mixed the 20 tons of concrete and made the six foot high plinth, and steps at the “Brecon & Hay Farmers Ltd” yard on the outskirts of Brecon.

Fundraising included a sponsored walk by some 190 veterans, Naval, Marines, Army, families and friends up the steep, blustery and rain swept slopes of Pen-y-Fan. Among them Welsh Guards veterans John Jones who, though he lost both his lower legs, easily did the climb unaided on his prosthetic legs, and David Lewis from Market Drayton who was severely burnt. Also making the climb were two retired Welsh Guardsmen one 67 the other 70.

Welsh National Falklands Memorial Consecreation - 30 Sep 07On the 28th August the completion of laying the ‘foundations’, by SAMA veterans, was marked by Rhodri Morgan, First Minister for Wales, Councillor  Judith Woodham, Deputy Leader Cardiff Council with David Pickering Chairman, The Welsh Rugby Union laying the final engraved bricks. One laid by David said “Laid on behalf of the Welsh Falklands Veterans who built the memorial and have never forgotten their friends.” David’s presence was a symbolic act from the nation of rugby players as a ‘final touch down for the boys who will never see again their nation playing the wide and open game’!

SAMA82, founded in 1997, is an active ‘grass roots kinship’ group; with a UK membership of some 4,000 plus. A key objective has always been to make it possible for veterans, and families, particularly of the fallen, to return to the Falklands, a vital part of the ‘healing’ process. It also has close ties with Combat Stress the ex-services mental welfare society, which partly government funded has to be supported by vital public donations.

Many members of the Welsh public have contributed to this National Memorial.” Said Andy Jones. “Emotions within Wales have run high during this special 25th commemorative year. Wales, more than any other home nation, suffered a disproportionate percentage of casualties during the conflict.”

“All major battles and ship losses had dead and injured from Wales. The largest loss of life during the operation being the Sir Galahad tragedy at Fitzroy on 8th June 1982 with the loss of 48, most young Welsh Guardsmen.

SAMA82 Wales/Cymru was founded in 2003 some 21 years after the campaign. Now with some 400 members it provides Welsh Falklands veterans with a really helpful link with each other. Some members travel many miles to attend meetings and functions, or find that another comrade lives nearby.

Service life makes wonderful lifelong bonds. It’s rather like being a football fan. Except that it’s ones mates that matter. In the most difficult and dangerous of times you rely on them and they on you! This is especially so for those who experience the horror, and reality of a campaign.

Added to that is the British regimental system that means that most soldiers serve with people from their region, and so understand the timbre and nuances of dialect, custom and history. It’s a system that is the envy of the World and which politicians tamper with at their peril.

Wales has many small Falklands memorials marking local people who made the ‘supreme sacrifice’. Three of the largest are in Cardiff, Pontypridd and Wrexham. The Pontypridd granite rock sadly includes the names of three Welsh Guardsmen who all went to Hawthorn High School.

Why then another Welsh memorial? Simply because, although all SAMA Wales/Cymru members, Naval, Paras, Marines, Guardsmen, and others through these long twenty five years, have been troubled with personal demons they have never forgotten those ‘mates’, or as is said in Wales ‘butties’ who made the final sacrifice.

“This National Memorial will have all 258 names that gave their lives restoring freedom and democracy to the Falkland Islands and its people.” Said Andy Jones.

Welsh National Falklands Memorial Consecreation - 30 Sep 07“This granite rock will be there now for years to come.” Said Stephen (Hoppy) Hopkins SAMA82 Wales/Cymru Chairman from Maesycymmer. “It’s somewhere where veterans, wives, children – some who never knew their fathers – parents, grandparents and grandchildren can come and remember, and feel just that bit closer. Of course it’s also a place where the people of Wales can come to say a prayer in remembrance of all those who died, Falklanders’ and members of the Task Force

“When we formed one of our first jobs was to assist two members to return to the Falklands. Since then SAMA Wales have sent back over twenty Veterans from many units and areas of Wales. In addition during its short life we have referred veterans, in need, to “Combat Stress”, the ex services mental welfare society, where expert help is at hand for PTSD and the like. A very good working relationship is now enjoyed with Combat Stress and other service charities. So, Fundraising is important for us”.

The greatest casualties were, tragically from the Welsh Guards who lost a total of 36 over the whole campaign. Thirty two at Fitzroy when the Sir Galahad was bombed, three serving with the SAS, and the last to die was L/Cpl Chris Thomas hit by an Argentine artillery shell shrapnel on the last day of fighting. His mother Paula Shear, a stalwart of the Falklands Families Association, attended the consecration

With them are added four soldiers, from the Army Catering Corps, and two from The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, who were attached to the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. Tradition is, that they too are logged as members of the regiment. 

Also killed were - One Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant and Lance Corporal Budhaparsad Limbu, Gurkha Rifles. Who died in a booby-trap explosion clearing trench’s at Goose Green some days after the surrender.

Finally there were three Falklands civilian deaths – Doreen Bonner, Mary Goodwin and Sue Whitley                               

The British task force was some 30,000 strong. With 5 Infantry Battalions and 3 Marine Battalions. The Argentines suffered 649 deaths.

Unfortunately it is a sad fact that more servicemen have taken their own lives since the conflict that actually died during the campaign. Something which SAMA and Combat Stress are desperately trying to stem.

-ends-

Pix Caps

SAMA1&3WreathLayers

L/R Mrs. Paula Shear, Poole previously Cardiff, whose Welsh Guards son Christopher Thomas died from shrapnel wounds on the last day of war. Paula is a stalwart member of the Falklands Families Association and a plays a key part in organizing the annual St Paul’s memorial; Paula is pictured with the three key wreath layers - Councilor Ian Hansen, a farmer, representing the Falklands Government; Chairman of SAMA,Welsh Guardsman Lt Col Tony Davies, who was RSM of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards in the campaign. Tony joined the regiment in 1960 aged sixteen as a Junior Leader, He served, with the battalion, on a years unaccompanied tour in the Aden Protectorate, and in Northern Ireland. On retiring he was Area Manager Wales for the Royal British Legion. A Cardiff man he now lives in London; Finally, representing The Falklands Families Association was Ray Poole their Financial Secretary. Ray formerly from Pontypridd, lives in Tenby. His son Gareth died on the Sir Galahad, and is also remembered on the Pontypridd Falklands memorial.

SAMA MRSOsborne – map & stone
Joyce Osborne from Old Colwyn, North Wales, whose son David, ships cook, died on HMS Sheffield, lays her very personal wreath with pride and grief. “It’s for Joyce and all the other bereaved that we in SAMA Wales (South Atlantic Medal Association) built this Welsh national monument to the Boys who were our mates” said Andy ‘Curly’ Jones, Secretary SAMA Wales, from Libanus, Brecon who originally thought of the project, which was in actually a ‘covenant’.

SAMA Joyce OsborneWreath,
After the official wreath laying Joyce Osborne from Old Colwyn, North Wales, whose son David, ships cook, died on HMS Sheffield, laid her very personal wreath with pride and grief. “It’s for Joyce and all the other bereaved that we in SAMA Wales (South Atlantic Medal Association) built this Welsh national monument to the Boys who were our mates” said Welsh Guardsman Andy ‘Curly’ Jones, Secretary SAMA Wales, from Libanus, Brecon who originally thought of the project, which was in actuality a ‘covenant’.

SAMA Memorial

The Welsh National Falklands Monument surmounted by a five ton granite rock from Mt Harriet in the Falklands was consecrated by a drum- head service, on 30th Sept 07, attend by the some four hundred SAMA Wales veterans, widows, mothers, children of those lost in the conflict, and dignitaries. The concept for a national monument and the rock was by Welsh Guardsman Andy ‘Curly’ Jones, from Libanus, Brecon. Four hundred SAMA Wales veterans raised the funds to build it and made the monument, all bar the granite inscriptions and Portland stone claddings which were made, by stonemasons in Brecon and Cross Hands. The memorial carries the 258 names of those who died in the conflict, including three Falklander’s. Sadly since 1982, the year of the conflict, some 250 veterans have taken their lives.

SAMA Andy Curly Jones & Stephen Hopwood - WHOSE DAFT IDEA WAS THIS?

SAMA Andy Curly Jones & Stephen HopwoodWelsh Guards, Falklands veteran Andy ‘Curly’ Jones (Right) from Libanus, Brecon, was nineteen in the 1982 campaign, and was on the Sir Galahad - on retiring he joined SAMA  (the South Atlantic Medal Association). He then became secretary of SAMA Wales/Cymru, and in 2004 dreamt of having a Welsh National monument, surmounted by a granite rock from the Falklands. On a return visit to the Falklands Curly saw an ideal five ton rock, which lay on what had been the start line, secured by the Welsh Guards, for an attack by 42 Commando, Royal Marines on to Mt Harriet. Two years later the granite rock was resting in a lay-by under the brow of Pen-y-Fan mountain in the Brecon Beacons gathering the Hireath of Welshness, as the four hundred veterans raised the funds. Later on in 2007 his dream became a reality as SAMA members built the basics of the monument. With the granite facings being produced by a Brecon Stonemason, and the cladding of Portland stone by a Cross Hands stonemason. The monument is in Alexander gardens Cardiff. Welsh Guardsmen Stephen Hopwood (Left) from Newport, Chairman of SAMA Wales and the other 398 Welsh members made the dream – a covenant to their mates who never came home - a reality, and a place of pilgrimage for years to come for the widows, children and parents of those lost. Who have never for twenty five years forgotten, nor never will they. Daft the idea might have been, but it’s an extraordinary action by a very special ordinary person. The consecration Drum-Head service took place on 30 Sep 07.

SAMA NWalesGroup

SAMA Swansea Group

Commodore Jamie Miller
Commodore Jamie Miller, who laid a wreath on behalf of the Royal Navy, served on HMS Coventry, Struck by four Argentine aircraft bombs she sank. The survivors as they rowed to safety sang Monty Python’s song ‘Always look on the bright side of life! He is presently serving in Bristol as Naval Regional Commander - Wales & Western England

http://www.royal-navy.mod.uk/server/show/nav.3314

DawkinsDrumHd
Welsh Guards Veteran & SAMA Standard Bearer Kenny Dawkins, from Farnbrough, lays the SAMA Standard for the Drum-Head service

NOTE TO EDITORS

http://www.falklands.info/history/hist82article15.html
http://www.sama82.org/sama/pilgrimage/day-3.htm
               
Tim Wakefield                        
07962 141 054

               

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