Falklands War veteran, Chris Humphreys, has revealed how he and his ex-Marine pal were ‘treated like kings’ on their emotional return to the Falklands in June, 34 years after they helped liberate the islands from the Argentinian invasion.
Chris, who works in our Transport Team, joined the Royal Marines after leaving school as a 16 year-old in 1979, went back to the Falklands for the first time since the conflict in 1982. The 8,000 mile, two-week trip was organised by the Falklands Veterans’ Foundation, a charity set up in 2002 to support former soldiers and help them come to terms with their experiences.
The visit included trips to Ajax Bay, Goose Green, San Carlos and Government House and enabled Chris to retrace his steps from the Two Sisters mountain range into Port Stanley, just one section of the 120 kilometre trek the Royal Marines famously yomped in 1982.
Back then, Chris descended Two Sisters after a firefight with the enemy, one of many battles in which Chris lost friends and comrades. The memories meant a poignant return.
Chris said: “It was very special to make the visit with my close friend, Dan, who I experienced the war with, as we could share memories and, of course, we both remembered different aspects of what we’d gone through as young soldiers.
“It was an emotional journey and, although it was 34 years since we’d been there, the minute we set foot back on the Islands, it felt like only months’ ago that we’d arrived on our ship as fearless young Royal Marines.”
Chris was part of the British Task Force that recaptured the islands after a short but bitter war, in which 649 Argentinian and 255 British soldiers lost their lives. Three Falkland Islanders were also killed in the conflict.
“The most striking thing about the visit was the overwhelming warmth and generosity of the Islanders,” added Chris. “This was heightened on Liberation Day, the 14th of June, which is a public holiday and coincided with our visit.
“After attending the remembrance service in Port Stanley’s cathedral, we visited a couple of bars and we were treated like kings. Everybody wanted to say thank you to us and buy us a drink.
“I remember that on our way home from the Falklands in 1982, none of us had any concept of the celebrations going on in Britain. For us, it was just a case of doing our job.
“It remains an important part of my past and this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to go back. I was able to relive what happened and also remember the mates I lost.”