Thursday 14 June 2012

14 June 1982: The End Of The Falklands War.

On 14 June 2012, the 30th anniversary of the end of the war between Great Britain and Argentina fought over the sovereignty of The Falkland Islands is celebrated by an issue of 6 stamps by the Falkland Islands Post Office. The first issue to commemorate the end of the war was released on 13 September 1982 and was a large stamp depicting West and East Falkland and on top of the £1 face value there was an added surcharge, also of £1, which contributed to the islands' rebuilding fund. The stamp was designed by PAD Studio and lithographed by Format International. The set of six stamps produced to commemorate the 30th anniversary is a beautifully designed set which emphasises the progress the islands have made since the Argentine forces were defeated and expelled from the islands. The designs are positive and peaceful and show no hint of recrimination towards their neighbours. In previous blogs we have followed the progress of the conflict as it has been illustrated on stamps. The Falkland Islanders' freedom was won at a price which the islands have not been slow to acknowledge philatelically. In 2 remarkable sheetlets issued on 14 June 2007 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the British victory, The Falklands Islands Post Office named every British military and merchant ship personnel who had been killed in the course of the war. The names, printed alphabetically on 8x 25p and 8x 60p (shown below) appeared against a background of typical Falklands scenery where the conflict itself took place. The border of each sheetlet featured the words "Lest We Forget". After the Battle of Goose Green (see blog of 28 May), on 30 May 1982, the British 42 Commando advanced on Mount Kent and Mount Challenger, taking them both the following day. On 2 June, 2 Para arrived at Bluff Cove and occupied it, and Fitzroy, on 4 June. Landings continued at San Carlos and a disaster struck the British forces on 8 June when the landing craft, Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram, were bombed at Fitzroy whilst disembarking The Welsh Guards. Fifty one people were killed, including 38 Welsh Guards, and 55 were seriously injured. On 11 June the battle for the capital, Port Stanley, began on Mount Longden, Mount Harriet and Two Sisters where 23 British Paratroopers and 50 Argentine soldiers were killed. Sergeant Ian McKay of 3 Para was killed on Mount Longden (see blog of 28 May) and awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. On the same day 3 Falklanders were killed during a British naval bombardment of Stanley. Mount Longden was taken on 12 June, sadly 6 more Paras and 50 Argentine troops were killed, and Mount Harriet and Two Sisters were also taken. HMS Glamorgan was badly damaged by an Argentine exocet missile. More British and Argentine troops were lost in the battle for Mount Tumbledown, Wireless Ridge and Mount William on 13 June but by the following day the Argentine forces were in disarray and by midday of 14 June British forces had entered the outskirts of Port Stanley. AT 9PM local time, the Argentine commander, General Menendez, surrendered to Major General Jeremy Moore, the British commander, and 9800 Argentine troops put down their arms. In the following days the British removed the Argentine forces from the islands and on 17 June 1982, the Argentine dictator, General Galtieri, resigned from office. On 20 June, British forces landed on South Thule in The South Sandwich Islands and the Argentines there surrendered without a fight. A Forces Post Office was established at Port Stanley Post Office and used the cancellation used below. On 14 June 1992, The Falkland Islands Post office issued 4 stamps (14p + 6p, 29p + 11p, 34p + 16p and 68p + 32p) and a miniature sheet which united them all, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the end of the war. The stamps were designed by Leslie Curtis and lithographed by House Of Questa. The surcharges represented a contribution to SSAFA, the Soldiers', Sailors' and Air Force Association. Two of the designs featured the cemetery at San Carlos, where those who died in the conflict were buried, and Port Stanley Government House. The 29p value depicted the 1982 War Memorial which was built in Port Stanley. The 34p value depicted the South Atlantic Medal which was awarded to all the members of the armed forces who served in the campaign. It is good that Falkland Island stamps have paid tribute over the years to those who gave so much so that the islanders would once more have the right to choose their own futures and it is also pleasing that the latest stamp issue looks to the islands' bright future and the advances of recent years. Let us hope that the islands never again see a conflict such as that which has been marked by so many stamps in the past 30 years. The sentiment which was expressed on a label attached to a stamp issued by the islands on 6 December 1999 to commemorate the new millennium seems very appropriate on this 30th anniversary.

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