The speech made by Flick Drummond, the Conservative MP for Meon Valley, in the House of Commons on 13 June 2022.
I congratulate the hon. and gallant Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis) on securing this debate and his excellent exposition of the conflict.
The Falklands war touched every part of the UK, including people in my Meon Valley constituency. I was a student during the Falklands conflict and followed it closely, not least because several of my parents’ friends, whom I had known for most of my childhood, were deeply involved. Sir Robin Fearn was head of the South American desk at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; General Sir Richard Trant was land deputy commander, and Captain Lyn Middleton was captain of the HMS Hermes.
Meon Valley, with its closeness to Portsmouth, has many connections to the Royal Navy. Two of my constituents, Captain David Hart Dyke and Ian Young, served on HMS Coventry; many will remember hearing of its attack and sinking. Another friend, John Troy, was in his first year in the Royal Navy, and was also on HMS Coventry. It was hit by two bombs and rapidly flooded, capsizing within half an hour with the loss of 19 lives. What they saw must have affected them for the rest of their lives but, typically, they rarely talk about it. Some 22 ships were hit, with 82 lives lost and many more physically affected.
I have since met many others, such as Chris Purcell and his wife Louise, who do so much for other Falklands veterans and raise huge amounts for the Poppy Appeal. They also raise awareness of the mental health of many of those returning. So many young men returned with physical scars, but also mental ones.
I was privileged to know Lieutenant Commander Brian Dutton, who died a few years ago. |He was a Royal Navy diver, who defused many mines and bombs, including one 1,000 pound bomb on HMS Argonaut. Another friend, who has sadly died of ovarian cancer, was Vikki. She was married to John Hamilton, who got the Military Cross and died in a firefight on West Falklands, allowing his troop to escape. Recently, his extraordinary part in the war as part of the special services has been released.
There are many more heroes whom I have not met, but my trip to the Falklands as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme helped me to understand what it must have been like on the ground, and those names that we were to hear many times in 1982, such as Goose Green, Bluff Cove, Mount Tumbledown and Stanley, became real.
I pay tribute to the sacrifices of our service personnel and their families. Even 40 years after the events, I understand the pain and grief that the relatives of those who lost their lives must feel, but I have also seen the deep gratitude of the people who live there, who have been honouring our forces and those who worked with them.
We must not allow unprovoked aggression to pay, and the Falklands conflict should be a lesson to anyone who tries. We will not forget.