Why we should remember

TWENTY five years after they served in the Falklands, Martin Memory and Mark Lewis have not forgotten those who didn't return home. In a special tribute this Remembrance Day, the Suffolk police officers will lay a wreath to remember the fallen.

TWENTY five years after they served in the Falklands, Martin Memory and Mark Lewis have not forgotten those who didn't return home. In a special tribute this Remembrance Day, the Suffolk police officers will lay a wreath to remember the fallen. GRANT SHERLOCK reports.

THIS year's 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict has brought back a flood of memories for Inspector Mark Lewis and Sergeant Martin Memory.

For several years they worked together at Suffolk police without knowing they both fought in the Falklands - one as an anti-submarine warfare specialist in the Royal Navy, the other as a Royal Marines commando - but now they share a special bond which only veterans understand.

And tomorrow they will pay a tribute to their mates who didn't come home and to those who have died in conflicts since, by representing Suffolk police at the Ipswich Remembrance Day ceremony in Christchurch Park.

Martin said: “The 25th anniversary brings back a lot of memories.”

And Mark said his thoughts were with the families of those who died. He said: “I can't imagine what that must be like for their families. I have been very fortunate.”

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Mark Lewis, 45, joined the Royal Marines in 1980 three weeks after his 16th birthday.

He was sent to Gibralta, Scandinavia, and the Mediterranean for training missions and was on his way back from a trip to Norway when word came through that 42 Commando Royal Marines would be sent to the Falklands.

“I'd been in almost four years then, I was almost an old hand," he said.

After heading to the South Atlantic Mark and his fellow commandos transferred to landing ships and prepared to land on the Falklands.

"We landed on the Falklands in an unopposed landing. I was on the landings, then I went forward on to Mt Kent,” he said.

“There was some significant reconnaissance patrols and fighting patrols went out. Those patrols did take casualties and cause casualties."

He recalls being involved in taking Mt Harriet - a key landmark in the battle: "We took 250 prisoners from the mountain. We killed 50 of the enemy. The remaining Argentinians ran away to Stanley."

And he remained in the Falklands through to the Argentinian surrender on June 14, 1982.

He said: "One of the best days of my life was coming back into Southampton water. We couldn't walk into a bar in Plymouth without having a drink put in our hand."

Martin Memory, 43, realised a boyhood dream when he joined the Royal Navy.

He left school at 16 in 1980 and joined up, becoming a seaman sonar trained in anti-submarine warfare. His primary job was to hunt Russian submarines but that all changed in 1982 when the Falklands were invaded.

He served on HMS Alactrity, a type 21 frigate which left for the Falklands on April 5, 1982.

The Alacrity is remembered for sinking an Argentine supply ship. It was also damaged by an Argentine bomb.

"I was always going to join the Royal Navy, it was a boyhood dream from the age of 13," Martin said.

“I joined the Alacrity in February 1982. It was to get some sea time before my qualifying course for my sonar.

"Everyone was laughing and joking when we heard we were going to the Falklands and saying they didn't know where the Falklands were.

"We left Plymouth well before the main deployment. There was the inference we were actually going to go down there to show a strength of force. We went ahead to sweep for Argentinian submarines and they did have a few submarines at their disposal."

Martin recalls being on the deck of the Alacrity when it fired on a supply vessel and sunk it.

He said: "Alacrity was the only ship to sink an Argentinian surface vessel by navy gunfire.

"They'd come across the Argentinian supply vessel that had a lot of aviation aircraft fuel that was going to be resupplying the Argentinian airforce on the Falklands. It blew up into a massive wall of flame.

"It was terrifying. I thought 'now we've had it' because not only have we blown up this ship but we've notified any Argentinian forces to our position."

The Alacrity had been searching for mines, clearing a path through for Navy vessels.

"We knew it was an important mission but not until afterward did we realise just how much danger we had been in. About a week after the Sheffield had sunk we were under an exocet missile attack. If one of the missiles had hit us I definitely wouldn't be here now."

In another encounter he recalls seeing the sinking of an Atlantic conveyer cargo vessel which was attacked by the Argentine forces. The ship had been requisitioned by the Navy to carry stores and ammunition.

When it sunk many of the men on board were thrown into the icy waters. Martin and his colleagues aboard the Alacrity saved 70 but others perished in the water.

He said: "I saw a lot of people who died in the water. We were throwing lines down the side of the ship but they couldn't grip them."

Twenty five years on, Martin still recalls the sight of those who died at war and has strong memories of his service in the south Atlantic.

"The memories don't really go away, they just go in the back of your mind."

He added: "When at the age of 18 you first see dead naval personnel it really does bring it home."

In summary: Falklands War

On April 2, 1982 Argentine forces overwhelmed the Royal Marine garrison in Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands.

The retaking by British forces of the islands, along with nearby South Georgia, was codenamed Operation Corporate. 252 British and 655 Argentine servicemen died, as did three islanders. More than 10,000 prisoners of war were taken.

On the day of the invasion, destroyers and frigates exercising off Gibraltar under Rear Admiral 'Sandy' Woodward were ordered south. They were joined by the carriers Hermes and Invincible, loaded with Sea Harrier fighters as well as amphibious ships and merchant ships were taken up from the trade for use as troopships. There were also three nuclear powered submarines to cover the surface ships.

Operation 'Corporate', as it was called officially, saw two brigades of troops transported 8,000 miles to carry out some of the most successful wartime landings in history.

First the island of South Georgia was recaptured in operations that included helicopters sinking an Argentine submarine, Santa Fe.

Approval was given to sink any Argentine warships outside Argentine territorial waters; HMS Conqueror was at the time in touch with the cruiser General Belgrano which was duly sunk.

Destroyers and frigates fired 7,500 rounds against Argentine positions and provided support for the troops ashore. The presence of nuclear submarines forced the Argentine fleet to withdraw, while the frigate Alacrity destroyed an Argentine supply ship in Falkland Sound.

PAM Nunn has been helping the Poppy Appeal in Suffolk for an amazing 60 years - and that's all the more remarkable because she is 88 years old.

“And a half,” she pointed out.

The former Ipswich woman was still settling into married life in 1947, when husband Robert returned from a meeting of the Royal British Legion one evening and announced he'd got a job for her.

“I said 'Oh. What have I got to do?' He said 'Sell poppies… round the village. You'll just have to fend for yourself as to how you do it...'” Pam chuckled.

That first autumn she collected £8 in the parish of Friston near Leiston, and last year, the total rose to £520.

Nowadays, owing to trouble with her legs and problems with angina, Pam doesn't go out knocking on doors, but still plays a huge part in the fundraising effort. She's one of nearly 5,000 similar volunteers dotted around the country who manage and work with teams of collectors.

Sadly, the need for assistance is still great, even though the Second World War is now more than 60 years ago. Only last month came a graphic reminder of the risks and consequences as members of the 1st Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment returned to Britain after a six-month tour of duty in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Nine servicemen were killed, while numerous colleagues received injuries of varying degrees.

Pam, a grandmother three times over, is forthright in her views about Afghanistan and Iraq. She said: “I don't think they should ever have been started. When Blair said they were going to war, I thought it was the worst day's work they'd ever done and that they'd never finish it. They'll never finish it.”

A district nurse, she declined nursing in Ipswich during the conflict, and opted instead to spend four with the Women's Land Army. For two years until she bought a motorcycle, she cycled from her home in Ipswich to Freston - a 10-mile round trip.

After Mrs Nunn had been there a few weeks, 15 or 20 Land Girls arrived from London. She said: “They didn't know the end of a rake from the handle!” I bet they knew other things, though. I said to my mother when I went home 'I'm finishing my education there, mum.'”

Pam came from Felixstowe Road, Ipswich, and her mother's parents had lived at Tattingstone Hall. Pam won a scholarship to the arts school in the High Street. She then spent six or seven years with high-quality Ipswich furniture maker Titchmarsh and Goodwin, working as a gilder.

She married husband Robert in 1947, and lived in Friston. Robert had served with the Desert Rats, but after the war rarely talked much about his experiences. He was though, a committed member of the local Royal British Legion.

The Nunns had been married only 15 years when Robert died of a brain tumour in 1963. Their children Wilfred and Margaret were only 11 and nine.

Pam admits she'll miss her involvement with the annual Royal British Legion appeal, and tasks such as sub-dividing boxes of 1,000 poppies.

“Sixty years is an absolutely tremendous achievement,” said Robin Hitchcock, county poppy appeal controller in Suffolk. “The appeal relies on the commitment of people like Mrs Nunn, and we are all very grateful for her devotion over such a long period of time.”

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