Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Goose Green, Darwin and San Carlos

View over Goose Green battlegrounds
It is a sad fact that the only reason that most people in the UK have even heard of the Falklands is the 1982 Conflict.  I was at school at the time and I remember watching the news and hearing the names like Goose Green and Tumbledown, and seeing the images of infantry 'yomping' across the moors.  Whilst I have no crazy notions about war being glorious, and beyond being glad that the islanders were freed, I have no interest in celebrating the events of 1982, what occurred is an integral part of the history of the islands and the people who live here.  So although we hadn't originally planned to specifically visit any of the war sites, after being here for a while we changed our minds and decided to take a tour to Darwin, Goose Green and San Carlos.
British Cemetery at San Carlos
Our first stop was San Carlos bay, which was the landing site for the British forces and the location of Blue Beach British cemetery.  Up until this Conflict, British servicemen killed in war were buried close to the location where they fell, but after this war, families were offered the opportunity to have them repatriated.  Of the 255 servicemen killed in the war, the majority did not have their remains recovered as they were buried at sea or lost with their aircraft, and of the bodies recovered, most were repatriated.  Only sixteen families preferred to follow the tradition of leaving their dead where they fell.  Two of those are buried in single graves at Goose Green and Port Howard, and the other fourteen are interred here.
Items left at the Blue Beach Cemetery
It is a small and simple cemetery, in a beautiful location, but the most compelling aspect was amongst the items left by visitors. Alongside the berets and flowers was a simple round stone with the word 'Always' scratched onto the surface.  I have no idea who it was left for or by, but it speaks volumes to remind us that however big or small the war is, however just the cause, and whatever the outcome, at the end of it there are always some people left mourning the loss of someone that they loved.

Settlement at Goose Green
After the cemetery we stopped at the little museum on the way to Goose Green.  Goose Green is a farming settlement and at the time of the Conflict had a reasonable sized community.  Its numbers were boosted when some parents in Stanley figured it would be safest to send their children there out of the way of the occupation of the town.  At that time there was no road so it took quite a journey for them to get there, and of course they were under occupation there too.
Village Hall at Goose Green
Some 140 people were held in the hall until the surrender.  We spoke to someone who had been held at Goose Green as a child and they shared some of their memories of it with us.  Obviously this is personal for them, so I won't be writing about it but it is of course not an experience that any person, let alone any child, should have to go through.

Shearing sheds at Goose Green
At Goose Green we ate in the cafeteria and looked around the settlement.  As well the village hall, we saw the shearing sheds that at one time were believed to be the largest in the world.  After the conflict ended, they were used to hold the Argentine forces until they could be returned to Argentina, and the letters POW are still visible on the side of the buildings.
Darwin settlement

Our next stop was Darwin, which many years ago was where the settlement gentry lived, rather than with their workers in Goose Green.  There is still an old stone corral, complete with its small escape holes in case a person was trapped by an angry animal.

Memorial to 2 Para

Close to here is the memorial to the men from 2 Para who died in the battles here, and then a short walk away, overlooking an area that is peaceful now but must have been a horrendous place to have had to try to capture in a battle, is the memorial to Colonel H Jones, the other person awarded the Victoria Cross, who was killed when he stormed a position at a vital point in the battle at Goose Green.

Memorial to Capt H Jones
The white stones next to the memorial apparently mark the exact spot that he fell.  He was the most senior officer to die in the Conflict and, like Sgt McKay, he has a street named after him in Stanley. There was some controversy about the VC at the time because it was questionable whether, as the officer in command he should have been so personally involved in the action rather than just leading it, but regardless of that, his personal actions were obviously considered heroic, and it appears that they did precipitate a breakthrough.

Argentine Cemetery
Our last stop was at the Argentine cemetery.  There are around 240 bodies of Argentine servicement here, many of which sadly are unidentified as they were not wearing dogtags, so those graves are marked 'Argentine soldier known only to God'.  The UK Government did offer to repatriate the bodies to Argentina, but were refused.  It is suggested that they did so to ensure that there was a continuing Argentine presence on the islands, but I have no idea whether that is true.  It would certainly be quite a cynical stance if so, and makes it more difficult for the families to visit their dead, especially if the flights to the islands are stopped or reduced.
Unknown Argentine grave
This cemetery is far larger than the British one, but is also very well kept.  All of the graves here have rosaries around them, some more than one, and they blow against the headstones in the wind.  It creates a soft gentle sound that is very peaceful and quite fitting for a cemetery.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We like to hear from you too, so please leave us a message here. We are also happy to answer any questions if we can help. Comments are moderated so will not appear straight away and there could be some delay in replying if we are travelling.