Just occasionally, local media can produce something that is really excellent – well presented and thought provoking. I watch the BBC South news most lunchtimes at work, and recently they have been following a former serviceman who has returned to the Falklands for the first time since the conflict, as part of efforts to commemorate the 20th anniversary.
Today he reached the point at Fitzroy where the Sir Galahad was sunk after being bombed by the Argentine forces. It was packed with members of the Welsh Guards waiting to land, along with their munitions – more than 200 died, the biggest single British military loss since the Second World War.
In an excellent piece of journalism, the camera crew just trained their camera on the serviceman, as he stood on the beach, tears running down his cheeks. There was no other sound than the lapping of the waves on the pebbled beach. Then he began to speak, and recounted the horror of that day for the first time, having repressed the memory for twenty years. As he stared out over the water, he spoke of the horrendous flash burns on his colleagues faces, how he tried to help as many as he could, how the plastic waterproofs that they wore melted onto their bodies so that when they tried to pull them off the injured, their skin came away as well.
Then he stopped speaking, and pulled a tissue from his pocket. The cameraman asked if he was ok. He didn’t reply.
By this point, my eyes were welling up. You can’t possibly imagine how awful an experience like that could be. Whilst I fully believe that the British were right to fight to liberate the Falklands, it is the poor sods on the ground who end up doing the dirty work. Perhaps Mr Blair and Mr Bush should meet people like this serviceman, and his counterpart veterans from the Argentinian side.
Related: BBC guide to the conflict.