Falklands War memorial unveiled at National Arboretum

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Media captionVeterans and families watched the flypast of the UK's last airworthy Vulcan bomber

A service has been held to dedicate a memorial to the 255 British servicemen who died in the Falklands War.

The tribute, at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, is designed to reflect the islands' landscape.

The unveiling in front of more than 600 service veterans and their families, 30 years on from the task force landings in the Falklands, ended with a flypast.

Argentina invaded the islands in April 1982 and about 650 of its troops died in two months of fighting.

The flypast involved aircraft used in the Falklands and was led by the UK's last airworthy Vulcan bomber. It was flown twice over the memorial by the pilot who led the first raid on the runway at Port Stanley - a mission known as Black Buck 1.

A Chinook was one of the three military helicopters that took part in the flypast.

The service was led by the Reverend David Cooper.

It included a pipe lament by former members of the Scots Guards and the band of the Royal Marines also took part.

Sara Jones, the widow of Colonel H Jones, commanding officer of 2 Para who died during the Battle of Goose Green and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, read the lesson.

Mrs Jones, who chairs the Falkland Families Association, said: "I think it's just very important for our families to have somewhere that they can go which is special for them.

"It's special to come to this wonderful place. It is a beautiful setting and they can be quiet and contemplate and remember."

Kathryn Nutbeem, the daughter of Major Roger Nutbeem - who was one of 48 members of the armed forces killed on board troop ship Sir Galahad, sang a folk song at the service.

She told the BBC the memorial was "incredibly important, because there are no graves for so many of the men who died in the conflict".

Falklands stone

The memorial was commissioned by British veterans' organisation the South Atlantic Medal Association 1982 as a "a restful space for contemplation".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The memorial was commissioned by the South Atlantic Medal Association 1982 veterans' group

BBC correspondent Jonathan Beale said it was a partial replica of a memorial in San Carlos Bay in the Falklands, where British troops began their assault on 21 May 1982.

The main memorial is a 7ft (1.92m) curved wall made from Cotswold stone. The site also features two benches and several granite plaques on rocks taken from the Falklands, including one engraved with the names of three British islanders who lost their lives.

The three women - Susan Whitley, Doreen Bonner and Mary Goodwin - died as a result of British naval bombardment of Port Stanley on 11 June.

The National Memorial Arboretum is the home to about 200 memorials to those who serve or have died for their country.

Up to now the only memorial at the arboretum was a flag pole and bench honouring the UK service personnel and merchant seamen who died.

But the names of the British military personnel who died in the Falklands War could be found on the Armed Forces Memorial.

Last month, events were held in Britain and Argentina to mark the 30th anniversary of the Falkland Islands invasion.

Veterans of the conflict gathered at a chapel at the National Memorial Arboretum three decades on, where a single candle was lit to mark the anniversary.

It will remain alight for 74 days - the length of the conflict.

Britain has controlled the Falklands since 1833 but Argentina claims the territory - which it calls the Malvinas - saying it inherited rights to them from Spain.

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to uphold the right of islanders to determine their own fate.

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