South East Wales

Falklands memorial re-dedicated on Armed Forces Day

Wales' Falklands Memorial has been re-dedicated to mark the 30th anniversary of the conflict which saw 32 Welsh Guards among the fallen.

The ceremony was part of the Armed Forces Day events in Cardiff.

The 2012 celebrations coincided with the Falklands anniversary and the 60th anniversary of the Welch Regiment's involvement in the Korean War.

A parade to Cardiff Castle included a flypast by an RAF Dakota, but weather prevented a display by the RAF Falcons.

A member of the Falkland Islands legislative assembly was among the politicians attending memorial re-dedication in Alexandra Gardens on Saturday morning.

Image caption A bandsman at the Falklands re-dedication

The Welsh Guards were among 48 members of the British forces who died when troop ship Sir Galahad was bombed by the Argentines just six days before the 1982 conflicted ended.

The monument was created from five tonnes of Mount Harriet granite rock, located by veteran Andy "Curly" Jones, from Libanus, near Brecon, Powys.

The 7ft (2.1m) rock, a gift from Falkland islanders, was shipped more than 8,000 miles (13,000 km) after three years' work by members of the South Atlantic Medal Association.

It bears the names of the three islanders who died in the conflict in addition to the servicemen who were killed.

The Armed Forces Day flag was already flying at Cardiff Castle following a ceremony last week.

Veterans, cadets and members of the armed forces took take part in the parade on Saturday, watched by hundreds of people on the streets of Cardiff city centre, to commemorate servicemen and women past and present.

Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan said: "Armed Forces Day allows people to reflect upon, and honour the contribution made by all who serve or have served in the British military.


"In Wales, we have a special connection with our armed forces and we owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to those who work tirelessly, often in difficult circumstances, to defend our values and way of life."

The Welsh government has put £20,000 to Armed Forces Day events in north and south Wales.

Image caption Ex-servicemen at Cardiff Castle

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "Today is about saying thank you to the members of the armed forces for the work they do in our name.

"Armed Forces Day is an opportunity for all of us to show our appreciation and to recognise the professionalism, commitment and sacrifice our service men and women endure."

Lance Corporal Simeon Howells, from Merthyr Tydfil, is spending Armed Forces Day nearly half way into his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Speaking from Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, he told BBC Wales it was a normal working day.

"We've got a couple of foot patrols, it's a normal day's work," he said.

"I believe it's the biggest contingent of Welsh service people out in Afghanistan since 2001. It's nice to be around a lot of Welsh faces. You hear the accent and it feels a bit more like home."

"My wife is a volunteer with [forces charity] SSAFA so she's running a tent in Cardiff, my two children will be going down as well with their grandmother, so they'll all be out and about celebrating."

L/Cpl Howells said he hoped everyone at home "enjoys themselves, think about us lot out here and also remember this is for the fallen not just the boys still serving out here."

Veterans' Day was first celebrated in Britain in 2006. The annual event was renamed Armed Forces Day in 2009.

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