Ceremony remembers Falklands War

Marking 35 years since the Falklands war at Sunderland War Memorial. Credit: Barry Barraclough.

Marking 35 years since the Falklands war at Sunderland War Memorial. Credit: Barry Barraclough.

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Hundreds gathered on Wearside as a special ceremony was held to mark the 35th anniversary of the Falklands War.

Representatives from the Parachute Regiment, Fusiliers and the Rifles were joined by Durham Cadet Force and Seaham Sea Cadets at Sunday’s event, staged at the war memorial in Mowbray Park, Sunderland.

Alex Bonallie, steward at the Gunners Club, in Mary Street, and friend Paul Bachurzewski organised the gathering, which attracted about 200 people.

Alex said: “At one of our meetings at the Gunners Club, myself and Paul were discussing the Falklands.

“We knew that 35 years were coming up, but there was no commemoration service planned in the North East that we knew of.

“We said we wouldn’t mind setting something up to bring some people together. It would be a small service, laying a wreath at the cenotaph.

“I got in touch with the Armed Forces Network and they said ‘no problem’.”

The event grew larger as the Armed Forces Network invited newly installed Sunderland Mayor Coun Doris McKnight and ex-Royal Marine, Father Geoff Driver, to preside over the service.

Alex said: “Believe it or not, the Mayoress, Doris McKnight, used to be our club steward 24 years ago.”

“We also had representatives from HMS Calliope on Tyneside and the RAF and a lot of standard bearers.

“We were overwhelmed by the numbers who came to support us. It was a pleasant surprise. It was brilliant.”

The Falklands War lasted 10 weeks between April and June 1982 after Argentina invaded and occupied the islands in the South Atlantic in a claim over sovereignty.

A total 649 Argentine military, 255 British service personnel, and three Falkland Islanders were killed in the conflict.