ACROSS Britain and Argentina emotional services were held to mark the 30th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War.
A total of 255 British and about 650 Argentine troops died, after the UK sent a task force to the islands to combat the Argentine invasion on April 2, 1982.
Former paratrooper Colin Charlton, from East Moorside, Sunderland, was just 25 when he was sent to the warzone.
“The anniversary does bring back memories,” he said. “You never forget the friends you lost. They will always be with me.
“It’s maybe a bit more significant because of the anniversary, but you’ll always remember it.”
The milestone comes amid renewed tension, as Argentina has reasserted its claim to the archipelago.
But Prime Minister David Cameron suggested the day is used to remember both the Argentine and British dead.
In a statement, he also said that he remains committed to upholding British sovereignty over the islands.
Colin, who served in the 3rd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, said any decision about the future of the Falklands should be down to the islanders themselves.
“They should remain British if they want to remain British,” said the dad-of-two, who now helps run the Sunderland Parachute Regiment Association.
“It should be up to them if they want to keep the ties with Britain.”
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.
Paul Jasper, 51, from Castletown, was serving with the Light Infantry when war broke out.
“We were put on standby to be sent across, but in the end we were never called upon,” he said. “At the time I felt strongly, as did all of the soldiers, that it was justified.
“The guys that went out there did an outstanding job and that should never be forgotten.”
Yesterday, Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner visited the southern port of Ushuaia to remember the Argentine troops who died.
President Fernandez is due to lead rallies to commemorate the Argentine dead, and to light an eternal flame devoted to their memory.
Before she arrived, Argentine veterans held a vigil for the fallen.
“Where do we go from here?” said Paul, who is now a driving instructor and president of the Silver Bugle Association military group.
“It should be down to the people of the Falklands, they should determine their future. It should be up to them if they want to keep their ties with Britain or have closer links with Argentina.”
British veterans of the war – and relations of those who died – paid their respects at Britain’s National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
A single candle was lit as a gesture to mark the anniversary.
It will remain alight for 74 days, the length of the conflict.
“We should never forget what our service personnel sacrifice for their country,” added Paul.