It was a moving moment when 30 former colleagues from HMS Spartan, including Dougie “Mac” McAllister, from Sunderland, and Peter “George” Malone, originally from South Shields, held a wreath laying ceremony.
They gathered at the war memorial in Sunderland’s Mowbray Park on Saturday and paid their respects to fellow Falklands War heroes who did not make it home.
Peter, who travelled from Canada to be at the reunion, said: “It was a very special time not just for the two local lads but for those who served on Spartan during the conflict.
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"We were so proud to host this event in the North East and to bring old submarine buddies to meet friends and families in the North.”
Crew members came from all over the UK to be in Sunderland.
A very special guest was the submarine’s captain, Captain James “Buck” Taylor.
Peter described him as “an incredible leader and submarine skipper who skilfully brought his crew home safe”, adding: “We remain in his debt to this day.”
Spartan was the first warship on station in the Falklands and arrived on April 12, 1982.
She prepared the way for the Naval fleet to follow.
“Spartan then played an active role with the rest of the fleet throughout the conflict,” said Peter.
“After the Argentine surrender, Spartan arrived back to her home port of Plymouth on June 24, 1982 after air lifting off a young crew member, John ‘Slinger’ Wood, at Ascension on the way home.
"He had taken ill during patrol but could not be evacuated due to obvious submarine operating constraints during the conflict. He ultimately passed away a short time after return home.”
Peter said he “thought it would be a good idea to celebrate the return of Spartan those 40 years ago by meeting on the anniversary date and laying a wreath to lost mates from Spartan and all those who never returned from the Falklands”.
The event was even more poignant as it was held on Armed Forces Day.
After the ceremony, the former crew mates got together to share ‘a few pints and many stories over the weekend’, said Peter.