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Falkland Islands liberation marked
War heroes and those they freed stood together in freezing conditions to mark the 30th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands.
Around 400 islanders gathered next to Liberation Memorial in Stanley to thank those who ended the 74-day occupation of the remote British Overseas Territory.
A thick snow storm began as Falklanders, veterans and VIPs left a service of thanksgiving held at Stanley's Christ Church Cathedral.
Young and old packed into the church with standing room only at the back to take part in the commemoration to those who died in 1982.
The brief but bitter war ended on June 14 1982 as Argentinian commander General Mario Menendez surrendered to the British at Stanley.
The fighting cost the lives of 255 British servicemen, three Falkland Islanders and 655 Argentinian soldiers.
Islanders lined the road next to Stanley Harbour in which HMS Clyde has taken anchor for the commemorations.
Union Jacks were hung alongside the Falkland flag opposite Liberation Monument where an Act of remembrance was held.
About 30 veterans braved the cold to proudly lead a parade of servicemen from the Royal Navy, the Parachute Regiment, the Royal Air Force and the Falkland Islands Defence Force.
They were accompanied by the Salamanca band of the Rifles as they marched from the Cathedral to Liberation Monument.
Following the Last Post, a number of wreaths were laid at the foot of the memorial by veterans, politicians and islanders.
Carol Phillips, 61, remembers the horror of the war in 1982 and said the bad weather would not keep the islanders from honouring those who freed them.
"That doesn't matter to us, we don't mind that, we will always be here in full force," she said.
"The war was very frightening, for a start we didn't know what was going to happen, but marvellous when the British troops arrived.
"It means a lot, very much - what they did for us.
"Until you come under attack by a foreign country, I don't think anybody knows how it feels to be liberated."
Islander Bruce May, 71, added that the war had been a "terrible" experience to live through.
"I don't think you can ever think of a more dreadful situation than to be mixed up in a conflict.
"The best thing that happened was the British troops turning up, that's why I went and helped them, and that's why we are here today - because of the British troops.
"If it wasn't for them, we'd be flying a blue flag down here now, but liberation day means we are British, and always will be."
Earlier, during the sombre service at the cathedral, Reverend Richard Hines paid tribute to those who lost their lives and to the islanders who endured the occupation.
"Thirty years on, I've grown increasingly aware how very close to the surface all this has become again for many of you," he said.
"For veterans among us, who yomped, and carried and dug and fought to liberate the islands and islanders who endured out in the camp and here in the town caring for one another as best you could, bravely finding ways and means of irritating and frustrating the occupiers, watching over your children and animals as best you could and through it all kept steady and took courage and fought through to the end.
"This 30th anniversary is serving again to remind each one of you Falkland islanders just how much you endured and how by some means or another you found inner strength during 74 days of foreign occupation."
The service was also attended by Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne who said: "I think it is hard to convey to anybody who isn't here, who is back home in Britain, just how much this means to the Falkland Islanders.
"There are hundreds of people gathered here in what is frankly really freezing cold, inhospitable weather, and they are doing that because they are so grateful for what we achieved on their behalf 30 years ago and they are so proud of their status as Falkland Islanders.
"It's very humbling, very moving to see and I'm very proud to be here myself."
Eight thousands miles away in London, David Cameron also marked the anniversary and pledged to continue defending the Islands from "aggressive threats" from Argentina.
The South American country's president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is due to address the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation, meeting today in New York.
Mr Cameron said he hoped the decision by the Falkland Islands government to hold a referendum on its future sovereignty would end that dispute "once and for all".
The Prime Minister said: "It's a time to pay tribute to the 255 UK servicemen who paid the ultimate price so that the people of the Falkland Islands could live in peace and in freedom.
"And it's a time to express our huge debt of gratitude to all those servicemen who showed such astonishing courage to recapture the Islands."
In a swipe at Argentina, he added: "For the last 180 years, 10 generations have called the Falkland Islands home and have strived hard to secure a prosperous future for their children.
"And despite the aggressive threats from over the water, they are succeeding.
"The Falklands economy is growing, the fishing industry is thriving and tourism is flourishing.
"Next year's referendum will establish the definitive choice of the Falkland Islanders once and for all.
"And just as we have stood up for the Falkland Islanders in the past, so we will in the future."
A small delegation of islanders, most of whom were not yet born when the Falklands War took place, will also be in New York, where they hope to give a message to Ms Kirchner and the Argentinian delegation that the South American country's attitude to Falkland Islanders is an "insult" to the generations of families who have forged a life there.
Veteran Kenny Ward, 50, said he could not wait to march down the road in Stanley today, describing it as "incredible".
In his own words, he was a "naive and frightened" 20-year-old Gunner with the Royal Artillery when he arrived on the jetty at Port Stanley 30 years ago on Liberation Day.
"When we landed in Port Stanley, to see the utter devastation of what had happened here was awful," he said.
"I can smell it now - the smell of destruction, the buildings that had been burning, the death, because there were bodies everywhere in Port Stanley.
"All the buildings had been more or less destroyed by the Argentinians and anyone with any farm animals or stock, the Argentinians slaughtered it, so everywhere you looked there was cattle and just utter, utter devastation.
"That really stays with me."
He said the men had received the most incredible expression of thanks possible.
"The guys that served here will tell you there is something about the islanders and the island that you can't express in words because it is a feeling you get," he added.
Mr Ward, who first returned to the islands in 2010 and has been back every year since, said the thanks the men were given by the islanders will stay with him until the day he dies.
"I feel for the islanders and what they went through," he said.
"They must have had a sense of helplessness when they were invaded and it's just incredible what they dealt with.
"There's been so much about the military campaign, about how lucky we were - when you think about it, if it wasn't for the determination, the military personnel, the resolve, and the training, and the stiff upper lip and the acts of selflessness from the islanders, then that victory wouldn't have been achieved.
what do you think?
Windows Live User
Yes Mr. Cameron. There can be no "U" turn on the Falkland Islands. You need to show our mettle an continue supporting the Islanders wishes, and they wish to be British. The people of Britain do not wish to see a sharing trade off of any kind with Argentina. We wish Argentina to be given the short message that The Falklands will remain a British territory at all costs.
Windows Live User
A proud day for all who served there in defence of the Falklanders and the Islands Well done to all
all present and correct there anyway