Veteran Andrew Williams fought in the Falklands War that ended 40 years ago today – June 14 – and bears a special memory of the end of the conflict
Image: Tim Merry)
Tired but smiling, Andrew Williams looks ready to pose alongside his comrades.
In fact, the British paratrooper’s beaming men are delivering Argentine forces who have been the enemy for 74 days in a conflict that has claimed the lives of over 900 people.
Taken 40 years ago today, the photo shows the collective relief on the day the Falklands War ended.
Andrew, now 61, said: “They were just as happy as we were that it was over. There is no animosity, we are all happy. We all talked.
“Your officer said, ‘Can I have a look at your rifle?’ I said to a translator, “Your officer wants to shoot me with my own gun.” They all laughed.
“I said to my buddy, ‘If they wanted to, they could have done it anyway.’
“I took the magazine and cartridge from the chamber spout and handed the gun to him. He said: “It is very primitive”.
“I took the gun back, put the cartridge back in the chamber and cocked it. I said, “Tell your officer it’s deadly in the hands of a British paratrooper.”
“The officer looked at me and I laughed and they started laughing.”
The photo was taken in Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, when he was a 21-year-old soldier in 3 Para.
After the Argentine invasion on April 2, 1982, Andrew traveled on the ocean liner SS Canberra, one of the ships carrying a total of 27,000 men and women to the South Atlantic.
He said a big moment was when the captain rang a bell one morning and told them they had just joined the fleet.
Andrew said: “I was so proud to be British. Ships could not be seen. It was fantastic.”
As they neared the islands, he was transferred to HMS Intrepid.
He was on the ship when a Sea King helicopter crashed into the sea, killing 20 people. His teammates pulled the wreck out of the water. Andrew said: “It was my first experience of death.
“When they pulled it up the water flowed out and you could see the boys were still buckled in. It was one of the SAS squadrons. It was upsetting. You thought, ‘Jesus, that’s true now’.”
He stayed with the Paras for over 20 years after the war. Andrew, from Chiswick, West London, said: “I look back on the Falkland Islands with mixed feelings…
“I was young, can you imagine being a firefighter and never putting out a fire? There were good times, but also sad times.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/falklands-war-veterans-incredible-photo-27225002 The incredible photo of a Falklands War veteran with surrendering Argentine troops