FORMER soldier Peter Kennedy is hosting a talk on the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War and his part in the conflict with the parachute regiment.

PETER, who has settled in Skipton with his wife, Shirley, and has set up his own training consultancy, was born in Keighley and joined the Parachute Regiment as a soldier in 1977. He was commissioned as an officer in 1979 and served two tours in Northern Ireland and then fought in the Falklands War with 2 PARA.

He recalls those lead up to the conflict and the UK’s military involvement in a talk on the battle of Goose Green being held on Friday, May 27 at the Army Foundation College Harrogate, Uniacke Barracks, Penny Pot Lane, Killinghall, Harrogate. Here he gives a taster of what you can expect, four decades on from the first military advancement.

“April 2 this year was the 40th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War of 1982. The Argentine Armed Forces launched a surprise amphibious assault on Port Stanley, the Falkland Islands capital, and heavily outnumbered the small garrison of British Royal Marine Commandos. The marines put up stiff resistance to the attack, until ordered to surrender by the island’s governor Rex Hunt to prevent unnecessary civilian loss of life.

“The British public were stunned to see film footage and photographs on their TVs of the captured British marines with their hands in the air guarded by Argentine troops. Many of us had to check our atlas or globe to work out where the Falkland Islands were – in the South Atlantic about 200 miles northeast from the bottom tip of South America. The islands were part of the small rump still remaining of the once mighty British Empire scattered around the world. Britain had withdrawn from most of its empire in the 1960s and had experienced considerable economic and political turmoil in the 1970s. The election of the new Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher in April 1979 with the promise everything would be better under their leadership, now seemed a false promise. Three years on from that election it looked like Margaret Thatcher’s government might collapse along with any remaining prestige that the UK still possessed.

“Within 24 hours of the invasion the British cabinet, meeting on a Saturday for the first time since the Suez Crisis in 1956, agreed to launch a naval taskforce within days to retake the Falklands from Argentina. The UN Security Council met on the same day and were persuaded by the British Ambassador, Sir Anthony Parsons, to support UN Security Council Resolution 352 demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities and a withdrawal of Argentine forces. The UK was now gathering the physical might and the legal right to retake the islands. The national mood shifted over the weekend from initial shock and depression to steely resolve.

“On Monday, April 5 the two British aircraft carriers HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes sailed from Portsmouth heading over 8,000 miles for the South Atlantic accompanied by a flotilla of naval frigates and destroyers, cheered off by large crowds and a military band playing “Rule Britannia.” Days later the luxury cruise liner Canberra sailed south, packed with Royal Marines anxious to regain their honour and paratroopers from 3 PARA just happy to fight anyone. The British Lion had rediscovered its roar. This was a dangerous and risky mission that could easily have ended in disaster and total humiliation for the UK, and almost did.

“Why had Argentina suddenly decided to invade the Falklands, or Las Malvinas as Argentina called the islands? The first recorded landing on the Falklands was by the British Royal Navy Captain John Strong in 1690 on HMS Welfare. Over the next 143 years the islands were claimed and occupied at sporadic intervals by Britain, France, and Spain; and after 1816 by the newly independent Argentina. In 1833 the islands were permanently settled by Britain and have remained so ever since as British Sovereign Territory and recognised as such by the United Nations. Argentina has always disputed our sovereignty. The 1982 population was just over 1,800, almost all of British descent.

“In 1982 Argentina had suffered almost 10 years of military dictatorship and a vicious Civil War which had cost over 20,000 civilian lives. Its economy was in meltdown. By 30 March 1982 the civil population had had enough and took to the streets with massive protests and demonstrations. Fearing for his survival the military dictator, General Galtieri, decided to mount a rapid surprise attack on the Falkland Islands in a desperate attempt to placate his population. Three days later he was proved right when the streets of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, were filled with even bigger crowds celebrating their repossession of Las Malvinas. General Galtieri was a national hero, for now. Within days the rapid British response and launch of the Task Force shocked Argentina and would lead to its military defeat, humiliation and collapse of the military dictatorship. There’s a whiff of Ukraine about this!

“The first decisive land battle to retake the islands was the Battle of Goose Green, fought over the period 27-29 May 1982 by 2 PARA. The commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel H Jones, was killed in action leading a charge during the battle and was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Goose Green was the first major battle the British Army had fought in a generation and came very close to defeat.”

The Battle of Goose Green talk is to commemorate the battle and the fallen. Peter led the final attack at Goose Green under heavy enemy fire to capture the last hill and the enemy flag on its summit. He was second in command of C Company 2 PARA, and took over the company in the closing stage of the battle when his company commander was wounded. The talk is open to the public and will be illustrated with photos, film clips and maps to bring the story to life. Follow the battle from the perspective of those who were there, understand how this close-run battle was fought and almost lost, and experience for yourself the buzz and occasional terror of combat.

Peter’s 2 PARA’s light-hearted boast was they were first ashore on May 21, 1982 amphibious landings at San Carlos Bay. They were first into battle at Goose Green on 27-29 May, the only unit to fight in two battles (Battle of Wireless Ridge on June 13 to 14), the first British unit into Port Stanley, and the first to get home!

He led the final attack on the last hill at Goose Green and captured the Argentine flag on its summit.

The talk will take place between 7pm and 9.30pm. Tickets are £15 per person and can be purchased on Eventbrite,

Entrance to the college grounds will be from 6 pm, there is free parking. Age recommendation is 14+.

All money raised will be divided between four charities: Support Our Paras, Sue Ryder Hospice, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, and The Royal British Legion.