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Gosport to hold major Falklands commemoration

Falklands veterans will march through Gosport on Sunday 29 May, when the town hosts a national commemoration service and parade to mark the 40th anniversary of the conflict.

Gosport held its first national Falklands remembrance event in 1997, and has hosted one every five years since.

The town is the home of the Falklands Veterans Foundation, which was granted the Freedom of the Borough in 2005. 

Derek "Smokey" Cole, its chief executive, served onboard HMS Intrepid as a POMEM(M) - Petty Officer Marine Engineer and Mechanic - during the conflict. 

He said: "Once again Gosport is playing a very prominent role in remembrance of the Falklands Conflict. The veterans of the conflict are all very humbled to have received the Freedom of the Borough in 2005 and are delighted to be able to parade through the town once again, on this special year.

"There were many servicemen and families living in Gosport in 1982 who became involved in the conflict and sadly some did not return from the South Atlantic but will always be remembered. A massive thank you goes to the people of Gosport for their support, not just for this year's commemoration but for what they did in 1982, playing a major role in getting the task force prepared for an epic journey of 8,000 miles."

The focal point of the commemoration will be the town's Falkland Gardens, on Portsmouth Harbour, which is a place of pilgrimage for veterans and those wishing to remember the fallen.

At 10.35am there will be a civic procession from the Town Hall to the gardens. The service will start at 11am, and will include an address by Falklands veteran Rev Godfrey Hilliard, a Royal Marines chaplain in 1982. During a roll call, floral tributes will be laid in memory of the 255 task force members and three Falkland Islands civilians who lost their lives in the conflict.

After the service there will be a parade through the High Street, with veterans exercising their freedom rights to march through the town. The parade will be led by the Royal Marines Band Portsmouth. HMS Sultan will provide an armed guard, a serving veterans platoon and a class for street lining. Platoons of cadets representing the Royal Marines, the Royal Navy, the Army and Sea Cadets based in Gosport will also participate.

A salute will be taken by the Mayor of Gosport; Nigel Atkinson, the Lord-Lieutenant for Hampshire; and Falklands veteran Admiral Sir Philip Jones, formerly Chief of Naval Staff and First Sea Lord.

A reception for veterans and invited guests will follow.

The Gosport Ferry will be suspended during the event, with the last crossing from Gosport at 10am and from Portsmouth at 10.07am.  The service will resume from Gosport at 12pm and from Portsmouth at 12.07pm.

For other changes to travel on the day, including bus alterations and road closures, see our Falklands 40 page.

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