Falklands War at 40: 'Not enough' support for families who lost loved ones

Paul Roberts lost his father Raymond, who was a cook aboard the HMS Ardent when the ship was struck by aerial Argentinian bombs. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

More support is needed for the families of those who died in the Falklands War, according to the son of a Royal Navy member who lost his life in the conflict.

Paul Roberts lost his father Raymond, who was a cook aboard the HMS Ardent when the ship was struck by aerial Argentinian bombs.

"People need more help", he said.

"There’s not enough help for those who have been to the war, and there’s not enough help for people whose family they have lost in the war."

Although Paul was only one year old when his father died, the loss has left a lasting impact on him.

"I don't remember Dad. When I was growing up, I couldn't understand why I didn't have a Dad, and a lot of people said things like ‘Where is your Dad?’ when I was in school. 

Paul's father Raymond, pictured second from right.

“I was having a lot of nightmares at that time, things were quite difficult. You used to go to sleep, and you saw a boat, (someone) drowning, and water, and sharks, and thought 'why is nobody going to get the body?'

"I've never talked to anyone about it. When I was young, I never wanted to talk about it, so I was on my own.”

The Falklands war began in April 1982 after the Argentine forces occupied the Falklands, or 'Malvinas'. The territory had been in British occupation since 1833.

The United Kingdom decided to fight to get the islands back, leading to a 74-day war.

649 of the Argentine forces lost their lives, 255 people in the British Forces as well as three people living on the islands. The British Army reclaimed the islands on the 14th June 1982.

One of the British soldiers who lost their lives in the conflict was Gareth Hughes, who was part of the Welsh Guards. His sister Ceri Jones still remembers the day she received the news.

The Sir Galahad warship after being bombed

"I was in Llandrillo that day, and I remember one of the teachers calling me, and saying 'You need to go home, your family needs you at home. I just broke down because I knew, and I said 'oh no my brother' but she didn't say anything.

The Sir Galahad warship was bombed on the 8th of June 1982, and Gareth Hughes died at the age of 22.

"My dad went ill, he only lived two years after that - it was heartbreaking. I remember going home one day, Mum was running around the garden saying 'Gareth has gone, Gareth has gone'.

Ceri Jones near the Falklands War Memorial in Llanfairfechan

Although 40 years have passed since the war, the loss of Gareth still proves for Ceri.

"It's very difficult for us all as a family, because his body is still in the Falklands. He is still on the Sir Galahad, and I still feel that I can't go to him and talk to him. All we have now is his name on the Llanfairfechan memorial.

"Some people feel that the Falklands have been forgotten, but I'm personally going to make sure that doesn't happen. Until I die, I’m going to carry on saying 'My brother Gareth Hughes died for his country.'"

Gareth Hughes

An MOD Spokesperson said “We will forever be indebted to our brave personnel who fought and gave their lives to liberate the Falklands. Their names are enshrined at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and at a range of cemeteries and memorials across in the islands. This year a series of national events will honour their sacrifice as we mark 40 years since the conflict.

“More widely, our welfare provision has greatly expanded since 1982 for veterans and their families. We would encourage those affected to contact Veterans UK to discuss what support is available to them.”