Pipers asked to play to remember servicemen who died in Falklands War

There are calls for pipers to perform the Crags of Mount Tumbledown to mark 40 years since the conflict ended.

Pipers asked to play to remember servicemen who died in Falklands War PA Media

Pipers across the world are being asked to come together and play on their doorsteps, in their streets, or on a hillside, to remember those who were killed and wounded in the Falklands War.

On April 2 1982, Argentine forces invaded the islands, which had been in British hands since the 19th century, sparking the sending of a Royal Navy task force south to recapture them.

A naval and land campaign followed which resulted in the recapture of the islands on June 14, although at the cost of 255 British lives. About 650 Argentines died in the conflict.

On Saturday, Falklands veteran Graham Hopewell and Scots Guards Lance Sergeant Mark Macrae launched the call for musicians to take part in the commemoration event.

They are asking pipers to perform the Crags of Mount Tumbledown, a march composed by a Scottish soldier while under Argentine fire on the Falklands hill, at 11am on June 18 as part of a day of national commemorations.

And, as well as pipers across the country playing the march, the same day will see a parade and service of remembrance in Edinburgh to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the 74-day conflict.

Mr Hopewell, who is now an undertaker, said he felt “honoured” to play in the anniversary commemorations. “It’s important that we remember all those who lost their lives,” he said.

“The Falklands has always stayed with me. I was one of the lucky ones, but I think everyone was affected by it in some way. When I came back, I had no one to talk to about it and I found it hard getting my head round it all,” said the 59-year-old, from Ayrshire.

He was a 19-year-old drummer with the Scots Guards when he was sent to help recapture the Falklands, and remembers fighting in bleak, freezing conditions, and losing close friends in battle.

One memory he said he will never forget is coming under air attack in Bluff Cove on June 8.

Shortly after he landed on the island in the South Atlantic, Argentine air forces hit the British transport ships Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram, resulting in the loss of 48 British lives.

“We heard a massive explosion,” said Mr Hopewell. “When the planes came over the top, we just started shooting at them. There was no time to think about it and the adrenaline was just going.

“Later on, when we heard the ships had been hit, we realised it was real.

“I knew many of the Welsh Guards who were on the ships, and a close friend was killed in the attack.

“That was a huge shock, and it made us more determined to go on, so they hadn’t lost their lives for nothing.”

Mr Hopewell and Lance Sergeant Macrae have joined military charities, Legion Scotland and Poppyscotland, to take part in the event which will see the famous march played.

Lance Sergeant Macrae, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as travelling the world with the Scots Guards Pipes and Drums, said: “I’m very proud of what Graham and the others have done for us, and I’d encourage other pipers around the world to join us in paying tribute.”

The Crags of Mount Tumbledown was composed on the back of a ration packet by Pipe Major James Riddell, of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards, during the final battle of the war in June 1982.

After nine hours of fierce fighting, including hand-to-hand combat, British forces captured the hill which guarded the approach to Stanley, the island’s capital.

After the battle, Pipe Major Riddell, from Stonehaven, climbed to the top of the mountain and played the first rendition of his new composition.

The following day, British forces retook Stanley and the Argentines surrendered.

Claire Armstrong, chief executive of Legion Scotland, said she hoped “pipers in every part of Scotland, as well as the rest of the world” will join in the event.

And Mark Collins, interim chief executive of Poppyscotland, said: “Joining together in playing this tune will be a fitting tribute to everyone who played their part in the Falklands conflict, as well as the continued sacrifices that our servicemen and women make today.”

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