Falklands War: Poets from Britain, Argentina and the Falklands give a fascinating insight into the conflict

Simon Garner

Thirty years after the Falklands War the emotional repercussions still persist for those who served there - both British and Argentinian - as well as their families and loved ones.

Falklands War Poetry, edited by David Roberts and published this month, has given poets from both sides of the conflict the space to express themselves.

"I wanted the anthology to look at more than just the British experience," says Mr Roberts. "I now have poems by Falkland islanders and Argentines, including two Argentine soldiers who served in the Falklands."

[Related gallery: Commemorations for Falklands War victims]

Tony McNally, who joined the British Army at the age of 16, found himself with huge responsibilities at the age of 19. He manned a Rapier missile launcher and was tasked with shooting down low-flying jets intent on bombing British ships. As an Argentinian Skyhawk jet approached RFA Sir Galahad, McNally tried to shoot it down but the launcher malfunctioned and refused to fire. The plane bombed the British ship causing numerous casualties.

Why do they look at me that way?

Why do they look at me that way?
"He's not all there," I've heard them say
Leave me alone you faceless folk
To fight in war it ain't no joke
I've lost my wife my job my friends
Was it all worth it? That all depends
I don't know why I feel this way
I took my oath
I did obey
I killed because I was scared to die
By blowing those Skyhawks from the sky
Those retard bombs they drove us mad
They send us on the Galahad
The screams of the dying, twisted metal shards
A floating burning hell of dead Welsh Guards
I did not cry for them that day
Why do they look at me that way?
My brain recorded events for me
I seem to torture myself with glee
In the capital Stanley we drank ourselves sober
The Sergeant Major said: "The party is over."
They sent us back to our home shore
Amongst our families we were still fighting our own war
It's nearly twenty years since we won the day
Those painful memories just won't go away
I love my Country and my brothers in arms
On November the 11th I'll sing my hymns and psalms
I will wear my medals with pride on that day
The only day of the year they don't look at me that way.

James Love was a British paratrooper serving in the Falklands War. "May '82" is addressed to Britons back home, watching events unfold from the comfort of their living rooms. In his author's notes Love writes: "Unless you were actually there, or actually experienced the war, you'll never really know."

May '82

May '82
It rained
and I heard it fall.
Maybe not every drop,
but almost all.

We cut the turf.
And stacked it high.
Two foot thick
and just as wide.

Rain ran down my face
while it filled the hole.
Soaked my clothes.
washed my soul.

No gentle pitter-patter this,
it crashed.
The wind howled, and blew.
Bayonets slashed.

And all the while,
Eight thousands miles away,
you cheered, got drunk, and slept,
in a cosy warm bed.

Jose Luis Aparicio
was one of the Argentine soldiers sent to the Falklands. In "Dawn Is Breaking" he describes waiting in the trenches at Mount Longdon before a brutal battle began.

Dawn Is Breaking

Dawn is breaking,
slowly, as if asking for permission.
of the fog,
of the frost,
of the night.
Old night, I have
a thousand reproaches for you.

Dawn is breaking,
the darkness is casting off its mooring lines.
Other ports
are open
other tides
await you.
The truth is I prefer that you do not return.

The cadavers
lie in the sun with their enrapt eyes,
taking form.

Old night, go away!
do not return,
stay where you bring no pain.

Louise Russell
(a pen name) writes about her experiences as a wife of a serviceman. Her husband served in the Falklands and was medically discharged from the Army in 1987 with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She writes in  an introduction to her poems: "I believe there are many 'Falklands veterans' who are also the 'forgotten heroes'. I mean the wives, sweethearts, mums, sisters, daughters, sons, brothers and dads of veterans."

                 [Related Article: Falklands War: How do the islanders view the anniversary?]

She adds: "PTSD is like a fungus that just keeps growing outwards, affecting everyone in its path."


Yes you are here
But so far away
That you are not near

Your smile that never
Reaches your vacant eyes
I wonder will it ever

A heart turned to stone
Just to survive the
Pain of being alone

I don't know how
It captured your soul
Always with you now

I will find the key
To unlock your heart
And set you free

Falklands War Poetry is published by Saxon Books on Friday, 30 March. It is available from all bookshops or from www.warpoetry.co.uk