WELL-WISHERS have gathered in Rhu to remember the sacrifices made during the Falklands War, 40 years since the conflict drew to a close.

More than 20 people gathered at the village’s war memorial for a short service led by Reverend Jude Okorie RN, chaplain at HM Naval Base Clyde.

The June 9 service offered an opportunity to reflect on the ten-week war, which raged from April 2-June 14, 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom, part of a lengthy dispute over the sovereignty of the Falklands.

Among those in attendance were Provost Maurice Corry, who laid a wreath on behalf of Argyll and Bute Council, naval representatives and local residents.

Organising the service was the Helensburgh and district branch of Legion Scotland, whose chairman Geoff Coles – a Falklands veteran – commented: “The service was a moving occasion and an appropriate way for us to mark the anniversary of the end of the Falklands conflict.

“We were grateful to everyone who attended and to those who assisted in cleaning the memorial in advance.”

The Advertiser recently reported that Rhu’s memorial had been given a new lease of life after being cleaned in preparation for a national competition. The branch submitted the monument to the “best kept war memorial” contest run by the Legion, after two years of being paused because of the pandemic. Working parties, aided by sailors from HMNB Clyde, worked on the memorial, scrubbing the structure and removing moss and dead plants from nearby paving slabs.

Cleaning up the Rhu memorial was the latest step for the new branch, the re-introduction of which was spearheaded by Mr Coles, who moved to the area in March 2021. A former chairperson of the St Cleer branch of the Royal British Legion, Mr Coles was dismayed to see that, upon moving to the area, his nearest branches were in Bridge of Weir and Milngavie.

Following an appeal in the Advertiser, the new group began in earnest and was established towards the end of 2021 after the previous branch in the area closed in 2018.

Now it welcomes around 45 members to meetings each month for friendship, support, remembrance and camaraderie for veterans and their families.

One of the regular attendees is Dennis ‘Spike’ Jones. Mr Jones, of Shandon, joined the Navy in February 1941 and served in several conflicts including World War Two and the Korean War. He retired as a lieutenant commander in 1974.

The sprightly 98-year-old is president of the new branch and said: “Legion Scotland is a valuable resource for veterans and their families. “It means so much to me. I was involved with the previous branch which closed because it was having trouble recruiting, so it is testament to the commitment of Geoff [Coles] that we have a new branch going from strength to strength. My position is largely ceremonial – I’m the pretty face of the operation.”

One of the next steps for the fledgling branch is to dedicate its new standard on Saturday, June 25 at 11am at the gates of the Hermitage Park war memorial garden

The branch meets on the first Monday of each month at 7pm. There is no meeting in July and the August meeting will take place at Centre 81 in Garelochhead. Find out more at legionscotland.org.uk/Helensburgh.