Author Topic: Falklands War History (merged)  (Read 13617 times)

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Re: Falklands 24 Years later
« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2006, 17:14:45 »
Big Bad John
 Hats off to you guys , you did good work.I have to admit whoever decided put the Bootnecks and the
Paras in direct competition to get to Port Stanley practicaly guaranteed success . Great idea.
                  Regards
nothing is better for the morale of the troops
as occasionally to see a dead general
               field marshal slim

Offline The Rifleman

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Falklands Hero fights on
« Reply #26 on: January 15, 2007, 07:24:50 »
The hardest fight of all for a Falklands hero


Army officer Robert Lawrence was nearly killed by an Argentine sniper during a battle that became the inspiration for one of the most controversial BBC films ever - Tumbledown. Now, in his first interview in 20 years, he tells Mark Townsend how the trauma of war reshaped his life

Sunday January 14, 2007
The Observer


Robert Lawrence can be forgiven for wondering whether he is blessed or cursed. As a young man, he lost 43 per cent of his brain after being shot by an Argentinian sniper and, facing a lifetime of paralysis, felt abandoned by his army.
As he gazed across the kitchen of his renovated Hampshire farm at his wife Marion and their youngest daughter, Matilda, playing with two huskies, Lawrence grinned: 'Is life half-empty or half-full?' It was rhetorical.


Article continues

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As the 25th anniversary of the Falklands war nears, Lieutenant Robert Lawrence remains one of the conflict's iconic figures - the soldier whose experiences encouraged a nation to question its conscience over the price of war; the young officer who angered the most senior officers in the army by speaking his mind.
For millions, the 21-year-old's version of the campaign challenged preconceptions of a war mostly judged through the lens of a triumphant nationalism.

His experiences formed the script for the controversial BBC film Tumbledown, a graphic portrayal of the Falklands conflict that raised questions over how a nation treated its wounded and reminded Britain that war is savage. There were ruined lives, and resentment and retribution. Suddenly here was ammunition for those who questioned Margaret Thatcher's decision to go to war.

Directed by Sir Richard Eyre, who went on to become director of the National Theatre, the 1988 drama provoked one of the most bitter rows in the corporation's history. Its account of the central character, played by a young Colin Firth, saw the BBC accused of left-wing subversion, while the Army, fuming at Lawrence's willingness to give details of what hand-to-hand combat was actually like, orchestrated a whispering campaign to discredit him.

The MoD threatened an injunction against the programme, demanding a controversial scene be cut hours before broadcast.

While Simon Weston, the Welsh Guardsman whose recovery from 49 per cent burns became proof of the government's duty of care, Lawrence became the angry rebel, the man who told it how it was: a hero of the left wing, a thorn in the establishment's side.

Now, in his first major interview for almost 20 years after taking a vow of silence and emigrating to Australia before returning to rural Hampshire four years ago, Lawrence has decided to speak out again. There is little sign of age mellowing his ire.

Some questions will always nag him. What does the Falklands war now mean for a country familiar with the threat of al-Qaeda and suicide bombers? Is the campaign a mere historical footnote in which more than 900 men died in three weeks, but whose geopolitical resonance carried little further than Buenos Aires and London?

'It seems a strange, odd war now,' admits Lawrence. 'Then, there was no talk of insurgency and the like. The Falklands was a conventional conflict, comparable with 1918, British soldiers versus Argentinan soldiers, all dressed in battle uniform. It feels so old-fashioned now.'

He remembers calling Weston's mother after hearing that she, too was disenchanted with the Thatcher government's response to its war wounded. 'She had travelled to RAF Brize Norton four times to pick up her son and, in the end, the media had to tell her which plane he was on. But she never spoke out. She knew Simon was going to be their pin-up boy and, as a mother, she had to get what she could for her son.'

Lawrence has watched what he describes as the increasing manipulation of the reporting of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the 'economic rationalisation' of the MoD that he feels has compromised the British army at a time when servicemen have never been under greater stress. But, most of all, the 46-year-old has followed closely the way the MoD treats its war wounded and is aghast at the closure of its military hospitals and the army's belated acknowledgement that war carries psychological as well as physical scars. A 12-inch acrylic strip might hold his skull together, but his mind remains full of vigour.

'I am concerned for our soldiers. As always, some grey men with a Biro and a calculator make the decisions,' he said.

Last Thursday morning, a letter arrived from the army's pensions agency. It began: 'Dear Mr Lawrence, I have paid £10 into your account.' Lawrence walked stiffly across the kitchen, his limp from his paralysed left leg obvious, to inspect again the cold language of officialdom.

'Now that's what they call a Christmas bonus. That's pretty damn symbolic don't you think?' he grimaced, sucking on a cigarette, contemplating again how close to breaking point his sense of abandonment by the army nearly brought him and the stark fact that his body has been ruined for longer than it was ever fully functional.

Occasionally, Lawrence leafs through his scrapbook crammed with yellowing newsprint chronicling the campaign alongside his own personal battle. Handwritten letters from friends and strangers offering their support are found among pictures of young men sunbathing on the deck of Canberra as it steamed towards the Falklands in the spring of 1982. There are images of the Sir Galahad listing heavily; photographs of a laughing officer called Lawrence who would shortly lose all feeling in his left side; and some of Firth, playing Lawrence in Tumbledown, smiling as fake blood streaks his scalp.

And there are more. Messages from the Queen, the US Embassy and high-ranking officers offering their praise and wonder for Lawrence's bravery, alongside notes from his father, who served in the RAF and defended his son against the MoD with vehemence, but who died a month ago. Such memories of a time a generation ago.

The last major battle of the Falklands always promised to be one of its most fraught. The Argentinians had prepared a last stand at the summit of Tumbledown Hill, a sharp cone of rock jutting from the island's peat and the central feature on the road to Port Stanley. As dawn bleached the grey clouds on 14 June 1982, Lawrence led two platoons of the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards along the west flank towards enemy positions. A fierce fire-fight ensued. Lawrence shot 14 Argentinians, before running out of ammunition. Undeterred, he stormed their defences, stabbing three with his bayonet. Sensing that surrender was imminent, Lawrence scaled Tumbledown's rocky pinnacle and, with the adrenaline of battle still flushing through his young frame, hollered: 'Now that was fun'. The Argentinian garrison in port Stanley would surrender in 90 minutes.

Unbeknown to Lawrence, though, a single sniper had managed to slip the net. A high-velocity round passed through the rear of his skull, emerging at his hairline above his right eye. Lawrence lay on the thin cover of snow on the exposed mountaintop for six hours as colleagues pushed his brains inside his broken head.

Airlifted off Tumbledown, Lawrence was left outside a makeshift operating theatre with no painkillers. Two days from his 22nd birthday, he assumed he was the last to be operated on because he was the least likely to survive.

In the documentary, which the BBC said last week it was considering re-screening as part of its 25th anniversary coverage, the re-enactment of Lawrence killing soldiers with a broken bayonet prompted widespread opprobrium. For Lawrence, it was a fuss over nothing. It was what soldiers did; they killed people. 'There are so many different levels of killing. You can shoot someone using a night sight from 60 yards and watch a guy fall over.

'It's not morally very hard to pull a trigger, but it is physically hard to get people to die, because usually they don't want to. The ultimate level is bayoneting, because there is a physical link between the two of you. The cleanliness of television goes out of the window. You don't stab them in the stomach, twist and withdraw.

'They grab on to the blade, it stabs them in the mouth, catches them everywhere', he said, his gaze wandering outside to the rolling hills of the Hampshire countryside.

When repatriated to Britain, Lawrence was almost totally paralysed and spent a year in a wheelchair. His recovery has amazed everyone who has met him. But the mental anguish would prove harder to overcome. If Tumbledown asked a nation whether it should feel guilty about sending young men to kill with broken bayonets, it also asked whether enough help was given to the wounded and veterans who left the army to trudge back to civvy street.

In the 90-minute programme, which was watched by 10.5 million 19 years ago, Lawrence endures symptoms described by psychiatrists as similar to the trauma of parental separation; anxiety, rage, emotional reconciliation. Even now, Lawrence believes that soldiers who thrive on the white-hot pride of their bravery are still not encouraged to seek help when they are struggling to cope.

Lawrence also worries that those in Afghanistan and Iraq are fighting a cause too few understand or support, a dynamic that can easily erode soldiers' sanity: 'The bottom line is that replacing military hospitals with NHS wards is an insult. If NHS hospitals were considered the best in Europe, then fine, but sadly they are not.'

The returning hero of Tumbledown expected he would be looked after by the military establishment. After all, he had been awarded the Military Cross, which hangs in the downstairs bathroom of the family home. But he felt like the army's abnormal child. Lawrence was not invited to the Lord Mayor's victory parade, while his wheelchair was tucked into the shadows at the service of remembrance at St Paul's, because his injuries were insufficiently telegenic. Even now, he has no official disabled badge or letter from the army recognising his circumstances and the nature of his injuries.

'It is such little things that can degrade you,' he said, pulling at another cigarette with his right hand, his paralysed left arm hanging in a sling, his left hand obscured with a black glove. 'There's a nail coming through my hand. I was doing some heavy work and the titanium bent in my arm and pushed the nail up to make a tent of skin the top of my hand.'

Lawrence has attempted to discover what happened to all his comrades in the Falklands. Via the South Atlantic Medal Association, he requested MoD funding for a definitive assessment of what effect the war had exerted among the veterans: Where were they living? Had they married? Divorced? How many were still alive? The government refused to support the project. All that is known is that, during the ensuing 25 years, more Falklands veterans have committed suicide than the 255 that died during hostilities.

Lawrence wrote When The Fighting Is Over with his father, the best-seller that would form the inspiration for Tumbledown. It was John Lawrence who most resolutely defended his son during the fallout from the programme.

Seven days after the death of his father, his mother, Jean, suffered a stroke that paralysed her right-hand side. Lawrence sought military help for his mother, who also served in the RAF, in the hope that the sacrifice and service displayed by his family might secure her a bed at the military rehabilitation centre at Headley Court, Surrey. She was refused.

'They talk about an extended family, but they cannot extend that help when you most need support. If you look at modern corporations like ICI or Microsoft, you'd expect to be looked after. Why not the army?'

Marion still wonders how many lives her husband has left. He was the indestructible teenager in Northern Ireland, the one who always stumbled across the paramilitary bomb caches, the one who craved the gunfights.

'I would hate going to bed, in case the shoot-out at the OK Corral kicked off while I was sleeping,' said Lawrence. One morning shortly after they met, Marion received a sequence of three answering machine messages from him.

The first described Lawrence being woken up by a passing motorcyclist in Sydney after falling asleep in his jeep at traffic lights. In the second he mumbled about nearly dropping off again. The third, from hospital, was confirmation that Lawrence had broken his back after veering off the road.

Lawrence was always regarded as a tearaway and, aged 16, was 'expelled' from Scottish public school Fettes, which the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, had attended a few years earlier, and admits he only joined the army to appease his father. Lawrence discovered he was a gifted soldier and that he loved military life. The Scots Guard became his life, his family.

Lawrence not only offers proof of the human spirit's indomitably, but also that love can be found after it has been lost.

Disillusioned with the attacks on his credibility following Tumbledown, he moved to Sydney in 1989 to make a fresh start with his then wife, Tina, and their two children. But new pressures arose. Over time, the relationship crumbled amid squabbles over money and the demands of a young family.

Lawrence remained optimistic. His near-death experience had benefited the lieutenant with an unswerving self-confidence. Psychologists have told him that he suffers from 'reduced inhibition', which, he gleefully admits, allows him to be candid and curse a lot.

Lawrence met Marion, the daughter of a senior executive with HSBC, at the Cannes film festival in 1994. She had been living in Australia and was one of the few Britons who failed to recognise the former Falklands officer. They clicked immediately, moving back to England in 2002, where they spent 15 months designing and converting their Hampshire barn.

'He's amazingly honest, which I love', she said. 'I can't think of anyone else I would rather spend dinner with.

'There have been difficult times with what he's been through, but we've been great support for each other,' she added. Lawrence can also still count on the support of the men he fought alongside that June morning in 1982.

When police recently found cannabis plants growing in the sprawling grounds of their home, an old friend rang and volunteered to take the rap by telling officers that Lawrence was only looking after them.

'He said he couldn't have the boss doing bird,' laughed Lawrence.' Officers cautioned Lawrence for the illegal crop, smoked by the ex-soldier to numb his pain during the winter cold. A more agreeable option, he vouches, than hours of daily rehabilitation.

'I'm not going to do physiotherapy twice a day just so I can give you the thumbs-up with my left hand. The angst and self-destruction have gone. I have what I need. Yes,' nodding at his family, 'my glass is certainly half-full.'
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Offline GAP

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Falklands War 25 years on: Tumbledown revisited
« Reply #27 on: January 28, 2007, 09:30:27 »
Falklands War 25 years on: Tumbledown revisited
28 January 2007 08:26
Article Link

Robert Lawrence tells Ian Griggs why it's time Richard Eyre's film about his shooting by a sniper in the Falklands should be shown again
Published: 28 January 2007
It was a film that portrayed some of the most harrowing and controversial images of modern British troops at war. Tumbledown shocked the nation with gruesome scenes of hand-to-hand fighting in which a young lieutenant speared Argentinian troops with a broken bayonet and nearly met his own end when he was shot in the head by a sniper.

Now, with the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War looming, Robert Lawrence, on whose life Tumbledown was based, plans to return to the mountain top where he was nearly killed.

"I am planning to go back to the Falklands next week," Mr Lawrence told The Independent on Sunday. "It's a pretty strange experience going back - when you start to think about what happened it seeps back into your subconscious."

Mr Lawrence is leading calls for the BBC to reshow the film which, when first shown, infuriated the establishment and touched a nerve in British society. It told the true story of Mr Lawrence, who led one of the final assaults of the war, just hours before Argentina formally surrendered.

During the bloody battle for Tumbledown Hill, on 14 June 1982, Lt Lawrence, then just 21, led two platoons of the 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards against enemy positions entrenched on the rock. In the battle that followed he shot 14 Argentinian soldiers before storming the enemy's defences and stabbing three more with a broken bayonet.

He was awarded the Military Cross for bravery, but it was this gruesome scene, portrayed in graphic detail in the film, that caused widespread shock and anger when it was shown.
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Offline The Rifleman

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Falklands war 25th Anniversary
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2007, 06:11:09 »
In the UK and the Falkland Islands the build up has started to the 25th Anniversary of the Falklands war. The website if anyone is interested is:

http://www.falklands25.com/

I think one of the most iconic photos to come from that campaign is one of the Royal Marines marching into Stanley.

how many Riflemen does it take to change a lightbulb?

None - we are not scared of the dark!

Offline FormerHorseGuard

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Re: Falklands war 25th Anniversary
« Reply #29 on: February 08, 2007, 10:43:34 »
it is hard to think it has been 25 years since that event. it was the first war i ever watched on tv so to speak, the news reports were only on at night but i did read them want to know it all.
i figured the Brits would win in like a matter of days, because they were the good guys no other reason. I was like 12 years old, what did i know about how far  and how long it would take to just get there.
never thought much about ships being sunk or lost or dog fights....i guess now i know more. it was differerent watching it on tv and stuff then reading a book after an event.
remember the losses on the British side....rip boys

Offline scottishcanuck

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Re: Falklands war 25th Anniversary
« Reply #30 on: February 19, 2007, 20:39:55 »
Any Vets on this site?

Offline The Rifleman

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Re: Falklands war 25th Anniversary
« Reply #31 on: February 22, 2007, 06:11:52 »
not really - 3/4 of my regiment went south (commando artillery) - we stayed in the UK  :(

how many Riflemen does it take to change a lightbulb?

None - we are not scared of the dark!

Offline 3rd Herd

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Re: Falklands war 25th Anniversary
« Reply #32 on: February 22, 2007, 12:17:04 »
On a unit exchange at the time, I can still remember the Brit Red Caps trying to seize our personal radios as there was a communications ban. We held out and ended up with twenty or so Brits crowding into our room to hear the news every evening. Took a while to get the smell of curie out of the room though.
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Offline William Webb Ellis

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Re: Falklands war 25th Anniversary
« Reply #33 on: February 22, 2007, 16:40:11 »
..... curie out of the room though.

Ah yes, the Brits love their currie.......especially on chips at 1:30 am..
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Offline niner domestic

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Re: Falklands war 25th Anniversary
« Reply #34 on: February 22, 2007, 17:05:13 »
Sometimes I look at my wonderful daughter and I am thankful that I was blessed to have in her, a living piece of her father.   In 25 years, there has not been a day go by that I do not miss him and often wonder what kind of man he would have grown into over the years.  I sometimes wonder if he would have been proud of me or our daughter for the path we took after his death.  I don't need to look far though, as our daughter is the epitome of everything he fought and died for.  She is her father's child.  He would have been very proud of her.  

The last real glimpse I had of my husband was him marching up the gangway onboard the SS Canberra.  Watching our daughter march, I am struck by how very much she is like her father in the way she carries herself.  I could always pick him out in the ranks and I can do the same with our daughter no matter where she is or where he was or how many were with him.

Our daughter was just an infant when he walked up that gangway, in the crowds that stood on the jetty at Southampton that April day, I only had eyes for one other human being and I willed myself to remember every gesture, every word, every wave goodbye he made. I strained to hear his calls to me over the band, the cheers, the tears, bells and horns.  I'm glad I did that as in the 25 years since he sailed away, those last moments, gestures and words are all I have left of him.  

She kissed her daddy's picture every night and mimicked folding her hands in prayer as I prayed for his and his men's safe return.  She would point to her daddy's picture when anyone asked her where her father was.  To her, her father has only ever been that picture, she doesn't remember him at all.  She's tried though, and in her anguish of having a memory too young to recall his face or his soft singing voice when he sang to her, or his big strong arms that held her so tightly on the day she was born,  as she grew she would ask of those who knew him to tell her all they could remember of him.  She did what I had done on the April day, she willed herself to remember the memories of those who could remember her daddy.  Like mine, they are all she has left of him.  But they soothe her when she needs them to and they give her courage when she feels she is failing.  I do the same.  

She is now older than he was ever alive.  She is the same rank her daddy was on the day he died.  She has a son now and a daughter not much older than she was when her daddy died.  She just kissed her husband goodbye and I watched her watching him, and I knew what she was doing, she was remembering every detail, every moment.  

I have held on to his SAMA all these years, every Nov 11th and on the date of his death, I wear it on the inside of my jacket close to my heart.  This year, I'll be giving it to our daughter.  

Am I a vet of the Falklands? No, but as long as I live or his daughter or her children live, he'll be remembered.  

Per Mare Per Terram
« Last Edit: February 22, 2007, 17:08:31 by niner domestic »
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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: Falklands war 25th Anniversary
« Reply #35 on: February 22, 2007, 23:08:46 »
Any Vets on this site?

I was with 1 PARA in NI at the time. It was nice of 2 and 3 PARA to send us white feathers. Needless to say we were mighty peeved to have missed it. Oh well, at least I lived and got to hang onto all my body parts, unlike some people I know. It was certainly a humbling experience to meet up with those who made it through right after the war. There are some pretty amazing stories out there you'll never see in a book.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

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"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

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Re: The Falklands 25th Anniversary Exhibition
« Reply #37 on: January 30, 2008, 13:08:21 »
Funnily enough, I've been reading this: http://www.amazon.ca/Hostile-Skies-Falklands-Air-War/dp/0753821990/ref=pd_ecc_rvi_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1201716272&sr=8-4

SHAR pilot's autobiographic take on that war: really good book, and even crunchies/pongos might find it interesting to find out what goes into CAS ...
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Re: Falklands War History (merged)
« Reply #38 on: June 01, 2017, 15:28:21 »
Not strictly British, but worth noting ...
Quote
Forensic scientists this month will start trying to identify the remains of Argentine soldiers buried in anonymous graves on the Falkland Islands after the country's 1982 conflict with Britain, the head of the mission said on Thursday.

There are 123 such graves in Darwin Cemetery in the South Atlantic, one of which contains multiple bodies, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representatives overseeing the mission said at a news conference.

The ICRC has been interviewing families of dead Argentine soldiers since 2012 and around 100 have consented to DNA testing.

"I hope we will succeed in matching some of the graves," head of the mission Laurent Corbaz said. "The plaque on the graves should not remain 'Argentina soldier known only by God'."

In Britain's two-month-long war to reclaim the Falklands, 255 British and about 650 Argentine soldiers died, and it is still a sore point for Argentina.

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri has adopted a softer tone than his predecessor Cristina Fernandez but he has not relinquished Argentina's claim to the islands it calls Malvinas.

Argentina and Britain signed an agreement in December to try to identify the soldiers, splitting the $1.5 million cost. The team will consist of ICRC forensic scientists as well as two experts each from Argentina and Britain.

Exhumation and bone sampling is to begin on June 19 and will likely continue into August, Corbaz said, assuming one to three bodies per day can be analyzed and reburied. The ICRC chose the southern hemisphere winter to avoid interfering with tourism and sheep farming, Corbaz said ...
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Offline tomahawk6

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« Last Edit: June 02, 2017, 09:16:59 by tomahawk6 »

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Falklands War History (merged)
« Reply #40 on: October 16, 2017, 23:24:56 »
The Sheffield investigation has been released and the failures reminded me of the recent USN ship misadventures.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/oct/15/revealed-full-story-behind-sinking-of-falklands-warship-hms-sheffield#img-2

The catalogue of errors and failings that ended in the sinking of a Royal Navy destroyer during the Falklands war has been disclosed after being covered up for 35 years.

Twenty people died and 26 were injured when HMS Sheffield was hit by an Argentinian Exocet missile during the early days of the 1982 conflict. It was the first Royal Navy warship to have been lost since the second world war.

The report of the board of inquiry into the loss of the Sheffield, which has finally been declassified, reveals the full reasons why the ship was completely unprepared for the attack.


Exocet missile: how the sinking of HMS Sheffield made it famous
 Read more
The board found that two officers were guilty of negligence, but they escaped courts martial and did not face disciplinary action, apparently in order to avoid undermining the euphoria that gripped much of the UK at the end of the war.