Falklands

Paratroopers retrace footsteps of predecessors on the Falklands

To mark the 40th anniversary of the Falklands conflict, a group of young paratroopers have journeyed to the South Atlantic.

There they have retraced the footsteps of their predecessors and learned about their regimental history – through the medium of tea and treasure.

Forces News was able to join them as they visited the famous Heathman family farm – the couple looked after the men of 2 and 3 Para, and other personnel who came to liberate them, in 1982. 

Heathman family farm

During the Falklands conflict, the Heathman family's farm, just outside the capital of Stanley on East Falkland, was used as a base by the British forces.

3 Para, the Blues and Royals, a handful of marines, and members of the SAS were all at the farm at one point.

The farm was a hive of activity, with a team of locals acting as drivers for the British, pilots of the Scout and Gazelle helicopters and a number of journalists also at the farm, some even sleeping in the loft. 

Forces at Heathman family farm during the Falklands conflict DATE UNKNOWN CREDIT Richard Stevens.jpg
British forces at the Heathman family farm during the Falklands conflict (Picture: Richard Stevens).

When Ailsa Heathman, the owner of the Heatham farm, was asked if she minded her property being used, she said: "No, you didn't mind, you'd do anything at that stage, you were just so pleased to see them."

She recalled that some days it was like "dominoes".

"With the drivers, a lot of them were out at night-time so if we got up in the morning quite often somebody else got into your bed, so they could try and get a sleep as well, you see, ready for the next night.

"It was a bit like dominoes for a while."

Ailsa Heathman is a Falkland Islander of many generations and has lived there all her life.

Forces at Heathman family farm during the Falklands conflict DATE UNKNOWN CREDIT Richard Stevens.jpg
The Heathman family farm was used as a base by the British forces during the Falklands conflict.

She "enjoyed" seeing the travelling paratroopers at her farm and being able to give the younger personnel the chance to learn.

"These guys weren't here in '82, but it's part of their regimental history.

"And we're very, very grateful to each and every one of them because... even the young guys stationed at Mount Pleasant now, you know, if they weren't here, we probably wouldn't be here."

Major Nick Perlak, Officer Commanding of D Company 3 Para said it was "great they have such a high regard" even today, 40 years on.

"These are people you read about in books, the support they gave to the battalion."

Major Perlak added: "To see the troops coming over the hill going 'hi, we're the British and we're here to liberate you', I can only imagine the emotions and it's just great they have such a high regard for the guys still today."

Head to our Falklands 40 page, where you can find our memorial wall, as well as more Falklands stories, videos and podcasts.