There has been a lot of media attention this year on the 30 Anniversary of the Falklands War. The Museum, as part of a series of events to mark this anniversary, has put a new display together which shows aspects of this War. We looked at our collections and tried to decide what we could show people that was completely different from our existing Falklands War display. Our searches revealed some ordinary, yet remarkable objects – which entered the Museum as ‘Trophies of War’. What makes them, and the display, different is that all the photographs and artefacts are Argentinean, captured by Royal Marines during the War.
Popular items brought back as trophies often included bayonets and helmets. Amongst the more unusual items captured were Argentinean ration packs. Over thirty years, some ration pack items have been well preserved such as the teabags; other items haven’t survived so well. This tin contains meat in a sauce and a pungent smell is very noticeable. British soldiers were issued with the same rations regardless of rank; however the Argentinean officers had different rations to their men. The officers ration pack was twice the size of the other ranks. It also contained items such as writing paper and a miniature of whisky. This made them highly prized by British troops.
A camera captured by a Royal Marine contained film taken by an unidentified Argentinean soldier during the conflict. These photographs are seen publically for the first time. Most of the photographs were taken in and around Port Stanley during the occupation. They show the Argentinean forces, many of whom were young conscripts, relaxing off duty. Some of the Argentines were attired for the cold, wet conditions of the Falkland Islands as they are shown wearing cold weather uniform consisting of a Dubon parka jacket; a cold, wet weather jacket and a Marine infantry field cap or steel helmet but many suffered, like the British, from the effects of the harshness of the South Atlantic winter.
These objects can be seen purely as Trophies of War, collected from a defeated adversary. But they also offer very personal insights into the lives and military service of the men that Britain was fighting against 30 years ago.
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