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Falklands historic relic given new lease of life

An armoured reconnaissance car which saw service during the 1982 Falklands conflict by the Argentine Army has been painstakingly refurbished in time for the Falklands 40th Anniversary.

On 2 April 1982 the British overseas territory of the Falkland Islands, some 8,000 miles from the UK, was invaded in a surprise attack by the Argentines contesting the Sovereignty, wanting to bring Islas Malvinas – as the Islands are known in Argentina – under their control.

The Panhard AML90 of the Destacamento de Exploración de Caballería Blindada 181 was abandoned in Port Stanley following the unconditional surrender by Argentina on 14 June 1982 and brought back to the UK by the Regiment of The Blues and Royals.

It had been rotting away in a garage in Combermere Barracks, Windsor for nearly four decades and with asbestos in the bulkhead the refurbishment was a bigger job then first anticipated.

Corporal of Horse Harry Day serving with the Household Cavalry Regiment headed up a team of volunteers who spent months working on the French made Panhard, one of twelve in use during the Falklands conflict.

“Water had damaged certain parts quite badly.” said Harry. “So, we had to lift out the engine, gearbox and turret to address the rust and seal the asbestos in situ.”

Harry added:

“This is my fourth restoration project but this one has been slightly different. There are numerous Blues and Royals veterans still alive who deployed, and of all the gate guards I have worked on this is the one that I feared due to its Regimental history.”

During the 74-day conflict a total of 255 British servicemen, including eight Hong Kong sailors and three female civilians were killed liberating the Falklands. 649 Argentines also lost their lives during the invasion.

Harry will be leaving his mark behind when he has moved on from the Army, a legacy that will remain:

“It has been an honour to be part of the project to preserve Army history; a reminder to mark the occasion on which soldiers from both countries served and died.”

The vehicle will become a permanent monument and gate guardian in Bulford, Wiltshire.