The men all arrived on the Falkland Islands more than a month after Argentine forces surrendered Port Stanley on June 14, 1982. And although the war was over, their work was not without its dangers.
They had to deal with landmines and the graves of the war dead, and one soldier, Gurkha Lance-Corporal Budhaparsad Limbu, died when his spade hit a grenade two weeks after the surrender.
For decades the only veterans who could claim the South Atlantic Medal were those who had been on the Islands up to July 12, 1982. But this year a long-awaited independent review ruled that time should be extended by three months to October 21, 1982.
It now covers veterans who served up to when an airfield at what is now RAF Mount Pleasant, opened in 1985, was completed as part of Britain’s efforts to strengthen the Falklands against future attacks.
The review by the former British Ambassador to France, Sir John Holmes, was controversial with many other servicemen – because it left out veterans of conflicts including Aden, Suez and Korea.
It declared new medals would be awarded to those who served in Cyprus and the Berlin Airlift – when the Allies flew supplies to people in West Berlin in 1948 and 1949. Other conflicts were not mentioned in the review, whose aim was ‘to draw a definitive line under issues which in some cases had been controversial for many years’.