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1982: Living with the enemy
Rachel Aspogard was a 23-year-old nurse living in the Falkland Islands when the Argentines invaded.

During the conflict she had to work at close quarters with some of the occupying force's soldiers, who took over a wing of the King Edward Memorial Hospital where she worked.

I remember going out the evening of 1 April and walking home in the early hours of the morning.

The Falkland Island Defence troops were in the streets and seemed quite nervous. They said I should get off the streets and go home.

Nobody liked them and nobody wanted them there

Everyone was very nervous - we didn't prepare ourselves, we just sat and waited to see what was going to happen.

When it did it was like an explosion. You went into automatic survival mode as soon as you saw these amphibious Argentine naval craft coming out the water and coming up the road.

First of all we thought, "What a cheek". We also empathised with people from the Second World War who witnessed the Nazis marching onto their territory - the Argentines were viewed very much in the same way.

Nobody was impressed, nobody liked them and nobody wanted them there.

I think when the Argentines had been there about a month they realised their government had made a really big mistake.

Hostility

One felt really sorry for the Argentine conscripts because they were so helpless. They weren't in any physical or mental condition or equipped to take on a professional army like the British.

There was a meeting held at the local post office. A big group of Anglo-Argentines came along and asked us to join the "motherland".

They said: "We are the people who rightfully own this place and you can be part of that as well."

But they got a very hostile response from the locals and went home with their tails between their legs - I think they were quite shocked at the reaction.

Peace talks

I can remember when the airport was bombed - that was really an extraordinary experience.

I heard lots of [RAF] Vulcans flying over. The noise was just unbelievable, because fundamentally the Falklands is quite a quiet place.

When the bombs were dropped on the airport about three miles away, the impact and the reverberations were very powerful.

After that, everything was getting pounded regularly between midnight and 0500.

[On 14 June] I came out of the west wing of the hospital and I could see in the distance the Argentine leaders - [Air Commodore] Bloomer Reeve and General Menendez - with the head of the SAS and the Land Forces Commander Jeremy Moore walking down the road together.

Booby traps

When everyone saw them walking past, even the Argentine conscript troops who had been stationed in the hospital were just so happy it was all over. They wanted to go home.

And then before you knew it, we saw all these mauve berets bobbing up and down on the road.

The Paratroops very gradually just walked into town - I think they had bets between themselves who could get into Port Stanley first.

The most dangerous thing we had to deal with just after the war was the fact the Argentine officers who had stationed themselves in one of the wings of the hospital had packed the mattresses with grenades to booby trap them.

But we actually had a party with some very begrudging Argentines after the ceasefire had been agreed.

A group of Paras managed to get some whisky and invited a few Argentine officers to have a drink with them - but I don't think they were very happy about it!

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British soldiers fly the flag on the Falkland Islands
Rachel Aspogard never doubted the British would come


Rachel Aspogard
Ms Aspogard worked as a nurse in Port Stanley's hospital
In Context
Rachel Aspogard left the Falkland Islands in August 1982.

She is now a freelance writer and lives in Sweden.

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