Buckingham Covers - First Day Covers

Flight Lieutenant Martin Withers DFC


Martin Withers was a Flight Lieutenant at the time of Black Buck 1, the first of seven Vulcan bomber missions which effectively marked the beginning of the conflict. The 16-hour flight from Ascension Island to Port Stanley and back on April 30 and May 1, 1982 was also the longest non-stop bombing mission in history.

Argentina, ruled by a military junta, invaded the Falkland Islands without warning on April 2, 1982. Under Margaret Thatcher, Britain assembled a Task Force to fight for the isles 8,000 miles away. Martin, 61, said: "We took off on April 30 but it was 7.38am on May 1 when we actually hit the target. That was the time of the first attack to recover the islands. "We all hoped to get a political resolution to the war but it was because you had stubborn-minded Argentineans with a different aim in mind. (General Leopoldo) Galtieri wanted to regain the Falklands so he could become a national hero." Very few servicemen and women had experience of conflict in the Cold War era, said Mr Withers, "There was no big sense of trepidation. It was an acceptance that we had a job of work to do and we had to go and do it. We were mentally prepared." The 21 1,000lb bombs were released two miles out from Port Stanley - one hit the runway and the others hit the dispersal areas causing damage to aircraft and the fuel storage area. Mr Withers describes the raid as "100 per cent successful". He said: "We had one bomb right on the runway and as a result the runway was never used for the rest of the war by the Argentineans." The attack put the enemy on the back foot, he said, because they now knew they were in striking distance. Their morale dented, the junta withdrew fighter jets to two southern airfields to defend their bases and HQs in the North.

Martin Withers is now the Chief Pilot of Vulcan to the Sky Trust, displaying the restored Vulcan XH 558.