Recognition for Haverhill councillor’s Falklands service

Cllr Tony Brown as a sapper with the Royal Engineers
Cllr Tony Brown as a sapper with the Royal Engineers

Haverhill councillor, Tony Brown, 54, has been honoured for his contribution during the Falklands war, 32 years after the conflict ended.

Cllr Brown, who represents Haverhill East and Kedington at Suffolk County Council and Haverhill East at St Edmundsbury Borough Council received a medal for his service on Thursday, December 18.

Cllr Brown served in the Royal Engineers during the 1982 conflict and, along with the rest of his unit, was tasked with building a runway in the disputed territory.

“We were the guys who built an air field under those very adverse conditions,” said Cllr Brown, who served as a sapper, the equivalent rank to a private in the Infantry.

“We were under the threat of heavy bombing and there were worries that the Argentinians would mount an offensive at any moment. There was unexploded ordinance to be careful of.

“We had all our equipment. The whole run way was in sections. We were working 24 hours a day to complete it. We needed a lot of air cover to get it done. It wasn’t just the air field, it was refuelling facilities as well. They wanted the whole thing up and running.

“But our unit never got awarded for what we did.”

It would be 32 years before Cllr Brown would receive a medal for his part in the war and the work he put in in the challenging conditions.

“It was amazing to see how much support there was for us in those days,” he said. “The whole country pulled together.

“They were one hundred per cent behind us. It was a fascinating time in history and it was great to be part of it.”

Cllr Brown joined the Royal Engineers in 1976 and would not leave until 1983. The air field he helped build was still in use by the RAF until a larger facility was built at Mount Pleasant.

Cllr Brown and his colleagues may never have been given recognition for their contribution to the war effort if it hadn’t been for the Holmes Medal Review.

This government review, headed by Sir John Holmes, into the rules, principles and processes for recognition in military campaigns, identified groups of veterans across the country who had not received the correct recognition for their past deeds.

Having been out at a council meeting, Cllr Brown returned home to find his medal had arrived at his home by post.

“I was really pleased,” said Cllr Brown. “All of us worked so hard under such arduous conditions. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m really chuffed to bits to get it after all these years.”