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Patrol ship’s Falklands deeds honoured by current guardians

Their patrol of the Falklands may be brief but crew of HMS Medway will leave behind a legacy visible not merely to islanders… but also from space.

Crew of the patrol ship – which is filling in for her sister HMS Forth while she completes a refit in Gibraltar – joined teams from the island’s garrison and the local populace to add ‘Leeds Castle’ to the list of warships closely associated with the South Atlantic British territory.

It’s a long-standing tradition in the Falklands’ capital Stanley to spell out the names of those ships on the hillside opposite the town – Peninsula Camber – using giant boulders painted white.

Celebrated are His/Her Majesty’s Ships

Barracouta – which patrolled the islands in the early 19th Century keeping fishermen in check

Beagle – the vessel which famously carried Charles Darwin on a circumnavigation in the 1830s and led eventually to his groundbreaking On the Origin of Species.

Protector – not the current survey vessel, but the Arctic patrol ship from the 50s and 60s

Endurance – Protector’s successor from the late 60s through to 1991 and then her namesake (1992-2008)

Dumbarton Castle – Leeds Castle’s sister which was associated with the Falklands from the 1990s until the advent of

Clyde – Falklands guardship from 2007 until HMS Forth arrived on the scene a couple of years ago.

The effort to paint rocks on a hillside may seem like a small thing, but it meant a great deal to the sailors of both HMS Leeds Castle and HMS Medway. It was a reminder of the bonds which exist between those who serve in the military, and the lengths that they will go to honour and respect each other.

Lieutenant Callum Whyte

Somehow, until now, Leeds Castle’s was overlooked, despite enjoying an association just as long and fruitful with the Falklands as Dumbarton Castle.

Nearly two decades after she left the islands for the last time, the omission was put right as part of ‘Big Help Out’ events/the volunteering drive connected with the King’s Coronation.

“The effort to paint rocks on a hillside may seem like a small thing, but it meant a great deal to the sailors of both HMS Leeds Castle and HMS Medway. It was a reminder of the bonds which exist between those who serve in the military, and the lengths that they will go to honour and respect each other,” said Lieutenant Callum Whyte, Medway’s Logistics Officer.

Even with a sizeable number of fit, young and strong sailors and soldiers to move the boulders around it took a few hours to spell out Leeds Castle and paint them white (the Commander of British Forces in the South Atlantic, Commodore Jonathan Lett, was among those with brush in hand). 

Despite the harsh Falklands climate, the paint job withstands the elements remarkably well and the stones are large and bright enough to be visible from a height of 7,000ft and can be seen on Google Earth (minus Leeds Castle until the satellite imagery is updated) at 51º40’58”S, 57º51’32”W.

As for Leeds Castle, she’s still at sea, flying the Bangladeshi flag as missile corvette Dhaleshwari.

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