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Falklands war leader Admiral Sir Terry honoured in Dover

28 November 2023
The people of Dover have honoured one of the Navy’s greatest 20th-Century Leaders.

A Blue Plaque now marks the birthplace of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Terence ‘Terry’ Lewin, who steered the nation’s armed forces through the Falklands War.
On the 103rd anniversary of his birth, members of the Dover Society, civic dignitaries, clergy and Dover Sea Cadets gathered at the admiral’s birthplace – today a priests’ house for neighbouring St Paul’s RC Church – in Maison Dieu Road.

Sir Terry was the most senior of a remarkable triumvirate of outstanding naval officers in key positions during the 1982 conflict (First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Henry Leach and Commander-in-Chief Fleet Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse).

Sir Henry famous told Mrs Thatcher that Britain could – and should – act to liberate the islands, words echoed by the Chief of Defence Staff who was half a world away in New Zealand at the time of the Argentine invasion.

On his return to the UK, Sir Terry was equally resolute to the War Cabinet: "We must be prepared to take losses. But we are not going to lose. The only thing which will make us lose is if you lose your nerve."

On June 14 1982, both admirals were proven right after the short, but bitter battle to liberate the Falklands.
Victory alone would earn Sir Terry a place in history, but it barely scratches the surface of a naval career spanning six decades.

He joined the Royal Navy a year before World War 2 was declared in September 1939, served in HMS Belfast's (very brief) first commission – she was knocked out by a mine for many months – then struck up a lifelong friendship with Prince Philip of Greece (the future Duke of Edinburgh) aboard battleship HMS Valiant.

His wartime service took him to the hottest (and coldest) hotspots including the Arctic (he took part in 12 Russian convoys) and the relief of the Malta (Operation Pedestal) in the summer of 1942.

After the war he commanded the destroyer Corunna, the Royal Yacht Britannia, the Dartmouth Frigate Squadron and the carrier HMS Hermes. When the Falklands were invaded he was the nation’s senior military figure, sitting in the cabinet of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

He retired from the military the following year, after victory had been delivered and spent his retirement championing naval history and heritage (he was especially interested in Captain Cook). He died in 1999 aged 78.

His son Tim was especially moved by the plaque dedication.“The Sea Cadets provided a side party to pipe the unveiling, a gesture Terry would have been delighted with,” he said.“When he was sent home after being diagnosed with terminal cancer my niece, who had been a Sea Cadet, piped him back into his house.”

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