On Monday I was said to hear of the passing of Sir John ‘Sandy’ Woodward. Sir John had risen to national recognition following the successful campaign to retake the Falkland Islands in 1982, an operation he commanded.
I had the pleasure of meeting Sir John last year in order to interview him as part of the programme for the University of Kent’s ‘The Falklands: 30 Years On’ conference, held last April.
I found him to be a great interviewee, witty, engaging, and willing to challenge my questions and put his own view across. It was exactly what I had expected, having read his memoir of the campaign, ‘100 Days’.
As well as discussing his memories of the campaign, and gaining a fascinating insight into the command view of the campaign to complement my previous research with veterans who had often be enacting decisions that he had made, much of our discussion revolved around the criticism of his command structure and style that has featured in several a books since the ned of the conflict.
While Sir John remained resolute in defence of some of the decisions that he had made, he did acknowledge some of the criticisms, though provide his counter-points to them. He also commented that he was now on good social terms with nearly all of those who had previously criticised him.
Howverer, the Falklands was just one part of Sir John’s long career, though it was undoubtedly what brought him to attention – even though the then-Secretary for Defence, John Nott, questioned his initial appointment.
Sir John was held in high esteem in military and political circles. It was a pleasure to have met him.