ANNIE Talman sits by the window of her small bungalow home in Linley Drive and clutches a photograph of the happiest day of her life. And the picture tells a thousand words.
A handsome young man dressed in smart glowing red Scots Guards uniform holds the hand of a pretty young woman.
Annie and her husband Paul have just been married and are head over heels in love.
It was the start of a short but illustrious marriage which revolved around Army life.
Annie met Paul at the Empire Ballroom disco in London 1979.
Paul was stationed at Chelsea barracks with the second battalion of the Scots Guards.
He had been in the Army for three years. They quickly fell in love and married on August 6, 1979.
They moved into an Army flat in Victoria and settled into their new life together.
The couple’s first real test came in March 1982 when Paul was called up to serve in the Falklands.
As she was six months pregnant, Annie went to stay with her mother in Dagenham while Paul boarded a ship for the long trip to the South Atlantic.
During the weeks that he was away Annie received just three letters.
“I had no idea if he was okay,” said Annie. “One of the worst moments was moving back to my mum’s house in Dagenham.
“A newsflash came up on the TV about the Sir Tristan and Sir Galahad being blown up.
“I did not know he was all right for about four or five days.
“I got a telegram which said. I am all right – already on the island – say hello to ‘bump’ love ya.
“I never saw or heard anything of him for five weeks.”
Little did Annie know that the Scots Guards were involved in some of the fiercest fighting of the conflict at Mount Tumbledown.
Paul would have been involved in helping clear the last Argentinians from their mountain stronghold before taking the capital Port Stanley.
On June 14, Argentina surrendered and Paul would make a hasty return home to see the birth of his son Carl.
He flew home to Brize Norton and then was given a helicopter lift direct to Rush Green Hospital in Romford. But it was all in vain.
“He missed the birth by two hours,” said Annie. “Then all of a sudden I heard him coming in screaming.
“He came in with his filthy combats - he was filthy, rotten dirty. As he walked in, the midwife made him put on a gown. Then he tried to pick up the baby and the midwife said wait. But he said, no chance.
“He had just flown back 8,000 miles and wasn’t going to wait for anyone.
“It was a moment I was not sure I would see – my husband back home safe and my new baby.”
The family returned to their flat in Victoria and settled back into a routine. But Paul would never be the same again.
Annie said: “He would wake up in the night shivering and curled up in a ball.
“Sometimes I would wake up and find him hiding underneath the bed.
“He used to have flashbacks and that haunted look in his eyes never did leave him.
“I asked him once if he wanted to talk about it and he said no. He said, ‘There are things I saw that you don’t need to know about.’”
In January 1984 Paul was given a two-year posting in Cyprus. But in the most cruel twist of fate tragedy struck just three months later.
On April 1, Paul was travelling home from a darts match when the car the team was travelling in crashed.
Paul died from his injuries. Annie was left a widow at the tender age of just 23.
“I was meant to go in the team but I could not find a babysitter,” said Annie. “He survived Northern Ireland and the Falklands and then was killed in a car crash.
“It was just unbelievable. A moment that I can never forget.
“When I returned home I was given a flat in Barking by the council.
“In 1985 somebody poured petrol through the letterbox and set fire to the place.
“I lost all of Paul’s medals and his military cap and belongings.
And with this month marking the 30th anniversary of the conflict, Annie said her late husband believed the war was one that should never have happened.
She added: “Paul said even though it was British soil it was not really part of England.
“I would not have wanted my son to go to fight in the Falklands.
“There is just too much information on the TV. I would not like to be an Army wife today. But they get a lot more support today than we did.
“There’s not enough done to remember the Falklands. Nobody talks about the conflict.
“It’s only when we get an anniversary that it makes headlines. There should be more done to remember blokes like Paul.”