Falklands War: veteran who became homeless prepares to mark conflict anniversary

For someone who put himself in harm’s way for his country, it was an ignominious way to spend the twilight of his life.

But now, a Falklands veteran who was left homeless at the age of 70 is preparing to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the conflict in comfort thanks to a Scottish charity.

Peter Pascoe was serving as a petty officer at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall when he was dispatched to the South Atlantic archipelago in April 1982.

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His helicopter squadron, based on HMS Seahawk, was repurposed into a utility squadron to provide logistical support for British forces, with Mr Pascoe and his colleagues dug in at Blue Beach on San Carlos – now home to a military cemetery that holds the remains of 14 of the 255 British servicemen killed during the war.

Back in 1982, the area was the subject of repeated attacks. “We found ourselves in an incredibly hostile environment,” he said. “We were regularly bombed and strafed by the Argentinian air force whose pilots were exceptionally skilled.”

One day, Mr Pascoe was repairing a winch wire when the vessel he was on came under attack. He had to be lifted to safety and sustained an injury to his neck. While the incident caused only minor discomfort at the time, it would profoundly affect him in later life.

After being promoted to chief petty officer, he returned home in August 1982. A year later, he was awarded the British Empire Medal for his exemplary service record - he did not miss a single operational sortie during his time in the Falklands.

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Falklands veteran Peter Pascoe was homeless before being put in touch with Scottish Veterans Residences.Falklands veteran Peter Pascoe was homeless before being put in touch with Scottish Veterans Residences.
Falklands veteran Peter Pascoe was homeless before being put in touch with Scottish Veterans Residences.

After leaving the Royal Navy, Mr Pascoe worked for the Foreign Office before emigrating to Vancouver after meeting his wife. But eight years ago, everything changed when he suffered a severe stroke as a result of a build-up of internal tissue scarring from his wartime neck injury.

“I was fine one moment, but lost all sense of balance and awareness the next. If I hadn’t been found and taken to hospital so quickly, I don’t think I would have survived it,” he said.

The incident forced him to learn how to walk and speak again, with the strain leading to the breakdown of his marriage. In 2016, Mr Pasoe moved back to the UK, but found himself homeless in London.

It was only when he was put in touch with Neil Stewart from Scottish Veterans Residences, a charity which provides supported housing for veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, that he found his feet again.

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Now aged 76, Mr Pascoe is living at the charity’s housing unit in Broughty Ferry, where he “could not be happier”.

Like other veterans, he will be looking back on Tuesday, 40 years to the day since Argentine forces surrendered.

“It made me realise the fragility of life and the importance of getting on with it and living it to the full,” he explained. “That is what I have done ever since.”

Martin Nadin, CEO of Scottish Veterans Residences, said: “As Peter’s story illustrates, there is a wide range of factors that can lead to veteran homelessness. SVR has a vital role in supporting people who have served their country in our Armed Forces and are in need.”

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