Port Howard war museum
A small but intriguing private museum in Port Howard
with lots of artefacts from the Falklands War
, in particular of course from West Falkland
, including ejector seats from shot-down fighter planes, Argentine provisions and various pieces of weaponry.
What there is to see: The museum is housed in a single Nissen hut (a type of shed with a rounded corrugated-iron roof), marked clearly enough with a sign saying "war museum" above the door.
Outside stand two medium-calibre artillery guns right in the lawn outside the lodge. To the left (as you approach) of the more forward positioned gun there's also a pile of aircraft wreck debris. This includes an under-wing drop tank and a large part of a delta wing – I believe the starboard (right) wing of Major Gustavo Piuma Justo's Dagger
C-404, i.e. the counterpart of the port (left) wing that's been put in an upright position at the plane crash sites
Inside the museum proper you can see some intriguing relics from that crash, as well as others, too. A collection of three or four ejector seats line one wall, slightly bent from impact on landing on the ground after use. Interestingly, Argentine planes' ejector seats were British made too!
In the same corner you can also see part of a British Harrier's landing gear (and ejector seat) and even an almost intact cockpit canopy (from an Argentine A-4 Skyhawk!
Dominating the centre of the room is a white-and-orange parachute draped out along one wall and the roof. Underneath a collection of weapons, including a mortar, a Milan rocket launcher and the shell of a British cluster bomb. Also to be seen are components of a medical kit (respirators, stethoscope, thermometers, etc.).
More weaponry, ranging from small pistols to a heavy machine gun are dotted around. In one corner there's a collection of various types of landmines, both anti-personnel and anti-tank. Some communications gear can be seen too.
High on the far wall is a sign with a Spanish place name – Puerto Yapeyu – the new name the Argentines had intended for Port Howard
. You can see pieces of shrapnel embedded in the sign – these are from a British air attack.
In the far left section various personal effects of Argentine soldiers are on display: a helmet, shovels, several pairs of shoes, blankets and sleeping bags (some looking quite inadequate for the subantarctic winter).
On a half-wall that semi-partitions the room into two halves hangs a war poem about the battle of Mt Tumbledown (see Stanley and environs
). But what I personally found the most moving collection of artefacts were the Argentine provisions, amongst them a few tins with labels still legible (e.g. Viennese sausages) but also a cigarette next to a faded image of the Virgin Mary ... and most astounding of it all: a miniature whisky bottle (probably from an officer's rations – the regular conscript soldiers were not given such luxuries). It was a product of Argentina
but with a partly bilingual label, with the English of it proclaiming the brand to be "the Breeder's Choice". I found this quite ironic in a way – here they were fighting the British in battle, but still enjoyed the restorative of a mock Scotch whisky ...
There is some limited labelling in the museum and a few sheets providing some background information, and also the odd newspaper cutting (e.g. one page about SAS man Gavin John Hamilton who was killed near Port Howard
). But overall the emphasis is in the artefacts speaking mostly for themselves ... and many of them do.
Small and a bit higgledy-piggledy the museum may be, but of all the various such mini-museums I saw in the Falklands
, this is the easily the best in my opinion.
just a few yards from the main building of Port Howard
Lodge, right in the middle of the settlement of the same name on West Falkland
Access and costs: only a few steps from the lodge; free.
Details: The museum is right next to Port Howard Lodge, which has the only accommodation for tourists in the settlement, so it couldn't be located more conveniently (my room even looked right on to the museum). It's also free for guests and should normally be open at all times (if padlocked, ask the host to open it for you).
Time required: about half an hour will do for most visitors.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
see under Port Howard
– in particular a battlefield tour including visits to the plane crash sites
associated with artefacts in the museum is a must-do when coming here!