Our Century

Revolution in Argentina

Tom Lamden, Wombourne, Born 1920

Tom Lamden

"It was 1945. I was a crew member of the SS Tordene, preparing to load a cargo of corned beef for the UK.

"Buenos Aires was silent because a general strike had been called. Rumours had been circulating that General Peron, the then vice-president, had been placed under arrest. Feelings were running high. Peron was a very popular figure with the working population and with the army which was always at odds with the navy.

"That particular night some of us crew members had visited the Roman Catholic Seaman's Mission where a dance was being held. I left to escort a nurse to her residence but she urged me to return to my ship quickly, as she believed something dangerous was brewing.

"The streets were deserted. It was so quiet the hair rose on my neck. Then, suddenly, the clock towers in the city chimed midnight. Church bells joined in, than all the taxis, buses, horse-drawn carriages all seemed to erupt on the street.

"Every vehicle was crammed with cheering, shouting, whistling people. The blue striped flag of Argentina waved from outstretched hands. The wide concourse of the Avenido Viente Cinco de Marzo was crammed and the shouts of "Peron, Peron!" echoed.

"The offices of a newspaper sympathetic to the president burned merrily. It was chaos, happy chaos, as the working classes, later to be known as "the shirtless ones" took command of the city.

"In the distance we could hear the guns of the army attacking the navy. The next day General Peron was pronounced El Presidente."