BRITAIN'S secret weapon living on the Falklands Islands when the war with Argentina broke out in 1982 has described meeting up with his former comrades as one of the best days of his life.

Jim Fairfield, of Bromley Drive, Leigh, had given up his career as a Royal Marine commando to make a life on Civvy Street with his Falkland Islander wife Bonita and their two young children Quentin and Natasha when the land was declared a war zone.

Making bread at home on the South Atlantic island when he heard the announcement on the radio, the then Cable and Wireless engineer decided that the best way to protect his family was to rejoin the marines.

He had re-enlisted an hour later and when the Argentinians invaded that night Jim was at the forefront of Britain's makeshift defences.

Jim was captured on April 2 after British governor and commander-in-chief of the Falklands Islands Sir Rex Hunt ordered his troops to surrender as the Argentinian army laid siege on Government House in the capital Stanley.

Massively outnumbered, he had no choice but to lay down his weapons, but he was held captive for only 14 hours after disposing of his Royal Marine combat jacket and convincing Argentinian troops that he was a civilian.

Jim says he is the only member of the Royal Marines to have been decorated for the last stand action at Stanley.

He was given a civil British Empire Medal for rejoining Naval Party 8901 to fight in the Falklands War and met up with many of his former comrades at a 35th anniversary reunion regimental dinner on Saturday, April 1.

Grandfather-of-10 Jim, 62, said: “The reunion at Bickleigh Barracks in Plymouth was one of the best days of my life.

“It was superb to meet so many of the lads who I had not spoken to in 35 years, recalling stories of old times in the marines and our near misses.

"I was in the Royal Marines for 11 years, including three years serving on the Falkland Islands, where I met my first wife Bonita.

“After leaving to become a civilian I was enjoying the solitude and quiet life on the islands, but of course it did not stay that way.

"When I heard about the war on the radio I decided the best way to protect my family was to join the Royal Marines again.

“In the marines we were like a family and you never leave your mates in the lurch.

"Once a Royal Marine, always a Royal Marine is our motto."

Jim's heroics are detailed in new military book The First Casualty by Ricky D Phillips, which includes Falklands War accounts from British and Argentinian soldiers as well as civilians living in Stanley at the time of the invasion.

He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following the war and left the Falklands in 1995.

Jim, who is originally from Kent, has since remarried and has lived in Leigh with his second wife Michelle for 14 years.

He now works as a licensing enforcement officer at Salford City Council.

Jim’s daughter Natasha and two of his grandchildren still live in the Falklands and he regularly visits them, last going there in February.

He said: "It is a bustling place now which has changed for the better since my time there."