FOR one Cirencester grandmother the 25th anniversary of the Falklands Conflict brings back particularly strong memories.

Diana Gould, now 81, who lives in Queen Elizabeth Road, was the "British housewife" who famously grilled Margaret Thatcher live on TV about the sinking of the General Belgrano, the pride of the Argentine Navy, on May 2, 1982.

The mother-of-four, who studied at Cambridge around the same time Mrs Thatcher attended Oxford, questioned why the prime minister had ordered the destruction of the ship when it was outside the Exclusion Zone, an attack that brought peace talks to a halt.

Mrs Gould's onslaught left the Iron Lady "visibly shaken".

During the 1983 election campaign, Mrs Gould, whose husband Clifford, 83, taught at Powell's School and Stratton Primary School, was invited on the current affairs programme Nationwide after writing to the show's producers about how strongly she felt about the attack, which killed 368 Argentinian Navy personnel.

The programme caused a media storm, some commentators applauding Mrs Gould's courage to stand up to Mrs Thatcher and demand answers to the attack, others criticising her for hijacking an election debate with an inappropriate question.

She said this week: "When I look back, it seems that it happened to someone else. But I stand by everything I said. It was very exciting at the time - I met lots of people that I would have never met."

Mrs Gould subsequently penned On the Spot: The Sinking of the Belgrano', her account of why the attack was a catastrophic mistake.

In the preface, then Labour MP Tam Dalyell said: "It was Mrs Gould who established in the popular mind the impression that the sinking of the Belgrano, at best, was not cricket'. She sowed the seed of doubt in the popular imagination, in a way that neither I nor any other politician could have done."

Mrs Gould wrote: "We had created an Exclusion Zone of 200 miles around the Falklands and warned Argentina any ships venturing inside would be sunk if they constituted a threat to our forces.

"Immediately doubts sprang up about the wisdom of the sinking, especially since efforts to reach a peaceful solution were still continuing.

"Doubts also arose as to what immediate threat the ship posed, doubts which were fuelled by conflicting reports and have never been allayed."

She asked Mrs Thatcher live on TV: "Why, when you knew the Belgrano was outside the exclusion zone and was sailing away from the Falklands, did you order it to be sunk?" The prime minister replied that it was her duty to look after our troops and our ships, but Mrs Gould said the sinking of the ship scuppered any peace negotiations and encouraged reprisals.