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ITH daylight on ● Now is the victor’s triumph won... Royal Marines of 42 Commando fi le down towards Stanley supported by a Scimitar The invader had – foolishly
Argentina’s National Painting by artist Dean Regan; available from or 01394 210511 – thought little about defending
Day ebbing away, the Falklands and little about the
Teniente de navío
which shook the ship violently. Brig Julian Thompson had no “While we would have all heaved chance to reflect. welfare of his men.
(Lt) Julio Barraza and Capitán
The Fleet Air Arm men threw intention of repeating the mistakes a whoop of relief if they had “These last three weeks have The men were constantly wet,
de corbeta Roberto Curilovic
themselves to the deck. of history. surrendered, no man wanted to be seemed long enough and we cold and hungry. They wore the
– callsigns Leo and Tito
When Green stood up again he The 47-year-old commander anywhere else.” don’t like to think any more into clothes they had been issued
respectively – climbed into
saw a comrade staggering around, of 3 Commando Brigade knew The men got used to the the future than the end of the with on the mainland, where the
their Super Étendards on the
his shirt torn open, his chest war. As well as being a leader of constantly-wet sleeping bags, they day,” observed Lt David Tinker, climate was very different. A few
standings at Rio Grande, then
studded with metal fragments, men, he was a student of war, a got used to the driving rain, the the captain’s secretary of HMS blankets, a few mattresses, and an
raced their jets down the runway
streaks carved in his black face serious military historian. History sleet showers, the wind racing Glamorgan. anorak from Israel were meant to
and into the South Atlantic sky.
by a stream of tears. “All he kept and experience told him the re- mercilessly, incessantly across the Tinker was convinced the war keep the elements at bay.
The two French-built aircraft,
saying, over and over again, was: conquest of the Falklands would inhospitable bog. was a political storm in a teacup Lunch and evening meal
an Exocet missile slung on a pylon
Fucking great ball of fire...” be “no picnic”. “Once a man was wet, he stayed stirred up by Whitehall. In his invariably consisted of lukewarm
beneath each right wing, headed
In the growing gloom of an It took five days to ferry ashore wet,” wrote Brig Thompson. letters home, he railed against soup – with no bread but perhaps
to the north-east for an afternoon
autumn night, Atlantic Conveyor the “bullets, beans and fuel” “Most men’s feet never dried and John Nott and Margaret Thatcher, some water biscuits as a side
rendezvous with a Hercules tanker
burned ferociously. Within 40 for Thompson’s brigade at San many suffered from trench foot – a he railed about the stupidity of ‘dish’. Still, there were plenty
far to the north of the Falkland
minutes of the missile striking, Carlos. It was pointless moving sensation described by somebody going to war over islands Britons of sheep roaming around which
Capt Ian North, a jovial sea dog, on Stanley before supplies were as like having one’s feet screwed little cared for, about dismissing could be slaughtered. And there
Refuelled, the pair now turned
the spitting image of Captain Bird’s on land. into a vice while dipping them in Argentina as some third-rate was a seemingly endless supply of
to the south-east, hoping to
Eye with his bushy white beard, In this boggy, marshy land, boiling water.” power. cigarettes.
surprise the British task force.
ordered his men to abandon ship. logistics were a nightmare. “Every It all seemed such a waste to this The worst thing wasn’t the cold
As their comrades had done
In the dark, the men took to round of ammunition, ration pack
exactly three weeks earlier when
the life rafts, but still the Atlantic and gallon of fuel for the handful of
attacking the Sheffield, Barraza
Conveyor would not release the tracked vehicles had to be carried
and Curilovic sporadically
men from her grasp. Crashing on the backs of marching men,” A
T sea, life was young man who quoted the poems or the hunger, it was the waiting
monotonously terrifying. of A E Housman in his missives which constantly gnawed at the
Rather like the blackout home. What had first seemed a men’s nerves. Two months now
40 years before, mirrors rather exciting adventure to the they had been in the Malvinas.
climbed above the waves to scour
up and down in the heavy swell, the brigadier recalled. To move a were covered with sellotape to young officer had become pitiless, Army officer Major Guillermo
the ocean for targets with their
the stern of the ship began single gun battery and 500 shells prevent them splintering. Bedding relentless, pointless. Berazay viewed the future
radar; a large blip appeared to
sucking the rafts back towards into position demanded 85 Sea was tied down, loose items stowed From their ivory towers the ominously. If it came to a fight
the south-west – “a great target”,
the stricken hulk, smashing them Kings – or eight Sea Kings flying away. Most men slept in their leaders in Buenos Aires and with the British, Argentina would
thought Curilovic. The two men
against the hull, tossing the men more than ten missions apiece uniform. They showered late at London ordered young men to lose. “You cannot fight against the
descended again, hopping over the
into the water, including Capt – and Julian Thompson had four night (the enemy aircraft never their deaths, Tinker observed. And third or fourth military country in
Atlantic in excess of 540 knots.
North. Despite the bravest efforts such batteries to move. attacked in the dark) and ate at the men went. The bravery of the the world and win,” he admitted.
And as they had done three
of his comrades, Ian North was Everything came through San action messes – hastily wolfing Sea Harrier pilots was matched by “I knew many of us would die out
weeks earlier, the radars of the
devoured by the ocean. Carlos, and the further the marines down meals, often soup or pasta, the equal bravery of the men in there.”
British task force picked up
and Paras moved from their base, perhaps an oggie if you were lucky, the Daggers and Étendards “sent Brigadier Mario Menéndez,
intermittent blips as the Argentine
With the lifeless cargo ship still the longer the supply lines and the before returning to duty. against overwhelming anti-aircraft in charge of the defence of the
burning, Sandy Woodward greater the effort needed to feed And yet despite the dead, missiles by heartless superiors.
jets closed on the warships. The
islands, knew many of his men
contemplated the fate of his task the front line. despite the wounded, despite the “When one considers the total
lessons of Sheffield had been
would die. In death, however, they
force. The last hour of daylight The helicopter would be the key frayed nerves, the men retained of sorrow, financial loss, loss of
learned. No-one thought these
would write “a page of glory” in
on May 25 1982 had cost Britain to victory, but as Julian Thompson their humour, their humanity. ships for Britain and destruction
were ghosts – false echoes on the
Argentina’s history.
two vessels; HMS Coventry had conferred with his team an officer Almost every ship had a beard- to the Falklands – now dotted
radar screens. The ships launched
Menéndez’s men outnumbered
capsized just minutes before the stuck his head through the tent growing competition (it would end with war graves – all balanced
chaff for all they were worth.
the foe. If they fought as he
Atlantic Conveyor was mortally flap. The Atlantic Conveyor had simultaneously with hostilities). against a ‘principle’, a flag, it does
With their missiles locked on
expected them to, as Argentina
wounded. “Will this bloody day been struck by a missile; all but Despite canteen stocks running seem to me the most pointless of expected them to, with every
to the “great target”, Barraza and
ever end?” Woodward wondered, one helicopter – Chinook ‘Bravo low, there was still beer left. The wars ever fought by Britain.” mortar, every rifle, every machine-
Curilovic flicked the release button
then steeled himself. “The war November’ – had been lost. With mail came and went – HMS gun, every field gun, the Malvinas
and turned to the west. Out of the
will go on. Setbacks, yes. Defeat, typical Royal sangfroid, one green Leeds and Dumbarton Castle would remain the Malvinas.
corner of his eye, Curilovic spied
no.” beret muttered: “We’ll have to scurried between the task force With the “hour of the final
the two missiles flying side-by-side
What troubled Woodward as bloody well walk.” and Ascension Island ferrying the battle” imminent, the general
hurtling over the ocean trailing
much as his losses at sea was the post and other stores. F
EW Argentine soldiers
had any doubts about the
justness of their cause.
The sight of the blue and attempted to rally his men with an
red flames behind them.
seeming inactivity ashore. For five And so the green berets of 45 In the days before e-mails white Bandera Oficial de Ceremonia order of the day:
The Exocets looked for their
days now British soldiers and Royal Commando set out for Stanley and mobile phones, mail and fluttering atop the flagpole
great target; they found it in the
Marines had been on Falklands on foot, bound initially for the newsletters, sporadically compiled outside Government House in
Not only must we beat
Atlantic Conveyor. They ignored
soil and, in uncharacteristic hamlets of New House, Douglas by ships, were the sole source of Puerto Argentino, as the invader
them, we must do it in such
the showers of chaff drifting above
Anglo-Saxon, the admiral railed, and Teal Inlet. contact between the men and their had quickly renamed Stanley,
a way that their defeat is so
the sea and made for the 18,000-
they had “done fuck all”. The first stretch, the dozen or loved ones. stirred their hearts. The Malvinas
crushing that they will never
ton merchantman.
It was with hindsight, Woodward so miles from San Carlos to New The newsletter was not the belonged to Argentina and would
again have the impertinence
The Conveyor had already
admitted, a harsh judgment. The House, was the worst: a boggy place for the truth of war to be remain so.
to invade our land. To arms!
delivered Sea Harriers and RAF
Royals and Paras had done rather landscape mixed with the odd told; it was a place where the But there were discouraging
To battle!
jump jets to the task force, but still
more than that. tough tufts of grass where the insignificances of life abounded, signs for the defenders. The
aboard were Chinook and Wessex
men could – and did – easily twist of meals, of beards, of the weather, Falklanders were staunchly British
helicopters – the former central to
of keeping your chin up in that and wanted nothing to do with
the battleplan to ferry the troops typically British manner, of ‘Argy Argentina or Argentinians. The B
Y June 4, 45 Commando
had reached the
approaches to Mount
Kent, barely ten miles
across the Falklands’ forbidding bashing’ deeds, of the antics of islands’ youngsters fraternised from Stanley.
terrain. A
S their forebears had done their ankles. A handful of troops
at Sicily, Salerno, and dropped out, but most continued
Normandy, the troops with grim determination.
ashore had spent five days And yet in spite of the terrain, two Antarctic teal ducks (Donald with the soldiers, but their parents “The wind stiffened and it
The helicopters and eleven men building up their beachhead. despite the weather, despite the and Daffy) which were due to be wanted nothing to do with the started to rain but we didn’t care.
were incinerated as the Exocet Logistics are the key to victory fact that they bloody well had handed over by HMS Antrim to occupiers. We were now 17 kilometres from
smashed through the Conveyor’s in any war. Rommel had ignored to walk, the morale of the Royal the famed ornithologist Sir Peter The frosty reception from Stanley and there was no way
side and exploded. that fact and ground to a halt in Marines rose not fell as they Scott. islanders paled, however, we were going back,” recalled
Leading Hand Roger Green, an the Egyptian sand. Patton had yomped eastwards. Late at night the men wrote compared with the the hardships company commander Capt Ian
aircraft maintainer, remembered a fallen foul of it as he thrust across “One was with one’s friends,” home or scribbled their thoughts the ordinary Argentine conscript Gardiner of 45 Commando.
loud thud followed by an explosion France towards the Third Reich. recalled Capt Ian Gardiner. in their diaries. It gave them a endured. Continued on page iimarina
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