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ii FALKLANDS 25TH ANNIVERSARY SUPPLEMENT, JUNE 2007
Southby-Tailyour observed.marina Continued from page i
All roads, such as they were, Now the soldiers dug their heels
led to Stanley. To attacker and A
T 9am on Tuesday June 8,
Capitán Pablo Carballo
strode into the briefing room in. They had been told they would
defender alike, it was obvious that at Rio Gallegos airbase. be delivered to Bluff Cove – five
this war would be won – and lost There was a swagger, a confidence miles from Fitzroy – and delivered
– in a decisive, almost Wagnerian, about Carballo which he passed to Bluff Cove they would be.
battle on the hills to the west of the on to his fellow airmen of Grupo To Southby-Tailyour, helping
islands’ capital. 5 de Caza – 5th Fighter Group to oversee the unloading of the
“Never let it be said that we had – better known as Los Halcones, troops at Fitzroy, it was obstinacy
come to the end of our endurance ‘The Hawks’. bordering on stupidity.
by the time we had reached Stanley, “The whole world had started to “Nobody is going to Bluff Cove
or that the weather had beaten us,” talk about Argentine pilots – and today, unless they walk,” he warned
wrote Capt Gardiner, commander that was very stimulating for us,” the guardsmen, urging them to
of X-Ray Company. “We could Carballo recalled with pride. leave Sir Galahad by landing craft
have gone on for ever.” The Group had begun the war and mexeflote, then yomp the rest
Such was the bravado of Royal. with 12 A-4B Skyhawks. Now of the way to Bluff Cove.
But Sandy Woodward knew down to eight aircraft, the jets
war could not last forever. The lifted off from their home close to Skyhawk pilot Carlos Cachón and
politicians in London demanded it. the Argentinian-Chilean border for his comrades were now roaring
Logistics dictated it. The endurance a round trip to the Falklands of towards Fitzroy at low-level, passing
of his men dictated it. Numbers almost 1,000 miles, carrying three five miles every 30 seconds.
dictated it. 250kg bombs apiece, bound for There was nothing to be seen
“Time is running out,” he warned Bluff Cove where “British landing
apart from soldiers on the ground
London. “The naval covering force ships” had been reported.
taking pot shots at the Skyhawks.
is nearing the end of its staying Three Skyhawks never reached
The airmen turned their aircraft
power.” the islands, forced to turn back
around to begin the return journey
To hasten the end, the liberators
with various problems. when there was a cry over the radio:
devised a plan to leapfrog 5th
One of those returning was There are the ships.
Infantry Brigade across the harsh
Pablo Carballo. As he turned his “Two grey silhouettes could
Falkland terrain from Goose Green
Skyhawk for home, he ordered be seen near the coast,” recalled
towards Stanley by sea and air,
Carlos Cachón to “take charge of Cachón, who led his flight of three
dropping them at Fitzroy and
the formation and lead it to glory”. aircraft in. Two of the leader’s
Bluff Cove, 15 miles southwest
bombs hit Sir Galahad; a third from
of the capital – sparing them an
Ten miles west of Stanley landing one of his wingmen also plunged
exhausting 30-mile march.
support ships RFA Sir Galahad into the ship.
The plan, as with all plans in war,
and Sir Tristram and had dropped One bomb hurtled through an
involved risk. It meant moving large
anchor just before dawn; her sister open hatch and exploded in the
bodies of men in sluggish ships and
Sir Tristram was already there and tank deck; a second landed in the
landing craft. And so it was that
being unloaded. galley; and a third penetrated as far
the men of the Welsh Guards filed
The sisters had been ordered as the engine room before blowing
aboard the landing support ship
forward to deliver the Welsh Guards up.
RFA Sir Galahad on June 7 and
for the final push on Stanley. Now
sailed for Bluff Cove.
Behind Cachón, the second
the ships sat at Fitzroy in broad flight headed for Sir Tristram; their
daylight, clearly visible to Argentine aim was as good as the first wave.
observers on the hills above Two RFA crewmen were killed in
Stanley. the ensuing conflagration.
The Guards had had Major Southby-Tailyour had
landing craft, had been dispatched North Sister. Andrew Whitehead surveyed
a rough deal to date in
been enjoying the hospitality of
to Goose Green to pick up some of To seize these twin peaks, 45 his prize. “With fifty Royals,” he
this war – “treated
a liberated Falklands family, the
5th Infantry Brigade’s vehicles. Her Commando’s CO, Lt Col Andrew sighed to war correspondent Max
like the Duke of
Stewarts, in a home overlooking
coxswain, Colour Sergeant Brian Whitehead, decided to divide his Hastings, “I could have died of old
York’s 10,000
the cove. It had been a jovial few
Johnston, had orders not to sail forces; one company would charge age holding this place.”
men” Royal
minutes, a rare chance to relax for
back to Bluff Cove until nightfall, North Sister, a second South
Marine Ewen
the green beret as he enjoyed “tea,
but Johnston ignored instructions. Sister, and a third would charge in A few hundred yards south of
cakes and Tennants lager”.
Johnston was not a rash man, he between, race down the rearward Two Sisters, Argentine 4th
And then “the windows shook,
was a brave one. He had ignored slope of North Sister and take the Infantry Regiment had set up its
everyone turned,” he recalled. orders when HMS Antelope enemy in the flank.
headquarters on Mount Harriet and
“The sound of fast jets died
exploded and brought Foxtrot 4
dug in with two infantry companies
and explosions rattled the
alongside the crippled frigate to Shortly before midnight on a
and a mortar unit, determined to
loose fi ttings. We watched
rescue 100 of her crew, despite bright, moonlit Friday evening, 45
hold out to the bitter end. It was 42
silently as the fi rst wisps of
the raging fires and the threat of Commando moved up to attack.
Commando’s mission to dislodge
smoke and fl ames burst into
another Argentine bomb ‘cooking Heavy machine-gunners, dug in on
them.
something altogether more
off’. the ridge between the two peaks,
Harriet’s summit was craggy, its
menacing and sinister. We
Now he chose to ignore his took aim at the advancing green
slopes to the south were steep, but
knew instantly what we had
instructions again. “Bugger the berets and opened fire.
those to the west were gentler. And
just witnessed.”
orders,” he said bluntly. “The The Royals took shelter between
that was where the enemy would
brigade need these vehicles now. rocks on the boulder-strewn
Aboard Sir Galahad, Third
come from, the defenders of Mount
We sail.” hillside, peeking out sporadically
Officer Andy Gudgeon heard – and
Harriet convinced themselves.
As the craft lumbered along to take shots at the Argentinians
felt – two distinct explosions. “The
Choiseul Sound between Goose dug in on the ridge. The two foes
deck seemed to come up and the
As the commandos moved up to
Green and Bluff Cove, four exchanged fire for a good hour
door caved in. I was dazed and
their jump-off positions in the
Skyhawks roared low over the before Argentine artillery joined
made my way out through the
darkness, Rev Wynne-Jones, 42’s
water; one still had its bombs and in the symphony of battle. The
surgery, crawling around.”
chaplain, moved among them. He
unleashed them at Foxtrot 4. guns of 29 Commando Regiment
Sea Kings of 825 Naval Air
didn’t say much, but his presence
The blast struck the landing responded, 15 precise rounds at
Squadron were the first on the
was strangely reassuring. “Pray
craft’s stern, killing five crew a time, but the enemy did not
scene. For flight commander Lt
for our souls, vicar,” one Royal
instantly, including Brian Johnston; budge.
Philip Sheldon, it was “not a
implored him. “I won’t need to,”
a sixth man, Marine ‘Griff’ Griffin X-Ray Company found the
difficult flying exercise but I’d never
he assured the green beret. “I won’t
died of his injuries. approaches to South Sister no
been so close to flames before”.
need to.”
Eleven men survived the attack, more welcoming initially. It joined
The helicopter would rock and
The enemy occasionally sent star
some with burns, but Foxtrot 4 the battle late, having struggled to
judder sporadically when
shells arching into the night sky.
herself did not. She eventually sank march to its jump-off position over
struck by shockwaves from
And each time he did, the Royals
to the bottom of Choiseul Sound, the unforgiving Falklands terrain.
ammunition ‘cooking off’ in
taking the infantry brigade’s But the defenders of South Sister
responded with a call for artillery
Sir Galahad’s hold.
specialised communications Land lacked the resolve of their comrades
support. The barrels of their own
“Bits were flying everywhere and
Rovers down with her. on the opposite ridge. After barely
105mm field guns barked, as did
I was very aware of the fact that
Sea Harriers exerted swift and two hours of battle, the peak was in
the 4.5in gun of HMS Yarmouth,
any second the Galahad could blow
brutal retribution. Not one of the the green berets’ hands.
ten miles to the south. As they
itself to pieces. After one big blast I
four Skyhawks made it back to Not so North Sister. Despite
closed my little window thinking:
Argentina. being the less imposing topographic
‘That will protect me.’”
feature, it was held with much
Over the radio, there was the
“standard pukka Naval chat” –
“That’s a good hover boss, nice
hover” – and the not so standard L
ITTLE more than half a dozen greater zeal by the Argentinians of
miles to the west of Stanley 4th Infantry Regiment.
a crescent of hills – Mount Frustrated by the lack of
Longdon, Two Sisters and progress, concerned by the enemy’s
– “Got one coming up now who’s Mount Harriet, formed the final artillery rounds beginning to take
got no arms.” “Oh, fuck me, this major natural barriers to the British their toll of his comrades, and
guy’s got no face.” troops’ march on Stanley. realising the battle hung in the
It was the obvious place for the balance, troop commander Lt Clive
Ewen Southby-Tailyour dashed enemy to dig in, and dig in he Dytor stood up and stormed up the
down to a casualty clearing station, had; one Argentine regiment on forbidding slope, shooting his SLR
shaking with anger at what he had Longdon, one on Two Sisters and rifle from the hip, crying “Forward,
witnessed. This was a moment Harriet, with a battalion of marines everybody! Zulu, zulu, zulu!”
for all hands to the pump. He in reserve. Zulu Company followed Dytor’s
grabbed one end of a stretcher The defenders were cold, tired, lead. As they charged up the
and with comrades began carrying weary; some had been exposed to hill they yelled “Royal Marines
casualties. the Falklands autumn for up to six Commandos”; they wanted the
ROYAL MARINES COMMANDO
“Chinese crewmen wandered weeks. Many had succumbed to enemy to know who was going to
across the green in trances, wrapped trench foot. They had too few spades kill him. “If they chose to mix with
in blankets,” the major recalled. and no wood, so it was impossible the best in the world,” Marine Steve
LANCE Corporal ‘Wiggy’ Wiggington of 4 Troop, Yankee Company,
“Horribly mutilated bodies – all to construct fortifications. They dug Oyitch acidly remarked, “they were
45 Commando, marches into Stanley having yomped across East
alive that I saw, and I carried many in as best they could and waited. going to get burned.”
Falkland with his comrades. of them – lifted with infinite care
Brigadier Julian Thompson
War in the South Atlantic cemented the reputation of the green across the settlement.” planned a triple punch to dislodge
Clive Dytor’s actions helped carry
berets as the elite shock troops of Britain’s regular forces. Five RFA crewmen paid the the enemy from his commanding the battle. Storming up North
The headquarters of 3 Commando Brigade and its front-line units, ultimate price that June day, plus but exposed positions, one blow Sister was, he recalled later, “the
40, 42 and 45 Commando, were all mobilised for the Falklands 55 Welsh Guards. The final victim after the other, first at Longdon greatest thrill of my life”. He had
campaign, as were its bespoke air squadron, its artillery support in was Sir Galahad herself. It was from the Paras, then at Mount lost just one man slightly wounded
the form of the Army’s 29 Commando Light Regiment Royal Artillery, more than a week before the fires Harriet from 42 Commando and in the charge up the hill. Now he
and rearward services courtesy of the Commando Logistic Regiment. finally died out. finally at Two Sisters from 45 savoured the moment, sitting in the
The brigade was bolstered for Operation Corporate by the addition Commando. captured enemy position chewing
of 3 Para. War had one more blow to deal Two Sisters was not one hill, but a Rolo. His enjoyment was short-
The ordinary marine – if a Royal Marines Commando can ever be Ewen Southby-Tailyour that two peaks on a rocky ridge perhaps lived; the sweets were covered with
called ordinary – had undergone the legendary (or infamous) 32-week bitter Tuesday. The Royal was still 500 yards apart. Neither sister was Argentine faeces.
course at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, including kicking himself for not acting more particular high – 950 and 1,050ft Other booty proved to be more
the 30-mile yomp across Dartmoor in full kit, a march the recruit was forcefully to get the guardsmen off respectively – but of the two, the enjoyable – and comforting.
expected to complete in seven hours. the Sir Galahad when a signaller craggy, South Sister was by far the The enemy had abandoned his
Standard-issue kit for the Royals in 1982 comprised an Arctic handed him a terse message: Foxtrot more imposing. The slopes of both ammunition, his ration packs, his
smock and trousers, 58 pattern webbing, DMS webbing, an SLR 4 reported sinking. Six wounded, 11 were gentle yet strewn with rocks cigarettes and, to keep the winter at
self-loading rifle. His bergen backpack with sleeping bag, food, and dead or missing. and the enemy had haphazardly bay, tots of whiskey and blankets.
various personal kit, generally weighed more than 100lbs. Foxtrot 4, one of HMS Fearless’ laid mines on the approaches to With the battle over, Lt Col
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