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FALKLANDS 25TH ANNIVERSARY SUPPLEMENT, JUNE 2007 iii
morale was disintegrating – and Argentine rule over Las Islas
with it Mario Menéndez’s resolve. Malvinas. At 9.30pm on Monday
He had toyed with the idea of June 14 they became the Falkland
surrender for the past few days, Islands once more.
only to be rebuked by Argentina’s In a room nearby, a handful of
dictator General Leopoldo Galtieri. journalists were waiting for news of
“You must not speak with the the surrender. A fresh-faced Jeremy
English,” the junta leader chastised Moore strode in, delighted. “Now
Menéndez. “The only thing they the killing will stop,” the general
understand is the language of the declared.
gun.” But victory had, the general
By the morning of Monday conceded, been a “damn close-run
June 14, the language of the gun thing.”
was no longer relevant. Menéndez At sea, Sandy Woodward
conferred with his senior concurred. Half his destroyers were
commander, Oscar Jofre. “We worn out. His Type 21 frigates were
cannot go on with this any more,” “falling apart”. Almost every ship
Jofre told him. Menéndez agreed. had some major fault or serious
He spoke with Galtieri, but all breakdown. “If the Args could only
he heard from Buenos Aires was breathe on us, we’d fall over,” he
recrimination. had confided in his diary.
“Your men should be going
forward, not retreating,” Galtieri In Downing Street, a crowd more
rasped. than 100 strong gathered opposite
The brigadier was exasperated. No.10 singing Rule Britannia. Fresh
“I realise that you have no idea of from announcing the Argentine
what is going on here,” he told his surrender to Parliament, Margaret
leader. “To go on resisting means Thatcher stopped briefly to talk to
more deaths and the same outcome the singers.
– losing the war.” Amid the din of patriotism,
Mario Menéndez ignored journalists buttonholed a rather
Galtieri. He sent word to the British. tired and irritable premier.
He was willing to surrender. “Just wonderful news – and it’s
Great Britain. Marvellous forces,
The main road into Stanley barely every single one of them. We knew
merited the name. It was, recalled what we had to do, we knew what
Nick Vaux, “a muddy, broken and we had to do....” Her voice trailed
narrow strip of paving raised above off.
the mud and slush on either side.”
The closer 42 Commando came to Victory in the Falklands cost Britain
the heart of the Falklands’ capital, the lives of 252 men – 87 Royal
the greater the detritus of war. Navy sailors, 26 Royal Marines,
“Damaged guns and vehicles seven RFA crew, nine merchant
● (Above) Cpl Mick Eccles, Kilo Company, 42 Commando, at the head of a patrol near Mount Harriet
were tilted grotesquely off the road, seamen, 122 soldiers, and one RAF
abandoned equipment, weapons man.
● (Left) RFA Sir Galahad burns after being struck by bombs at Fitzroy
and tentage heaped everywhere,” Nearly 13,000 Argentinians fell
Vaux observed. into British hands; 655 of their
ed landed on the crest of Harriet they chaotic, confused and confusing to might fall into his trap. morale boost, because the British
“The stench of smouldering comrades never came home.
he exploded in colours of fiery red and the defenders of Harriet. Rifles Perez knew the war was nearing were keeping the pressure on the
refuse and rotting carcasses rolled
ax ghoulish green. jammed in the damp and cold. its end – and not in Argentina’s foe.
over us, arising mainly from the For the men of HMS Antrim, life
ld This was merely the hors d’oeuvre; Radios did not work. Command favour. His men had become almost Two nights after the Royals
slaughterhouse where the freezers now the guns had fallen silent
the battle for Harriet began not on broke down. delirious. As shells crashed down had forced the Argentinians from
were no longer working.” was anti-climactic, tedious. The
its slopes but a few hundred yards 4th Infantry Regiment’s CO, Lt on the hills around Stanley from Harriet and Two Sisters, 5th
On the edge of Stanley, Nick destroyer, accompanied by HMS
of to the west on a smaller peak, Wall Col Diego Soria, had already left his
the British ships, he and his men Infantry Brigade and 2 Para struck
Vaux found an exhausted Julian Endurance, prowled the waters of
th Mountain. command post to direct the battle
danced the Uka Uka, an Indian on the last substantial hills before
Thompson, puffing on his pipe. South Georgia. To their masters,
ts “Explosions, lights, small-arms further to the rear. It proved to be
rain dance “like in cowboy films” in Stanley – Tumbledown, William
This was an uneasy moment, the men of Antrim were a deterrent.
nd fire and blood-curdling yells riveted
a wise decision; after four hours of the hope it might bring his nation and Wireless Ridge.
not quite war, not quite peace. To the men of Antrim “this hanging
es attention in that direction,” recalled
battle the Royals were almost on victory. After that Julian Thompson
The brigadier congratulated Vaux around down here is absolutely
to 42’s CO Nick Vaux. With Argentine
top of the field headquarters, which The gods were listening. In the intended to unleash his green
on reaching Stanley, then urged soul-destroying,” leading hand
42 eyes fixed on Wall Mountain, Vaux
was being straddled by a steel hail dead of night a blip appeared on the berets once more. The brigadier
caution: the enemy had not yet Rowdy Yates complained.
ge struck at Harriet.
of artillery shells. targeting system of Perez’s weapon. expected the enemy to fight in
formally surrendered. The mood aboard was not
Mortars lit up the western slope
Staff officers began torching HMS Glamorgan had crossed the Stanley and beyond Stanley, even
He had not, but there was improved by the British media.
ts of the hill where Argentine troops
all their equipment, their secret Exocet’s path. The marine ordered on to the airport isthmus east of the
little fight left in him. The hills Victory in the Falklands was
ut were dug in and were still directing
codes. The flames silhouetted three his men to fire and watched as the town. And there, if they still refused
around Stanley and the streets of already yesterday’s news; Princess
nd their gaze – and fire – at Wall
Royals against the night sky. They missile raced into the night until to surrender, no mercy would be
the town itself were filled with Diana had just given birth to Prince
ld Mountain.
were clear targets for officer Ignacio
the red glow of its engine was shown. “We would pound them
“hordes of aimless stragglers, William.
nt But the real attack on Harriet
Gorriti, but he did not raise his
swallowed by the darkness. to pieces until they changed their
totally demoralised”. It was, wrote
marina Continued on page iv
was coming from the south-east,
rifle. “I didn’t think it was a time
minds,” he wrote.
Nick Vaux, “a most singular
where Kilo Company was moving
for killing,” he recalled.
The faintest of blips appeared on Such are the plans of war. Dawn
display of military
to stealthily towards the ridge which
Gorriti gave his men a choice:
Glamorgan’s radar bearing down of Monday June 14 broke with the
disintegration which
he led to the hill’s summit. The Royals
surrender or die. They left the
on the ship just eight miles away. hills west and north-west of Stanley
avoided becoming a
2’s were just 150 yards from their
decision to their officer. With the
On the bridge, navigator Lt Cdr in British hands and most of the
rout only because
He objective when the enemy belatedly
Royal Marines all around him,
Ian Inskip ordered the ship to turn; defenders streaming for the capital
British troops held
ce opened fire.
fighting on “made no sense at all”.
a Sea Slug missile was fired, but the in headlong flight.
back to spare further
ay Wherever resistance was
Ignacio Gorriti surrendered.
Exocet would not be diverted. Julian Thompson climbed
casualties.”
al encountered among the crags and
Thus fell Mount Harriet with
Inskip “heard a seemingly Wireless Ridge to confer with Lt
o,” rocks of Harriet, the guns were
the first strains of light shimmering
unremarkable thud, followed Col David Chaundler in charge of
Formal surrender
by a ‘whoomph’ as the fuelled 2 Para. But the peak also offered a
n’t brought to bear – more than 1,000
in the eastern sky. The hill had came late that
helicopter in the hangar exploded mesmerising panorama of Stanley
rounds of artillery were fired that
cost 42 Commando one man, the night.
into flame”. and environs to the south-east. And
ar night. They smashed strongpoints,
Argentinians perhaps ten dead and Royal Marine
The Exocet exploded outside the atop Wireless Ridge, Thompson and
ky. suppressed enemy fire and turned
300 men captured, including Diego Major General
hangar, blasting the port Sea Cat his staff officer were silhouetted
als many Argentine soldiers to
Soria. Jeremy Moore, in
launcher over the side, forced the against the sky.
ry cowering wrecks. Some threw away
The regimental commander overall command of
hangar roof up – and destroyed “Don’t stand about on the
wn their rifles, stood up and raised
tried to break through to Stanley all land forces in the
everything within – and carved skyline, you stupid bastards,” a
id their hands; a few were shot in the
with about 60 men, but had run Falklands, arrived
a hole 4ft by 5ft in Glamorgan’s hoary sergeant-major screamed.
h, back by their superiors.
into a patrol of commandos. Soria at the secretariat
upper deck. Sailors 150ft away “The bloody war isn’t over yet.”
ey In the darkness, the battle seemed
had lived reasonably well in the building in Stanley
Falklands, so his diaries revealed;
were knocked off their feet by the It was wise advice. Argentine
in a snow flurry.
he regularly went into Stanley to
blast. Flames shot 100ft into the shells began raining down on
From here Mario
bathe in the Upland Goose Hotel,
night sky, visible almost the entire Wireless Ridge, tossing up clods of
Menéndez
from where he could call his wife in
length of East Falkland. peat and sending wisps of smoke
had directed
Buenos Aires.
Glamorgan was wounded, but billowing across the hill.
not mortally. Ian Inskip moved aft It was the enemy’s last hurrah,
Cold, wet, exhausted, yet with the
to tackle the fires raging around however. David Chaundler told
adrenaline still racing through their
the hangar, fearing the heat would Thompson the enemy was scurrying
veins, the green berets paused to
cause depth charges to explode, or towards Stanley in disarray,
reflect on the battle won. A few
the flames would reach the Sea Cat streaming down the slopes which
miles to the east someone spied
magazine. ringed the Falklands’ capital.
a small white light moving slowly
The fires were checked, but the With the Argentines clearly
towards the ocean, moving ever
toll was heavy; 13 men lost their rattled, Thompson gave chase. The
faster. “My God,” one commando
lives, including Lt David Tinker Royal Marines, Paras and soldiers
cried out, “it’s an Exocet.”
– ‘Tinks’ to his shipmates – the converged on Stanley – “the most
lover of poetry, the man who had notorious small town in the world,”
found war initially stirring, then observed Lt Col Nick Vaux of 42
H
MS Glamorgan had spent
the night pounding Two
grew to loath it. Commando.
Sisters in support of 45
With the sun setting that fateful Vaux’s men filed past the remains
Commando. The enemy
Saturday, the bodies of the dead of Moody Brook, once the home
responded to this barrage wildly
were laid out on Glamorgan’s for the islands’ Royal Marines
lobbing shells into the sea. It was
upper deck, wrapped in canvas, garrison, now all but razed. They
a spectacular sight – and a futile
weighed down by a 4.5in shell. filed past burned-out vehicles,
effort; the enemy fire fell well short
A young rating had spent the day shot-up buildings, wrecked enemy
of its target. Glamorgan’s main gun
learning the Last Post. Its haunting artillery pieces.
delivered more than four tons of
strains now drifted into the South “It was hard to comprehend that
explosive on to Argentine positions
Atlantic as one by one the 13 this might be the end – that history
by dawn. As Two Sisters fell, the
dead were committed to the deep. was being made,” wrote Vaux.
Royals signalled their appreciation:
Splash... splash... splash...
VMT and good shooting.
“It seemed to go on and on and Mario Menéndez realised this
With the battle over, Glamorgan
tears filled my eyes,” Ian Inskip was the end. He had realised
prepared to withdraw. Pummelling
remembered. “I could see other it for several days now. The
the enemy positions had forced
men crying. It was a service none enemy dominated the high
her to move close to the mainland
of us would forget.” ground. He had superiority,
– and within range of an Exocet.
no, supremacy in the air, and
An enterprising team of
in artillery, too. To be sure, the
Argentine engineers had stripped
brigadier had 10,000 men at his
an Exocet system from a destroyer,
disposal – more than double the
installed it on the back of a trailer.
A
SHORE, Julio Perez had
seen his missile explode
and heard a terrible noise.
“We knew it would not enemy’s strength, although many
By day, this makeshift launcher
change the course of the war, but were rear area troops. The men’s
lay camouflaged; by night, marine
personally and professionally it was
Capitán de navío Julio Perez had
extremely satisfying – and it raised
● A Royal Marine peers around
driven the weapon towards the
the morale of the garrison.”
the corner of a building in
coast in the hope a British warship
And that garrison needed a
Stanley
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