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Personal accounts by those who served there (Falklands)

Published with kind permission of Steve Tuffen 21st May 2015

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[ Cap Badge ]

33 years ago today we ( 2 Para ) landed on Blue Beach 2 San Carlos water at the start of our campaign to liberate the Falkland Islands from the Argentine invaders .

This is a photo of me in the hold of the M.V. Norland, just before boarding the landing craft that was to take us ashore.

Steve Tuffen

This is my personal story.
I thought we would be going ashore this day 33 years ago as we had steak for dinner, sure enough later that day we were called for an o-group giving us our orders that we would be going ashore that night. I remember loading my Bergan and webbing with as much ammo and supplies as I could possibly fit in them. The sheer weight of my kit meant that 2 mates would hold up my Bergan whilst I slipped my arms through the straps and then pulled them down tight.
I remember the VERY load sound of the ship dropping its anchor and thinking if the Argies haven’t heard that we are bloody lucky.
Later we assembled waiting to board the landing craft as we had practised at Ascension Island, from the stern doors of the ship. It was at this point we encountered our first challenge! We couldn’t use the stern doors as the sea was too rough so we had to use a small door higher up on the side of the ship. This meant going up the narrow stairway in complete darkness carrying all our kit. Once at the small doorway we had to wait for the Landing Craft to get level with us, jump on and take our place as the landing craft fell away with the rise and fall of the waves. Eventually the landing craft was loaded and we were on our way after what seemed like an eternity.
Now we were under way and the call came out “any machine guns on the port side, I kept quite, (in the short time I had been with 2 Para I had learnt not to volunteer for things). Then there was a voice Tuffen where are you, I answered here sir. Then Col. Jones came along the edge of the landing craft to tell me that the machine gun on the landing craft was not working and he wasn’t very complimentary about the crew of the landing craft that had obviously not checked their equipment before such an important operation. He said if we came under fire I was to return fire from my position.

On the journey in the landing craft one of the crew had left his torch on after performing some tasks which ended up with the cox of the landing craft and some of our guys shouting to try and get this torch turned off. I honestly thought we would have given ourselves away but all ended well and we finally arrived at Blue Beach.
Once there the landing craft headed for the shore, it was still dark at this time which helped hide us from the Argies. Then there was the very load sound as the landing craft hit the beach. The ramp went down and we started to leave the landing craft. You could hear the guys loosing there breath and swearing as the water was bloody freezing. We had been briefed that we wouldn’t get our feet wet as the beach was steep shelving. They were right! the water was coming up to the guys chest and as I was one of the shortest in the Battalion really thought it would go over my head. All was well it only came up to my neck. So with the G.P.M.G. held above my head I waded ashore.
We went to ground for what seemed like ages to secure the beach head. I remember being in the prown position with my G.P.M.G. at the ready, I couldn’t stop my teeth from chattering, where I was so cold , even when I pressed my fist against my chin on the butt of my machine gun. I soon warmed up when we eventually started our tab to Sussex Mountains. It was still dark when we set off but by the time we had reached Sussex Mountain it was broad daylight. When I reached the top I looked back to see the battalion snake climbing Sussex Mountain.
It wasn’t long before the Argentine aircraft were flying over our heads through a hail of small arms fire on their way to bomb our ships. One of the hardest things for me was watching the ships keep being attacked and bombed in San Carlos water later to be know as “ Bomb Ally” and feeling gutted I couldn’t do more to stop them.
I still think to this day, with all that had happened we were very lucky not to have had a contact with the enemy before we reached Sussex Mountains.

The tab to Susssex Mountain is the hardest thing I have ever done physical. Carrying the weight we had over the terrain we covered was a real challenge. Trying to make sure you didn’t fall and break your ankle whilst negotiating the hard round tussocks of grass we nicknamed babies heads in the dark made it even harder. Later that week I was to encounter challenges of a different kind. Having the Argentine airstrikes flying past our positions through the hail of small arms fire we were to put up whilst on their way to bomb our ships in the bay on what seemed a far too frequent occasion. Another event that week was the H.M.S. Antelope being sank. I remember the very bright flash of light followed by the explosion that seemed to make the ground shake. Thinking we had come under attack I looked out from my position to see the ship on fire in the night sky. Later in daylight the ship was to sink leaveing the bow and the stern showing in a V shape whilst still smouldering. Events I shall never forget.

What a day, just so glad I was there with such a great bunch of blokes who I am proud to call friends.

Next ... 23rd May 1982

Today is the 33rd anniversary of the battle for Darwin / Goose Green which was to change my life forever. This is my account of the battle.

Our section had been deployed on Rapier defence when we were rushed back to join the battalion for the tab to Camilla Creek. Our journey back to the Battalion was in a small helicopter that could only take 2 of us at a time. I remember myself and the other machine gunner from our section squeezing into what I can only describe as a bubble. When we were in with all our equipment the co-pilot turned to us and said don’t let the barrels of our weapons hit the sides of his aircraft or it could cause problems. Well all was ok until he started flying tactically and banking quite steeply, hugging the hillsides. I remember thinking this bloke is having a bloody laugh as me and my mate were thrown from side to side trying our damndest not to let anything hit the side of the helicopter. Once we were all back at Sussex the tab started to Camilla Creek. We arrived at night and nearly the whole battalion squeezed into the house with guys staging on, doing sentry duty. At first light we got out of the house and started to dig defensive positions and get a brew on. Then bloody hell, what a shook the BBC in all it’s wisdom had decided to tell the world that 2 Para were about to attack Goose Green.

That was it “bug out” and get away from our position. I would still love to know how and why this happened as in my opinion it endangered the whole mission. I would like to meet whoever was responsible and let them know what I thought of them. What should have been a day preparing for the battle turned out to be very different.
Later at about 0 hour ( I think ) we ( 2 Para) had formed up on the start Line. We thought we had been bumped as there was suddenly quite a load noise that turned out to be a load of horses that had been spooked… First heart racing moment… We then moved off. Our ( A-Coys) objective was Burntside house.

Company assault Company assault

This was a company assault. For me this was my first encounter with the chaos of battle. It was dark and we were assaulting the position in a fast aggressive manner. Running forward and firing our weapons I had got caught up on a wire fence in the darkness but caught up with my section to release the firepower of my G.P.M.G. about a 200 round Bandelier on the suspected enemy. The ceasefire was called and all went quite. I was to visit Burntside house many years later and meet the owner to find out that they couldn’t put their hands anywhere on the house without touching a bullet hole. They had survived by getting beneath the floorboards and were bloody lucky as we had used 66mm rockets and grenades on the house. After that assault we were to move on to Darwin. It was now just about first light so you could make out shadows. I remember walking past an inlet of water to my left and seeing a small hill in front of me. This is where what I actually remember properly ends so the rest is to the best of my knowledge and what I have been told, as I lost a lot of my memory due to the injuries I was about to sustain. Their were some silhouettes on the skyline all of a sudden everything kicked off. I ran to the bottom of the hill and had my gun at the ready. Our section had flanked right whilst the rest of A-Coy were back by the inlet to provide covering fire or had flanked left into the Gorse Gully. We were isolated and the enemy strength was much greater than anticipated. The rest of my section were to make it back to the Gorse Gully being led by my section commander who was injured ( Shot) leading the guys back.

I was shot in the head and was to lay there for hours. The guys couldn’t get to me as I was too exposed and in the killing zone.


Eventually as we took control of the battle the guys were able to get to me, they took my helmet off and some of my brain fell out through the hole in my skull. I had been shot in the head with 7.62 high velocity. I was casevaced to Ajax bay- (the field hospital) some 11 hours later. From there I went to the hospital ship Uganda. I have no memory of being at Ajax bay nor any real memories of being on the Uganda only stuff I think I remember as I was totally blind at this time. My first proper memory came whilst on the Ambulance ship H.M.S. Hydra. From there I was flown home, spent a night at RAF Hospital Wroughton and then on to Q.E.M.H. Woolwich. From where I had some operations one of which was to remove bits of bone and foreign bodies from my brain after the operation the little eyesight I had became clear where as before then it was blurry as though looking through tears all the time. A year later I had a plate put in my skull to cover the hole in it that was roughly the size of a clenched fist. It was after this operation I was kicked out of the Army which absolutely gutted me as all I had ever wanted to be was a soldier so life was about to change forever. As a result of my injuries I am registered blind although can see a little so partially sighted really. I have no regrets about my service and feel very proud to have served with such great blokes in a great Regiment. I do feel very lucky to have survived and be able to share my story with you. I have attached clips from books I am in and some of my medical history. Some books have spelt my name wrong which can be frustrating.

We lost great people this day 33 years ago R.I.P. Never forgotten

Published with kind permission of Jock Love 11th June 2015

Contact Jock Love via Facebook

Whisper Who Dares

There was a church service on this morning, in the cathedral, in Stanley. We had 3 Para, who had finally joined us, and were living in what empty houses, and various places of shelter, they could find. Some, still living in improvised sangers, made from sods of peat turf. Built up into quite jazzy little block house affairs.

We were passing the bottles around, that had been liberated from the Argy ration packs. We had found them in a rather large, blue, ship's container, which we had broken the seals on. It was smack in front of the governor's house. They hadn't contained the LVPT 7 's, and such, like which we had expected. Better an empty Johnny Walker's (Black Label no less), miniature, hitting you in the back of the head, as opposed, to a 50. cal. No contest, to which one gives you the biggest headache, though.

We did the rounds, and went to see, that all the other OP Partys were okay, and that everyone was still intact. John Patrick, Dinger, and company, were doing rather nicely, in a Swiss style chalet, that had once been the property of the Argentinean Commander, of the Malvina's Airforce. Here, they had full sized, bottles of whiskey, and, a joint of roast beef in the oven. We were all given a large shot of whiskey, and a slice of beef, then politely sent on our way, as we had all become a bit pissed, and were getting rather loud, now.

Everybody had decided to go back to where we were temporarily living, and wait for the parade, that was being held in the afternoon. As happens some times, when you get the taste, you don't want to stop. I had the taste. I spied a couple of dodgy characters, and drifted away from the others, and headed hopefully, towards another drink.

I was invited into their humble abode. They told me, they had been just talking to the owner of the house. Whom, they reliably informed me, had told them to help themselves, to the contents of his cocktail cabinet. He was that grateful of our efforts, he felt, that it was the only way, that he could repay us. As to this end, my nefarious drinking companions, shall remain nameless, (that, and my total inability, to remember names).

Once inside, it was apparent, why my two associates were pissed . They had obviously already found the drinks cabinet, and there wasn't a great deal left. There was, however, a ship's decanter, with what can be best described as, diesel, in it, ( there were, what appeared to be, chilli peppers, floating around in it, but it may have been dead things, for all we knew, the state we were in, at the time).

They passed the decanter to me, "Cheers", they said in unison. That was enough for me to halt the progress of the bottle, as it headed towards my lips. "You've had a taste of this already, then ". I enquired. "Yes, course we have", they replied, once again in unison, but their heads were shaking, from side to side . A definite no - no.

That was it. We sat on the floor, and had a debate, about the contents of the decanter. We held it up to the light, we tried to set fire to it. We dipped our fingers in it. In the end, I caved in, and took a small swig, from the bottle. It nearly blew my frigging head off. I don't know what it was, but I was nearly dying.

It put my two companions off the idea. About ten minutes later, when I had stopped choking, and was managing to breathe almost normally again, we left the little yellow house, with the green corrugated roof. The decanter being the lone contents, of a very sorry looking drinks cabinet. On the road, forming up, were A Coy, and the lads. We drifted off, down to join them. I always maintain, it was a result of the decanter, that caused me to put my hand up. We fell in, and the Sergeant Major, was sorting out, he sizing off, and all the other necessities, for our little final march, into Stanley. He asked for the gunners to put their hands up. If I had been just a bit more sober than I was, my hand would have been in my pocket.

He wanted the machine gunners, not the gunners, from the Royal Regiment of Artillery. Too late, the next thing I knew, was that I was the left hand marker, and I now had a General Purpose Machine Gun, instead of my sterling submachine gun.

West Store

"Parade,,,, Parade,,, shun!!. Will move to the right, in columns, R I G H T turn!!. Dressing,,, by the left,,,,, Quick March!!". And off down the road, we jolly well went.

There was a bit of noticeable shuffling behind me, but it soon spread. I thought shades of France. But no. Because we all began to shuffle, just a little bit. It was a slight, down hill slope, to the cathedral, no big deal, under normal circumstances. Today ,we were half pissed, the road was covered with chunks of ice and slippy as hell. Oh. Did I mention the world's media? There were all these camera men, just outside the entrance to the cathedral. I was beginning to feel bad. I knew I was going to end up on my arse, in front of the world. Luck, smiled down on us. We all stayed upright. Fortunately, they showed us from the waist up. Missing out the little, Eskimo Nell, shuffle to a halt. The church service was a bit of a blur. 2 Para's padre took it, I believe, the Rev. David Cooper. A thoroughly nice man ,and I should know. He performed my wedding ceremony, prior to sailing South. I was given 4 hours off, to get married. Then waited, ten more days, before we actually sailed. He made us all laugh, during the service, and it was captured on the world news. It was where he was asking us all to think of our loved ones, back home. Our wives, girl friends, dogs. I suppose you had to be there.

I don't remember too much after that. I may even have muddled the sequence of events. But who's telling it anyway? We marched back, I suppose, and must have carried on drinking. Later, a group of us decided to go down town. We were supposed to go no further, than the war memorial, or the race course. This of course, meant that all the shops, and pubs, were in, an out of bounds area.

Perhaps I'll re-phrase that. The two shops, one pub, and the hotel. Were now in, the out of bounds area. We were also, getting kicked out of the house we were in, sometime in the next couple of days. An alternative location, was to be found, but only short term, as we were expecting to be sent back to the UK, quite soon.

Using the excuse, we were looking for new accommodation, we went off on a few recce's, of our own. We looked around the jetty areas, down by the Falklands Island store, in main downtown Stanley, itself. One of the lads from B Coy, was calling to me. He wanted a light, for his cigarette. I duly obliged, and asked what he was doing down here, tucked out of the way .

He told me, he was guarding the weapons, in an effort to stop them being looted, but officers kept appearing, and taking bits, and pieces. It was getting to be a right pain in the arse. The sooner they all disappeared, the better. I casually asked him, what kind of weapons he was guarding. "Oh you know", he said. "Pistols. 45's, 9 mills. All sorts of shit".

I looked around in the gloom, it was getting dark. We were still working on Zulu timings. So, although we all knew that it was ten o'clock in the morning. It was really, about four or five o'clock, in the evening. Totally confusing, to say the least . We had local time, ships time, Zulu time, GMT. At one stage, the Navy, Army, and Pilots, were all, on different times, it amazed me, that we actually won.

He obviously saw the look in my eyes. "I'm just going to have a seat, while I finish this smoke. Do us a favor, and keep an eye on this lot for me, while I'm gone". "Not a problem", said I. "Take your time, I'll be fine". He trudged off, into the darkness, the slight smell of tobacco smoke, lingered fleetingly, and then was lost in the night. I looked around, for the mates, but couldn't see didley squat.

I bent down on one knee, looking out the corner of my eyes. All I could see, was what appeared to be, three enormous piles of coal, or such like. They were about two meters across, and about one and a half meters high. I looked round again, then stood up. They must have all gone, or maybe they were behind the piles of coal. I went for a closer look.

As I got closer, I managed to kick an empty magazine, which went skidding across the wooden jetty, and flew off, into the sea. I tried to climb the first pile of coal, and a barrel of an FN rifle, poked me in the shin. I dropped to a squat. It was a pile of weapons, and not coal, as I had previously thought. The next pile, was also rifles, but the last, at the back, was the mother load.

I started to fill my pockets. That's what I said, fill my pockets, remember, I was pissed. I checked each pistol was unloaded, then, stuffed it in to my pockets. I had about six, or seven, 9 MM. and about four, or five, 45's. I thought I had enough, after all, I didn't want to be too greedy. But there must have been hundreds, if not, many a thousand, at least. They weighted a ton. They also, smacked each other, as I walked. I was clicking away. when matey
boy, called out, from the corner of the boat house.

"Watch out for the monkey's, they'll take 'em off you, and I don't know you either ".
"Who's there", I replied . To which, a voice from the darkness, told me to
"fuck off jock, you owe me a beer".

I was making more noise, than a bus load of pad's wives, wearing love balls. Click, click , click, clack. I stopped, and started to put the pistols down the front of my smock. I stuck a couple, down my waist band, as well. I walked off the jetty, and up the hill .To the left was the Globe, the Royal Marines haunt. But it was dark, and uninviting, as opposed to the bright, front, of the Upland Goose hotel. I Walked towards the lights of the Upland Goose hotel.

I never made the made the Upland Goose, for as I turned, I spied Smithy, looking rather the worse for wear. He'd had a few as well, but his main problem, was that he had the shits. He had pinched a joint of meat from the same cold store, that Dinger and Co., had. Either it was off, or he had pigged it, and his stomach couldn't cope with the rich food. The Globe was closer, I helped him up the street.

There was a row of Panhard armoured cars, parked on the hill. While Smithy popped round the back for a shit, I decided to have a look at the inside of one, to see if there were any further souvenirs, that I could acquire. The side panel was open, and I stuck my head and shoulders through. I got out my torch, before I climbed in any further and a good job I did, too. The torch light, managed to pick up the thin trip wire, than ran across the center of the vehicle . It went behind, and between, a couple of the 90 mm high explosive shells, that at first, looked as if they had been scattered haphazardly, in the crew compartment. I backed out gingerly .

Smithy was back, and feeling much rejuvenated , said he'd spring for a couple of beers. I turned my torch off. And as I went to put it in my pocket, dropped it on the pavement. I bent down to pick it up. While on my hands and knees, found a steel Tommy bar, about 18 inches long. It must have been from the armoured car. Chuffed to bits, I had got another souvenir. I slid the bar up my sleeve, along the length of my fore arm. Then, followed Smithy through the door, and into the bar.

It wasn't too dark in the bar, a bit small, though. It was also full of Marines. We pushed our way to the bar, and Smithy ordered. Then he was off, and out the door, to the shithouse. I paid for the beers. They looked suspiciously like the beer we had on board the ships, on the way down, they were half sized cans of Tenants. I was just raising the can to my mouth, when I received a none too gentle, tap, come punch, on my shoulder. I placed my beer on the bar, and turned round.

I'm not that small myself. I'm about six foot two. Turned, to see the third button, on a windproof jacket. Raising my head, I could see, the epitome, of the Royal Marine. He wasn't big, he was fucking huge, like Alaska. When'd you get here then Para ? I didn't see you, on any of the Heli lifts. That's right mate, you wouldn't, would you? We walked it mate. We've been here, three days now. What kept you then? I started to step backwards, at the same time reaching up my sleeve, to release my new souvenir, the Tommy bar.

The Tommy bar started to slide through my fingers, and I got ready to take a swing if I had to. That's when it went pear shaped, just when you thought a plan was coming together. I dropped the Tommy bar on the floor. It clattered and rolled off, under the foot rail. Just a minute, I said, and bent down to retrieve it. Bad move number two. Pistols and magazines, started to fall out the front of my smock. I hadn't done up the top pockets, after putting away my torch and wallet. The huge Marine just looked on, standing over me.

I managed to put the last of the pistols down the front of my smock, and actually find the Tommy bar. I stood up again. Right mate, I said, what's the problem?, Tommy bar at the ready. Man mountain to my front, and my one and only ally, Smithy, still apparently, in the shit house. I received another slam on the back. I half turned my head, it was Mad Jack, and a few of the boys. Apparently the hooligans were on the piss, as well. Fancy a beer, you crazy bastard, Jack still had hold of my shoulder, after he'd slapped it, he hadn't let go. It was pretty hard to swing my arm so I relaxed, and he let me go. I stuck the Tommy bar, back up my sleeve.

We had a couple of beers, and by the time we left, everyone was bosom buddies, and Smithy, was out of the shit house. We decided to go to the Upland Goose now, as they had draught beer, apparently, so rumor had let known. It was fairly crowded in there, as well. There were a few hooligans, trying to get their heads down on the floor, between the tables, and a fair crowd, at the bar. My clicking pistols, brought a fair few comments, and the next thing I knew, I was doing a fair trade, at the bar.

The guy that owned, and ran, the hotel, was behind the bar, and accepting all forms of cash, for his booze, English, Argentinean, American, you name it. If it was a legal tender, he was accepting it. I wasn't accepting money, however but was accepting booze. Standard deal, was two bottles of wine, got you one pistol and two clips. I wasn't too fussed, as all they had to do, was walk about fifty meters or so, and just bend down and pick one up. I'd get some more tomorrow morning.

While I was in there, my Battery Commander, Tony Rice, and one of his crew, SAS McGoldrick, came in. SAS told me they had been looking all over for me. And the boss had me down, as MPP. I knew KIA, was killed in action. MIA was missing in action, but I had to ask SAS, what MMP was, as I couldn't figure it out. Sas said, the boss knew, that I would be in one of the two bars in Stanley, and when he heard I was missing, said, that it was more than likely, Missing Presumed Pissed, hence, the MPP. Now they had found me, they were off, back up to the Swiss Chalet . John Patrick had organized all the officers, a meal. They'd see me later. I'd probably be in the shit, tomorrow.

Not long after they left, a couple of journalists, arrived in the bar. They were obviously looking for a beer, and nobody was going to stop them having it. It was a bit crowded at the bar, as most of us, had been there some time now. The rest of the spare space, was taken up, by guys sleeping on the floor. We ignored the media men, and turned back to the bar, and our conversation. One of our new guests, a little more frustrated than the other, decided to move one of the bodies on the floor, so he could get to the bar.

He kicked one of the prostrate figures up the arse, shouting at him, to, "Move out the way, you drunken bastard". He was just finishing off the word bastard, when the figure he had been kicking, was up off the floor, had the media man by the throat, whilst poking one of my traded 45's in his face. Media man, meet SAS man.

"I'm trying to sleep", was all the man from Hereford said, releasing the media man. Who slumped to the floor, as a wet patch appeared on the front his trousers. We carried on drinking, and I managed to trade, another two pistols.

The pile of pistols had vanished during the night. When I went back the next day, there was not one left.

Giajl © Jim Love

As Blue as.....

It has no shape, no colour.
It absorbs it's dimensions, from the sky.
Which has been reflected, from it's self....
As blue, as it's as deep......
Twixt, the devil, and the sea.
The sky pales beyond.....
An immeasurable myth.
For like the air
Water is transparent !
Unlike the colour of

Your eyes.
Giajl © Jim Love

Isn't Life....

Crouching on the pebbly shore .
I paused, and saw an old man,
Staring back at me.
And in reaching out,
I cleaved.....
His shimmering image.
Drinking deep, of crystal water.
I drained,my liquid soul.
And it tasted sweet !
and a wee bit,

Giajl © Jim Love

I've Seen That Golden Tree

I feel my time is
Soon .
I'm near Odin's door.
I bear the marks ,
Of the Valkyrie's wings.
Upon my back!
Wings burned,
On the battlefield .....
Of life.
I've drank at Freyja's bar.
Now I choose to drink with
And look upon....

Giajl © Jim Love

Sapper Hill

The granite was cold, while the yellow lichen, scraped the skin. But the view was magnificent. To the left, the sea, placid blue. The red and green coloured roofs, which contoured along its shores. Likened to an artist's up turned paint box, Splashing colour on an otherwise bland yellow landscape. To the right Sapper Hill. The main focus of attention. Where beneath small puffs of black and white smoke, the black ant like figures of the Argentinean army scurried to and fro.

The lone helicopter's arrival, signalled the end, of punishing mixture of air burst and phosphorous shells, that rained down on them. We had watched, in small, dispassionate groups, from the heights of Wireless Ridge, where we had fought a long and bloody battle. Where, for once, the Argentinean soldiers, had actually regrouped, and launched a counter attack, much to everyone's surprise. But there was apparently, a fine line between attrition and slaughter. And some one was going in to talk to Menendez about surrender.

The small barracks at Moody Brook, were directly below us. A downed chopper, scattered outbuildings, the roofs all painted with red crosses. The guys carrying the 84 mm Carl Gustauv, (anti tank), asked if they could get rid of some of the rounds they had been carrying, as the range had always been too short, or too far. They hadn't actually managed to engage any targets at all. They just wanted to have fired the bloody thing, after lugging it about for two months. It was at least 1000 meters to the helicopter, but they reckoned they could hit it. Not to be. After two or three attempts, they were told to pack it in, and head down the slope.

There was no order given, no signal. But it was a guaranteed end ex., and with all end of exercises, it was time to bin the lid, and put the red machine back on. Helmets off, berets on. We headed down the ridge towards Stanley. As it turned out, it was fortunate that the guys with the 84 hadn't been able to hit anything. For it turned out, that although there were red crosses on the roofs of several of the buildings. All the buildings at Moody Brook, were used by the Argy's to store ammo. If anybody had managed to hit it, they probably would have had to rename it Moody Inlet, once the dust had settled. 'Cause all that would remain, would be a bloody big hole in the ground.

With the odd burst of small arms fire, and the occasional ominous single shot ringing out, we progressed down the main road into Stanley . We were supposed to stop at the race course, and we did, for a little while. Long enough to have a few happy snaps. The press had turned up, in the shape and form of Max Hastings and his 35mm camera.

Sapper Hill

There was a fairly large stand, and we all managed to sit, squashed together and smile for the cameras. Somebody decided to get the Argy flag out, he had captured, and get it in the photo. All was going swimmingly, until some asked where he had got it from. Quite casually, we were informed that it had been on the small, tower like commentary box at the end of the stands. It had a couple of grenades and stuff booby trapping it .When he spotted the explosives and the tripwire he jumped back out the window. He had still been holding the end of the flag, when he had jumped. But nothing had gone off. We all had a good laugh at this. Which started the general chatter, about why we were all sitting there .
"Looks like they'll booby trap anything".
"Yeah looks like it , glad they checked out the stands".
"Who checked out the stands?".
"You lot, didn't you?".
"We thought you had!!".
"Not us mate!!!".
They looked at the tom with the flag. He looked back and spoke in a low voice as he slowly stood up. "You were all sitting here, when I walked round the corner with my flag. Right, I'll just go and ask some one, if they know who cleared it".
"I'd better go and see who he talks to".
"I'll see if he needs any help".

It didn't take long to totally empty the stands, and for everyone to disappear. The Argy's had indeed, started to booby trap the stands we had been sitting on. Fortunately for us, they never managed to finish it .There is a good picture of a couple of us sitting on those stands . Which quite funnily, was been blown up, (by the photographer ukn), and was on the wall of the Airborne Museum in Aldershot.

Giajl © Jim Love


A nearness,
A time.
A fuse....for H.E.
A means of death.
When shared with....
White phosphorous..... it's ,
Salt n Pepper.
But mainly.......it's ,

Death and destruction.
Giajl © Jim Love

Not By Bread

Energy in the form of.....
Little grey swirls,
Brushed aside the grass.
Coppery messages,
They passed me by.
Drawing fragments,of my soul.
Sucked by the bullets wake.
My fear, for a moment gone.
Until, we rose, to fight.
And I stood ....,

Giajl © Jim Love


I noticed beast the Coy Cdr.’s runner was sitting beside us but not joining in .I thought that he may have had touch of exposure and went to talk to him to see that he was okay. He didn't really know me and there was definitely something wrong with him .I couldn't see any physical injuries to him but he was in some kind of shock. He had been quite near a group of the lads who were led by the CQMS 'Doc Findlay’ when they had been struck with a direct hit by a 105 round. It took one of doc’s legs clean off, he died soon after. Doc had been carrying the wounded down the slopes then coming back up with the stretchers weighed down with ammo.

I was checking Beast out again starting from the top of his head, planing to work my way down his body, when I snagged my finger on his helmet. He had bits of shrapnel sticking through his helmet. There were also cracks in his helmet. I couldn't tell if they were also sticking into his head. I decided that I would have to remove his helmet .In the ideal world it would have stayed on and the nurses and doctors would have taken it off in the hospital. It was the top of a shitty hill thousands of miles from the ideal world. I took it off.

Kings's of the Castle

There were bits of shrapnel sticking out of his head all over the place. I ripped his shell dressing open and using it to make little rings. I put them round the pieces of shrapnel then wrapped a dressing over the top to try and stem the flow of blood. I then ripped part of the helmet innards out and stuck it back on his head. (I and some of the lads would later go on 'Combat Medic' courses. Though it was not the fault of the medic instructor's, we would end up teaching them more than they taught us.) Lightning does strike in the same place twice. There was little point to easing the pressure on his head wounds if a bigger piece of shrapnel sliced the top of his head completely off, because he wasn't wearing his helmet. The CSM grabbed one of the lads and got him to take beast back down to the RAP along with the other wounded.

Later we heard the whine of engines from tracked vehicles brought on the wind from out of the darkness; it was the Scorpion and scimitar that we had last seen at the bottom in the LUP. They parked up just to the left and rear of the Boss's and my (now occupied by the rest of the world) trench. They started to engage the trenches on Wireless Ridge. 7.62mm tracer followed by 76mm rounds straight down their throats. It was spectacular. Just like sitting in your armchair at home watching it all happening on the box. We we’re all smoking and sitting up pointing and joining in now and again with the odd burst of 7.62mm. Machine gun tracers skirting across the sky like a light sabre. We constantly had calls for fire on pre-targeted objectives and enemy positions. Countless 33lb shells rained from the heavens.

It was in fact to end all too soon. The two CVRT’s had run out of ammo. Having fallen silent it was a bit more apparent that it had not been they who had been making all of the noise. We weren’t having it all our way. There was still the odd artillery round and groups of mortar rounds landing in amongst our positions. Not only 105mm rounds there was as well the frequent 155mm round landing in and about the coy area. People started to slide back into their trenches and the glow from cigarettes disappeared, snuffed out now that it wasn’t all going our way any more. Carefully stowed away so not to get wet and totally unlightable, saved for that moment when it would all be over.

The lights of Stanley glowed in the distance, had it not been for the death that surrounded us. We could have been on Salisbury Plain, the terrain being so similar.

Tracer lit the night.
While the screams of the dying
Were drowned out,
By the exploding shells.
No longer cold or wet.
No thoughts of hunger.
Just a surge, a rush,
The body’d come alive.

© Jim Love

Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid

Tony Brown and Paddy McGovern came strolling down the road into Stanley like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Their Red berets virtually glowing in the South Atlantic sunshine. Shades of Kelly’s Heroes without Kelly.

Both Tony and Paddy were sporting folding butt Fns, which they had casually slung over their shoulders. Their Pancho Villa style moustaches gave a touch of authenticity to the bandit style appearance. They had come in search of the OP’s and had brought glad tidings. Arrangements had been made for a chopper to take us back to the battery gun position, which 29 occupied at Bluff Cove Settlement.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

While the rest of 2 Para sailed back on the MV Norland we would be back where we belonged, with the guns.
Oh joy of joys.
Who wanted to get back to good old blighty anyway?
We promised each other, that we wouldn’t let them see us cry.

Quite a few of us were now carrying various weapons that we had not exactly been issued with. Some of the blokes had binned they’re 9 mm SMG’s. In reality you could possibly spit peas or piss further, but sometimes it didn’t pay to get too heavily involved in firefights using our small arms. After all we were, were we not? killers at depth.

10,000 metres if not more, Artillery was in fact an area weapon. To be used to engage the enemy while they were still at arm’s length shall we say. Though it must be said that the odd extra 7.62 popping off beside you did boost moral considerably. Especially if that SLR’s firer, was on your side.

The SLR had a range of 800 metres; though mostly taken by all in sundry that its maximum effective range was 600 metres. Targets normally engaged on ranges of 300 metres. In places like Northern Ireland if fired upon from a building’s window. Fire was normally not returned at the window, but at the walls either side of the window. At likely places a firer would move to for cover. The SLR’s 7.62mm rounds could punch holes through brick walls. Many a surprised dead sniper (could he speak that is) would testify to that fact. The SLR had balls.

The SMG (Sterling Sub-Machine Gun) on the other hand was more of a close quarter, battle weapon. Signallers and such mainly carried it. Generally given to those (medics and attached arms) who already were carrying heavy loads (on their backs in bergans or the like) the SLR was a bit cumbersome and quite a bit heavier. The SMG as I said, being used when the enemy got close. It was supposed to have a maximum range of about 200 metres and an effective range of 100 metres (ha ha). It was in fact an extremely dangerous weapon, especially in the wrong hands.

Although a marked improvement on it’s predecessor the “Sten”. The “SMG” still maintained inherent similar faults. When a loaded magazine was fitted to the weapon and it had been “cocked”. The user/firer of the weapon had to be very careful that he didn’t accidentally knock it, or drop it.

God forbid that he should have someone bump in to him. As he was likely to end up full of holes. (This could be either or the bumper or the bumped). Also due to it being a very short barrelled weapon, one had to beware that if the firer turned. Even, ever so slightly, the weapon’s barrel would follow suit. Whilst firing on automatic this could prove disastrous.

The SMG in fact was also notoriously prone for jamming (as happened to Col Jones during his assault at Darwin). The 30/34 (capacity) round, 9mm magazine would often, on a regular basis miss-feed the rounds to the weapon. It may be good Hollywood or television. But it was not a good practise or indeed a healthy idea during your weapon handling, to slap the end of the magazine home on the weapon. This would cause a jam in the breech, as one of the rounds could/would fall out the end of the magazine housing. Thus preventing the weapon from firing. Which was the last thing you needed in the middle of a fire fight.

Suffice to say if you could choose another weapon instead of the good old SMG, you would, and quite a few did.

To this extent Steve Willy was a walking fucking armoury. He had been browsing in the big open-air flea markets left in the aftermath of battle. Managing to pick up a few of the discarded but highly attractive pieces of hardware that now littered the barren slopes on the hills surrounding Stanley. They filled his Bergen and weighed him down, but with a smile on his face. You wouldn’t believe the amount of ammo he had.

Steve’s current favourite was the M3 grease gun. A 45 calibre under license to Argentina that he had oiled and cleaned until it positively just screamed “please fire me, I need to feel the juddering shock of the recoil and feel the lead spurt from my barrel end”
Yeah, well remember all we’d seen for months was sheep. Lack of women’s company can sometimes do things to a man. Unfortunately it didn’t do anything for Bernie.

Bernie Winch was the Battery Sarn’t Major and he had greeted us back to the fold you may say, like we were a flock of black sheep. It wasn’t that he was not glad to see that we were all okay and that none of us had been injured or killed. It was more that he was not happy in that we were an element of unpredictability he could do with out. I’ll never forget the morning we rejoined the battery and Bernie spoke to us for the first time since the landings.

Especially the look that passed over Bernie's face. When Steve asked him; “If it was okay to have a bit of a blatt down on the beach, lobb a few grenades and such”.

I still wasn’t feeling 100% but there was fuck all I could do about it, self induced you might say. The choppers at the LZ on the Stanley racecourse picked us up, but it wasn’t a smooth parting. I had been man handled and literally thrown on to the chopper that had arrived to take us back to the battery. I wasn’t the only on that was in this condition.

No. We weren’t pissed. It was a case of severe stomach upset due to gorging ourselves with fresh meat and food. Our bodies just couldn’t cope after the pro-longed period that we had been living on compo. But we’d brought some of the goodies with us.

I’d been given a couple of thousand (5,000 or 10,000 in fact) Benson and Hedges cigarettes by CSM Price of A coy. He thought we had been given a shit deal, by being sent back to the guns. It was shit, but in war shit happened. We weren’t going back with the infantry battalions that we had been attached to. We were going back as we had come down, as a unit, the battery.

This was because although there were only a certain amount of fresh replacement troops (mainly to cover the basic infantry). The men at the top omitted to bring with them in their reinforcement package. The relatively insignificant element of the supporting arms, like the artillery, engineers’, fresh logistic support etc. SNAFU (Situation Normal All Fucked Up) reigned supreme.
Anyway we were on our way back to the guns. Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt.

No, that means “Where Right and Glory Lead”.

I dropped off the fags at the BQMS’s (Battery Quarter Masters) asking them to make sure that they were dished out to the lads. No problem I was informed, the bush drums had already been passing the word. We had also acquired a couple of boxes of picnic bars, which we dished out to the lads in the sheep sheds.

The Q Staff told me there was even a shower they had rigged up, using a water jerry can and a nozzle. I could have a shower and shave too. I told them to fuck off. I wasn’t having a shave or a shower till I knew I was on a boat or something similar that was taking me home. (I was one severely pissed off toy soldier, with no teddies left to throw).

When in the cold light of the next day I saw the lads form up and was invited to join on the end (as all the OP’s were). A battery parade was being held now that the battery was complete again. They had bulled their toecaps and sown up the rents and tears in their kit. Fresh shiny faced, shaved and presentable as representatives of the British Army.

While we the OP’s stood at the back somewhat, dirty, bruised, scruffy but erect and proud. Remnants perhaps of Fred Karno’s Army? I just knew……

Happy days were here again.

The British Empire

Brave men died here today.
Did the swaying grass bring forth your tears?
Will this land which touched,
Nay claimed your soul.
Stay serene forever, and remain theirs now?
Or will man’s greed once more
Bring forth the havoc that is war.
To find our children
Or God forbid our children’s children.
So they too, will one day lay
Beneath that foreign soil
That we now call the Empire!

Giajl © Jim Love

Is It The ......

Should I have had that choice?
All those years ago.
When the devil, dealt the cards.
And had fate .....
covered all the bets.
While we... watched the dice roll
And waited for .....
Devine intervention.
But man never waits, and so....
chooses his own,
Thus to that end.
Men died, whether Foe
Or friend
They all ,died that day.
And every day....

The end.
Giajl © Jim Love


We were entering the Moody Brook barracks area and had decided to skirt round the buildings. We were passing them to the shore side of the complex when word filtered back over the coy net. The white building with the big Red Cross on its roof was found to be full of ammunition for the pack howitzers, and it had all been booby-trapped.

They’d been trying to hit it from the ridge with the 84mm, we hadn’t known about the cross till we got closer. Also the whole area between the buildings and the rocky outcrops was strewn with landmines, we should expect our side to be like wise. The buildings were a mess, all the windows had been blown out by grenades. Argentineans ones by the way, back in April when they invaded.

Running through the middle of the group of buildings was the first tarmac piece of road we had encountered on the island, with no visible potholes, or additions like mines. The road looked solid enough .So that’s the way we decided to take into Stanley.
Later we found out they had mined the bridge though, but it had been a command detonated device. Trouble was there hadn’t been anybody around to push the plunger for them, they’d all fucked off when they saw us coming down from the top of Wireless-Ridge.

There was a crashed jeep on the bend of the road near a small bridge over that spanned either the river or where the tidal waters flowed. It looked a waste of a bridge in all honesty. After all it was only the second one I’d seen on the whole island. The water that flowed beneath the bridge was only ankle deep at the time we crossed it. Perhaps it was tidal, like in tidal waves?

There were still messages of they’ve surrendered coming over my head set, then one to tell me that they hadn’t had an official “we’ve surrendered” from the Argie airforce. We were also warned to be on the alert for counter attacking Argie Paras. There was the sound of herc’s taking off from Stanley airport at this time. But I think they were legging it for the mainland and a hero’s welcome? I hoped not.

In 1978 or 79. I can’t remember which year exactly, but I can remember the dream, quite vividly in fact. After a bit of a bender on a Friday and Saturday night I spent most of the Sunday in bed. I had this totally weird dream which I had firstly thought was one of the reasons I went and joined the Legion in France. Every other bugger gets pink elephants and spiders crawling all over them. With me it was another army barmy type scenario, or so I thought.

Any way back to the dream;

“There we were strolling down a road in a valley come re-entrant. I was carrying a radio as we progressed down a road. When a C130 flew overhead and started dropping Cuban like troops with swarthy faces and pill box like hats. Pancho villa moustaches and large machete’s, some were firing their grease guns as they hung suspended below their parachutes swinging back to and fro above us.

A jeep was screaming down the road but we started shooting at it and it crashed. Throwing out its occupants on a slight bend before a low built bridge, which crossed a small stream”.

Now it was 1982 and fuck me, was this not the exact scene from my dream. I kept telling everyone to look out for aircraft, I think I was told to shut up in the end, because I was getting on everybody’s tits. Fuck it! But wasn’t the war over?

I had a dream

The similarities between my dream and the terrain were just mind blowing. I tried to remember how my dream had ended, but I couldn’t. My problem was that apart from dreaming in Technicolor all the time. I would, if I were having a bad dream, stop and rewind it if you like. So I could change the end of the dream to a more appropriate one, (usually with me ending up in bed with a busty big blonde).

I had read somewhere once. I think it was the Chinese had stated that if you died in a dream while you were asleep. You could also die in real life too. So I always tried to make sure I had happy dreams. And that I woke up!

Well, they didn’t stop to jump out and carry on the war. They stayed inside and buggered off back to Argentina. We stopped at the racecourse cos nobody knew what was happening. If we went into Stanley we just might shoot up every little spic bastard we saw. Then we would become the baddies and the shit would happen all over again. We just wanted to go home.

In the end someone got a camera out and we all sat down to pose for a picture. We sat down and filled the stands. Here and there the odd rifle shot would sound in the distance. But for the moment it had nothing to do with us.

The sun was shining, we shared what cigarettes that we had and we waited for the generals to catch us up. Hoping they would come to a quick conclusion. Make a decision, and send us home again. For the moment, it was back to playing the waiting game.

Giajl © Jim Love

Lament of the Dead.

What if I should die before the dawn?
And if I should die before the dawn,
What news ho, of me in England?
How cry you now?
Oh, men of mice!
Safe last night you slept.
‘'Twas the wind of war,
Wot kept me awake.
How say you now friend,
Did we win?

That some sad price was paid
For the laughter of today
That they should not forget.
But never know
The ignominy
Of death
While in their moment’s of play.
Brave men died
Tho’ thousands of miles away
The same sun shined on both.

Giajl © Jim Love

I Listened For The Call, Which

I smelled the peat ,
and it's foreign earth.
My fingers, clawed and,
buried deep.
And the world .........
turned,... upside down.
But, I held on......
While it all erupted.
Death,..... played his game !
And I waited,.... my turn.

Never came.
Giajl © Jim Love

They Came Asking for Volunteers

They came asking for volunteers. “Never volunteer”, I was told by my granny, sit back, watch and wait. But we were taking it in turns and PJ had gone over the top last. Besides I was working with the Boss and there wasn’t much chance that he was going to be left behind. So I was going too. My granny (a big wrestling fan), also used to say that as long as you have a hole in your arse……….. Shit happens. They were offering a free helicopter trip to a place called Bluff Cove.

Everybody else in the other Op parties were having a few celebration beverages, supplied by the grateful settlers of Goose Green. Everybody that is except Dinger, and me. We were getting our kit together. Re-packing our webbing and such like. We were told to take 48 hours worth of rations (so we took 72 hours worth) and 120 rounds of ammo (we had so much ammo we couldn’t count it all) our memories were still fresh with a battle not long ended. Dinger, Willie and I spent fucking ages trying to find a couple of charged Clannsman batteries. Once they went flat they were just dead weight and with no sensible means of recharging them, they’d been getting binned by the lads. We had been given a couple disposable batteries early on but the supply had run out. In the end they had all become disposable, a bit like us.

The reason for the chopper ride was that Major John Crosslands had noticed a telephone on the wall in one of the buildings at Goose Green. This was real house on the prairie stuff, black Bakelite, brown cloth wiring, Vintage 1920’s or earlier. Anyway, he picks up the earpiece and spins the handle a couple of times, and was promptly answered by an islander from Bluff Cove. Apparently the Argentines had not put any restrictions on the local phone network. As a result of the phone call we were now saddling up to fly to Bluff Cove, due to it apparently being an Argie free zone.

There had been an enemy Chinook helicopter that had been flying in reinforcements between Stanley and Goose Green before and during the battle. It had been on the ground at the Goose Green airstrip when the fighting had finished and the Argentines had decided to surrender. It was this aircraft that was taking us to Bluff Cove. (Apparently we had at that time a surplus of helicopter pilots and there had been no problem getting a crew to fly it.)


It was decided that they would take elements of D coy and A coy to secure the settlement. As it was very short notice and I think I mentioned earlier we were suffering from a helicopter shortage (apparently we had managed to loose all ours) so we couldn’t take anything bigger than mortars for indirect fire support. Oh, and we could come along as the artillery support (not that we had anything in range at that time).

Well. Once it was decided who was going we just turned up at the LZ and waited. Once the CSM had organised the load we walked in the eerie darkness and began to get on. Here we found we had a little problem.

Normally I believe a Chinooks load (for personnel), with all the seats folded down that is. Were about 30 odd bods and with the crew of 4 you had a total load or compliment of 34 passengers. That is, as I said in normal peacetime conditions. We however were in the not so ideal normal conditions and we had a lot more weight per person at that moment in time. It’s not that we threw away all the rulebooks, (we kept some of them to wipe our arses) necessity is the mother of invention.

Watching the ones in front loading up the tail ramp was like one of those films where you see people getting into a car and like there’s hundreds of them, of going in. But you know they are all getting out the other side and coming around again. Except in this case nobody was getting out, and it was becoming more like a charity phone box cram.

The load master put his hand out to stop Farrahar Hockley and the Boss from getting on, which left about another five of us behind the two of them The load master said that’s all. Then they all started arguing. After a couple of minutes and a lot of wild arm swinging and rude gesturing, we all got on.

I was later told that the crew had been a little miffed shall we say, about the weight of pax and equipment we had tried to load on the aircraft. It turned out there was a total of 89 passengers, a full load of weaponry, radios and ammunition (the total weight can only be described as fucking heavy man) Oh and we took 6 mortar tubes while each man (85 of us) carried 2mortar rounds. I think they let the flaggy’s off, so it may have been a bit less than 170 mortar rounds.

It had been a bit of two-sided feeling as I climbed up the Chinooks ramp. I was a bit pissed off that the RAF bod had backed down and let us on (there was the piss-up to think about). At the same time the adrenaline was starting to flow again and I probably would have been more pissed off if I’d been left behind. My thoughts were rudely interrupted as a mortar tube smacked me in the face. I was getting uglier daily. It was like being back in the landing craft again except this time there was a roof.

There was a set of silent running (have you heard the noise a Chinook makes) or rather black out, red bulbs running the length of the inside of the fuselage. In the eerie red glow I turned to look and see who was behind me. I could see that there was another heated discussion in progress at the back of the ramp.

Apparently the loadmaster wanted some of us to get off. The CSM told him none of his blokes were getting off, but if he wanted he (the loadmaster) could fuck-en well get off. If he was that worried he could stay behind on the ground. In the end nobody got off.

In fact it was very lucky that the Chinook got off, at all. The ground that is. The crew had been right after all. (God don’t you just hate that?). There was just a tad too much weight on board. The great lumbering workhorse struggled to get airborne and virtually clawed it’s way into the air with its massive blades scything gravity to make it happen. We managed to get about 20 feet off the ground to begin with and as the flight progressed I believe it was about 50 feet. (As we burned off fuel we managed a bit more altitude).

So there we were, like the crew of the Bounty. A very unhappy bunch sailing into waters unknown. The red interior light of the fuselage complimented by the green glow of the cockpit and the yellow orange light created by the massive turbines on the tail. Like a noisy big luminescent mobile, take a pot shot at me neon lit advertising billboard.

Silently, we all hoped that the Argies were getting their heads down.

Unfortunately there were observation parties awake that night and as we approached Bluff Cove our position was reported. The lucky part was that it was by an OP from our side (148 Bty FOU) and by the time people at the very blunt end had made a decision about opening fire. We had all de-bussed and scarper’d into the surrounding darkness. The Chinook was now disappearing a lot quicker than it had taken to get here and it was a lot higher off the ground too. It seems that still being painted with the Argentinean colours had caused the friend or foe conundrum. (For both sides!)

D Coy patrols moved out and were promptly swallowed up by the night. We hovered for a bit and played with our radios. We were back to radio silence again as such, but were allowed check in calls at pre-arranged times. Just to let them all know we were still alive. We still didn’t have any paper to write on and we were still using the back of our hands and the inside of the arctic waterproofs. (If you still had one that is).

We shook out and I followed the boss down the slope from the landing zone. We headed towards the settlement of Bluff Cove, and the smell of smoke. As we reached the bottom we contoured round the side of the hill and then sat down, I nodded off. There was a trick to getting your webbing just right in the middle of your back and pushing the radio frame up and off your shoulders. This meant that although you had a certain amount of contact with the ground. You could still remain relatively dry. (At least you managed to keep your arse dry.) It had been decided while I’d been dozing that we would visit the building below and try to speak with the occupants (hopefully they would be some of the local islanders and not some foreign army people types out for a kebab). Well we moseyed on down.

As you looked at it, I was to the right of the door. The boss to the left, while Maj. Farrah Hockley was on the steps tentatively knocking at the door. It was shades of France 1944 and secret knocks and code words via the BBC. After five minutes the knocking got louder. After about 10 minutes there was a female voice from inside asking who was out there. Not to be out done Farrah Hockley asked who was inside. Stunning stuff, I had been getting decidedly worried up to this point, until I heard the female English voice.

The door was opened slightly and we were invited to come in, as long as we removed our boots first that was. This seemed to be the normal custom on the island. A bit like the Japanese it would seem. I often wondered if the locals just sometimes switched off. Just forgetting all about the war. Anyway in we went, all three of us. They had kind of forgotten about me and I don’t think I was really wanted, but I had my boots off before both the officers, so I was first in.

While the two officers’s got to grips talking to Tim Dobbin & Kevin Kilmartin the owners of the settlement. I was relegated to the corner and a nice big armchair. Jean Dobbin and Diane Kilmartin their wives asked me as to when the last time I had a decent meal inside of me. I told them it had been some time, but I had eaten some of my lovely GS rations before I had decided to visit them. Off they went and came back with a large mug of tea and a huge pile of pancake type rolls filled with minced mutton. Apparently they knew all about our rat packs.

It must remain one of the best meals that I have ever eaten. I lost count of how many pancakes I ate, but I do know it was more than 7. The lady of the house told me that it was their sons’ birthday and that he had just been blowing out the candles after making his wish. He’d wished that the British soldiers come and save them. Then Farrah Hockley knocked on the door, no shit. (Just then I hoped some of my wishes were going to come true too, and I had lots). We were asked to rotate the lads down off the hills and via the back window where they would get something to eat too, not to worry about how many there were but to just tell them to come down.

It turned out that the pancakes didn’t agree with everybody after all. Apparently Maj. Hockley’s stomach was a little more delicate compared to the rest of us. So he remained in the house while the boss and me scooted off back up the slopes, the boss man organising the grunts while we dug in on the highest point. The next day they were supposed to drop off our bergans, which we had last seen on top of the Sussex Mountains.(They turned up about two or three days later in fact).

We had also been told to expect the arrival of one of the battery’s 105mm guns via the captured Chinook. When it did arrive (it also brought 45 of the lads from the gun detachments with it). They were deployed down in a fold in the ground to our right (along the line of the shore mere yards from the beach) which was in front of the dug in infantry, they being in turn also forward of our op position. (Total arse about face)

Oh! Did I happen to mention that the next chopper lift got taken off us? It was given to the marines instead. It was a bit of a pity that actually, because that was the one, which was bringing all the ammo for the 105mm gun. We could see targets to engage and were being sent grids of targets to engage by the 2 para patrols, but with no big bullets as to say, nothing could be done but log the info. The guns sat silent for the moment.

It took another two days before another helicopter arrived from the previous gun position. By that time the lads from the battalion were being fed by the gun bunnies and I had managed to get some more socks off John the “Legend “ McQueenie our BQMS from 29 battery. I had to share them with Dinger though, his feet were in bits by this time.

Giajl © Jim Love

Hey! Be Sure and True ....

Save me space ....On the table.
In the great hall....In Valhalla!
Make sure there's grog a plenty.
Mead, wine, women, n song!
For I've a thirst ,
that will last a thousand years.
And a hunger that's , unconsumed.
I've left my true loves heart .. behind.
For I have entered ,
The Warriors realm.
To be with,

My brothers!
Giajl © Jim Love


We'd been in the house, in Port Stanley for a couple of days now. Willie was about the only one in the party that went out of doors. The rest of us decided to stay put, in the relative safety within the four walls. Nobody knew what Willie did on his little trips out, that was his business. Perhaps he had become slightly claustrophobic. After all, we had spent considerable amount of time out of doors. As was said in the immortal film "Ice Cold in Alex", you never ask a man with a shovel in the middle of the night, where he's going.

Besides, it was supposed to be all over now, the biggest end - ex, since WW2. Quite honestly, there were a lot of mines out there. We had done quite well up to now. Everybody was in one piece, well, their bodies were at least. Who knew what went on inside anybody's head anymore? The house we were staying in, belonged to an oldish couple. I really don't think they were all that chuffed, about us living there. But we were the conquering heroes after all, so they couldn't exactly tell us to fuck off out of it. Which is, I'm quite sure, what they really wanted to do. The old girl said she was worried about her cat having something to eat, the poor little thing, and that was the only reason, that they had come back. That, and the fact we had managed to blow up a couple of houses and put lots of holes in them during the last final attacks. They wanted to see it was still standing. Well, we had tried to feed it a couple of times. Opened a couple of tins of Argie beef, big chunks of beef in gravy. We'd tasted it first of course, but it was too rich for our stomachs, and had given everyone who'd eaten it the shits. Secretly we hoped it would give the cat the shits to, but it wouldn't eat any of it. In fact, when the old dear saw what we were trying to give her cat, she mentioned that they had been quite short of food themselves. So we loaded up her and the old man, with all the unopened tins we had. Quite happy with all the free scoff we'd given, the cat was temporarily forgotten about.

They hadn't been gone all that long, when Willie returned, from one of his little trips out. After we'd told Willie about the old couple's visit and the attempts to feed their cat, he'd started to laugh. Willie didn't like the cat, and the cat knew it. In fact, when it saw Willie, it would head for the hills, literally. Just behind the house was a ridge that ran along the back of the race course. From the bottom of Wireless Ridge, and Moody Brook, virtually all the way to Stanley's airport. The cat practically lived up there, except for when Willie left the house, then it would sneak back down .What we didn't know at that time was the ridge was where Willie had first seen the cat.
When Willie had managed to stop laughing, he explained why the cat wouldn't eat prime beef, and why it took off every time Willie appeared. "B" Coy, had cleared the ridge behind the house, and apparently, there were still a few bodies up there that hadn't been recovered yet. Willie had caught the cat on the ridge beside a body, preening itself. The body's bluey grey face, staring angrily up at the sky. The eye sockets dark red holes. Willie had found several more bodies in similar states. It wasn't until Willie's third trip up the ridge, that he'd actually caught the cat in the act of tearing the eyes from one of the bodies and eating it.

Luckily for the cat, we left the house the next day and moved into the school house in Stan-ley. Two lads from Coy HQ, who'd shared the house with us, later mentioned they'd woken up in the middle of the night, to find the cat on their chest staring at their faces.

To Dream, Perchance...

I am tired.
And my body, aches.
My heart, is ...... still.
While my eyes
Are dead.
Long seeing, of a soul.....
Which yearns,

to sleep.
Giajl © Jim Love

Yesterday and Tomorrow

I have no voice for lullaby's
my tenderness,
Will always lay.....
In my sweet caress.
And of moments when,
As you slept .....I visited you.
While I brushed away......
Your silent tears.
I slew that magic dragon,
And from all your fears.
Released you.

For today I gave.
Giajl © Jim Love



Those that See the Sunsets

Clouds, streaked..... the skies.
Fluffy.... pink, at first!
And then deepened.... Red.
Dark streaks .... Like blood.
Drifting off to gold... And sunset.
And, I thought, of those ......
Who, no longer, see......the skies.
Or, any other, colour....
Those, who.... 33 years ago.
Fought for, and climbed a mountain.
And never left.
Now remain,
below blood red....
sunset skies,

On Mount Longdon.
Giajl © Jim Love

Those who see the sun set

New Boots

We were living in the now empty houses on the outskirts of Stanley next to the racecourse. Actually, we had just moved in it was still the 14th of June. We had halted here after being stopped from entering the town itself. We had drifted off in our groups and been housed as per battalion order of march. I was located with Coy HQ. We were in a fairly nice house that had the customary AGAR cooker and fire in the kitchen they all appeared to be in the one colour scheme. White with a black top, they must have been sold on the lines a bit like the model “T” ford I supposed.

We were just sorting out pit spaces and stags for the radios when there was a cry of “stand to”. “Aircraft warning red”.

With mumbling madness and shouts of “I knew we couldn’t trust the bastards”, we spilled from the houses. Out onto the racecourse we craned our necks skywards. Where black specs filled the sky. The steady thump of helicopter rotor blades could be heard, drowning out voices and filling the air with just sheer noise. And it was getting louder, by the second. We looked off towards the direction of Stanley and the airport beyond the ridge. Every type of helicopter you could imagine had filled the skies. Heading our way no less. Dinger, Willie and I were in a group that had been apparently singled out by a Bell Augusta attack helicopter. It flew steadily towards us. We could see the pilots clearly through the windshield. Bright blue cravats similar to the ones the battery had worn during the 1970’s adorned the pilot and co-pilots necks. Their helmets had the anti-glare visor in the down po-sition and between that and the cravat were the gaucho moustaches that the Argentinean air force just loved to grow. Below that, the pearly teeth just were starting the hint of a grin.

We were ordered not to open fire. Bell-Augusta, that was what was coming down just in front of us, machine guns, rocket pods the full fucking Monty. Technically in the act of cap-turing it, was three blokes armed with SMG’s. It landed and the pilots switched off. We stood slightly embarrassed as we waited for them to get out of the chopper. Dinger got fed up and went forward yanking the door open; “Get Out” was the cry. And they did, the pilots stood to one side guarded by me as Dinger and Steve Willie dived inside the chopper. I hadn’t seen anyone so clean for weeks. I could even smell their after-shave. It was in stark contrast to the soldiers on the ground that we had been fighting with. They had all smelt of shit. Both sheep shit and the human kind. It just went to show the different standards afford-ed to the various arms of the Argie army and air force. I suppose this lot would expect to be treated differently because they hadn’t been shooting at us. My thoughts were rudely inter-rupted as one of the Argy’s lurched forward. “My jacket”, he said.

I looked at his pristine American style green bomber jacket with the standard orange lining (standard on the piss dress for the lads when we were back in Aldershot). Then I looked down to my shredded windproof smock, with its countless stains, rips and tears. And won-dered. He repeated “My Jacket”, and then reached forward and tugged mine. Fucking hell I thought. The stupid bastard wants to swap clothes with me. So I asked him “You want to swap?” A total look of repugnance crossed his face and a voice full of indignation growled “No, it’s your friend he steals my jacket!” Looking across I could see Dinger scurrying off with an armful of clothes, Steve Willie had a pair of Boots, and me? I had 2 fucking prisoners. Digging him in the ribs with my SMG I told the pilot to back off and shut the fuck up.

Later when they had collected all the prisoner’s and we got back to the house. Steve Willie gave me the boots .It turned out they were a size 10 and he took a size 8. Happy days. I nev-er really had any problems with my feet, (my British army issue boots were fuckin crap and my feet had been wet since we landed. But my feet it would seem had adapted). Now they were dry, warm and happy. Trouble now was that I dared not take the fucking things off. In case some other bastard stole them, while I slept.

new boots

Giajl © Jim Love

Do You Miss the Night

Do you miss the night ?
When it’s cold ,wet , and windy .
Drink more than your share !
Do you miss the night ?
From the corner of your eye ,
You search for the guy
Who’s just not there !
So you buy yourself a dog .

Do you miss the night ?
Giajl © Jim Love

The Good Ship MV Norland

In the early stages, it was novel, but as time dragged on, it was becoming harder, and harder, to keep the troops amused. We were now, somewhere in the South Atlantic, heading towards a little island, the size of Wales. We were still limited, to two cans of beer per man. The trouble was, that they were only half sized cans. Not a full tinney, at all. Everybody was given a small ticket, which stated, that the bearer was entitled, to two cans of beer.

What everybody did, was, to find out, if there was any remote possibility, that there was someone who didn't want to use his tickets, for that night. That being the case, here he had, right in front of him, a volunteer. Who would ensure that his tickets didn't go to waste. In the early stages, tickets were given up quite freely , then, they became a source of currency. In the mad scramble that took place some nights, you could get away with it (having extra tickets that is, the chap running the bar, was a Royal Navy P.O., and I don't think he really gave a shit, one way or the other).

Later, we got more sophisticated, and sneaked into where the Battery and Battalion clerks had their offices, typing it out on their machines. Very professional looking, I must say. Rules are rules. You've only broken them, if you get caught. (So technically nobody drank more than two cans). There was a story of how they ordered the beer for the trip down, but I can't remember it exactly. All I know is, that they ordered treble the allocation, that all the other ships got) We used to get turfed out of the lounges, and have to find a place to party. Whole areas of the ship, or should I say the MV( Motor Vessel) Norland became no go areas. In an attempt to limit the numbers, and keep the noise down, to stop their little party sites from being raided. A group of us found what we thought at the time, to be a brilliant pissup area. It was the Communal showers, located right at the bottom of the Norland, near the bilges. It lasted for quite a while. It had brilliant acoustics. Many a sing song was had there, in the early hours .

That, unfortunately, was our ultimate undoing. What we didn't know at the time, was that the extractors for the showers, had to go virtually the whole length of the vessel, and from obviously bottom, to top. Apparently our singing, was keeping lots of people awake at night, and they wanted it stopped. They just couldn't figure out, where it was coming from.

Every time they followed the echoes in the ducts,it led them round in circles .Finally a few of the songs were recognised as certain individual's party pieces, and the word was put out to pack it in. By this time Wendy (as he liked to be called) had made his presence known and we would all sing in the forward lounge (which had a piano in it) where he tickled the ivories. He probably wanted to tickle a lot more, but never got the chance.(To my knowledge any way). We used to have some roaring sing songs, as Wendy was a natural, ( with the piano at any road). All you had to do, was whistle a couple of bars of a song, and he could play the bloody thing. Brilliant. He was,
as I've said, called Wendy. But was a gentleman, I must say, he visited Aldershot, when it was all over, collecting for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute. We were all happy to oblige. Not many of us really liked, the time we spent at sea. We didn't mind being splattered all over the countryside, if our parachutes didn't work. But nobody wanted to drown, especially without getting a shot off. Especially, after the near sinking of the fleet, by the Argentine submarines on the way down. Turned out to be a
school of whales, and a rather keen lookout. Nobody would tell us exactly where we were, at any specific time. Even the officers, weren't being told exact details of where we were. It was up to one of the lads, to quite confidently, tell everyone, that we were approaching the Southern hemisphere. He noticed, that the water was draining away down the plug holes a different way. Apparently, in the northern hemisphere it's clockwise, and in the Southern it's anti-clockwise. (I couldn't even see the sink, sometimes, first thing in the mornin,g never mind, which way the water drained off, there are some clever bastards about, I can tell you).

We also spent at lot of time trying to learn Morse Code. Just in case we needed to call on a ship of the Royal Navy, for gun fire support. We managed to cut it down to bare minimum, of fire control abbreviations. Even then, I only managed about 16 words a minute,(slow) in fact, (very slow). In retrospect ,lucky we had an airforce Others became budding poets, card sharks, or experts on fruit machines. This was due, to some individuals of the ship's compliment, having an excess of funds. A couple of days after we sailed, they decided to have a pay parade. People were to turn up at the purser's desk, and sign for an advance of pay, on an aquittance roll. The money being deducted at source, by the army from next month's pay. Fine, great, in principle. One slight problem. Due to the amount of attached arms etc., the pay staff, didn't know everybody. So what they did, was ask you how much you wanted, up to a limit of £200. The British tom, being a switched on chappie, merely wrote down eight figures, to cover the army number, and then proceeded to write down any name that came in to their heads. At some stage, appearing at the front of all three queues, in some cases. About two days later, there was a ship's tannoy message, asking if anyone who had inadvertently been over-paid. Or perhaps somehow been paid twice, if the case , to please return the money, to the pay office, located at the Purser's office. (Needless to say they were still short of cash, when we landed at Bluebeach 2).

MV Norland

On one of the finer days, we were party to a demonstration firing, of the army's latest weapon. The hand held, man packable, ground to air, anti- aircraft missile. Give the bloke who fired it, his due, he did try to compensate for the roll of the ship. What he forgot was the time delay in pressing the trigger, and the missile actually leaving the launcher. Still, it was very impressive. He was on the crest of a wave, you might say, when he pulled the trigger, but, as stated, due to the time lapse of about three seconds. The ship had rolled, into a trough again. The missile left the launcher with a loud bang, and a small puff of smoke, and proceeded to travel directly at the sea's surface. Striking a white cap, it bounced. Then, shot off, up into the sky. Heading towards a Sea King, that was cross decking, to HMS Fearless. Luckily, it had reached it's run out distance, and exploded , to a loud cheer, of all on deck.This, however, did not endear us, to the rest of fleet. We also managed to, whilst firing our small arms, from the ship's stern, to hit a giant seagull, (sometimes more commonly described as an Albatross). This little incident, then put us at odds with the ships crew, who were now of the opinion, we were all doomed.

Luckily, we weren't.
Giajl © Jim Love

Jackey D, n Jim

I'll meet you both,
In some corner of my hell.
Where the darkness ...
hides all sins!
I'm gonna hit the town
and get sooooo shit faced
I just might drown.
Oh Jesus wants me for a

Giajl © Jim Love

It Blew In From ..........?

It was an icy chill,
That crept in,.
Long before the snow fell.
Deep ,in his bones it went.
encompassing , his heart.
Then his soul!
It weighed him down,
stopped his thoughts.
Ended his existence.
A wind?
He never knew.

It just .............blew.
Giajl © Jim Love

Life's A Beach!

The water was cold ,
It's Southern bite.
Took my breath!
But I did not
Nor did my brothers!
We pushed ashore.
Waiting for the
Which never
So we swept over the land,
And made it ours.
21st May 1982.

Blue, Two...!
Giajl © Jim Love


We'd been messed about. Just like the Grand Old Duke of York's troops. Up the Stairs down the stairs, and back round to start again. Tonight it was a bit different though, after this practice we weren't going back to our cabins. We were assembling in the forward lounge for a final briefing. A church service of sorts was also being held by the padre, David Cooper. It totally voluntary attendance of course.

I went because I had only got around to paying him the £20.00 that I owed him. It was for conducting my wedding service at the Garrison church in Aldershot. They'd given me 4 hours off to get married. We were on, like a;"we should have sailed yesterday type notice to move". So many farewell parties had taken place that we were all seriously overdrawn at the banks. If we didn't sail now we were all in deep shit in trying to pay back the money. prior to sailing.When it came to paying for the service and organist I was skint. So the padre kindly offered to pay. It didn't pay to be on the wrong side of the line in circumstances such as these.

The forward lounge had a tinge of religion attached to it from the 'Cruise South' already. We must have sat in it watching Monty Python's the 'Life of Brian', God only knows how many times. The song 'You've got to look on the Bright side of Life' had become a bit if a theme tune for the whole adventure.

It was however quite pleasant to see how many people had found religion in the last few hours before the dawn, on the 21 of May. A couple of mumbled verses of To Be A Pilgrim were duly sung, and Padre Cooper gave us the good word. Then it was all down to us.

We were all professional soldiers trained to an extremely high standard. Supremely confident in our own abilities, to cope with any given situation. With an absolute faith in our comrades, that they would be there with us, shoulder to shoulder. It was the politicians we couldn't trust. It didn't hurt to have an extra bit of air cover from really high up, if the shit hit the fan. Any way, we all knew we'd be okay. Cause 'God was Airborne' too.

I'd actually missed the only practice run at filling the LCU's. That had taken place several days before at ascension island. It had been a bit too hot and bright. I'd been suffering from a hangover at the time. I had managed to find some excuse to get out of the practice. Quite lucky really, because they had ended going round and round the bay for a couple of hours. A couple of the blokes had managed to top up their tans and the rest got heat Stroke. This was due to the Norland having to change its position at anchorage, to cross deck supplies ( more beer I think), so they weren’t able to come along side and get back on board.

It had been a trip round the bay in reality. Shorts, pt vests, sunshades and life jackets. There only being twenty life jackets, hence only twenty people on each trip. It was a real eye opener when it finally happened for real. No life jackets, total darkness and an attempt at the fucking world record for filling an LCU with overladen troops. It took hours.I honestly can't remember if it was cold that morning or not.It was crisp, but I never felt the cold.

Fortunately we didn't have to climb down any scramble nets or such like. It would have probably been a physical impossibility ,I reckon anyway. No. It was simply what you might say,' A blind leap of faith' into the darkness. Into what you hoped would be the arms of someone to help drag you across the side of the LCU. To safety. Well what was considered the relative safety of the bobbing cork like craft. (It was better than drowning of course). Nobody wanted to end up in the cold embrace of the South Atlantic, and Davey Jones locker.

There was only one unfortunate who didn't quite make it across the yawning gap. He'd managed to break his pelvis with a miss-timed jump.This had caused him to end up in between the Norland and the LCU. Luckily they managed to grab him and haul him back on board the Norland.Before he slipped further and sank

When it was apparent that they couldn't get any more in the LCU we set sail in a circular course until they managed to fill the other two LCU's. Then it was off to the landing site of Bluebeach 2, and at that time who knew what. We did have one well wisher who waved us 'Bon Voyage'. Wendy, had decided to say good by to us all and wish us luck.

The total darkness of the South Atlantic was split by a ray of light, from the upper decks of the Norland when Wendy opened one of the deck doors. It was like a search light. We could actually hear him calling 'Bye boys' in the eerie silence above the LCU's engine. Over a hundred voices in unison told him to “ shut the fucking door”. And he did.

The plan was that the SBS would secure the landing site and if it was all clear they would show a green light. If a red light was seen then it was a hot beach and the enemy were waiting for us. No lights and it probably meant we were in the wrong place.

Squashed in like we were, face stuck in the Bergen of the man in front. I had visions of the film 'The longest Day'. High cliff faces, men being machine gunned and shelled while trying to wade ashore. They didn't have the heavy bergans that we had however. They also had forgot to tell us what the beach would be like. We could hear the hooligans (SAS) on Fanning Head as we passed in the dark waters below.

I don't know how long it took. Time wasn't a factor. We did however fail to find any lights on the first two attempts to beach. It being decided after each abortive attempt that we were in the wrong place. On the third try, we managed to reach a decision in the wheel house that this was it. With the engine putt putting away the LCU crunched and scrapped it's way towards the rocky beach.

The closer we got, the more the tension increased in the middle and rear section of the LCU . This was due to not being able to see anything except the bloke in front of you .Or rather his Bergen. Messages were passed from man to man, froward and back again in whispered tones.

Can you see a light?
Can you see the beach? .
Can you see any thing?
No. Some fuckers put a big metal ramp where the window should be, came the
final witty reply.
They decided to drop the ramp anyway.

There came the cry 'Ramp down troops out'. This was it, the retaking of the islands. The invasion was on. Nothing happened. It was repeated. Still nothing happened. Nobody moved. One of the crew of the LCU scrambled along the side of the craft to the front and the ramp.

What's up, whispered the tentative voice of the Marine.
Have you seen how deep the fucking water is, take us in a bit closer; came
the reply.
Get out.
Fuck Off.
The CSM intervened, he started shouting,
Go! Go! Go!
Men started to move. The invasion was back on again.

Soon it was my turn. After being half way down the LCU. It had meant that with the others getting off, it had risen in the water , just a little bit. Though enough for me to step off the end of the ramp and into the chin deep , ball breaking icy waters of the South Atlantic. I was relatively lucky, I'm 6'2" .The bloke in front had been about 5'6". All I saw was a helmet bobbing towards the shore in front of me.

We sloshed ashore across a small two-foot wide pebble beach. Then climbed the foot high bank onto dry soil. Everybody was milling about. There appeared to be no enemy positions or any sign in fact, that they were even there. The invasion stopped for a moment yet again.

Everybody needed a piss.

Once that had been sorted we set about finding where everybody was and formed up in our respective groups. Two of the officer's appeared to be arguing with a couple of nuns. You could see the out lines of figures in black with a light or white ring around the face. Similar to the nun's habit. I'm glad I never said hello sister, cause it was the SBS blokes. Apparently they weren't very happy, because they weren't expecting us for another two nights yet. We offered to go home again. They didn't laugh.

We moved off along the coastline following a narrow path. Heading towards our second objective , Sussex Mountains. Most of us would never feel that we had dried out at any stage after that first soaking. Especially our boots and feet.

Paratroopers don’t die,
They go to hell and regroup.

A Place for You

The morning suns rays catch my face.
Though it’s light and warmth touch me not.
For I’m as cold as the clay.

Forever skywards I face.
While my marble pillow changes to white from grey.
Vivid coloured flowers gently sway.

No scent, no sound, no taste, and no touch.
No longer the hunger that consumed so much.
While your tears help cleanse my soul.

We lived as we died, freemen and proud.
Hard men who led hard lives.
Fatherless children, husband-less wives.

The blade I pass to you.
Keep it sharp and sure,
Let your aim be true.

And when it’s over.
Be sure to know
I’ve kept a place for you.

Giajl © Jim Love
Jock Love's photo.


He wriggled further into the bottom corner of the trench, pushing the headset tight against his ears. But it was no use. He could still hear the pathetic screams of the dying man.

He was somewhere out in the darkness, lost, alone. He cried to his God, and for his mother.
The only answer he got was from the unsympathetic toms. They had listened to him crying for the last 6 hours.
We knew he was going to die . He knew he was going to die.
He just wouldn’t do it quietly. Now he was getting on everybody’s tits.
We all silently willed him to die. Darkness cloaked the battlefield; the fighting for the moment was over. We didn’t need reminding of the previous day’s events.
The silence became deafening. It had been 40 minutes or so and no cries from the Argy.
He tried to relax and go to sleep. Though none came.
One ear was tuned in to the radio, one for the weakened enemy’s cries.
Then it started to snow.


Afraid and alone.
Lost in the blankets of darkness.
Life slowly seeps from the wounds.

Where now were my comrades?
Who would now comfort me?
I see my mother’s face
Smell her sweet fragrance.

Her tender embrace,
Brings brief warmth.
But not for my body
Only my soul.

My life is nearly over
Before it has scant begun.
My hopes and aspirations
Ended on this dammed hill.

May 82.
Giajl © Jim Love

The Foe

I’m better than he ,
Better kit ,
Better trained ,
Better fed , Better led.
I’m better than he .
I’m a professional .
A MERE conscript is he .
No specialized training , no mission in life .
Mother , father ,sister , perhaps a wife .
I’m better than he .

To the death then .
For this pile of sheep’s dung .
All for the woman with the Tory blue rinse .
The smoke fills your lungs .
The whistling shrieks , fill your ears .
I’m better than he .
You scurry forward , under covering fire ,
The lifeless eyes see not as you go .
I was better than he .
Death has no second best .
But was he really the foe ? .

Giajl © Jim Love


It was God only knows what time and I was waiting for Dinger to arrive and relieve me. But his feet were bad , rotting with trench foot.
There was a rumbling at sea that came in with the tide. It drowned out the crash of the waves on the pebble beach. It just floated in from the black abyss. There was bad news on the wind.

The Battery was now deployed along the fragile beach of Bluff Cove settlement. Facing towards the hidden final objective of Stanley. The guns still silent after having missed all the opportunity targets that we could have given them a couple of days before. Not by any fault of their own. I might haste to add. Then though, they had no ammo. Now, that was a mere detail my friend.It was piled so high now it blocked out the sun.But ET still hadn’t phoned home yet. Sid hadn’t found anybody at the top. All subjects we wouldn’t know anything about until the television years came on the BBC.Featuring 1982, the year that was.

Well. It was the year that was, now. The noises brought in from the seaward side of the gun position were scary enough to warrant a radio message from the gun position command post. Me, I couldn’t hear a thing. I was quite happily sitting on the side of the hill in my little Sanger trying to keep warm. When over the radio came the fatal words “We think there are landing craft approaching the beaches. Can you confirm with Bde HQ, as we are now in the hull down position and preparing to engage targets!”

LVPT7’s. That’s what I thought. The American Marine Amphibious Assault landing craft. The one’s we’d seen on the news coming ashore at Stanley. In these conditions, virtual tanks mate. That was what they were. My quiet night was beginning to turn into a total nightmare. I contacted Bde and passed on the message or Sitrep (situation report). Adding that if nobody told them to the contrary .The battery were going to start filling everything that they could see floating on the water, full of 35lb high explosive artillery shells.
I was asked by Bde to repeat my message, which I did. I was then asked could I tell them from which direction these landing craft were coming from, I told them to wait out. I re-contacted the gun position, with the request.

It’s coming from the sea, I was told again, then sarcastically it was pointed out to me, that if it was from any other direction, I should be able to see them too. To which after passing it back to Bde, they again asked from which direction, I was beginning to get a bit peeved.

Then somewhere alight must have dawned in or on some illustrious person. “It’s the Scots guards,” was the cry down my head set. In clear no code-names no officer’s vague veiled speech, I relayed to the command post.

I was going to say Wooden Tops but I didn’t want to confuse the issue further. Possibly getting some poor bastard killed as a result.
The wait was an eternity but eventually word came back and I relayed it down the line. The Scots Guards had arrived at Bluff cove settlement.

Though after spending about 6 to 8 hours in the LCU’s they were in bits and not fit for fuck all. I felt sorry for them, for about 3 seconds and then it the moment passed. I too had spent time on an LCU getting buffeted about in the squally seas of the south Atlantic. We’d embarked in an effort to save us tabbing halfway across an isthmus were a short direct route by sea would save time and effort. I’d froze my bollocks off, as did everyone else. I watched a bloke try and make a brew, fucking hours he spent, I don’t think he managed it in the end. But he didn’t give up.


One of the first things they teach in map reading is that the shortest distance between two points is not necessarily a straight line.
Off we went in the LCU and the rain pissed down and the waves crashed through the sides. Yes through the bloody sides, there were these bloody big gaps running the length of the craft and the sea just pissed all over us. After God only knows how long at sea, we were put ashore.

It turned out to be on the same beach, 400 metres from where we had started from. You couldn’t make it up……………..

A Brew On An LCU

The white tablet hissed and spat
The cup rocked and rattled above it.
Steam and vapour entwined
Floated upwards.

The deck heaved and rolled
The flame faltered and went out
Extinguished finally by a two-foot wave.

The not so white tablet hissed and spat
The cup rocked and rattled above.
Steam and vapour entwined
Once again floated upwards.

The deck heaved and rolled ......
This sometimes used to make me aware as to exactly what futility was.

Giajl © Jim Love


I saw ...............
metal, tear flesh.
I smelled..........
blood, in the air.
I heard ............
God speak.
I watched........
man's inhumanity.
While death........he

stalked them all!
Giajl © Jim Love

Share a Moment...

Take a walk with me,
Tread our well worn path.
See our legacy,
Meet those, I once knew.
Speak with those,I now only see,
Within my dreams.
Hold my hand,make my journey, to the promised land.

Come with me, my brother.
Giajl © Jim Love



Published with kind permission of Steve Taylor 1st June 2016

After The Battle
As the Argentines started to surrender, we could not believe how many of them there actually was. How much ammunition and supplies they had? How we with just a few magazines and little fire support had won the day. I heard we had killed around 350 with a loss of 15 from 2 PARA and two attached arms. The real figure was more like 700, but numbers were kept lower so as it not to look like a massacre. There was no mistreatment of POWs, firm and fair. During the battle, fear does not set in, you are too pumped with adrenaline for it to take a hold of you. When it is all over and the realization sinks in and you hear of your dead mates and wounded comrades; it finally hits you. I remember shaking and feeling scared, with no idea why. There was no immediate threat and we were well positioned and resupplied for a counter attack, which we were half expecting. I later learned that the calorific burn up of such an even can run between 30-30,000 calories, some estimate as high as 60,000. All your reserves are burn up, just to keep you going. When you finally come back down to earth it is with a crash, the body has just gone through hell and back and needs attention. Through the was so far, we were only getting one ration pack every two days, so what food we did get had to be spread out. We were in Arctic rations, great when you have snow to melt for water, not so great with limited water. We tried to filter water from puddles the best we could. A favourite was AB biscuits crumbled up to make a porridge and chocolate bars for their energy. We were told that we had played our part and would not be used for further action. we look We all looked at each other and knew that if this war was to be won, then our services would be called upon yet again. We were the only unit to see two major battles The aftermath of Goose Green was still sinking in. many of us thought "fuck this," "I'm not doing this again. I'm signing off;" myself included. Reports started coming in of what was buzzing back home. The enormity of the battle started to take hold and what we had achieved, how we were being viewed by the public at large. We were being hailed as heroes, overcoming insurmountable odds. To us it was a battle, we were glad to have come through it all in one piece and was oblivious to the press storm and sudden interest in who The Parachute Regiment were. We were well known and our reputation for taking no shit and giving out plenty. Of particular interest, was our Pre Parachute Selection Process better known as "P Company." A real meat grinder with a 75% or more attrition rate. Unlike the Commando Course, which is designed to pass many people as possible; P Company is designed to sort the wheat from the chaff. I managed to do it as a mere 17 year old...FUCKING AIRBORNE! It is harder to go from civilian to Paratrooper than from Paratrooper to Special Air Service as an SAS trooper once told me. I had joined at 16, just 4 years ago.

And some prior random thoughts and events I expected that one day we would go to war, but was expecting to face Big Ivan the Gasman as he poured over the Inner German Border. Prior to The Falklands, 2 PARA were partially in Belize with advanced elements ready for our 6 month tour in the jungle. We had not long returned from a trip to Kenya. I loved that environment so much I signed back on again for Belize. The usual insurance salesmen came round the barracks, as they do before each deployment. My question for life cover was, "What happens, if we don't go to Belize and find ourselves in some remote war on the other side of the world, will I still be covered?" How self-prophetic that turned out. "Yes!" I was assured, so I signed the policy. I took great delight when claiming for my poke in the eye, it had left some scar tissue, but fully cured now. Begrudgingly they paid up, which set the ball rolling for all the other claims. I was probably the only person who actually new where the Falkland Islands were. I was always looking at atlases, modern and historical. "Are they near Scotland, what the fuck are the Argies doing there?" You could hear soldiers inquiring. Shetlands- Falklands, I could see there logic haha! We had two weeks of last nights as each day delays in equipping the vessel MV Norland awaiting completion of fitting a helicopter deck. What atmosphere, Aldershot was buzzing. Despite our reputation for scrapping. There was very little trouble in our town. We were largely self-policing. If the blokes had a fight, they would shake hands after and have a beer together, no grudges, truly professional in every way. Finally the day came, we marched on the parade square and boarded our coaches down to Portsmouth. Pompey was my home town and it felt great to depart from home. My mum and sister turned up to wave me off, it was like a scene from previous world wars. Bunting and union flags gave us a great sense of patriotism and pride. We believed this was going to be a Marine/Navy show and we were invited as a courtesy and was expected to be given some piece of action. 3 PARA had already set sale on the Canberra and we were itching to join our airborne brothers. The journey down consisted of as PT every morning, weapons handling, everything was already second nature to us and we could strip, assemble and operate all kit blind folded. We were given a s much intelligence and updates as we could get, cross training in support weapons, which consisted of working with Support Company's Machine Gun Platoon, Mortar Platoon and Anti-tank Platoon. My platoon, was 3 platoon A Company 28 men in 3 rifle sections and Platoon HQ consisting of 4 men. I was the Platoon Radio operator, responsible for maintaining forward link to the rifle sections as well as back to Company HQ, on top of that I still acted as a rifleman and had to fight my way through the same as everyone else. Being always in the middle of the two forward sections (one in reserve) and carrying a radio, would make me a priority target for a sniper...which as it turned out I was! The journey down was and adventure in itself, I loved being at sea, watching the dolphins follow us down and surf our bow wave. The least as whales were mistaken as Argentine submarines. The food was cruise quality and the euphoria of men going into battle was amazing. We stopped over night at Freetown in Sierra Leone, West Africa to take on a replenishment. Someone got the shopping list mixed up as we had from then on sweet potatoes instead of normal ones. No good for chips or roast spuds! Everyone volunteered to help load up, so we could set foot on dry land and say we had been to another country. After that we had a few days at Ascension Island, where we practiced getting into the landing crafts from the ferry. To our amusement, the Marines could not get it right, where as we had little or no difficulty. I spent hours watching the hammerhead sharks swimming around, brightly coloured tropical fish and a bit of sun bathing. Some of the blokes passed the time away fishing. Mail from home was getting through and morale was good then..... News of HMS Sheffield being sunk, brought us down with a thump! The reality of war had set in. On the way down we were half expecting for the Argies to withdraw, but still prepared for the worse. This brought it all home, that's for sure. A foreboding silence gripped us all and we were visibly shocked by the news.

Next the battle for Wireless ridge and the events leading up to that


Published with kind permission of Steve Taylor 13th June 2015

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The battle of Wireless Ridge and the build up

As we had predicted, we were to be used again in battle; 2 PARA was the only unit during the war to fight two battles, three if you consider Darwin and Goose Green as two separate but intrinsically linked battles. The Welsh Guards would be used in reserve, but would not engaged with the enemy.

We had inserted by helicopter to a lay up position on the side of a hill looking down a long valley. The night was cold, but we had several hours of rest and for once in our sleeping bags. A few days previous we had been without our bergens (rucksacks), we wore what warm kit we had; always a compromise and balance between keeping warm and having to march long distances with heavy loads and not be wearing too much clothing. For two nights we lay huddled up to each other for shared body warmth, a great theory, but the cold would disturb our sleeps. Throughout the night people would run up and down a small slope to keep warm, or do press ups. When the temperature drops below zero, it is hard to sleep with no way to keep warm. Later we were to learn the shortage of helicopters to bring in rations and our bergens was due to the Marines rotating back on ship for a few days R&R (Rest and Recuperation), unfucking believable! We only got ration packs every other day, but the standard ration pack could be stretched out over two days if one eat every item.

There are things you would do in times of war, that you would not get away with or would not be tolerated on exercise and conversely, the things you were taught to do on exercise, just did not work in real life. Tactics and other procedures were found wanting. Then again, “The Book” as it was known as, was a guideline, a base to work off, not a step-by-step instruction manual. It was not a definitive book but an abstract virtual book and a collection of ideas formulated in the various pamphlets and procedures. You couldn’t find a single item called “The Book. ”People who were “by the book’ were generally people who lacked imagination and the personal courage to put forth their own ideas. Typical of career orientated soldiers, who would not rock the boat. Others relished in capsizing it and writing their own rules as they went a long. If you survived, your method was right, it worked. The Falklands brought out a lot of innovation and discard that which was deemed superfluous and unnecessary. The festering organization known as “The School of Infantry” who over saw infantry tactics and “The Book” would have had not have improved of a lot of what we did. When on the march, we were in an area, we knew to be clear of enemy activity, never 100%, but an almost certainty. There was always the chance of bumping into a recce or fighting patrol, or stumbling upon a previously undocumented position. Always assume the worse, but also common sense plays a huge role. Weapons should normally always be carried ready to use, in an alert position. The enemy could in theory pop up anywhere. We were a battalion on the march, do you honestly think a small fighting patrol would dare to take us on, 650 men! NO! Possible, but realistically they wouldn’t. We would have our weapons sleeved in canvas weapons sleeves to protect them from the cold and dirt. It was the rule that you always carried your CEFO (Complete Equipment Fighting Order), the belt order with all our ammo and other odds and sods, from bayonet to torch and other paraphernalia. The good school dictated if in a defensive positions, as we were when lying up; that you should be fully kitted up and walk around as though you were on patrol. Son of an enemy OP (Observation Post) was observing you, they would though you part of a patrol and you were not giving away the fact that you were walking around your own position. Who the fuck sits down and thinks this shit up! We started off like that for about a day. Our webbing weighed in excess of 60 lb, we had 200 rounds of belt fed link ammo each for the GPMGs (General Purpose Machine Guns), one or more 66mm light anti tank rockets, an entrenching tool, plus personal loads of ammunition, water to a spare pair of boot laces. It was fatiguing to say the least to keep putting it on and of, just to move a few yards to carry out some administrive task. We adapted to the situation. We just stuck a few magazines in pockets and a water bottle. All you need in a battle, ammo and water. If it came to it, I wall call back to my position (we were always paired up) and ask someone to fling me my magazines over. When the weather is too cold, you concentrate on keeping warm, more than staying alert. It was in essence combat survival. A few times I was on stag (sentry position) with my sleeping bag draped over my shoulders. I was warm, alert and refreshed. Two hours shivering on a wind swept hill did not do much for your alert state.

We were not far off Mount Longdon, where 3 PARA fought a magnificent battle, Sgt Ian McKay winning a Victoria Cross. Ian was my platoon staff when I joined the Junior Parachute Company at the tender age of 16. I came from a good pedigree. We grimaced as we see their position be bombarded by 155mm during and after their attack. Air burst as well as ground burst. We felt for our Airborne brethren, they were taking a pounding. Not until we met up with our mates in Stanley, did we get the learn the full tenacity they had fought with. Every bit on par with our attack on Goose green and Darwin Hill.

The night before the battle on the hill, A Company were adjacent to battalion head quarters. I assisted with the signalers and took a radio watch. We were waiting for the Marines of 42 Commando to take a position on Mount Harriet, we pushed for situation reports, what was taking them so long! We were of the mind they expected us to come to their assistance. I was on watch when a message finally came through that they had eventually achieved their aims. We all though they had been dragging their feet and not attacking with the same vigor and gusto of a Parachute battalion. The radio crackled into life over the static hiss of the HF background mush. “We have 50 plus prisoners” and some other excuses as to why. “Deal with them,” I advised, a mere private soldier in The Parachute Regiment advised. I passed the message up the chain of command, to be greeted by a hiss between the teeth and shaking heads, not at me, but of the slow progress. We could not get moving until their objective was taken. In war it is prudent to move with one foot on the ground at all times. You can attack simultaneous positions as a coordinated strike for shock effect, or you can take enemy positions piece meal so as not to over stretch yourself, allow for adequate reserves and utilize the concentration of limited supporting fire from artillery. I was wondering if my advice would be taken to the letter and the Argies would be executed, I hope they would show some professional restraint.

It was time to move off, the long winding battalion snake to Wireless Ridge I said to Guy Wallis, our platoon commander as we sat up, still in our sleeping bags, so warm and comfortable it took a great effort to get out of them. We discussed the feasibility of attaching to our webbing (CEFO), but it looked like rain, nothing worse than a soaking wet sleeping bag. I did not relish another sleepless night shivering. I had my issued SLR (Self Loading Rifle) slung over my shoulder and I carried read for use a liberated Folding butt FN. It was the fully automatic rifle our own SLR was modeled on. Except the British frowned upon automatic weapons, still suck in a red coat mentality of making every single shot count. Yes it should, but sometimes you need to hose the enemy down with automatic fire in close quarter circumstances. It fired the same NATO standard 7.62 mm ammunition, but the magazines had a different fit. I had planned at some stage to ditch my SLR and suffer the retribution by the Company Sergeant Major later. The enemy had plenty of magazines I could liberate, it made more sense. I could always say mine jammed and I had to use an Argie one. The march was slow, our kit heavy and the distance long, at this moment in time I can’t recall the distance at this moment in time, but any distance with the scales of ammo we were carrying was a long way. The ammunition you carry into battle is always too heavy. The ammunition you need during a firefight is never enough. Mortars and the Anti-tank platoon were weighed down with firing posts, missiles and as many mortar bombs as they could carry. John Doolan, a former member of 3 Platoon and now MMG (Medium Machine Gun) Platoon; stood with several hundred rounds of link, draped over him. Another thing frowned upon in “peace time,” belt fed ammo, not in nice tidy bandoliers. Fine on the ranges, keep dust out of the link, where the only pressure was the DS (Directing Staff) screaming to get the ammo fed to the gun. This was real and speed and convenience over shadowed such notions. The last thing you wanted was trying to unsnag and unravel ammo. Practicality won the day. We had not long returned back from a 20 month tour of Northern Ireland. In that time the Patrols Platoon and Support Company had merged to form a COP (Close Observation Platoon) Company. The battalion’s senior soldiers. On return to the mainland, they would split into C (Bruneval) Company comprising of a Patrols and a Recce Platoon and Support Company would be made up of Anti-Tank, MMG and Mortar Platoons. As riflemen, we went everywhere on foot, our only transport was a C 130 Hercules aircraft. Once we jumped, we were on foot for the rest of the exercise. Anti-tanks always had their Land Rovers to transport their array of missiles and firing posts. They loved reminding us, “Come and join us, we always have our land rovers,” laughing at us as we trudged by them. I was about to remark as we passed them sniggering, but someone beat me to it. “Where’s your Land Rovers now Anti-tanks?” You could hear them growling and spitting feathers, good banter.

A light drizzle started. Baz Kenny grinned at me “I hope your Doss bag gets soaked!” I would have the last laugh though, later that night and after the battle was won. The rain was not persistent, but I was not home and dry yet. We had a river crossing yet to come, something no one relished. There was a bridge across the river and if was safe or had the enemy rigged it with demolitions. If not then they were fools. We are taught to cover obstacles with fire. An obstacle like a bridge or a minefield channeled the enemy, or slowed him down enough to severely restrict his manoeuvre capabilities. In essence he was trapped. You turn an obstacle into a killing field, an ambush on a grand scale. Recce Platoon had checked the bridge out, much to our surprise they found it clear of all demolitions. Even so we crossed the bridge pretty quick smart. We would have lost valuable manpower with hypothermia.

Finally at the Forming Up Point (FUP), we get into all round defence. This is where we make final preparations, gather our thoughts and make peace to who ever we look up to and the spiritual world for a safe passage through the ordeal ahead. No atheist ever went into battle and even the ardent non believer would start to question and doubt his own convictions. Cpl Pete Sutton, our Signals Detachment Commander came up on the Company net. “OK lads, we all know each others voices, drop the call signs and radio procedure and talk in clear. Good luck men.” Pete passed away recently after a long battle with cancer, a brilliant bloke and a very professional soldier.

Before any attack, we will have as much fire support as was available, not always the ideal or as much as you wanted. A fire plan would have been drawn up. H Hour was when we crossed the Start Line. Now refereed to as The Line of Departure as Amercanisms crept into military vocabulary. Start Line was so British, suggesting we were crossing the fields of chivalry with an intention of fair play. On the Start Line, we fixed bayonets, laying down or propped up facing towards the rows of Argentines trenches and bunkers spread out a few hundred yards in front of us. A few people, who were addicted to the weed, manage to smoke undetected. I could smell Hexamine burning; some fucker had a brew on, now that was good skills. No flame could be detected and in front of the enemy. Imagine what the School of Infantiers would think about that, but hey, any one who could pull that off had my respect. Especially as we were taking sniper fire, the crack above our heads as the round ripped through the air.

The fire plan had started, artillery rounds slammed into the Argentine positions. We had Simaitars, light recce tanks on either flanks, armed with 30mm Rarden cannons and GPMGs. As they opened up it looked like a scene from a war movie, tracer hit a swathe along the line of trenches. Later the Argies we captured had thought we were using laser beams. At the same time our own MMGs opened up. Our signal to move forward at a fast pace. Two 8 man sections up, with one in reserve. Myself as Radio Operator with Guy Wallis, our Platoon Commander in the centre of the formation. We moved down a slope, only to find a small, but deep stream ran through it. Guy looked at me, he was at least 6’ 4,” compared to my 5’ 7” in heels. “Steve, we will have to jump in, we can’t jump across!” “You are right boss, let’s do it!” Guy jumped in, all the way up to his neck! No way, I thought, I deliberated for a few moments, when to my right I caught a glimpse of Baz Kenny step across a narrow crossing point. Whilst Guy floundered across to the bank, I ran down, leaped over and caught up with Guy. “How come you are still dry?” Looking rather peeved at me. “I went down to a narrow crossing point over there,” I indicated, trying to stifle a snigger. “Fucking good bloke!” I am not sure if he actually uttered the words, I remember his bottom lip quivering. “Well go back and cross where I did!” We reached the Forward Edge of the Enemy Trenches and had already brown down into pairs fire and manoeuvre. We had also walked through another minefield, whether they had been armed, we had been lucky or the soft peat had prevented them from detonating, we will never know. The Gods smiled on us this night.

Darwin and Goose Green had been about us rewriting the book as events happened, living for the moment, this was just like a textbook attack. No on belt buckles chipping away inch-by-inch, this was up and fast. On exercise, I would fantasies, I was doing it for real, now I was fantasizing I was on exercise. A strange though and one that raised a few eyebrows, like I was slightly mad; when years later people would question me on how I felt at that moment. Except at the end of this exercise there would be no coaches and tea urn and the Quarter Master with mugs of hot soup for us.

One man would be on one knee firing, whilst his would be dashing forward a bound. A soon as he was down and firing the other would move. Grenades were tossed into trenches. “Grenade!” Regardless of what you were doing, you hit the deck flat. As soon as the CRUMP! Went off, it was up and continue the motion. A white phosphorus grenade went off. I see John Camp, face down, all around him burning phosphorus igniting all around him. I ran over to him “John, you ok?” He just got up giggling and carried on. John was totally unflappable, never once see him panic, always cool under pressure. The sad news over the radio came. Doc Findlay, our Company Quarter Master Sergeant had been hit. A grim reminder came to the forefront of my thoughts, several days earlier he had remarked in some banter. “They have to get through 3 ranks of you before they can get to me!” I recall turning to Paul Winder and saying, “All they have to do is pop a round over the top.” It was artillery round that killed him too, fuck! He died of his injuries that night, but he died amongst friends, not laying on a battlefield alone.

Most trenches seemed to be empty, we had little return fire and was expecting as much, or hoped for as much. D Company were counter attacked and a C130 Hercules had taken off from Stanley, circling behind us. The distinctive noise of the 4 turbojet engines, a familiar noise to a Paratrooper. They were going to drop behind us. We griped our rifles in anticipation, this would be a slugfest. PARAs battling it out. The Herc, did not spew out its death dealing cargo. Later in Port Stanley we met up with the Argentine PARAs, who confirmed they had gone to a red light before aborting. Red light is the warning light that goes on a few seconds before tie green GO! Light comes on.

We had reached the Limit of Exploitation (LOE), the far end of the enemy trenches and bounded by a small lake. At this pint we were getting a counter barrage from the few remaining Argentinian guns. We had previously captured maps, all marked up with enemy positions and deployments. Most of these had been taken out, but not all. Ian Hogarth took a near miss, which visibly shook him up. The soft peat soil absorbed most of the blast of an incoming round, he was covered in lumps of turf, shortly after another round hit the lake a few yards from where I stood, showering me in water. Someone was determined I was going to get wet tonight!

Guy had found what appeared to be a regimental command bunker. I counted 13 sandbags thick that could probably survive a direct hit. Immediately he made it his Platoon HQ. “If FH comes here he can fuck off, we fought for this, we keep it. FH Was the Company Commander Major Dare Farah-Hockley, who had so far managed to spend most nights “guesting” it with the locals. No sooner had he said that, than FH came to investigate his nightly dwellings. Guy told him in a not to argue sort of way, that he had made this bunker his platoon position. The look and stance of Guy indicated that FH would have to look elsewhere this evening.

I unrolled my sleeping bag on a box, I found a bag of mail, much of it unopened and dated several weeks back. Their officers had kept their only link with home and morale booster from them. I further examined my bed for the night. I was lying on top of several boxes of anti-tank mines. Fuck it, I thought, not moving now. I was unlikely to set them off, even if I jumped up and down on them. I was soon fast asleep, until someone woke me up, thinking I was not too well, in fact several people did. “You OK Steve?” When some one goes quiet after a battle, any one not responding is considered injured and had to be investigated. No, I was just warm and snug in my sleeping bag. Ted Barrett, 1 Platoon’s Platoon Sergeant, though acting as platoon commander, came in with a bottle of whiskey. We had a small gathering now, too much adrenaline pumping for most people to attempt sleep. We discussed if we would be fighting for Port Stanley the next morning. We were apprehensive, would they choose to fight or surrender. After Goose Green, I don’t think they wanted another face off with 2 PARA, we would soon see.

The following morning we Ian Hogarth and his section were doing a sweep of the position now it was light. Two frightened Argies had been found huddling in trench. “Freeze mother fuckers!” He screamed at them, pointing his M79 40mm grenade launcher at them. His pet weapon, which he had named “Day Spoiler,” each day he put a new round into the chamber with the day of the week scrawled on the cartridge. “Sunday,” peered down the barrel of two very petrified Argentinian soldiers. The amount of firepower and artillery that was poured onto their position, it was a wonder how they had got through it alive!

Tomorrow, the march into Port Stanley

Into Port Stanley and after

The night on Wireless Ridge was a welcome rest, in my sleeping bag and laying on a box of antitank mines, I slept well. The next morning we got the word, we would be taking Port Stanley. The enemy was on the run and we were going to exploit the initiative. Looking at Stanley, I could see a grid pattern of trenches, I sighed heavily, this was going to be another do or die event. Two battles in less than 24 hours. The place was heavily defended and the bulk of the Argentine forces were positioned there. I had by now grabbed myself a folding butt FN rifle with my own issued SLR slunk over my back. I had a brand new Argentine 9mm Browning Hi Power pistol and a Smith & Wesson 38 Special. Most of the men had 2 x 66 mm rocket launches a piece. Primarily an anti-tank weapon, but ideal for bunker busting. Each man carried bandoliers of ammo for the GPMG Machine gun, fragmentation grenades and white phosphorus grenades. All up wit of our belt order was 65 lbs. far more than the webbing gear was designed to hold, many straps had snapped. The amount of ammunition you carry into battle, always feels like it is too much. The amount of ammunition you have in a battle is never enough though. We were Paratroopers, so no one complained when even more ammunition was handed out, we would need every last bullet. We were about to go through a meat grinder. We were in half a mind if the Argies would give in or stand and fight. They were cornered with no place to go, all escape was cut off and we had them surrounded.

Slowly we moved forward, with Scimitar Light recce tanks in support. We all paused and waited on a ridge line overlooking Stanley. Argentine dead lay all around, frozen in rigor mortis. It did not look real, they resembled manikins rather than people. I touched the cold flesh of one and it felts strange, icy cold. Pity swept through me, I felt no animosity to the enemy. A lot of radio traffic started to buzz, we were anxious to get going and get stuck in, get it over with. Then it was reported white flags had gone up in Stanley. I relayed to Guy Wallis, my Boss. We all sighed with relief, I looked up to the sky and sucked in a deep breath. A certain amount of disappointment too, my mind-set was geared up to the coming battle and a perverse side of me wanted to see if I would come out in one piece.

The Intelligence officer received a radio order from the Marines. “No members of 2 PARA are to enter Port Stanley!” The reply to the Marines “If 2000 Argies can’t stop them, I’m fucked if I can!” End of transmission. If the thought they could have us fighting al the hardest battles, just for them to waltz on in, then they had another think coming. Stanley was ours by right of battle and the ancient rules of combat!

A Company were to move in first, with B Company the furthest forward were to cover our approach from Moody Brook, the former Navy Party 8901’s barracks. B Company were pissed off, being furthest forward, they had earned the right to move in first. But from a tactical point of view and considering the white flag incident at Goose green, where soldiers were shot going forward to Argies under a white flag; we had to be cautious. Always keep one foot on the ground and leap frog forward. 2 platoon were in first, followed by my platoon (3 platoon) and 1 platoon bringing up the rear. Guy, being the Platoon Commander wanted to be first in from 3 platoon, naturally. I said I will go ahead and take a picture of the historical moment…he fell for it and I was first in from 3 platoon. “You fucker Steve,” he laughed seeing my rise.

Our Company Clerk, “Beast” Fuller, climbed up a flagpole and replaced the Argentinian flag with the Union Jack. The next day the Marines would limp into Port Stanley, heads bowed low in shame. They would grab a camera crew and re-enact this event. Shameful behaviour and very unprofessional Once into Stanley and unopposed, we congregated at the race course, whilst accommodation was sorted out. At some stage a Argie pilot landed and immediately he was stripped of all his Gucci gear, flight jacket, pistol, he was totally shocked, someone neglected to tell him of the surrender. Later that day we all squeezed into some abandoned house. The owner came back but, welcomed us to stay as he was staying elsewhere. His wife had been killed from a shell from HMS Glamorgan positioned in the harbour. Very sad indeed, we did not know where to put our faces. I see the ship firing into the house the night before. The Argentines had made their positions amongst the houses. Against the Geneva Convention. He was obviously a very bitter man. Years later when I returned to lay our regimental colours to rest. I asked for his whereabouts, he had long left the islands and quite understandably had never forgiven the British for taking the life of his wife.

It made a change to have roof over our heads, be out of the freezing icy wind and rain, and take our boots off and relax. West Falkland still and a battalion at least on it, so we mentally prepared ourselves for a counter attack. The next morning and never to this day it still feels surreal; I said to everyone. “I’m just going to find a box of Quaker Porridge Oats.” A moment of intuition had grabbed me, I went down the road a few hundred yards and the first garden I went into, against the wall there was, I kid you not. An unopened box Quaker Porridge Oats. Leaning up against the wall!! The chances of that were unreal. One of the strangest things I have ever seen. “How the fuck did you managed to find them?” was the general enquiry. I made myself one of the largest breakfasts I had had in a long time. My stomach was aching with eating too much.

We started getting curious and exploring our environment, not a good idea on a battlefield, unexploded munitions were strewn all over. Simon Alexander in 1 platoon and an old mate from school in Portsmouth decided he would have a play on an anti- aircraft gun. It had a left and right pedal, obviously for swivelling the gun platform on its mount. WRONG! The pedals operated the firing mechanism for left and right barrels, thump thump, several projectiles are launched across the harbour, lots of sniggering I found a few smoke grenades and decided I would play a game of soldiers. I threw one into a trench and jumped in after pretending I was clearing for real. Except it was not smoke, but CS Gas AKA tear gas, I got out the bunker quicker than I got in. I lay on my back coughing my lungs up, eyes stinging with the gas clinging to every piece of moisture. I had to laugh. Some officer from Bomb Disposal came ever, but had not been privilege to my mock battle. Informed me there was a lot of mines in this area. “Tell your lads to stay clear until we clear the area.” What was it with me and minefields, the third I had gone through!

There was telegrams coming in from home and we got the chance to send a few back free of charge. At least the rumours had been put to rest that I was badly injured. We took turn guarding the Argentine POWs, Interesting as we struck a good rapport with them. What was apparent was the huge divide between officers and other ranks. We, to our disgust had to allow their officers to carry side arms for their own protection. The men were ready to lynch their own, who had treated them like shit. They shared photos from home and were just relieved to be going home. One tried to smuggle the body of his dead brother back in a kit bag. A sad storey and I felt for him, I really did. They had a bad habit of shitting in boxes and people’s houses, so we made them clear their crap up. No one was mistreated, but we had to be firm but fair. The marines tried to bully them, they would confiscate personal effects like cameras. The Argies rioted and burnt down a warehouse, so we had to relieve them of their duty, fucking rank amateurs. I had always though as the Marines and PARAs as on par with each other and friendly rivalries aside little between us…..but us having the overall edge. What was apparent after the campaign, was they were very reluctant to commit all talk and no walk. They had been found wanting. This was in essences their show, we were along for the ride and maybe a side action. Instead we stole the show from under them and became the main event. After some 10 days we sailed back on the MV Norland along with our sister battalion 3 PARA. We were hoping to sail back in to Portsmouth for our heroes welcome home.

It was not to be, The Marines had set that up for themselves. We were flown back from Ascension Island and in to RAF Brize Norton. An ignoble back door return back home. The Marines had grabbed or the glory for themselves. Mum and Sister Lisa met me at the airport, I was not expecting them as they had no way of getting there. But Dunc Ball, who used to live with us, his family picked mum up. We initially got 190 days leave, came back for a week to re configure for any further operations (always “READY FOR ANYTHING”) then another 6½ weeks leave again. Everyone wanted to question me, buy me beers, but I tried to keep out the limelight and play things down. I was not one for exploiting a situation to get plied with free beers. I always wore a 2 PARA t shirt, or a sawn of sweat shirt, desert boots and jeans. It was are unofficial walking out gear. I stopped wearing PARA Regt tops. It was drawing too much attention.

Looking back from where I am now, maybe I should have; was I being immature – maybe! At the time I did not want to be seen cashing in on our new found fame. It would have been the ideal opportunity to further our exploits and let the world know who we were and what they would be up against if they took on the Empire. Leave was the best I have ever had. 4 of us lived in Portsmouth, along with myself, Dunc, Scotty and old school mate Alex. We hit the town every night. Relishing in the feeling of being alive, almost reborn. I also had some great civvy mates, whom I had grown up with. Glenn Hambry, Phil Brough and Steve Shadbolt I spent 4 weeks in Mombasa in Kenya with “Johno,” who had been hit in the rocket attack at Goose Green. He had the head cone and large piece of shrapnel embedded in his stomach. He was on the chubby side and it was the extra poundage that had save him. I think the whole experience made me value life more and not take anyone or anything for granted again. It made me realise how fragile life was and how easy that life; the lives of those close to you can be ended in an instant. I can understand young soldiers itching for action and wanting to get stuck in. To test themselves to the limit, especially being PARATROOPERS, but once you have been through it, you won’t wish for it again. Once death has brushed close by you and taken those from you, you will be thankful you came home in on piece.

Two special mentions

No mention of the Falklands should go without two outstanding men. 2 PARA’s Padre the Reverend David Cooper. Although an attached arm from the Royal Army Chaplain’s Department, he was winged up and a bona-fide member of The Parachute Regiment. David was also a marksman and ballistic expert. He had formerly run the Battalion Shooting Team whilst we were at Ballykinler in Northern Ireland. Although not allowed to be armed, the lure of all those Argentine weapons lying around after the battles was too much for him to resist. David as well as offering spiritual advice, also gave us tips on shooting during the battle, particularly the Argentine tracer ammo. A tracer round contains phosphorus, which burns on exposure to the air. Like those glowing lines you see in the movies when battles rage at night. Our tracer was res and burnt at 110m after leaving the barrel. The Argentine tracer was green and ignited 30m after leaving the barrel, David had worked out. Vital info as your position was more obvious when engaging the enemy.

Our last few hours on board the North Sea Ferry MV Norland, we had enforced rest, but adrenaline was pumping around and none could sleep. David invited any to come to a church parade a few hours before. Virtually all 650 of us turned up, much to his surprise. There are no atheists on the battlefield. Everyone believes in something high-up in the order of the universe.

David gave excellent anecdotal sermons and new how to make a salient and relevant point without pushing religion down your throat. He was wise enough to know we all had our spiritual beliefs, even though very few would consider themselves Christians as such. He worked on that angle rather than thumping the good book. A truly amazing character, who has maintained his ties with the regiment to this day.

Whilst on live TV, 2 PARA marched (it saved us walking), to Stanley cathedral for a ceremony. He was warned by the Marine chain of command not to mention who was first to do everything…like he was going to listen to them! 2 PARA, The first to land, the first into battle, the only battalion to fight 2 battles, first into Stanley, he announced to the world via TV live feed. The Marines were not happy, eating large morsels of humble pie.

Steve Hughes, was our Regimental Medical Officer, more affectionately known as “Doc.” He had a superb medical team to back him up, including the Late Hank Hood RIP and Gibbo, amongst others. The RMO is basically the battalion’s GP on attachment from the Royal Army Medical Corps. Steve, is someone who has always maintained close connections with the regiment. Although now a practising surgeon in civilian life. He was at the forefront of PTSD, long before it was officially recognized. Steve has also worked behind the scenes pushing for the release of Danny FitzSimons, currently serving a life sentence in Iraq. Steve is always at hand for the veterans to discuss health issues and advice. The war forged a very strong bond between all members who served there together. You can only keep a winning team together for so long, it was inevitable with a short timespan all would move on, career paths are followed, people come and go. It was a pleasure and an honour to know these two great blokes.

Doc Hughes

More about Doc Hughes


An extract from the book 'Above All Courage' by Max Arthur. No section of this article may reproduced without the author's permission.

In a strange way I feel I was destined to be part of the magnificent 2 PARA, and all the events that took place just fulfilled that destiny. I first developed the ambition to one day join the battalion in 1976, when I saw the painting by David Shepherd, 'Arnhem Bridge, 5 p.m., The Second Day'.

I felt a strong attraction to be part of that organization and started working towards that goal. As a student I joined the Territorial Army Parachute Field Ambulance to win my wings, so that when I took up my commission full time I would be already prepared. With the TA I learnt the basics of soldiering which were to give me the background understanding which would later give me the basis on which to plan for war. In the latter part of 1981 it was to be a major delight and challenge to find that I had secured the doctor's slot with 2 PARA, which had come up for grabs. It was not without some trepidation, though, that I approached the job, and wondered if I would be up to it. I even had an odd sense of foreboding that something was about to happen, perhaps to do with Belize where we were due to spend six months of 1982.

I went into the job at the deep end. Three weeks after joining the battalion, I did my first parachute jump for two years. I should have done a retraining course after that time lag, especially as there had been a number of procedural changes in the interim. But there wasn't time, so on the advice of the Adjutant, David Wood, I kept quiet and went and jumped anyway. I think I was as frightened as at my very first jump. The jump went without a hitch for me. But my vehicle and its trailer of medical supplies failed to materialize as its Hercules transport went u/s on the pan at Lyneham. It was this that prompted me to re-inaugurate the scales for carrying all our medical kit with us, in our bergens, when we jumped, and that was to set us up pre-prepared for a manpack war. Subsequently, after a long discussion (and several beers) with David Wood, I devised a new mnemonic for immediate first aid. The standard response to lying on the drop zone or anywhere was to yell 'Medic'. We wanted to engender some reaction in either the casualty or his buddy. To this end we introduced the idea of the character of ABE, the Airborne Medic. By association of ideas, ABE's name would arise. The letters of his name stood for: Airway Bleeding Evacuation. It was a variant of peacetime civilian first-aid mnemonics which introduced a sense of urgency of evacuation out of the area of danger.

With a proposed six-month tour of Belize, we started to run courses in advanced first aid to train 'patrol medics'. These were all part of the preparation for the tour that wasn't to be (not in 1982 anyway) but that left us in a high state of preparedness for what subsequently did happen. I was highly aware of the battalion's recent losses at Warren Point in Northern Ireland, and I wanted our preparedness for any similar incident to be as high as possible.

Six days before I was due to leave for Belize, the Argentinians invaded the Falkland Islands. I was moonlighting in the NHS, as a locum surgical Senior House Officer at the time. During the course of the Friday, as I went about a clinic, and theatre in the afternoon, I kept in touch by the radio news. As I travelled back to my girlfriend Naomi's flat that night, I had a double take at a sign in Ealing Broadway Tube station: 'All members of the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment return to barracks immediately.' But the only message I received that day from the Army was to check that I had had my Belize briefing. I had.

I spent the weekend saying goodbye to friends and was in the bar at the medical school on Sunday night when Naomi caught up with me. My mother had contacted her at work and she had been trying to find me for hours. 'The Army wants you,' she said and burst into tears. I rang Aldershot and spoke to John Holborn, the Rear Party Officer. H. wanted me back for an O Group the next day — Belize was on hold.

I finished off my boozing session with my mates with a different destination in mind. I felt a mixture of elation and apprehension. The O Group the following day served to brief us on the status of the impending departure of 3 PARA with 3 Commando Brigade, and the uncertainty of 2 PARA's position. It looked like Belize was off but rather than redeploy south, we would be required to remain in the UK as Parachute Contingency Force. Morale started to nose-dive. But H. wouldn't have us left out.

Initially, we started to consider the problems of an airborne assault on the Falklands. The logistics and casualty estimates were terrifying and in retrospect not a real option — but we planned anyway. It served to prepare us for a 'worst-case' option. I had to re-equip. All my medical supplies were in mid-Atlantic, container-bound for Belize. This was the situation with most of the battalion's heavy equipment.

I started comparing casualty statistics for previous wars with our projected estimates and ordered certain special items of equipment. The figures again were frightening. But they prompted me to consider the Israeli technique of issuing intravenous fluids to the individual soldier. Initially, the idea was purely to distribute the load for transport to the battlefield, but if the soldier was going to have fluid at the sharp end, wouldn't it make sense to train him to administer it? To this end I spoke to Chris Keeble about funds and we purchased an artificial plastic arm-infusion trainer to teach setting up drips. But siting drips, even under ideal conditions, takes skill and aptitude; not everyone can pick it up. We were able to train some of the medics to site drips, but in the time available to us we couldn't achieve much more.

In the bar (where, in the evenings, so much of the multi-discipline discussion and planning was done) David Wood, Malcolm Jowitt (one of our Para anaesthetists), and I addressed the problem. Why not go back in the history of fluid replacement to rectal infusion — the administration of fluids by an enema technique? We didn't know how effective this technique would be, we couldn't find any really scientific evidence. But it was a technique that could be taught to everybody, and it would at least motivate the soldiers to carry the 1 lb bags of fluid. (If they didn’t think it was of personal use they might ‘bin’ the bags.)

Subsequently, the weight of military medical opinion came down against rectal infusion as being ineffective. But we needed to motivate the soldier to believe that this fluid was for him and he wasn't just carrying the medics' load for them. It is funny now, but that attitude did pervade at the time. One 2 PARA officer had a long argument with Malcolm Jowitt as to why I was making the soldiers carry my fluid for me. The same officer learnt the hard way, after nearly losing his life to a shrapnel fragment in his liver. After Goose Green, everyone wanted his bag of fluid and I and my medics were no longer 'idle knackers'.

Eventually H. resolved the problem of our not being on the order of battle for Operation Corporate (the code-name for the Falklands campaign), so the next problem was 25,000 seasick pills. The departure was delayed for nearly a week, prolonging the goodbyes, and the goodbye celebrations, to the extent of cirrhosis. By the time we actually sailed, on 26 April, we didn't really need the twice daily seasick pills to sedate the battalion whilst the ship settled into its routine, but the sergeants-major ensured compliance anyway.

During those initial days I liaised with the officers and seniors of the Parachute Clearing Troop (PCT) who were subsequently to form the 'red' half of the Red and Green Life Machine at Ajax Bay (the Marines formed the 'green' half). We set up a training cadre for patrol (subsequently to be renamed 'combat') medics. We were to run three such' courses, each an intensive week of training. The idea was to establish a system of 'double hatted' medics throughout the battalion infrastructure. We didn't believe that much 'buddy-buddy' care would be performed on the battlefield. So we had to provide a back-up between front line and company medic — thus the combat medic — one in every ten men. Their training included elements of anatomy and physiology, but mainly we explained the reasons for, and therefore the important points of, the various procedures to enable them to work more efficiently and more effectively.

Apart from my role as ship's doctor, in which I was helped by the other doctors in the PCT, I was busy planning, briefing my brother officers and lecturing to soldiers. Now I had a demanding audience: 'Why do we do this?' 'Why can't we do it that way?' and I, in turn, challenged them, 'How are you going to react? How are you going to carry your casualties? Go away and think about it. I don't have the answer — if you come up with one, let me know.' We made everyone aware of the potential problems and they tried to come up with solutions. We didn't really solve the problem. We started to make up lightweight casualty carrying sheets. To do this we had to despatch someone to HMS Fearless with material and nylon strapping. But we only managed to make up four in time. On the day, it was all improvised using, where we could, teams from the Defence Platoon to carry forward resupply and bring back the wounded.

As war grew more certain, the preparations became more earnest and anxiety levels higher. We started breaking out the issues of supplies and ammunition. From my point of view this included three field dressings, one half-litre of intravenous fluid, and a syrette of morphine per man. We overcame the problem of fragility of the morphine syrettes by taping them to the insides of our helmets.

The cock-up of our late notification of 'D-Day' is now well known. As a result, that night was so rushed that, in retrospect, it was a good thing. There was too much else to think about to let fear get too strong a grip. Before we boarded our landing craft the Norland crew prepared a feast of egg banjoes — fried egg sandwiches — for us. There were two reactions to the fear — some ate none, others ate a large number. I was in the latter group. My stomach will always rule my heart.

My first patient that night was the BBC's Robert Fox. He was hit in the mouth by a rucksack, splitting his lip. It would have been a fine thing for our radio journalist to be hors de combat before we even started. I repaired his lip with some steristrip adhesive tapes from my pocket. I expected to have customers a short time later.

About 200 metres offshore in the landing craft someone had a negligent discharge. We were so tightly packed in, I couldn't believe the shot hadn't hit someone. But we could only wait for the craft to empty. When it did empty, miraculously there were no bodies in it.

We didn't actually hit the beach that night but, rather, the sloping foreshore about 20-30 feet out. The wade in through the icy water of the South Atlantic was to precipitate a lot of problems with feet. Boots, which had been effectively waterproofed, now served only to keep the water in.

Relatively silent pandemonium existed on the beach, where the landing craft had beached out of pattern. The battalion tried to recognize its constituent parts in the dark, and snake out in its projected order of march. I married up with the second half of my team and we eventually moved off at the tail end of the column, where we could 'minesweep' any casualties. The first land-based casualty was a lad named Hemphill who fell, injuring his back and knocking himself out with the Blowpipe missile he was carrying. A good number of the column walked straight past him until someone tripped over him and realized he was a casualty.

In doubling forward to the casualty we had to negotiate a ford in a thigh-deep brook. As luck would have it, one of the medics, Cleggie, tripped and went right under. He was soaked through. We now had two casualties to cope with, or would have two if we didn't keep Cleggie moving. Luckily I had filled my stainless steel thermos with hot, sweet drinking chocolate for just such an eventuality and this revived Cleggie somewhat. At this stage, I didn't want to leave any bodies behind on the route so we pressed on, carrying the still unconscious Hemphill in one of the carrying sheets we had had made up on Fearless. We all took turns at the carry, the Padre David Cooper probably more than most, and as we went we picked up stragglers — the gunners carrying the Blowpipe missiles. The crippling weights everybody was carrying were telling and we were way behind schedule. H. was to admit to me later that he had made a mistake with regard to personal loads.

We kept Cleggie moving to help keep him warm; there was little we could do at this stage about his wet clothes. By this time it was getting to the point of finishing a carry on the stretcher; walking with just your load for a bit, then taking over a carry on the Blowpipe missile. Knackered barely does justice to the way we felt. David Cooper must have made three or four trips back and forth picking up ditched Blowpipe missiles. Eventually, as daylight dawned and we neared the base of Sussex Mountains (the top of which was our destination), I found a suitable spot to leave Hemphill and Cleggie. We put them in a gully, both in the same sleeping bag, leaving the thermos and some signal flares. At lifting of radio silence, we would signal a chopper to pick them up — which is what subsequently happened, Surgeon Commander Rick Jolly their rescuer.

We meanwhile made our way on to the base of Sussex Mountains, having to cross a frost-covered wooden bridge. By this time I had lost count of the number of times I had fallen crossing the peat, but it had all been in the dark. Crossing the wooden bridge it was now daylight, and I provided some entertainment when both feet went out from under me and I went down on my back with an explosive 'Fuck!' This was to prove most people's favourite word for the campaign, and we meant it every time we said it. The initial plan was for the medics to dig in at the base of Sussex Mountains. We were thankful at this because the task of climbing to the top, was just about beyond us. As we dug in we processed two or three ankle and other minor injuries for evacuation to Norland. At some stage Cleggie was restored to us, complete with dry clothing and his testicles back in their normal place.

The first Mirage and Skyhawk jets to overfly us sent a certain sense of urgency to our digging, as had the first helicopter earlier until we recognized the sound as friendly. We had barely got down to our knees in the peat when it was decided to ferry us to the top of the mountain to join the rest of the battalion. This task was performed relatively effortlessly for us by means of a hover taxi, a helicopter, in about four stages.

By now the surreal impressions of the voyage through the South Atlantic had exchanged themselves for the surreal patterns of life ashore. Once established on the ridge line opposite Battalion HQ, we set to digging in. I picked a large vertical rock, about 8-10 feet high, against which to construct a shelter for treating casualties. I placed three stretchers against this rock to form a lean-to shelter; then, covering the stretchers with waterproof nylon camouflage sheets, I used peat blocks to build up a protective and camouflage layer on top. Inside this small area, when we did not have an in-patient, I would sleep. The rest of the lads, including my radio operator, dug in amongst the rocks around.

From the entrance to my RAP (Regimental Aid Post) — my stand-to position — I was to have a magnificent view of the ensuing air battles over Bomb Alley. We had barely settled in before casualties started arriving, proving the age-old lesson of military medicine — 'battle sick outnumber battle wounded'. Predominantly, we had trench foot problems, although we did have one case of heat exhaustion, from a lad in Patrol Company, who had marched too fast with too much arctic clothing on! We also had minor cuts, burns, dental sick, as well as one case of suspected appendicitis.

With the first dental extraction I performed I don't know who was more surprised, the patient or myself, when all went smoothly. Considering I was relying on memory of a half-hour dentistry film, and guidance from the Padre, I was delighted. The second did not go so well. After my local anaesthetic infiltration failed, I had to resort to a general anaesthetic called Ketamine. This drug gives general anaesthesia with retention of normal breathing and airway reflexes; however, it gives rise to what are euphemistically called 'emergence phenomena'. In this case, the tooth came out okay but the patient was euphoric. He decided that he was so grateful he wanted to give me a present, and duly presented me with a live grenade. After we had disarmed him and set him aside to sober up, I largely refrained from dentistry.

Not all the time on the mountains was spent on treatment. We also performed a fair amount of preventative medicine, mainly in terms of visiting the various locations and inspecting feet. We developed 'Feet R&R Centres' where problem feet convalesced before they got too far. It was a frustrating time of relative inactivity for the battalion but, nevertheless, a busy time for David Cooper and myself. The Padre and the Doctor moved nearly everywhere as one, we became almost Tweedledum and Tweedledee, a pattern that was to remain for the rest of the campaign. I was to find David a tower of strength and whilst not being a religious man myself, I respected David's strong faith. As Christ said of Peter, 'Upon this rock I will build my church'; David Cooper was the rock upon which I built my Regimental Aid Post. What follows are extracts taken from my diary, with subsequent amendments.

Tuesday, 25 May
Last night David Cooper and I made our way across to Battalion HQ after the evening stand-to. Not least of the dangers was that we had to cross the valley, from the top of which was aimed one of D Company's machine guns. (D Company had already shot up the RAP once during over-enthusiastic anti-aircraft fire.) We had to warn everyone before we left that we were coming, so we weren't shot by mistake.

There had been reports of Argentinian 'special forces' patrols in the area and as we crossed the valley we heard noises and movement. We went to ground briefly and then made a beeline for Battalion HQ.

Shortly after, all hell broke loose down in the valley with D Company's machine gun opening up and flares and automatic fire further down the valley, nearer A Company's position. A lot of rounds were expended but, in the light of day, there were no Argie bodies — had they been there, or had it been a friendly patrol?

Today a flight of Argentinian A4s (Skyhawks) came in, and the Sir Galahad came in for quite a pounding and, maybe, a close miss with a bomb. One A4 at least was hit. A pilot ejected and was captured. The Rapier again failed to work.

B Company had eight cases of trench foot for evacuation.

Wednesday, 26 May
This morning we tabbed down to the mortar line, so that I could manipulate a frozen shoulder. When we tabbed back up the hill, at 17:00, we were told we were off for Darwin tonight. Two days before, when a similar foray was cancelled at the last minute, I had had to make a difficult decision about which men to leave behind. Not so this time, as the whole battalion would be involved.

Frantic repacking again, stripping down our bergens to the minimum (about 60 lbs), we tabbed off at an horrific pace, which eventually settled down when one of A Company collapsed. I left Cleggie with him, and the rest of us tabbed on to Camilla Creek House. Six hours and fourteen kilometres.

During that tab, in the darkness, across a largely peat terrain, many people fell. Some of us repetitively. Those with heavier weight fared worse.

At one stage, whilst negotiating a rut in a track, I turned my ankle quite severely and felt something go. The air turned blue, and my ankle would have been the same colour, I am sure, if I had taken my boot off. But I knew that if I did, it would swell up and I would be unable to put the boot back on again. So I did the opposite, I tightened my lace to give me as much extra support as possible, and limped on, favouring my bad ankle, with the inevitable result that I fell regularly on the other leg, although luckily without such severe consequence.

After a fall what sapped one's strength was the painful process of rolling onto one's front, climbing to one's knees, then planting one foot, then the other on the ground in order to rise slowly with the weight of the bergen.

Finally, we reached Camilla Creek House, in darkness, and moved into an outhouse and spent a cold night. There was not enough space for us all to stretch our legs so we piled them on top of one another in the centre of the floor like 'pat-a-cake'. Then, like 'pat-a-cake', every half-hour one would wake with one's feet at the bottom of the pile, extract them, put them on the top, only to wake again half an hour later with crushed legs.

Thursday, 27 May
We awoke at 9:30 Zulu time, and brewed up. It was still dark. The rest of the battalion did not stir for some time. One case of frostbite casevac'd. Chris Keeble's ingrowing toenail sorted out.

We moved out into the surrounding terrain during the afternoon to prepare for the night, not least because John Nott announced over the World Service where we were. We expected to be shelled any minute, but weren't.

During the O Group, after our first Harrier strike, call-sign 97, Peter Ketley's party, took four prisoners including one casualty. In fact, there were two Argy casualties Peter brought in, both with gunshot wounds to their thighs. The first, a sergeant, had a through and through SLR (self-loading rifle) wound with a fractured femur — he required IV fluid and IV morphine. The second had a submachine-gun wound in each leg with a possible fracture of the right femur.

Both patients were treated dispassionately, with firm wound dressings applied to stop bleeding, intravenous lines set up to replace fluid loss, and both antibiotics and painkillers were given by injection.

None of us had dealt with real gunshot wounds before. I was glad to be able to 'blood' my medics with casualties whom they did not know or identify with. They would find it a damn sight harder to cope with such injuries in their mates. I was proud of the professional manner in which they handled their job, without prejudice to the nationality of our patients.

The O Group was put back until 17:50 Zulu time to allow for the incorporation of information gleaned from the prisoners, and the CO outlined a six-phase battalion plan to take the Goose Green/Darwin isthmus, with the initial fire support of HMS Arrow. We all retired away from Camilla Creek House until start time to make our individual preparations.

The medical plan I formulated was for two medical sections forward, each with a Medical Officer: Rory Wagon and myself. I would leave Sergeant Bradshaw, Private Buchanan and two PCT guys at Camilla Creek to deal with any casualties we managed to evacuate by the captured Land Rover. We retired to the cud to eat and kip down until 02:00. As it was, I spent until midnight trying to tie up casevac details with the helicopter handling teams.

Friday, 28 May
I got the lads up at 01:20 after spending a freezing night in the cud. We brewed up, packed up and moved close into Camilla Creek House, moving off behind Battalion Main Headquarters just after 02:00. Moving with the medical kit divided amongst us, in our bergens, the order of march was myself, Hall, Clegg, Polky, Gibson, Bentley, Rory Wagon, Taff Jones, Hamer, Davis, Hood, Corporal Thornborough and the Padre.

We harboured for about two hours, just off the isthmus, whilst Phase One went in — apparently without casualties on our side. There was a light drizzle, I slept a little.

We then moved, in darkness, onto the isthmus about 06:00, moving down a farm track on which I repeatedly fell, to the amusement of the RSM. My ankle was becoming increasingly unstable.

Around the area of Burntside House we came under mortar and artillery fire, quite close, for about ninety minutes. The peat, as throughout the campaign, damped down most of the blast. At one stage, when mortar bombs started to land near our position, it didn't ease the soul at all to be told by Hamer, my second radio operator, 'It's all right, Sir, they're ours.'

We were also under fire from a sniper/snipers on the right of the track and at one stage a round whistled inches above my head. It was at this stage that D Company took casualties and we were asked to move forward. I was petrified, especially of the sniper, as I was wearing a waterproof, the lining of which glowed white from its snow camouflage reverse. The sniper fire had been quite accurate previously although no one had been hit.

We moved forward about 400 metres, under fire still, taking cover once or twice, and found two casualties from D Company, one (Parr) with a round lodged in his umbilicus, the other lad (Grey) with a suspected fractured pelvis where a round had bounced off his webbing. Subsequently we found this to be only bruising — no fracture. We were again shelled in this location and came across TAC 1 with the CO and David Wood, the Adjutant, who had a shell land between them, without injury. As David said, 'These Argies have got some shit ammunition.' It was the last time I was to see either of them alive — two men I respected immensely.

We then found out about the first dead, Lance-Corporal Bingley, who had been put by the side of the track. We stayed where we were for several hours and treated Mort, who had a gunshot wound to the arm. We couldn't evacuate him until first light. We dressed his wound to stop the bleeding, set up an intravenous infusion and started antibiotics. He did not need any morphine, as the shock of the wound had numbed his arm. Main Headquarters moved in and we brought the bodies of Private Fletcher and Lance-Corporal Cork, both dead. Fletcher had been about to apply a shell dressing to Lance-Corporal Cork when he was shot dead.

About 11:00 hrs
We again came under heavy shelling especially as Main moved in. Shells landed either side of us. The companies ahead of us, A and B, were pinned down. By this stage HMS Arrow had left, our artillery had stopped and the mortars were out of rounds. Things looked sticky and the fighter ground attack was fogged out by weather.

At least the Scout and Gazelle helicopters were bringing ammunition forward, dumping it with us, then, in turn, taking out our casualties. It was about 13:00 Zulu when I heard call-sign Golf 69 on the net — the CO had been hit and was trapped in a re-entrant. A and B Companies had both taken casualties and were also calling for help.

I ventured to Chris Keeble that the RAP go forward, Team A to A Company, Team B to B Company. Chris was busy, I didn't get a reply but took it as tacit agreement. We took with us members of the Defence Platoon and ammunition for the companies, who were running low.

We advanced ahead of Main, with Mike Ford, Colour-Sergeant Caldwell and others. As we came forward, two Pucara came over. They buzzed us and then attacked two Gazelle helicopters which appeared on the horizon. They swooped like birds of prey, and one Gazelle went down. I saw it blow up — I'm not sure of the other, it seemed to escape up the valley whence it came.

At this stage we came across Golf 69, alias Major Tony Rice, and he told us how to get to A Company. The captured Land-Rover appeared — it had previously bogged down in the rain and mud and had been unable to evacuate casualties — so we put the ammo on it.

We skirted Darwin Bay and met up with A Company at the base of the smoking gorse-lined gully known as the Bower. There were a number of casualties, Argies and ours. We first treated Shorrock, A Company's medic, who was shot in the back, then Worrall who was shot in the belly, Lance-Corporal Adams, shot in the back, and Kirkwood, who had a leg gunshot wound. Tuffin had a serious head wound but was conscious and had been for several hours. We almost missed him because he had been placed under a corrugated iron sheet for protection. We learnt Shorrock had been lying in a ditch for five hours! All wounds dressed, intravenous fluid, pain relief and antibiotics given. I instructed one of the medics to keep Tuffin talking so he wouldn't lapse into a coma.

Speaking to Company Sergeant-Major Price I learnt of the deaths of the CO, the Adjutant Dave Wood, and Chris Dent, Second-in-Command of A Company — his wife was a Royal Army Medical Corps doctor. I was devastated. I wanted to cry, with anger, fear and frustration, but there was more work to do. I had to set an example for the others who were also feeling personal losses, perhaps more so than myself. After all, I was, supposedly, more accustomed to bodily violence.

We treated the casualties, and just as we were finishing, a magnificent sight occurred. Four helos, casevac equipped, led by John Greenhalgh, came over the horizon. We had just got Worrall away in a Gazelle but they are not really designed for casevac. We got all our casualties away in due course, and some Argentinians.

Shortly after, Main moved forward to the hillside to our right. Soon after, we came under heavy bombardment in the gully, with shells whistling not twenty feet overhead. The rear slope position saved our bacon. There seemed to be one hell of a battle over the hill and we could not move forward.

There were a few casualties occurring from shrapnel wounds and after cries of 'Medic' we dealt with a couple of wounds on the brow of the hill above Main, until continuous artillery barrage forced us back round to the gully where I decided to go firm. Shrapnel casualties drifted in, the smoke and cordite streamed through our position, doing its damndest to fog us out at times.

We were under fairly constant artillery fire, with rain a lot of the time. However, we were getting stretcher parties forward, and helicopters in, to evacuate our casualties. One lad came in almost in tears. He was okay but his mucker, Private 'Chopsey' Grey, was pinned down, dying on the forward slope with his leg blown half off.

I knew I had to send a medic forward. It was difficult to ask, I felt almost as if I ought to do it myself, but knew that was out of the question. Bill (Lance-Corporal Bentley) accepted the task without qualm. Together with a stretcher party he precariously made his way into the forward slope to Grey. He completed the partial amputation with his clasp knife and was able to stem the blood loss with a tourniquet. They were then able to bring him into the RAP.

Grey was the colour of his surname. He had no veins visible anywhere, he had lost so much blood. I had no option but to try and cut down, with a scalpel, onto one of his veins. He was so far gone he couldn't feel anything. I don't think I quite got the vein but I left the cannula in the soft tissues — probably not in the vein, but at least infusing fluid. The tourniquet had stemmed the blood loss. He went out on the next chopper. Apparently when they started to transfuse Grey at Ajax, as his colour returned he miraculously came back to life.

We kept on dealing with the casualties as and when they arrived until light faded and the casualties stopped. Just as well because the helicopters weren't equipped to fly at night. We were left with three minor injuries — a back injury, a knee sprain, and an ankle sprain. All in all, we dealt with thirty-four of our own casualties and I'm not sure how many enemy.

We worked long into the dark, by which time the battle had lulled. A Company overlooked Darwin and B Company, Goose Green. The battle halted and, as darkness closed in, the dribs and drabs flowed in.

We heard our first of Rory Wagon's team who were still holding casualties. They were expecting a lift out for them but the chopper got lost and their lift never came. Later, when John Greenhalgh heard this, he flew back in and took out their seriously wounded. Prior to this, at dusk, he had, remarkably, taken his Scout onto the forward slope to drop off Lance-Corporal Bentley and to pick up casualties. He had flown, guided by lads on the ground, by a radio version of the 'Golden Shot' —'left a bit, right a bit' and 'here'.

We had brought in our dead, including H., to the side of a gorse bush at the bottom of the gully: a grim reminder of the cost.

David Cooper, the RSM, Roger Miller (the Operations Officer) and myself sat down to try and work out our losses of dead and wounded so that next of kin could be notified. We had to be very careful and delay notification until we had definite proof of death or injury. We knew some cock-ups had been made after the Sheffield went up.

Eventually, when I settled down to sleep on top of a gorse bush, I lay exhausted and frozen, aware that my mind was behaving abnormally. It was as if it had reached sensory overload. Although the fighting had stopped, I was interpreting the rustle of my space blanket (my sole covering) as machine-gun fire, the crackling of burning gorse as artillery.

Yet one part of my mind was functioning and was able to recognize this. It wondered if I was cracking up. But nature can be very kind, and very quickly I fell into an exhausted sleep, not to stir until dawn. When I awoke, I was cold. I couldn't feel my feet at first. But then early physiotherapy for ankle injuries is ice treatment, so I suppose nature had spontaneously treated my injury. I still refrained from removing my boot.

Saturday, 29 May
Dawn broke at 11:00 Zulu time and as there were no further casualties at that stage I stayed in my space blanket in my bush. Chris Keeble, now commanding, came round and explained his plan. Two Argentine warrant officers had been returned — one to Darwin, one to Goose Green —having been told that there were two possible courses of action: 1) they surrender; 2) military action to level both settlements. Chris had laid on a mortar, gunnery and fighter ground attack demonstration. It was not needed. They chose the former option.

During the negotiations, we dealt with the remaining Argentine wounded and prisoners who lay at the bottom of the gully, next to the burning gorse. Many different wounds but little noise. One spoke a little English. As I put a drip up, he said, 'Why you treat me?' God knows what they'd been told of us.

They were such a pathetic group that even though we had not eaten properly ourselves for twenty-four hours many of us (not just medics) dug into our pockets and found whatever glucose sweets or biscuits we had to hand to hungry fingers.

We moved their wounded out and shortly afterwards Team B were choppered into our position, only to move on to Goose Green. Because we had been on the central axis, most of the casualties had come to us. Team B had dealt with about seven casualties from B Company, two of which were near fatal. They had had problems with communications and had not been able to get a helicopter for nearly fourteen hours. But all the wounded survived.

A television news crew choppered in and tried to film the tragic spectacle of our dead. I sent Bill to see them off. We soon processed the remaining Argentinians and then packed ourselves to move on to Goose Green, pausing briefly for an historic photograph.

We'd thought during the night that another officer, Peter Kennedy, was dead - he was missing. But he wandered through the RAP having lain up all night after procuring the Argentinian flag from Goose Green.

However, Jim Barry was dead, we passed his body as we moved down the track to Goose Green. Jim shouldn't have been with us. He had been picked for the Americas Cup sailing team and should have been in the States. However, when the Belize tour was called off he had hung around and had volunteered to come with us when we mobilized. He was machine-gunned in the chest by an adjacent trench when he moved forward to accept the surrender from the trench in front of his. His corporal was killed in the same incident.

As we moved into Goose Green, the population were out to greet us with cheering, food, and drink. A seven-year-old offered me a bottle of vodka. I deferred, but took a sip of Fanta instead from her friend. Hank, one of my medics (a Scotsman), was not so reticent with a bottle of Scotch!

We set up the RAP in the eating house for the sheep-shearing station. We moved into the warmth of civilized habitation for the first time since coming ashore. It was almost uncomfortable after so long outdoors. The lads settled in and we cleaned up. One or two minor injuries appeared for treatment. We all had a beer and brooded amongst ourselves. The boss's death was announced on the World News. We worried what our families would make of it.

Sunday, 30 May
We all got up, lateish for us, at midday. After cleaning up ourselves and the building we started to process our lads - mainly feet problems. I made myself temporarily unpopular by insisting that everyone who reported sick must first wash and shave, utilizing captured Argentinian razors and soap.

We had an Argy with gangrene on the foot, still alive after thirty-six hours on the battlefield. He was duly treated and despatched by helicopter to Ajax Bay.

I sorted out one or two minor shrapnel wounds by excising dead tissue under local anaesthetic. The wounds were then dressed for closure in two or three days.

Fifteen of us travelled to Ajax Bay in a Wessex, to what we thought was a memorial service for Lt-Col H. It turned out to be the funeral of all our dead. At least David Cooper presided. At present the policy is that this is the final burial but we are determined that this will not be so. As H. said, 'We will take all our dead home with us.'

Monday, 31 May
Having spent last night in the house across the way and frozen, I decided to move back into the RAP for warmth. Just as well because the civvies wanted to move back into one room of their house.

It now seems definite we go back under command of 5 Brigade. Although they say at present that we won't be garrison force. Time will tell.

Apparently there is mail on the island but Brigade have lost it. At least we are now able to contact Brigade on the radio. Two more Argies were found alive on the battlefield, one I treated at the RAP, the other I treated at the site of his wounds. I flew out there by Scout.

The gully was still smoking - it was eerie to fly over the land where there'd been so much violence. The Argentine had been found in a trench under a body. He had a gunshot wound through the left eye and a gunshot wound through the leg. Both wounds showed signs of gangrene. He had a raging fever. His wounds and the cold had produced a strange symbiosis. The cold had stopped his gangrene from spreading and the fever had kept him alive.

I set up a drip and gave him an injection of morphine, followed by the intravenous equivalent of Domestos, in antibiotic terms. It was miraculous that he had survived so long, but if he'd come this far.... Then, having splinted his wounded leg to the other, I despatched him to Ajax Bay. (He lost his leg and his eye, but he survived.)

That morning we had our own service of memorial for our dead, and Major Keeble gave us a briefing on what lies ahead. The other forces seem to have encountered little resistance so far.

There is a strange atmosphere - I can't quite place the oddity. It's all due to the reactions of people to the last few days. Even I have been acting oddly and very possessive about my soldiers.

We're now losing a lot to trench foot and other foot problems; I am trying to bed them down locally. The time has come for a move towards normality. The holiday is over. We had a Tom with a fever today. I hope it's an isolated case and that it's not malarial. How many of them have taken their Paludrine since Freetown (Ascension Island)?

Tuesday, 1 June
I've woken up this morning with a clearer mind and a will to re-assert my authority, and get things back to a semblance of order. The operation is by no means over, who knows what is ahead, but we have to get a grip again now.

Mal Worsley-Tonks is the new Adjutant. Although when we went to Ajax we heard that all our casualties were alive on the Uganda, we have had no further news. He is going to push for a copy of the signal, difficult when we're out of communications with Brigade again.

I travelled into Darwin to visit A Company and Lance-Corporal Bentley. He is having second thoughts about leaving the Army. It would seem a shame now to lose all the ground we've made in terms of experience — we must consolidate. I must try and keep him. Bill's performance has been nothing short of outstanding. He is both a born soldier and a very brave man. From the first time we came under fire he stayed cool and set an example to those around him, including me. He has a calming influence, projected not least by his immense practical sense. If there was nothing else to do whilst we were under shellfire in the gully, Bill was brewing up! Understandably, just his presence instils confidence in all those around him and the others have come on immeasurably.

When I got back to Goose Green the mail had arrived and silence reigned. But there was a sudden reminder of the perpetual danger of violent death. There was a huge bang and nine POWs were blown up while clearing a pile of ammo which had been booby-trapped. We rushed to the scene, to find several severely injured and two killed outright. Bullets were exploding in the fire and shooting off in all directions, a potential hazard to those who came too close. Sergeant Fowler of the PCT had pulled two of the injured from the fire itself. Occasionally a charge bag would explode with a Crump. I took the most serious case — he had both legs blown off, one above the knee, the other below the knee. He was in agony with both lower limbs gyrating in a grotesque manner.

With Sergeant Fowler assisting, I found a vein, we gave him intravenous morphine and managed to set up an intravenous line — unfortunately his thrashings pulled it out. We moved him and the others back to the RAP where Rory Wagon and I tried desperately to resite a line. We tried every trick in the book including attempts at central venous lines, but we just couldn't find a vein. After ten minutes we gave up and crashed him back to Ajax Bay. He arrived alive, but died shortly after. He was probably a dead man from the moment he lost his legs.

Later on, after we had moved out the casualties, I was finally able to read my mail. The smell of burning flesh still pervaded the RAP.

Wednesday, 2 June
Finally we prepared to move on. The next move is to Bluff Cove and Fitzroy and we're told we stop there (I've heard that before). I continued to deal with large numbers of foot problems and started to sort out the delayed primary suturing from a couple of days ago. With typical precision, no one knew exactly what would happen until last thing, when I was told to take two medics with A Company. Then, when I was about to board the Chinook, I was told I was not to go. Still, 'flexibility' — we go tomorrow.

Thursday, 3 June
After countless delays, not least showing round the CO of 16 Field Ambulance and two Gurkha Rifles doctors, Martin Entwhistle and Paul Edmondson-Jones, we flew out by Sea King, alighting at Bluff Cove. We had to travel light and leave most of our supplies as well as a few casualties behind. They should follow us by sea, once we are established.

We settled ourselves into the garage with a treatment area in the kitchen. Diane, the housewife, is a nurse, trained in London, who is incredibly helpful. We were given tea and scones — delicious! Having established ourselves, we really just sorted ourselves out.

I met, for the first time, the new CO, Lt-Col David Chaundler, who parachuted into the sea from a Hercules. I reserve judgement on him for the moment. I have too vivid memories of H. We had a briefing on what the folks back home think of 2 PARA. They obviously reckon we're pretty shit hot.

Friday, 4 June
Having set up the RAP in the kitchen, I moved off with the CO, RSM Simpson, Tony Rice and Colour-Sergeant Caldwell to Fitzroy. We were driven to the downed Fitzroy bridge by tractor, as the helos weren't flying. We ended up doing a shuffle-bar stint across the struts of the bridge. (Shades of 'P' Company.)

In Fitzroy I examined all of B Company's feet —still large numbers of u/s feet, approximately six per platoon. We will have to arrange for rest and foot care. Most of these feet will respond to rest, elevation, warmth and simple hygiene measures, supplemented, where necessary, by painkillers. However, all will be more susceptible in future to a recurrence of trench foot.

The civilians again treated us to the tea treatment. It's so nice to be nearly civilized at times. We ended up tabbing back - quite a refreshing hike. I've lost count of the number of miles we must have tabbed in total.

When we arrived back I did a bit of minor surgery on Col-Sgt Caldwell's foot. He had a low-velocity missile wound to the outer side of his big toe, just missing the bone. We couldn't evacuate him because the helicopters were still not playing. We therefore cleared the kitchen table and I borrowed a knitting needle from Di, to use as a probe. I infiltrated the wound with local and gave Caldwell a shot of Valium and pethidine intravenously (he obviously enjoyed the experience). He didn't enjoy what followed.

I donned a pair of gloves and cleaned the entry and exit wounds. Then I passed the now sterilized knitting needle through the wound track, so that it demonstrated the wound track and projected from entry and exit wounds. Using a scalpel I incised down onto the needle, so opening the wound track. It was then a fairly simple, although somewhat painful (for Colour Caldwell), procedure to incise the dead tissue and dress the wound open. I will close the wound (if that is possible) in three or four days.

Diane was super - giving us steaks this afternoon. A beautiful mutton steak, the best I've had and the first fresh rations for ages.

The O Group didn't offer much further information - although the CO and I did decide to move Team B to Fitzroy to man an R & R Centre for recuperation of foot problems.

Tonight, as we were bedding ourselves down in the garage, we could hear the Argentinian big guns, the 155s, probing the areas around Stanley. We weren't sure whether we were in range and were all a bit apprehensive.

Just as we were about to switch off the light, I noticed there were an awful lot of flies buzzing around it and remarked, 'Someone better go shit in the corner or the flies will have nowhere to go to.' Polky either liked my joke or was just plain nervous, he chuckled on for about fifteen minutes.

Saturday, 5 June
I did the rounds again this morning with the CO, this time with a bit more style, by Gazelle helicopter.

After despatching Team B to Fitzroy, I proceeded to visit D Company and still beat B to Fitzroy.

I was even back by lunchtime, although there was no lunch. No rations had come in as yet. There wasn't even any water because the Blues and Royals came through in their Scorpions last night and drove over the water pipes. But Di cooked us some chops so we ate well on meat again. Then the rations came in, but there was still no water to cook them (the only problem with dried rations).

Sunday, 6 June
Not D-Day, but the Scots Guards landed at Bluff Cove. It poured down and the Fitzroy bridge was treacherous. We moved via the bridge to Fitzroy. Later the whole of Battalion Main moved back to make room for the Guards. Thirty bodies were bedded down in the RAP, mostly trench foot cases. They all lay, in bundles of kit, with their feet exposed and elevated. We were using the Fitzroy Community Hall, which was heated, and allowed us to treat the casualties properly. A lot of the feet were very severely swollen and painful.

Monday, 7 June
Now established in Fitzroy Community Hall after the move yesterday. The trench foot problems have started to improve. The medical supplies we left behind have arrived but some of our kit was taken by 7 Gurkha Rifles.

I had a very exhilarating ride back to Goose Green in a fast, low-flying Gazelle (it had to be fast and low flying - a Gazelle had been shot down on this route the previous day) to sort out the problem.

I had a stand-up row with their RMO because he hadn't taken me at my word about sending for the foot casualties I had had to leave in Goose Green. He evacuated them before I sent for them. As a result, they are lost to us. As soon as they reach the Red Cross ship Uganda, they must, under the Geneva Convention, be repatriated to the UK. Their medics had taken some of our medical supplies because they had made the mistake of being separated from their kit - most of theirs was still on the ship. I suppose the same principle was the reason why I was now having to make such a trip back. But I nearly blew a fuse when they started a 'Now, we know you've been through a hard time but it's all over now' routine. Instead, I calmed down, and took the RMO aside to defuse the confrontation, if only to prove that I was rational. I don't think there was any ill intent. We had been ashore longer and were better aware of the problems of resupply. They handed over the missing supplies and John Greenhalgh arranged to get me back in a Scout. The Scout did well -100 knots with an underslung load. When I got back I found that the advance party of 16 Field Ambulance had arrived at Fitzroy.

Tuesday, 8 June/Wednesday, 9 June
The foot problem is much improved. However, I had a stand-up row with the CO of 16 Field Ambulance. He wanted the casualties evacuated, over my head, so he could move his kit into the only centrally-heated building in Fitzroy. I refused. We were at stalemate and it was as David and I were on our way to the CO to explain the situation that the Argentine air attack came in.

We were walking towards Battalion HQ when we realized everyone had taken cover. We joined a machine gunner in the nearest trench. Galahad and Tristram both went up with a bang. I made my way back to clear the decks for action; David carried on to Battalion HQ to see what he could do. A flash of Cooperism hit me, and I told the foot casualties, 'Pick up your beds and walk. Fuck off back to your companies and we'll catch up with you later.' These casualties made something of a pathetic sight as they trooped out, but they all knew that more serious casualties were likely to be appearing any minute.

As an RAP we are trained to work out at front line so it seemed logical for us to deploy out to the shoreline and leave the Community Hall free for the Field Ambulance to set up.

To this end, we grabbed our crash bags and ran down to the shore. I didn't have my radio operator at that stage, and chaos was all around me. Helicopters were starting to fly in casualties and I noticed a landing craft heading for the jetty. Taking Taff Jones with me I made for the jetty, leaving Bill and the rest of the medics, aided by ordinary members of the battalion, to deploy along the headland. The RSM was there and I was able to allocate priorities on evacuees from the craft and the RSM allocated manpower from the numerous helping hands.

One young lad was burnt and had a fracture so I set up a drip and gave him some morphine in the landing craft before manhandling him. Most of the rest of the survivors in this craft just had minor flash burns. One of the other officers helping out was Captain Peter Coombes, the training officer from the Field Ambulance. He told me that most of the surgical teams' kit was still on the Galahad.

When we had emptied the landing craft he and I decided to take it out to the Galahad, he to try and salvage the kit, myself to salvage the injured. Although we would both help each other where necessary. Taff came with me, and a number of lads from the Field Ambulance went with Peter. The Boatswain of the landing craft navigated the craft in towards the now incendiary Galahad. I was somewhat nervous about sailing towards a potential time bomb, so I lit up my remaining King Edward cigar. After all, one more flame wouldn't make any difference. We sailed in alongside Galahad and it became apparent that, by now, most of the casualties had been lifted off. Peter managed to get over the guard rail onto one of the seadecks but was beaten back by the flames. We therefore decided to make a tactful withdrawal.

Having pulled clear of the Galahad we rounded up the remaining life rafts floating in the bay, one or two of which had casualties amongst their survivors. These we ferried back to the shore. Thus, by the time I got back to the Community Hall, the more serious casualties had been evacuated. There were still large numbers of Guardsmen, though, with flash burns on the face and heads.

As I was dispensing penicillin to a line of Welsh rumps, one hapless Guardsman asked me, 'Is it all right, Sir, if I smoke?' I'm afraid it was all too much for me. I replied, 'You've only just stopped, haven't you?' He didn't quite know how to take it at first but then he saw the funny side of it and I lit the cigarette he held between blistered fingers.

It then became apparent, after the casualties had gone, that most of 16 Field Ambulance's kit had gone up in the Galahad. With the aim of setting up a Brigade Aid Post, I gathered all my lads and all our medical kit back in the Community Hall. This upset 16 Field Ambulance so the next day I moved the lads and all our kit down to the greenhouse of Ron Binney's house, and here we reclaimed and bedded down our foot casualties in a slightly less favourable environment but at least we were autonomous.

We then spent most of the day digging in for an air attack that didn't materialize. In the evening David and I were invited to a Select O Group and we had rather an excellent compo meal supplemented with gin, Martini and pilchards. We finished off with Ovaltine! What ordinarily would have been a revolting mixture was to us a banquet.

Thursday, 10 June
Again no Argy air raid and things seemed set for Friday night. It transpires that we revert to 3 Brigade from 5. We actually had some mail arrive at last after David Cooper chased it up from Fearless. David said to this bloke, 'Who the hell are you?' He replied, 'I'm Admiral Woodward. Who the hell are you?' David answered, 'I'm 2 PARA's Padre, and where's our bloody mail?' It was traced and turned up at Bluff Cove. I had two letters and a card from Podge and Den and a letter from Dad.

Dave and I visited a couple of the locals for a cup of tea and cake. It's quite handy visiting with the Vicar!

Friday, 11 June
The old tension is building up now as we prepare to move at 16:00. Tonight 3 Brigade goes for the high ground around Stanley and 2 PARA is reserve. I have this awful sensation that I won't survive tomorrow, my twenty-fifth birthday. I can't seem to shake it. Even logic says the more times you expose yourself to danger, the smaller your chances.

We were choppered by Sea King up to Bluff Cove peak where we lay up on the hillside overlooking Teal Inlet. I listened to Lance-Corporal Bentley and Private Gibson discuss the satellites pinging overhead, and the conundrum of infinity, 'There must be another planet out there the same as ours — with two identical armies about to pitch into battle. . . .'

Finally, at 23:30, we moved off, laden down like beasts of burden once more, tripping and falling and cursing in the rough ground. Every fifty metres a man stopped to drop his trousers — Galtieri's Revenge.

Saturday, 12 June
As we moved up onto the track round the north of Mount Kent, we could see the sky ahead lit up by Naval star shells and tracer ammunition. The pace was hard and the cooks and the stretcher-bearers started to fall by the wayside. Despite them having lighter loads than us, we found our-selves picking them up, booting them up the arse, and forcing them on. Pushing them made things seem easier for us.

By 02:00, however, we had reached the forming-up point and dug in temporarily. By this time one of the cooks had twisted his ankle and another had jacked, fallen into the mud and was going into exposure. There was no means of casevacing them so I bundled them together in a sleeping bag. With brew lights lit up everywhere, the hillside looked like a fairy grotto.

David Cooper, my signaller Hall and I bundled into a shallow trench to keep warm. At 03:00, when I was up inspecting the 'sickies', Mark Coe and Sergeant Bradshaw chimed up with 'Happy Birthday To You', after first singing to the Padre by mistake. My first birthday greeting.

Eventually, about 04:00, we got the order to move into a position of support for 3 PARA who were having difficulties on Mount Longdon. We were told the Marines were doing well and were on Mount Harriet and Two Sisters. We again pushed forward at a forced pace to try and cover the seven or eight kilometres to the far side of the valley before daylight. The bergen loads once more began to tell.

The airburst shells over Longdon loomed nearer as we approached and the odd shell they'd overshot came even closer. The battalion snaked on. As daylight fell we were stretched round the foothills of Mount Longdon and as the light got up things quietened down enough for us to have a brew. I dug out the last of my Weetabix and had a birthday feast with hot powdered milk.

The World News at 2:00 p.m. Zulu had no mention of the Stanley conflict — it was all Beirut. Towards the evening, OC Headquarter Company, David and myself were called to Zero for an 0 Group, only to find Zero was about four kilometres ahead. We arrived as the CO was putting the finishing touches to his orders for an attack on Wireless Ridge — just in time for a message to come from Brigade cancelling the op.

Mike Ryan and I tabbed back to bring forward the lads of Echelon Platoon and the RAP to a nearer site. Towards last light, together with some attached Marine engineers, we moved in next to a waterfall. After a hot meal, I was about to fall into a deep sleep when Lance-Corporal Bentley presented me with the RAP torch as a birthday present on behalf of the lads.

I survived my birthday and slept deeply — I didn't hear much shelling, little else happened that night. My birthday had passed; I felt a great weight off my mind. Stupid of course, but although more dangerous times were ahead, I was never as frightened as I had been on 12 June.

Sunday, 13 June
We moved out of our location before first light to move nearer to Zero's location, north of Longdon. There had been reports of enemy helicopter activity near us the night before, so we needed to move closer in. We moved in, but not right in, and lay up during daylight in a gully.

Basically, we tried to get as much rest as we could, and a hot meal. We partially dug in, which was well worthwhile because quite a few overs came our way, exploding in the valley and on the far ridge. We were also treated to a flight of Mirages and Skyhawks which swooped over the ridge to the north and made for Teal Inlet and Brigade Headquarters. Only one came back that way.

I really took my life in my hands and went over the top of the ridge to have a shit. During the course of the afternoon we finally had the go-ahead for our previously planned attack on Wireless Ridge. The company commanders departed for a recce from 3 PARA's location.

All suddenly changed as we closed in last light for the move off. A hill we thought was occupied by C Company, 3 PARA, was in fact an enemy position and so the whole attack plan had to be modified. This changed the RAP to a much more satisfactory position (and stopped us getting wiped out, as it happened).

We were rubber clicked on rations though — not enough came for a forty-eight-hour supply per man and one pack for each of us was withdrawn from A Company. But they'd had them for nearly three hours and, needless to say, the goodies had gone.

Two letters even turned up for me before we moved off. One from Leslie and one from Nay, but it was too dark to read much more than the signatures. As light faded the familiar battalion snake reappeared. The bergens were crippling now — the overall mileage was showing.

After about two hours of sweat and slog we reached the new Zero location and dropped off between the mortar line and Zero, digging in next to a rocky outcrop as our own gunners shelled the enemy position. Already two mortar men had broken their ankles supporting the mortar base plates on the soft ground — two more subsequently did the same. One could make the diagnosis in the dark from twenty metres: bang, crack, 'Fuck!'

The snow began to fall as we watched for D Company's attack to go in.

Diary Ends

Whereas at Goose Green we had been short on firepower support, Chris Keeble and the new CO had made sure that this wouldn't be the case for Wireless Ridge. Not only did we have dedicated Naval and artillery support, we also had two light tanks from the Blues and Royals. In fact, one of the subalterns from the Blues and Royals was my first casualty with a case of 'hatch rash' — his hatch had come loose and knocked him out.

The Argentines also had pretty good firepower support, including three 155mm guns, but they had other targets as well as us, which was just as well because they could make a pretty big bang. It was one such shell landing near the A Company Aid Post that killed the company Colour-Sergeant and took several fingers and the shoulder joint out of Private Davies, the medic who had replaced Shorrock.

Davies was brought into us on the back of a Scorpion and after treating him we got him out on a Scout. He caused quite a stir when they cut his clothes off — they didn't expect a medic to be wearing a shoulder holster and pistol. After Goose Green we'd all got a bit dubious, even I had a pistol and a submachine gun.

One spin-off from Davies's injury was that the lads knew that I would need to replace him. Two A Company medics in two battles — the post wasn't popular. They all became solicitous of my comfort suddenly: 'Want a brew, boss?' 'Want some chocolate?' As it was, A Company had its combat medics so I made no immediate decisions.

The companies on the ridges between us and Stanley were finding the enemy artillery their only real obstacle. It created problems for us as well. One of the stretcher-bearers who was resting in his sleeping bag near the RAP was injured by a piece of shrapnel in his bag.

We had dug trenches in which we huddled in the steadily increasing snowstorm. From my point of view there were fewer casualties to deal with than at Goose Green, which was as well because the distances involved were much greater this time.

I spent much of my time co-ordinating casualty retrieval by radio from my trench. There were two nets to listen to, the Command net to 'read' the battle, and the Admin net to control the casevac procedure. By now the cold and fatigue were numbing my brain. David Cooper and I were huddled together in the same sleeping bag, shivering.

At times I wasn't sure whether I was hearing real or imagined messages over the net. At least we kept our casualties moving as the battle started going our way. But the weather steadily worsened. The cold seemed to concentrate in my left ankle, which whilst now less unstable was consistently larger than the other.

In between episodes of activity we half dozed, only to be woken by our next turn for the attentions of the Argentinian artillery. As daylight approached the weather improved; at least, it stopped snowing.

The fight was now several kilometres ahead of us. Even Battalion Headquarters was moving forward. We in turn packed our bergens and moved off, by now several kilometres behind the lead companies. It, was obvious that things were breaking in our favour.

We were all suffering now from the extra burden of the medical equipment and, at David Cooper's insistence, I flew forward in a flagged-down helicopter to try and secure some transport for the rest.

As I walked up to Main Headquarters on the ridge overlooking Stanley and saw the unimpressive capital for the first time, the message came over the radio that the surrender had been made. I heard the message and as the others rejoiced I wandered off to be on my own. As I looked down onto Stanley the tears and sobs welled up. The relief uncapped all the pent-up frustration and suppressed grief; it was finally the time for self-indulgence.

As I regained my composure, I gained a new lease of energy, as did the lads when they arrived shortly afterwards. It was with a tremendous sense of elation and absence of fatigue that we finally made our way down the last ridge and down the road into Stanley.

Now there would be the paperwork to do.

Reproduced by kind permission of Max Arthur ( has of todays date 16 June 2015), waiting for a reply from the publishers.


Was Colonel 'H' a mad fool? ... Unknown author

Reproduced from the Daily Mail ... dated at 12 May 2007

Much has been written about the hero's death that won Colonel 'H' Jones a Falklands VC. Here, for the first time, is the brutally honest and vivid account of one of the Paras who fought with him. It raises some deeply unsettling question. My breath sounded like a storm in my ears. Surely they could hear it? They were only a dozen metres away - no distance at all. You know you're really scared when you think your own breathing is going to betray you. Sliding my weapon into the crook of my arms, I inched forward on my elbows, pushing slowly, very slowly, with my feet.

Col "H"

The slightest sound could lead to catastrophe for our patrol. Every movement I made was carefully measured and weighed. I was soaked to the skin, and my knees and thighs were bruised by the rocky ground I'd crawled over. My hands were numb with cold, and the muscles on my neck and shoulders were clenched like a vice. But I had to concentrate. There was an Argy trench directly in front of me. No enemy visible. One heavy machine gun in place. Couldn't miss that. I was staring straight down its barrel. Another trench 20 yards to the left. Two enemy talking - and pink toilet paper everywhere. The dirty devils had not dug latrines, they'd just walked out of their trenches and fouled the ground in front of their own positions. This was encouraging. It told us they'd been worn down by the wind and weather and couldn't be bothered to dig pits in the freezing cold. If they were similarly sloppy about sentry duty, that was good news for our lads.

Surprisingly, no one seemed to be manning the gun pointing straight up my nose. What was going on in that trench? Better take a closer look. As I inched forward, I could hear the Argies still chatting away in a low murmur. What were they talking about? Girlfriends? Mothers? The price of penguin meat. All that mattered was that there was no edge of alarm in their voices; no hint they'd heard anything. I didn't need Spanish to know they hadn't rumbled us. One more push and I was nearly close enough to touch the ice-cold barrel of that machine-gun. Cloaked by the mist, I lifted myself onto one knee, rifle at the ready, and peered down into the gloom of the trench.


There they were. Three of them. Sleeping like babes, tucked up nicely in their sleeping bags, counting Falklands sheep in their sleep.


I could have killed all three before they could say their Hail Marys. This was a unit that was exhausted and couldn't give a damn. More good news for our lads. It was time to pull back. But as I crawled away in reverse, slowly and deliberately, I had a hunch that we hadn't discovered all the Argy positions and decided we should look further over to the east. There was no way that we'd let our mates run into a lead storm that they hadn't been warned about. They were depending on us to recce these outlying positions before we launched our attack on Goose Green.

As we began eyeballing the ground we hadn't covered, we were ready for anything. Or so we thought. It was Pete Myers, the youngest member of our patrol, who spotted them first, swirling around like spirits in the mist. "What's that over there?" he growled. "Get down," I ordered. We hit the ground and tried to make out what the hell we were looking at. One thing was for sure, they weren't spirits. These things were neighing and whinnying.

"They're f****** wild horses," said Steve Jones, our Welsh lead scout. At that moment, they came thundering straight for us. It was scary as hell. "F*** it. Let's drop the b*******," I spat. "No, don't!" said Jonesy. "Just lie still and flat! They'll run over you! Horses hate stepping on living things!" What did he know that I didn't? Had he been a hussar before he joined the Paras? I didn't think so. There was no time to argue. The herd was upon us. I looked up at them for a moment before pressing my nose to the ground and squeezing my eyes shut. Heads and manes tossing, they charged over us, pounding the ground in every direction, filling our senses. I opened one eye and looked up as a mustang leapt over me. I could see the blur of its legs for a split second before one of its hooves slapped into the peat inches from my head.

Then gun shots! One, two, three! The Argies must have stampeded the horses to flush us out and pinpoint our position. We were done for - laid out in the middle of nowhere with only horse-dung to hide behind. As the horses vanished into the darkness, I snatched up my rifle and took aim. But it was OK. The shooting had stopped. The Argies had only been firing to scare the horses off, turning them away from their trenches. A few relieved shouts and nervous laughter from the enemy. The sight of wild animals coming out of the dark had rattled them, too. "Everyone all right?" A quick head check confirmed that no one had been hoof-minced. "How did you know they wouldn't stamp the f*** out of us?" I asked Steve. "Some ancient bit of Welsh folklore?" "Nah," he answered, "Grand National. You know when those jockeys come off at Beechers Brook? "They just roll into a ball and stay still as f***, then the horses do anything they can not to put a hoof on 'em." "Really?" I said. "Interesting." My heart was pounding, I'd just produced enough adrenaline to fuel a rocket, and my second in command was telling me the reason we'd lived through it was the Grand
National. Still, the Argies didn't suspect it was us who had spooked the horses or they would have mown the grass with machine guns. God, they were sloppy. Careless soldiering costs lives, I reflected as we made our way back to base. Those poor devils were going to discover the truth of that within the next three hours when our lads got stuck into them. The trouble was, so would we.

FLASHBACK. December 1981. Kenya. An hour after dawn.

As I gazed out over the African plain stretching far away into the heat haze, I blinked the salty sweat out of my eyes and tried to concentrate on the view through the sight of my rifle as I searched for the enemy. Movement was not an option. One absent-minded swat at the cluster of flies drinking on my sweat and the game was up. We'd laid three long snakes of green parachute cord across the bush and they slithered invisibly through the landscape. Suddenly one came to life with a rapid tattoo of tugs - a signal from one of the other lads that the enemy was advancing into our trap. We watched them every step of the way. They were inching forward, knowing we were out there. And every second took them deeper into our ambush. It was only an exercise. The yellow blank-firing attachments on the muzzles of our rifles showed that. The enemy were just other lads from 2 Para. But the stakes were high. To the victor went the spoils and that meant the right to taunt the losers over free beer for weeks to come. A prize not to be scoffed at. Then I spotted him, moving up through the scrub to the foot of the ridge we were lying on, right up with the enemy's lead section. It was our boss, 2 Para's commanding officer, Colonel Herbert 'H' Jones.

What the hell was H doing there? He should have been back with his tactical headquarters unit conducting operations, not up with the front platoons. Mark Sleap saw him too. Sleapy by name but not sleepy by nature, Mark was sharp as a tack and one of our top guys. As H handed out instructions to his men, Sleapy opened up. The ambush erupted as rifles and machine guns raked the enemy. It was fast, brutal and effective. The colonel was dead. Direct hit. He wasn't happy. No one likes to be killed and H humped and grumped about it. "It wouldn't have happened," he told Mark later. "We'd have got you lot with our artillery when we softened up your area before moving in." "Maybe, sir," said Sleapy diplomatically. "But I did get you, sir." It was a prophetic moment, a glimpse into a future some six months ahead. Next time, though, 2 Para wouldn't be sweltering in Kenya; we'd be freezing our backsides off in the Falklands.

ONCE again, H would be leading from the front, where he shouldn't be, but this time it wouldn't be an exercise, It would be live rounds and H really would be dead. The posthumous Victoria Cross he earned at Goose Green is probably the most controversial VC of all time. The accounts of the events surrounding his death have mostly been written by former officers and military historians. They're fine as far as they go, but they can't tell it like a front-line para - or Toms as we call ourselves - and they haven't told the whole story. But I can. I was there. The first thing to say is that H was a cracking bloke, the best boss I ever had in the army. He was what we called a "crap-hat" - a soldier from a non-Para regiment, and thus a stranger to the coveted red beret - but he made an immediate impact the moment he joined us.

The hard-core Toms loved the way he called battalion meetings in the drill hall and then announced: "Right, now that you're all here we're going on a ten-mile run." All the fat HQ wallahs, drivers and officers, who normally skived off battalion runs, were trapped and H ran the life out of them. Like any good commander, H wanted action and if there was any glory about, he wanted it for his men and not the "Booties", the Royal Marines who led the task force sent to the Falklands after the Argentinian invasion in April 1982. H's distrust of the "Booties" was apparent from the moment we tried to come ashore on the night of May 21, scrambling off the converted car ferry which had brought us south and cramming into landing craft driven by the marines. As the boats swayed and dipped in the swell, sea-sickness was only part of the problem. There was something else in the air. Raw fear. Any minute now a fusillade from the shore might cut us into pieces. We thought we would head straight for the beach but, instead, we went round and round in endless circles like day-trippers on a municipal boating lake. Just in case the enemy might have any problem spotting us, the whole performance took place in the light of a near-full moon. Boat engines throbbed, chains rattled and clanked, and friendly Booties flashed lights and called out to one another across the water. I was not impressed - and neither was H. We heard him bellowing as he verbally castrated a few gobby marines.

When we finally got ashore, we holed up for two days on the freezing slopes of Sussex Mountain before London gave us the go-ahead for a raid on the airfield at Goose Green to the south. H was on top form. He had plans to formulate and there isn't an officer on the planet that doesn't love planning. Critics now say his plan was too complex, with lots of overlapping waves of attack. It certainly started to come unstuck pretty quickly. On the night of May 23, we pressed through dense mist and rain towards Camilla Creek House -a sheep farm which was our initial base for the attack. But after seven stumbling, mind-numbing, muscle-tearing miles in full kit, we were almost there when we were told to turn back. Bad weather had grounded the Sea King helicopters that were supposed to be moving our artillery forward and Brigadier Julian Thompson, the Bootie in charge of the task force, had called the mission off.

H kicked off like a firecracker. "I've waited 20 years for this," he snarled. "Now some f****** marine's cancelled it." There was nothing for it but to slog back to Sussex Mountain. With the gallows humour typical of the paras, me and the lads from the Patrols Platoon started belting out a song: John Lennon's Give Peace A Chance. Suddenly a head popped out of the command HQ tent flap. It was H. He didn't say anything. He just looked at us with an expression that said: "Oh, it's those f****** nutters from Patrols." H loved the Patrols Platoon - fit, aggressive soldiers whose speciality was getting up close to the enemy, acting as the eyes and ears of the regiment He just looked at us like a patient father with some naughty kids and never said a word.

Four days later, the battle was on for real -but there was more grief for H. On the morning of May 27, we were awaiting orders at Camilla Creek House when suddenly a melee of officers and sergeants appeared among the men. They were in a right flap. "Move out! Move out! Away from these buildings on the double!" one of them yelled. "Grab your kit and f****** get out of here!" It turned out the BBC had announced that we were about to attack Goose Green and, according to some of the men, had even revealed our position at Camilla Creek House. Ironically, it turned out later that the Argy high command thought the bulletins were a double bluff, designed to wrong-foot them. But the BBC announcement was a real jolt for H and left him wondering how much the enemy knew about his intentions. It wasn't his day. The chaos caused by the BBC meant that several officers failed to make a vital briefing meeting. On top of that, the Special Forces recces that he'd been relying on to assess the readiness of the enemy were turning out to be a fairytale, while a Harrier jet had just been lost in a raid that left the enemy unscathed and on full alert. All of which was enough to put any colonel into a spin on the eve of a battle.

Nothing travels faster in a battalion than news of the boss's mood and the word was out. H was not a happy man. CLICK, click. Click, click, click. It sounded like sinister insects calling out to each other in the darkness and the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. For this wasn't insects. It was our lads fixing their bayonets and preparing to advance down the narrow isthmus of land leading to Goose Green. I was thrilled and I'm not ashamed to say it. I was a soldier and the thought of the fight to come gave me a warrior's rush. One or two hands reached out and briefly clasped mine as they slipped by me into the darkness. Somewhere in the gloom a young para puked up with the tension. He got that off his chest and went on to fight like a demon. Things kicked off around 3am when one of the lads from B Company spotted a silhouette in the middle of a field. "It must be a scarecrow," whispered a young officer. A scarecrow? He was on the Falklands, the place was crawling with Argies and he thought he was seeing a scarecrow. "Hands up!" shouted one of the lads. With that, the scarecrow came to life. "Por favor?" he said and reached under his poncho for his weapon. Two rifles and two machine guns opened up on him without a moment's hesitation. Bullets tore through him and tracer rounds ignited his clothing, lighting him up like a Halloween pumpkin. Soon B Company had taken out nearly 20 Argy trenches, tearing through them with machine-guns, grenades and bayonets. It was a good start to their advance but elsewhere H's plans were evaporating as fast as a bottle of port in the officers' mess. We were supposed to be receiving support from HMS Arrow, softening up the enemy positions with bombardments of huge shells at the rate of 30 a minute. This would have shortened the engagement by hours. In the event, Arrow had fired just one shell before her gun jammed. Meanwhile, the Harrier jets we had been promised were fog-bound on their carriers.


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