Published with kind permission of Jock Love 11th June 2015
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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.
"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
Giajl © Jim Love
Crouching on the pebbly shore .
I paused, and saw an old man,
Staring back at me.
And in reaching out,
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
I'm near Odin's door.
I bear the marks ,
Of the Valkyrie's wings.
Upon my back!
On the battlefield .....
I've drank at Freyja's bar.
Now I choose to drink with
And look upon....
Giajl © Jim Love
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.
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 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.
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
KINGS'S OF THE CASTLE
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.
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.
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 .....
But man never waits, and so....
chooses his own,
Thus to that end.
Men died, whether Foe
They all ,died that day.
And every day....
Giajl © Jim Love
I HAD A DREAM…………
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?
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
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,
And the world .........
turned,... upside down.
But, I held on......
While it all erupted.
Death,..... played his game !
And I waited,.... my turn.
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,
Giajl © Jim Love
HERE KITTY! KITTY!
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
Long seeing, of a soul.....
Giajl © Jim Love
Yesterday and Tomorrow
I have no voice for lullaby's
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.
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.
below blood red....
On Mount Longdon.
Giajl © Jim Love
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.
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).
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.
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
So we swept over the land,
And made it ours.
21st May 1982.
Giajl © Jim Love
ALL ASHORE THAT'S GOING ASHORE
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 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.
THE DYING MAN.
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.
Giajl © Jim Love
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
I SPY WITH MY LITTLE EYE…………..EH ..EAR !
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
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.
blood, in the air.
I heard ............
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