A history podcast that explores the narratives, turning points and characters that shape conflicts, encompassing a blend of social and military history. Following on from the series on the Falklands War, best-selling military historians Patrick Bishop, and Saul David turn their attention to the war in Ukraine.
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Mon, 06 Jun 2022 01:00
As focus turns towards the capital Port Stanley, a treacherous 'yomp' across difficult terrain and conflicting priorities from commanding officers mean the British forces are left vulnerable.
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Hello and welcome to the Battleground Podcast. I'm Saul David and today Patrick Bishop and I will be talking about the great Yom across East Forkland, the Battle for Mount Kent and the arrival of 5 Brigade. This latter event would lead in turn to the fatal decision to launch a two pronged attack on Port Stanley that would end in tragedy at Fitzroy Bluff Cove and some would argue, delay the end of the war. 5 Brigade had originally been composed of three battalions, two in three parrots and the first 7th Gurkha Rifles. But after two in three parrots were transferred to three Commando Brigade at the start of the conflict, two replacement battalions were found, the first Welsh guards and the second Scots guards. Both joined the 3000 strong brigade from tours of ceremonial duties, during which their infantry training was obviously less intensive than it would have been for a Marine or Parachute battalion. The warning signs were there during a full scale brigade exercise which took place at Sellybridge in the Breckenbeekens in late April and early May which was definitely not a success. It went so badly that there was even a suggestion that the brigade commander, who was a stylish 47 year old light infantryman called Tony Wilson, might be replaced by his ultimate boss, the Field Marshal Sir Edwin Bramble, who was the army chief of the General Staff, either head of the army. But Bramble, after some misgivings, decided to give Wilson the benefit of the doubt and he remained in command. Now 5 Brigade left the UK on the 12th of May. Again on a luxury cruise line at this time, the QE2 and they were joined at Ascension Island by Major General Jeremy Moore and his 80 strong staff. Now Moore was going to take over from Julian Thompson as ground commander once they reach the islands. The assumption by Thompson, and most of those already in the Falklands, was that 5 Brigade would act as a reinforcement rather than a separate combat formation. They were trained to fight from armored personnel carriers. They were a NATO Cold War type force and they were not really going to be as mentally and physically ready for this rather peculiar sort of war that they were now going to have to fight in the harsh terrain of the Falklands, unlike of course the Marines and the Paris who were trained exactly for that. Yet nonetheless, members of 5 Brigade clearly thought they were going to fight. We hear this from Philip Dimmerk who was then a junior captain commanding the 50 strong Welsh guards Morta Platoon and this is what he told us about their thoughts on the journey itself. It was comfortable. We did however do training throughout the daytime, a serious training running round where possible, all the enclosed training that we could do. Obviously no field training, that's a bit of an obvious one. Having said that, it was a Liner, cruise liner and we did live very comfortably in the mess and in the accommodation. I remember I shared a room with another chap but it was very comfortable. Was there a sense among you and the other occupants of the QE2, the Welsh guards, the Gurkas and the Scots guards that you'd better get out there relatively quickly, otherwise you might miss out on the whole thing. I mean was there a kind of sense that you were coming late to the party? I know the actual fighting wasn't started at that point. No, we were not preparing to be the garrison force at the end of the time. Our minds were set on we were going to be involved. Now that came down from obviously above, within the military sphere, within the QE2, the commanders were making it quite clear we had to do the training and be prepared to carry out the role of an attacking force. Well that was Philip Dibbuk and it's interesting, Patrick, I think that he and other members of Fyregaid clearly believed having been briefed by their superiors as he mentions that they were destined to fight and not simply act as a reserve or garrison forces as long been suggested by commentators of the conflict. But he does say that that was coming from above on the QE2. So I think we can deduce from that that it's coming from his brigade commander, Tony Wilson and indeed from Jeremy Moore. Now this is something we'll come on to later but the feeling is that this new role for the four five brigade was actually drempt up, rather on board rather than at northward or as envisaged in Jeremy Thompson's plans on the island. It's interesting also that he makes it very clear that they trained as hard as the circumstances allowed them to and this is obviously a controversial issue that again will surface later. We know that despite the fact that Philip Dibbuk says that the journey was comfortable, the Gorkas didn't enjoy it. There were stories that they were very worried about the ship getting sunk and doing light boat drills, wearing blindfolds and they'd be able to find their way to the ships from their cabins in the darkness. The fact that they were included in the force was controversial from the start. It seems to have been rather a peculiar decision. The Argentinians are claiming that this is a sort of colonial war and attempt by a kind of aging empire well past itself to try and reclaim old colonial possessions, i.e. the Falkland Islands which don't rightly belong to them. Here they are sending what's essentially a colonial mercenary force to aid in that ambition. But people did point out this at the time and say it doesn't look very good, but nonetheless, just like the decision to send fire brigade and Tony Wilson, it went ahead. We'll talk a little about that later on. Yes, it's interesting, Patrick, that you picked up from Philip Dibbuk's account that the instructions were coming down on the voyage. I think that's key, really, isn't it? Because what we're getting a sense of is that Wilson was very keen to get into the action. He was a flamboyant character. Was he thinking this is my one opportunity in war to make my market? He wouldn't be alone in thinking that. After the event, it doesn't look great when we unfold exactly what's going to happen next. But I think it's fair to say that any mid ranking, in fact, lower than that all the way through to senior officers, do want to make them? Mark, and it's completely understandable that both E and the guardsmen and the gokers want to fight when they get down there. They want to be in at the kill and claim some of the glory if they can get it. Yeah, I think that's absolutely right. Again, it's something that civilians maybe don't see at first sight. But, yeah, soldiers want to fight. And one of the saddest things you can do if your career, army officer, is never actually fire weapon and get command men in battle. And if you're a soldier, you actually want to prove yourself. You wouldn't be able to fight. They always say it over and over again. I wanted to see whether all that training, all that preparation actually stood up to battle conditions. So it's a real concern. So I think professional soldiers wouldn't blame someone for trying to get in to the actual fighting end of an operation. It always comes out to whether it works out well or not. See, if it doesn't work out well, you're going to be criticized if it does, no one's going to mention it. So I think that was kind of the situation we are in here. Just on the question of the change of plan, many people have spoken to about how this came about. There's a divided opinion, but one opinion expressed by the SAS commander Dan South, Mike Rose, was that between Central Ireland and arrival in the Falklands, there were no satellite comms between QE2. They broke down basically. There were no satellite communications between the QE2 and either Northwood or the Falklands. His view is that it was then that Wilson essentially bent Jeremy Moore's ear and said, look, we're not going to just sit back in the rear and act as a garrison force. Well, the Marines and the Paris get all the glory. So we need to be part of this. And Moore, who was actually just approaching retirement and was again, well, there was strange choice for commander, thought in the Army service politics, okay, well, I'm a Royal Marine. He was a Royal Marine General. He can't be seen to be completely dominating the show. So let's give the Army a bit of the action. That's how it was explained to me by various people. Again, it seems strange, but this is service culture. These kind of things happen. Yeah. And the consequence of that, of course, is as we will discover a very capable unit for fighting the Falklands 40 Commando are actually left behind at Ajax Bay as effectively covering the logistical movement of supplies when they could have been fighting. But let's move back to the sequence of events. Major General Jeremy Moore, as you mentioned, and the advanced elements of Fibergay reach San Coloss water in East Falkland, having earlier transferred from the QE2 to HMS Antrim on the 30th of May. Now, by that time, Julian Thompson had already begun the advance of three Commando Brigade across the island by sending 45 Commando and three Para to march towards Teal Inlet. He had also identified Mount Kent as the key to the attack on Argentine forces in the chain of hills defending Port Stanley. The dominant feature in East Falkland is Mount Kent. It's the highest mountain in the islands. I got to remember, these are not Alpine mountains or even Norwegian mountains. They're actually great big moorland hills, but high enough. And once you're on Mount Kent, you look down what I described as a staircase of hills leading you down to Stanley. So it's very important, and we spent a lot of time early on getting wrecky forward on Mount Kent. And night after night, you had to do it at night, you knew pointing to your daylight, because you'd advertise your presence to the enemy. And flying forward on the night after night, you were blizzards, snow blizzards, helicopters, flu, taking traps halfway there, three quarters away, they're almost there, never got there. The effort was to get guys on to Mount Kent to make some, we had a foot on the ground before we flew forward anyone else. That was the main purpose of what we were doing to her earlier. And of course, our plan was to fly everyone forward using shunooks, which were coming south in Atlantic and there were four shunooks and let it go there, plus a lot of other helicopters, something like 12 other helicopters. And of course, she was sunk by an exit. And I was sitting in my CP, putting the finishing touches to my plan to fly everyone forward. When a guy stuck his head around the corner, so Atlantic of theirs been sunk. So, they're tearing up and startled all over again today. And in fact, of course, one shunook had survived, because it was a whale on a task. But of course, without any spares or manuals, so when all the red lights came on in the cockpit, saying don't fly me anymore, the japs had to make up their minds, were they going to carry on and do it? Well, they did. To then, to their best, they couldn't carry it to them. Well done. That was Julian Thompson. Now, the march across the island was very, very tough. Hugh Pike was commanding three parrots. And this is what he told us about it. It's a big country. I mean, I remember you and Sardbetailia again on that first briefing in Clemoth. You and Sardbetailia, so holding up the four colliding flags and saying, by the way, these might look like dots on the map of the world, but it's actually big country. And it is big country. And it's very likely that the Western Isles or the Orklands for Chepnins, you know, you get these rock runs, which can be awkward obstacles and very, very soft boggy terrain. And you're carrying heavy loads and a lot of ammunition. Generally speaking, the man coped pretty well with it. To ask, it did reflect not so much training we've done on the Western Isles, but certainly a lot of training we've done in places like Brecken and the Black Mountains and Cennibritian places like that. We felt very much at home, much more at home than our enemy, to whom the terrain was quite unfamiliar with most of the terrain in Argentina. I think Hugh Pike actually makes quite light of it. So talking to some of the participants, they point out that even though both the Paris and the Marines have this sort of marching ethos, they've got this messochistic desire to prove how far they can go carrying quite big loads to qualify as a Marine. You've got to do a 30 mile march within a sort of limited period of time, but you're not actually laden down with your own body weight in kit and ammunition, et cetera. And that's what they had to do on this occasion. So it really was an epic march or as the Marines would say, an epic Yomp. And as the Paris would say, an epic tab. Now, do you know anything about the derivation of these tabs? They went into the English language. You're too young to remember, Saul, but immediately after people would start packing, I was just saying, I'm just going to Yomp, you know, go for a Yomp on the Commodore's side. Now, I've never got to the bottom of a Yomp. It's very onomatopoeic. It sounds great. Tab. I heard as tactical advance to, and then I can never remember, is it bass or tactical? Have you heard that one? Atle? Oh, tactical, that's it. Yeah, tactical advance. Does that sound plausible to you? I don't know. I mean, I'm guessing on that one, but I suspect it's right, tactical advance to battle. Yeah, I think so. What about Yomp? Where do you think that comes from? Well, I think it's just onomatopoeic. There is some kind of Marine words that come from the time they've spent in sort of Arctic or in the Norway and in Scandinavia, training for that Arctic and mountain warfare stuff, saying out in the Ulu, out in the middle of nowhere, and that's that apparent is a corruption of a Norwegian word. Well, we get an interesting perspective, I think Patrick, about the difficulty of that march from Mark Hanken of 42 Commando, who we've heard from before. He didn't do the march, but he had done a lot of timed marches. He knew how difficult they were and he gives us a sense of perspective. Now, Marines in all strangers to Yomp in long distances and carrying every equipment, every room, Marines, part of the final Commando test has got a complete attempt for him, I let her win the Greenberry. However, it's not normally done with this amount of kit that the guys were carrying. I don't think any of us have ever carried so much weight in any previous exercise we'd ever done. We never trained with the actual weight of live ammunition that we were required to carry down south. And certainly 82 over £100 a kit wasn't uncommon, per man. So with this weight a kit in the conditions under foot and the atrocious weather and the distance they had to cover, it was a really epic effort by 45 Commando and three power. It must have been a real test of grit and determination to not only complete it, but then to fight battles once they had arrived at their intended locations. That was Mark Hankin who'll be hearing from Bitnator on. And while all this was going on, the great Yomping and the Tabbing, the vital battle for Mount Kent was underway as Julian Thompson explains. At the same time as the Goose Green operation started, three parrots and four five commanding started marching east, I found foot, to go Vartilinlet, which is in Salvador water, a big bit of water in the middle down there, and eventually onto the Mount Kent area. And the reason we went Vartil was we could take supplies round there by LSL and land things like our tit ramination, fuel, and all sort of heavy things by sea. And so it was a very convenient intermediate place to hold on our way to Mount Kent. That at all started, so they were actually moving while the battle was going on down the other end of the island. When it was over, I went forward by which time they'd all got to either T. Linders or to a short of it. A good effort indeed, carrying a lot of kit. It was some very unpleasant ground. And they continued marching on. And then what I then did was fly for to come on down forward by helicopter onto Mount Kent to get ahead of them. And by this stage, thank goodness, Discord and Lavera. Because as the helicopter was carrying 420M on a fluid and signed a land, Argentine special forces had arrived and were starting to engage them. Well, Discord left dealt with them and kept them out of the way, which enabled 420M to get onto the top of Mount Kent and hold the high ground. And then we flew guns in and we were really in business then to start the descent of the staircase down to Stanley. But it took some time because we were very in mind that you have to fly ammunition on guns forward by helicopter. The distance, the turnaround distance, sorry, the 120 miles, refueling every time. And it took something like two days to fly one battery and its ammunition there. We're going to fly four batteries. And we're not going to start this battle until I had enough gun ammunition in place to support them. This all took time. Well, that was Julian Thompson and we get from him a pretty clear idea of what the plan is now. His forward battalions three par an 45 Commando marching across the island. And he is effectively preparing the battle. He wants to get on with the war. He wants to end it as quickly as possible. Now, the specifics are that the advance elements of 42 Commando, K and L companies were helicoptered into Mount Kent at dusk on the 31st of May 1982. When they arrived, the firefight was already taking place between SAS and Argentinian forces. K company of 42 Commando was tasked with carrying out a night attack to capture the summit of Mount Kent. When they reached the summit, they discovered to their immense relief that the Argentinians had withdrawn. We're here now from Mark Hanken, the 17 year old GP MG gunner from 42 Commando. We piled into the cequings. All lights off. It was a night flight. It was contour flying close to the ground at fast speed. The helicopters were swaying left to right. We were getting buffeted by winds. The pilots were using night vision goggles to fly. And we just seem to be going at break next speed. Obviously, there's a thump at the rotors above us and the noise of the engine and the wind flying past us. It was proper adrenaline pumping because we didn't know what we were going to land at. We didn't know whether we were going to have a hot LZM. We'd be fighting for our lives or whether there was anyone there. After about half an hour, the helicopters sort of flurred up and then dropped us on the side of the feature. The helicopters took off. Obviously, the noise eventually disappeared into the distance. I just remember it being quite eerie that, you know, it was 8,000 miles from home, 17 years old. 50 miles away or more from the nearest support. We dropped into our all round positions facing out and I just thought, here we are in the dark on the side of this mountain and it just seemed, you know, it was just a surreal moment. Anyway, we were met by a special forces patrol and we moved off onto Mt. Khen and then eventually on Mt. Challenger before first light. I remember getting into position, I didn't amongst the rocks on Challenger. I remember seeing in the distance, Argentinian, helicopters flying. They seemed to be around two sisters and out towards Port Stanley. At the time, we only had our fight in order. We'd carried loads of ammunition up there, but we did have our sleeping bags with us, but no burgans, no spur clothing. I think we carried either one, maybe two, 24 hour ration packs in a water bottle. We'd be on this mountain for the next 11 days and very long nights. We were shivering and starving, waiting for these other units to catch up. Eventually, we'd end up a attacking Mount Harrier on the 11th of June. During this 11 days on Mt. Challenger, we were riding amongst the rocks. We had no cover from the elements, should I say. By now, we feet were in a really bad way. I had trench foot. We feet hadn't been dry since we landed at San Carlos and they wouldn't actually get dry again until I was back on camera after the war. I was trying everything. I was rotating me socks and we spurped. It was under me armpits during the day or at night trying to dry them out with me body eat. Nothing seemed to work. The weather was atrocious. One minute, it'd be gales, then it'd be frost, then it'd be pouring with horizontal rain, ails stones. You know, it just seemed to be changing all the time, but it was always horrible. We had 24 hour ration packs. We were trying to make them last two or three days. We'd run out of water and we were using the water out of muddy puddles. We just loaded the water bottles up with sterile tablets and then boiling the water. But obviously, we could only cook during the day because obviously we didn't want our cookers giving away our position in the dark at night. At this time, we started to receive tasks. So, after we've been there three or four days, I think it was the third or June. Four troop might, three were tasks with a fighting patrol. And basically, some of the lads on it had described it as a suicide mission. We knew the enemy were on Mount Harrier. They had 0.5 brown and heavy machine gun positions there and they also obviously had weeks and weeks to prepare the defensive positions. The unit had an OP, I think, on challenger looking towards Harrier. And obviously, what we wanted to do in preparation for the attack was find out exactly where these heavy machine gun positions were. So, the plan was for four troop to go out last light, wait for it to go dark and then approach Mount Harrier and basically bump the enemy. At some point, we would just keep walking towards Mount Harrier until they actually saw us. At which point, obviously, we would expect them to start shooting at us. They're by giving away the position of their heavy machine guns. And at that point, it would be down towards to give them everything we were carrying and then turn tail and scarp, have backed him out challenger. Hopefully, with the OP managed into plot, where all these heavy machine guns positions were. Just remember, this was probably the longest night of our young lives because we set off in daylight and we did get a bit of sporadic artillery shells. But we never picked up any casualties and we waited for it to go dark and at which point the fog came rolling in. And remember, it was like a really crisp, cold night, you know. You could hardly see what a few meters in front of you. So, we ended up just in extended line, one behind the other, walking and it just seemed to go on for hours and hours and hours. And of course, we know what was going to happen when we bumped into the enemy. So, of course, the adrenaline was picking up and it just seemed to go on and on for ages. And eventually, as we were creeping towards the feature, we had this loud explosion and the next thing, one of the lads is screaming in pain. Turns out that one of the lads in the true marked Curtis, we used to call him Tony Curtis. He'd troughed on an anti personnel mine, had a really serious injury to his leg. He then ended up losing his leg from just below the knee. As that explosion went off, we just hit the deck. We're now in a minefield. We don't know if our next step or our next movement is going to be another mine. And all we can hear is our Gentilians shouting to each other, you know. So, it's the middle of the night, have we disturbed him in the trenches? You know, they're unsure what's going on. They've just heard the explosion. So, although Tony was obviously in a lot of pain, I think some of the guys ended up having to sort of try and muzzle him and quiet him down because, you know, we didn't want him to give our way out position. And some absolutely heroic action from his section, Corporal Cuffle and the rest of the lads got some immediate first aid to Tony. And he was carried him out. At this point, we started to receive incoming mortar and artillery fire. And I guess they were just spraying the area of hope into catchers. Being a GPMG, you know, me and me, number two Chris Burns, along with some of the other gum teams, we were left behind to sort of act as a rear guard while the rest of the troop carried Tony out the position. It was just the next sort of 10 hours or more, it took us to get Tony back to Mount Challenger. It was just a long, long night trying to carry him across rock runs. We didn't have a stretcher. In fact, in 1982, as far as I was, we were. The British military had no field stretcher, which sounds a bit bizarre when you look at it. But we were improvising trying to make stretches out of ponchos and combat jackets. And it was just a real struggle over the difficult terrain to get Tony at all his kit back to safety. Because we obviously, we couldn't call in helicopters. It was too foggy to start with. But they just got blown out this guy. We were that close to the enemy. Well, that gives us a real feel for the dreadful conditions up there. I arrived with Fortucamando on a seeking. And I remember it was incredibly bleak. It was the middle of the night. The wind was howling. It was a pretty surreal place to be. I remember seeing these characters looming out of the darkness towards me. It was a, an essay as patrol. And even under the sort of grime and the camouflage cream and all the rest of it, I recognised this both look straight and true familiar. And he said to me, hello, is that Patrick? And I said, yeah. He said, it's me. I forgot his name. He said, don't you remember, we were at dinner about six weeks ago. And I all came back to me. I'd been at this sort of slony dinner party in London. And there was this guy there from a par, allegedly from the, from the Royal Tant regiment. And in fact, he was in the essay. Yes, of course, he couldn't say that. So that he didn't, he knew I was a journalist, but he had no expectation whatsoever. He'd be on top of Mount Kent 8,000 miles away. So that's a weird things like that happened. So very dramatic stuff, but it was drama all the way two hours after the initial landing by Fortu Commando. The one surviving British Chinook was tasked with bringing up three 105 millimeter guns and 300 rounds of ammunition to plonk on top of Mount Kent in order to support the troops up there to be able to fire down onto, onto Port Stanley and basically keep the enemies headstone. Now on its flight back, well, while it was there, it had a pretty, some pretty hairy moments, but on the flight back, they were hit by a snowstorm. And this near catastrophic event ensued, which the co pilot and the lawless will tell us about now. We were going in there to provide them with fire support. I also were told there was some casualties we were taking off as well. So we flew in there, low level on goggles, and then we as we come into the hover, the supposed secure landing site, it was if anybody's been to the fault, it's stolen rivers or massive stones, which we spent, we must have spent about 10 minutes just maneuvering the guns because you can't just put guns down and let the guys move them. So we were craning them like almost like a mobile crane. We would go in, put, you know, we had some of the guns under slung with ground teams and they would point the guns in the direction they wanted them. During that time, we actually could see incoming fire. And I can remember at one point, one of the troops running under the desafiring machine gun, and I'm thinking secure landing site, I don't really think so. However, we did spend about 10 to 15 minutes making sure the guns were in the correct position and picking a good spot to land on to do it rid of our troops and part of you. We did all that and then we were going back to do another serial. So we came off Mount Ken then back into the, it was a sort of a routing so we wouldn't be flying back into our own troops on one way system. And away we went, as we went away, I picked up in our heart, we are some physical indications that there was a set radar looking at us. I was discussing that with Dick who was flying. What I concluded was there was a roll in the area. So if we pulled up then the next thing after the set radar would be the, you know, the fire radar. So we were talking about that. As we were talking about that, we went to a massive south Atlantic storm. So when I see stops, no sure, these things just appear from nowhere. And the goggles completely came out, Dick was flying me navigating and operating the ECM. We just lost all references. And very quickly think, well, if we'd pull up, you know, we'll be pulling up straight into the parameters for a roll and, you know, a surface turn myself taking you out. We couldn't turn around because that was back straight back into the high ground off Mount Ken. And as we were trying to form you to fly, bang, massive bang. And that was when we now know we hit water, but because Dick was slowing down. And as we were slowing down, we were descending. Remember, we were extremely low level. I thought we had been hit with something. I miss out on something like that. And I remember thinking that we were down Dick was shouting at me. You know, we both were on the controls, but they were locked to controls were locked because when the aircraft hit the water, luckily the shunook and, well, number one luck is we hit water. If it hit brown, we wouldn't be here. We knew that would be the end. So we hit water, but the shunooks designed to operate off water. So it's, you know, you can actually land in water, taxi water. So it landed, you know, if you think the way the shook is, like just like a boat, you know, the way it is. So bang, we hit water very quickly. aircraft decelerated, but there was a bow wave, which came over the over the front of the aircraft. I can remember that very clearly. So water spilled over the cockpit. That continued back down through the engines, which actually wound down the engines. So when you get a dramatic reduction in rotor speed, the hydraulic pumps, everything, they all drop off. So there was no control of the aircraft whatsoever. And the aircraft slowed down by then. Although this is a few seconds, I then realized it was an uncontrolled ditching if you want. I pulled my door. The crewman pulled his door in the back. He always give yourself exits for all the crew, your door out the back door back onto the controls and what have you. And then the engines wound up again as the aircraft slowed down. So the water is not flowing. If you like, cascading over the aircraft. And because the controls were where they were, you know, they're going to be so same, but acquire this amount of power. I mean, we didn't fly the aircraft off, the aircraft flew itself off because the aircraft was this is the position I should be in. I've got lots of power here when the rotor spilled up again, engines and rotors wound up again. The aircraft is like a champagne cork out of the bottle, bang the aircraft to coffin end, who were back in control of the aircraft again. So that was that. We were quite fortunate then. Gallows ourselves, what has happened, you know, the crewman are checking round the back outside of the aircraft. Have we actually been hit? Is there any damage there, craft? No, you're checking. No, everything's fine. So we'll continue, we'll continue back. And then I thought, well, I'll give them the good news of the bad news. And I went, see when I pulled my door off. That's where all my maps, all the IFF that identification are finding four codes to get in through our rapier batches, all that stuff had gone with the door. So I was, you know, left there, luckily I'd memorized the route. So there was no problem at all. How good back, but we didn't have the codes to get back in. So what we had to do was fly back towards the beachhead of ports and carless. And we just employed what we used to do in Germany was what we called lame duck procedures. So if you lost radios or lost something, you would just go back and make yourself very obvious, you know, by flashing your light on and off. So you weren't being aggressive at all, came back over the beachhead of some carless and I seeking came up checked us out. And then we followed to seeking back in and landed on for our engineers to inspect here, Grafenkawia. And that was when we decided that was the end of first saute that evening. So that was it. Well, that was Andy Lawler's, the co pilots of the last surviving Chinook pilots. And it's interesting in that extract, you don't actually hear, he said to us also that he'd been briefed by Lieutenant Colonel Mike Rose, the commander of the SES, who insisted that the landing site was secure and you very much get a sense of that extract. But it certainly was not, as you say, Patrick, it was pretty hairy when they arrived. But the survival of actually hitting the lake was pretty remarkable. And I was struck, I must admit, by the description of the Chinook itself as a boat. When you look at its outline, of course, it's got a great flat, sort of oblong shape. And it literally skimmed across the water and then came out as he put it like a call from the bottle. I mean, amazing story of survival because frankly, that Chinook was really vital to the British effort in the Falklands. A great test of it to the fantastic durability of the aircraft as well. And it's a brilliant, brilliant piece of kit which is done sterling service all over the world for all sorts of forces. Just incidentally, after that, Patrick was told by Andy that whether the SES orders came down from on high, from basically from more, that the SES would have no further access to the Chinook helicopter. They were no bad for using the Chinook after that one. Anyway, after the break, we're going to discuss the arrival of five Brigade at San Carlos and the fateful decision by Major General Jeremy Moore to order a two pronged attack on Port Stanley which meant delaying three Commando Brigades assault while five Brigade got into position. Welcome back. Julian Thompson's hope was that three Commando Brigade would be allowed to fight the Battle of Port Stanley alone coming in from the north and west with five Brigade in a supporting role basically maintaining the rear area coming forward if reinforcements were needed. But when Moore reached the Falkland, that is the overall Lan Commando of the 30th of May, he decided, or rather he announced, that Tony Wilson's five Brigade with two parat now reattached to it should also open up the southern axis of advance towards Port Stanley via Fitzroy and Bluff Cove which were adjoining settlements 36 miles east of Gusegrin and to the south and west of Port Stanley. The problem as usual was helicopter lift capacity to maintain itself the rations and equipment and to build up its position at Mount Kent, three Commando Brigade needed every heavy helicopter available to the landing force and more accepted this. Yes, now the Gerkers of five Brigade came ashore from Canberra on the 1st of June and started to march to Gusegrin. These tough little soldiers would make light of this difficult yomp. Wilson meanwhile flew to Gusegrin in a helicopter and a suggestion of Chris Kebel of two parrow who was still in command whose patrols had discovered that Fitzroy and Bluff Cove were undefended, Wilson decided to send two companies of two parrow forward to take possession of those settlements on the south coast of East Falkland. It was a move of course designed to ensure that five Brigade would play a full part in the final battle yet the decision had been taken without the knowledge of either Jeremy Moore or more seriously Julian Thompson at Mount Kent. Well I heard about it first by accident ready because they didn't keep us in the picture because what happened was I don't want to tell the story because lots of other people will they eventually flew forward to parrow to Fitzroy and I had OPs quite a long way away something like 15,000 meters away up in the high ground and four two command of either time around Mount Challenger and not a great distance for Fitzroy and they suddenly said hey there are Argentine's landing in a shunook because they didn't have any markings on it most of us didn't realize I didn't I did but most of the guys didn't realize that a shunook could survive and so my wreckage troop my brigade wreckage troop and four two commanders were starting to give orders to their gunners to far on two parrow landing at Fitzroy luckily the gun trails were pointing one way they had to move them through 90 degrees and my brigade major my chief of staff said I think he would have just checked it as an archive so he got onto division I had court and said hey who are these people landing in Fitzroy and they said we'll just turn check it didn't know either then said God is is too parrow five reated not told even division had called us they're going to do it and as a result we nearly had a mega king the size blue on blue which really would have sported everyone that I suggest and because of not keeping people in the picture and Tony was absolutely obsessed with beating us into Stanley I think so he kept it all under his hat and Jeremy was unlanded with this he then had a battalion sitting out on his own had to be supported and the division on staff went down almost on bended knee to my clap and said can you take some ships around to support this lot and so he said yes I can but the trouble with choosing that was it was a 17 hour trip by LSL from Soundcast to Fitzroy that's a 14 hour night so there's no way you can completely get there in daylight and offload in daylight in night time I mean was going to teal inlet it was only a seven hour trip so you could get there in darkness and probably do most your out of loading probably all of it in darkness what he should have done is stuff him in put him in the north not the round the other way so Julian Thompson there really getting to the crux of the matter this real divergence of opinion about how the next and crucial and leading to the final phase of the battle should be approached so he was clearly taken by a surprise at the change of plan and I think this is further evidence of one of the real failings I think of the campaign in general which is this real problem they have with communicating with each other it's not just a question of the equipment and the technical ability to talk to each other it's also about a kind of mindset I think don't you so yes I do but I think you also get this mindset in war that if you want to take an autonomous decision you make sure you're out of communications I mean it's there's no question the communications were tricky on the forked in particular for five brigade I mean one of the tragedies that we'll come on to was incurred because they were trying to bring forward communication equipment so that's not in doubt but what is also pretty clear from Julian Thompson's memory is that Wilson clearly wanted the opportunity to get involved and so this is really driving things I mean to not even consult with more that he's going to actually do this great leap forward and once the leap forwards done of course it's got to be backed up I mean he's really taking the initiative himself and he's forcing events on the ground now his initial plan was for the rest of five brigade to follow the gerkers at least at first overland to go screen and so in the afternoon of the third of June the Welsh Guard set off and walked for 12 hours before five brigade HQ agrees with their CO that the attempt should be abandoned the Guardsman were too heavily laden and the few vehicles that were carrying their heavy kit kept getting bogged down we hear this from Captain Phil Demo we have all our kit I was the mortar officer and therefore we needed ammunition actually I went to tie out with the gerkers to get our ammunition collector ammunition in order to take part in any operation that was going on the mortar ammunition is quite heavy the mortar battoon could not carry its own ammunition two tractors and trailers because we couldn't get or our battalion couldn't get transport to move forward we got to local forklunders to drive two tractors and trailers and we loaded our kit onto the tractors and trailers the heavy kit every man had what kit he was carrying all his raksacks ammunition everything apart from the support weapons weaponry ammunition which was not insignificant these two vehicles were able to help us we set off to go screen we set off on the walk through the night last thing as it was getting dark or was dark but actually the vehicles the tractors the required equipment was not able to move easily it was bogging in the tractors were bogging in they weren't able to pull the trailers full of kit so at one stage if I remember rightly we were sort of pushing the tractors to keep them going through the mud but I think it was realized actually it was a downside hard on moving across this country them was anticipated and therefore the decision was made we would pull back go back to where we started and then work out how we were going to move forward if it was just people on foot it would have been easy but to take the weapon systems as well the battalion in like his battalions weapons systems and and wait was not going to work we were sinking they were not tracked vehicles as we know so that was Captain Demick there with his recollections and I must admit I find that very persuasive and rather moving you know they're doing their best everything is going wrong for them it's it's just a chapter of accidents but others didn't see in quite such a sympathetic light as we'll hear from the coxen of landing craft Fox Scott three Dave Watkins who picked them up after their march we landed four five commando in the palace and the scots guards at San Carlos Beachhead and they disappeared often and they got on the job they were supposed to do and then we also landed the Welsh guards and they left the boats in exactly the same manner as everybody else they were fully kitted at with burglings they had the weaponry the ammunition everything else in order for them to do the same yomp march across the four clans everybody else had done and I think it was about 24 and 40 hours later we were recalled to the beach to pick them up again because they couldn't do the march they weren't fit enough and a lot of the equipment that they had they thrown away because they couldn't carry it I had reason to speak to a company commander because he was insistent apart we make his troops a cup of tea on the boat which was a physical impossibility anyway and when I asked him why his men had not done the same march as everybody else had done he basically told me to shut up and get on with my job which was like red ragged through a ball so I'm afraid that I'll let him have a bit of a mouthful about the weakness of his troops and so on and so on and so forth well that was Dave Watkins a landing craft coxen who clearly was left an impress with the performance of the Welsh guards and the attitude of one of their officers whether that's an absolute fair retelling of the story given that he wasn't on the march itself apart from having seen them coming back as a is a non the matter but that was his opinion and clearly you get a sort of arrogance coming through from from at least some of the Welsh guards officers asking what can somebody tea or on his landing craft when clearly that wasn't possible yeah I mean people have different recollections I think we've got to we've got to sort of put ourselves in the minds of the of the Welsh guards as well that at the end of a very unpleasant experience everyone's morale wasn't at the greatest heights at all times so you know I've got a lot of sympathy for the Welsh guards and this one I have to say okay so without helicopters and unable to march the only way now to get the Welsh guards and the Scots guards to Fitzroy was by C the plan was to send the Scots guards first on the night of the 5th to 6th of June in the amphibious assault ship HMS in Trapid it was you and Sudby Taylor who was given the job of getting them there safely I got a message saying report to the Commodore on board HMS Failess immediately so I grabbed an off duty little rigid reading craft which is a you know Dory Boston Dory was not bought and I sped off to Failess sort of the Commodore is that you're an HMS in Trapid is taking the Scots guards round to Bluffcoe and you are to navigate them from a landing point which is one mile two south of the place called Elephant Island at the entrance to Chessel Soundwich leads all way up to Darwin and Goose Green and you are to take them 600 men in the four Lennogov and Trapid's Lennogov and take them to Bluffcoe right sir very good I'd go back to the beach and collect my charts now I'm got time you're going straight to the road this is where you got your memory and first yes very good sir and so I joined in Trapid Scots guards from on board I wasn't prepared to the comics and games of the darts because I think there was some confusion over the time since they arrived and since they started moving off anyway on board the captain was a chap called Peter Dingermanns and the officer commandeer on me it was a little friend of mine obviously and then you miss the officers anyway when we set off with the Scots cards and Mike Carver told Dingermanns to lend us a set by the miles side of Elephant Land and I was given a set there that nine and a half round to Bluffcoe in the dark which I knew the way and I'd actually kept on the floor to the Romney and officers cabin and then I was with and told that we were approaching the launching point so I've interrupt the bridge to see Captain Dingermanns and I'm afraid this is where it gets a bit personal but he showed me or he didn't show me because that's a part of the problem I didn't know where we were he said you and I'm not taking you to Elephant Land as I worried about the exercise threat shore based exercise threat which was only then a rumor I'm going to drop you to the west of Leibhler and if you look at the chart you can see that was a hell of a long way from Elephant Land and Leibhler and is a large island to the south of the entrance to Chesselsand and tells you well I didn't think it was a very good idea so because you know I've got 600 men in four open lanyard unarmed unarmed the weather right now is quiet but I knew Jollywell that it probably wouldn't be quite for long and it is going to be at least seven hours well the portmuggers sitting in an open lanyard in the beginning of the Austral winter and no matter how calm there's going to be spray coming in and also the lanyard graph there's large lanyard had great freeing port at tech level through which the sea could come in and go out because they were designed to carry tanks not people the way it wouldn't have mattered that's him well this is not a good idea and then said if I meet any British warships can I hear the recognition signal they said no you won't meet any British warships because they're on to it because south of Chesselsand was and all that area was used as a sort of naval gun line supporting the Paris and the rains up in the mountains until it comes steam up and down far in the 4.5 inch tons but there won't be any there that night I was told by Tingamans and so he wouldn't give me the recognition signal which I thought was a bit childish talking about the harm so I said well any ship I meet is going to be Argentinian so he said yes I think there's probably a fair assumption not that the Argentine said warships they didn't have two or three little gun boats and you didn't need much to sink in an armed landing craft anyway so I said can we discuss this in private so we went back into the rear end of the bridge there's a chart high switch from shut the door and I said I think you should know so I think they're all fighting things things and he said you don't speak to me like that on my bridge I said look come on with about the carry out a pretty complicated operation it was asked me to do us at least to sell a night journey with no navigation charts no echo sound radar can never be used occasionally if at all and where I said well it's the effect that the loss of 600 million scots guards was going to be considerably more a loss to the task force and the loss of each of us in private and in private I mean happeners I helped design the latest traditions but worked now and I know that going on a bit but they were the same principle they were designed to take on so in the next 6,000 tons of water so they could sit down to flood their dock so they could let the landing craft out and then the way I accept is a above water system and I think you'll find I'm really be creative but originally when the French media said it was designed to be fired in servers of four to guarantee sinking a ship and they were talking about sinking destroyers frigates cruisers not 12,000 ton LPD is designed to take on 6,000 tons of water and there's nowhere that fearless or trepid would have been sunk over being damaged heavens not by one next to it and he said well he didn't agree with the loss of intrepid would be more important or he thought loss of intrepid would be more important losses and I mean well that's how I read it so I said well I just remember my last words to you so work I think purifying things things don't get off my bridge which is not actually the way to treat somebody who's being invited to a planning complicated and dangerous task so we went down and dispensions so we were at the launching position so we went down to the landing craft got on board the lead one and we were launched into a very calm evening or late night got a little time it was things before midnight and senior cops and the landing cart was in it's in where are we sir I said do you know what I have the slightest bloody idea with somewhere west of lively island and you know a cops and is a very experienced by the time he gets to that level and he just couldn't believe what I was saying and I couldn't believe that I had to say it then we said off I did recognise lowland said off north east recognise lowland turned to the south then there are kelp beds which had to be scurried round and then we turned up towards the north from south end of the island and at some stage along there there were six massive explosions around it so they would be targeted by either an aircraft or heavy artillery they were all missed thankfully but nobody to this day and there's where those projectiles came from they weren't missiles and then the winds started getting up quite quickly and the men were getting really soaked you've got to remember this is in the dark at the beginning of the Austro's winter absolutely no cover at all in the landing cart and out of the darkness came two black ships no lights obviously I remember Dingerman's words saying if you see any ships they're going to be Argentina well you couldn't make up the size of the scene but there were two ships approaching us from the scientist I decided that we would run in to Chesselsan because I knew the islands even out my chart so I reckon we would find somewhere to hide at that point a little red pinpoint light flashed friend well I reckon they all said British warships so I said to myself in a send back to which he sighed I actually didn't know I thought to myself for here I said to which side but I was bloody angry because before that it happened they had star shielded so they'd lit us up for miles around I'm not gonna wait four and a half inch star shells up on this guy for any enemy we'd have seen exactly what was happening from then this little light same friend and I said oh I can't do it excited and then pushed off to the side he's I hope that's not very friendly we could do a little bit of help navigation if not in a militarily in a way we said we continued on our way and when we reached as a passage between an island called East Island and the mainland and in between that there's a hill collection of rocks which I knew and it's what I call the Z bend because it is a Z through this rocks you have to negotiate only recommended in broad daylight and it can't see but I think I's determined to try and get through there in the dark because the alternative was to go where on East Island and beyond the kelp beds because they were full of rocks therefore pretty close to Stanley and before we turn west up Fitzroy up towards Bluffcove and I really didn't want to do that because that was seriously dangerous and of course if dinghy was dropped us at Elifat Island we'd have been through them in fact on seas because we would have been seven miles earlier or five miles earlier anyway we got around East Island to the East Indie and we signed town quickly to port and found Bluffcove at dawn and I landed the 600 million of the Scott Scots with quite a few cases of exposure and they were not historic I'm not a Scott so I would say that they were my heart went out to them. Well that was you and Zeldby Telia with his account of what happened of course we haven't got Captain Dingermann's version of events he died a few years back and I think we have to bear that very much in mind it's always difficult when you have two possibly conflicting points of view and you can't actually hear one of them so I think that's just a caveat we ought to enter there when we're considering this aspect of the story I think when bad consequences flow from things there is a tendency to draw a line a direct line of responsibility if you like which isn't necessarily apparent at the time war is always a thing of many parts many moving parts which don't necessarily all mesh at the right time as I've often said if things go right it's all fine no one goes back and pours over it if they go wrong they do and there's a natural human tendency I suppose to try and simplify it cause an effect which is not really how life works that's absolutely right Patrick and we need to add that caveat but we also need to make the pretty clear point that there's no doubt the Scott Scots were dropped off too soon and this unfortunately as you say we know what happens next but this unfortunately begins a chain of events that's going to lead to tragedy now on arrival at Bluffcove the exhausted guards were make their way from the beach to join two parrots now commanded by the recently arrived left hand and kernel David Chandler on the high ground above yeah this is interesting I mean why David Chandler that you've got a Chris Keable who's actually taken over the goose green battle after eight's Jones has killed and you know won it yet he's now replaced as CEO of two parrots by David Chandler who at very able officer I'm sure all the rest of the week arrives them in spectacular fashion he's dropped in them from an aircraft and does what they call a halo sounds of a high altitude low opening which means that you you kind of plummet through the skies the dark south Atlantic freezing at winter skies and then pull the rip cord when you're I don't know what hype a very low height lands in the sea there's a prearranged place and then a landing craft or something goes out to go a rigid radar or something goes out and picks him up now again this is a kind of you know service protocol which is beyond the civilians under the sturdy but basically the rules are okay you know Chris Keable isn't sufficiently senior to take over even though he's done a great job and it's David Chandler's right of course David Chandler does a fantastic job thereafter but it's just a bit of a odd one for this civilian mind yeah it's interesting that some general more who of course after the event there was a little bit of criticism that he took an awful long time to get to the island and should have got there earlier he says in retrospect I should have done the same thing I should have parachute it out of a out of a plane and arrived a little bit quicker yeah he's quite a bit old of course then then take me to this so I think that's very bold of him to say that anyway the Welsh guards arrive at Bluffcove and they don't have any orders there's no one there to give them any and the parrots are in a bit of a perilous this is two parrots who've moved forward are also in a bit of a perilous situation they've got only two days rations to last them five days they're hungry and they're cold then at last it was agreed that the guards would take over the positions established by two parrots well Chandler's men retired to the Shearing Sheds at Fitzroy and began to drive themselves out for what came ahead the very arduous time that lay ahead yes well great drama to come that's all we have time for this week next time we'll discuss the chain of events that led to the tragic loss of life among the Welsh guards on the segala had Fitzroy on the 8th of June 1982 the bombing of the landing craft Foxtrop 4 and the revenge meted out by a harrier pilot David Mog Morgan who we've heard from before and who shot down two of the three attacking Argentinian planes