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.
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Mon, 13 Jun 2022 01:00
In one of the most tragic and horrifying incidents in the war for the British forces, the Sir Galahad landing craft is bombed when fully laden with Welsh Guards. Saul and Patrick explore the decisions that led to the tragedy, and the heroic defensive effort from fighter pilots David 'Mog' Morgan and Dave Smith in preventing further casualties.
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Hello and welcome to the Battleground Podcast. I'm Saul David and today Patrick Bishop and I will be talking about the chain of events that led to the tragic loss of life among the Welsh guards on the Sagarahad at Fitzroy on the 8th of June 1982. The bombing of the landing craft Foxtrot 4 and the revenge meted out by two seahariate pilots David Mog Morgan and Dave Smith who shot down three of the four attacking Argentinian skywalks. Just to put you in the picture, three Commando Brigade who landed way back on the 21st of May have now pushed out from the beachhead and are established on top of Mount Kent and on the approaches to the Ring of Mountains that protect the capital, Port Stanley. However, they are having to stay put, freezing cold, soaked to the skin and often going hungry while they wait for Fibergay to get into position to join them for the final assault. Was Fibergay's presence really required for the final show? Well, that's a question that we've debated already and no doubt will go on being debated wherever and whenever two veterans are gathered together. But it was now a done deal and the operations massively overloaded logistics. They now had to take account of the needs of Fibergay as well of those of the spearhead force. In the absence of course of heavy lift Chinook helicopters which were now lying in the hold of the Atlantic conveyor at the bottom of the sea and given the inability of the two guards battalions to get to their positions on the southern approach to Stanley on foot. The only way to shift the new arrivals into position was by ship that brought huge risks and challenges. We ended the last episode with the arrival of the wet and cold Scott Scards of Bluffcove on the morning of the 6th of June after they'd been dropped off early than planned by HMS Intrepid and had to endure a horrendous seven hour journey in four landing craft that still left the Welsh guards at San Colors water. Now during the afternoon of the 6th they were embarked on HMS Fearless the second of the two assault ships. The plan was to rendezvous late that night off its Roy with the four landing craft from Intrepid that had taken the Scott Scars of shore and which would be brought out from the shore by UN Sir Puthalia, but we've spoken to you before. Now the skipper of Fearless was Jeremy Larkin and he's going to tell us what happened next. We then tried as you know from the loss of the Atlantic and there we were grievously short of helicopter lift and it was necessary for the paras and the wild Marines to cross country on foot yomping as the Marines called it and tabbing as the paras called it which is pretty tough stuff which Patrick and Sean would be for a minute or so of all that on the ground carrying huge loads. I mean this was really the extremity of what the best trained light infantry can possibly achieve and the astonishment of the Argentines. Well we tried that of course with the Welsh guards assaults guards and to be absolutely frankly went up for it so we then had to think of ways of getting them around as a southern flank and the opposite to do that which is to use Intrepid and Fearless which are built for this purpose and the Atlantic is all about the surprise moves around the flank of the enemy and one certainly one aspect of the Atlantic is operations and you can move substantial troops by sea very much more quickly than you do by land. It could just be done with the hours of light and darkness being what you want to get the ships leaving just in last light and back before first light and Intrepid is the first round of the Scots guards which is pretty well recorded and the captain of the trepid decided that he was under attack at some stage which was a slightly questionable use to take. It meant landing the Scots guards very well short of their intended landing area and UNSISPITALIA and an officer who became very senior in the Scots guards, absolutely on the Army subsequently has a very very difficult night in four if Intrepid's landing craft getting to the Fitzroy Bluff Cove area which is the endowing. It was decided that Fearless would do the same thing the next night. I think it decided that once was enough and I said well let's do it in Fearless which was a slightly questionable, it's a very right for a command point for you because here we were taking the central communications, the head enterprise on a fairly hazardous forward operation but it was agreed that we should do that so we did and I took the Welsh guards around and took them right forward as far as I possibly could, from the eyes of the island with a good jumping off point for quite a short pass with by landing craft and the arrangement was that Intrepid's four landing craft would come out and I only had two, I had to leave two behind the Scots very reason. Intrepid landing craft would come out, I would ship two of them, take them back to Scots and send out two of my own and two of Intrepid's to go back with the Welsh guards. Well I waited and waiting here on their landing craft so eventually I launched half the Welsh guards in two of my landing craft and rather they said that I shouldn't be very careful to keep on inside but I thought was the exit on the left for them then based exit with the arms and the times had made my way back and we had a fairly scary time coming out for concern in daylight in the next morning and I was actually not attacked. What a chance part was that five imps should be gated, send their headquarters forward and by one means from another it decided to take charge of Intrepid's landing craft and overall the other sergeants in charge of the landing craft by means of seniority and other means of persuasion and use them to engage in tasks which were outside the overall strategic plan and were not authorized and were highly unadvisable. As a consequence of that we had no option because I feel it said other things to do with the next night and you decided it wasn't a good idea really to expose for the second time the command ship, send the forward Intrepid's to Galahad with all sorts of consequences which I should go into but that was why half the Welsh guards were Intagela had an indeed trapped Intagela had because when she got around there in the morning with the disaster there was a serious disagreement as to who should bark first so no one dissing bark that's a slightly different story and you'll have other sources who can give you that from the first ten point of view. Well that was Jeremy Larkin giving a brutally honest account of the failings of both the Skipper of Intrepid and the HQ of Fibergate to get both the Scots and Welsh guards to bluff code safely. He mentioned other sources we're now going to hear from one of them, you and the Sudby tell you, on the reason the Intrepid's landing craft never made the rendezvous with Fiberliss on the night of the 6th and 7th of June. First he explains that he tried to stop the Welsh guards being sent by sea in the first place. Well I was so poor that the length of journey that we had to make and the Scots guard certainly went into fit state to fight for a day or two and I knew the overall plan, I wasn't privy to the details, was to bring the Welsh guards forward by the same method the next night and I was determined to see Mike clap face to face in tenium that was not a good idea at least not unless they can be brought close to Bluff code or to fit through itself but to land us the other side of Ligheim was not a good thing. Mike agreed and I flew back to Bluff code where I had told the four landing craft to wait because I knew that that night we were going to have to go and meet one of the LPD's Fiberliss on the track and I didn't know of course with the landing craft to then load them out to sea and take them to Bluff code, the Welsh guards. Oh well they got there, the weather as I said at the beginning it was so appalling that there was only one landing craft sheltering underneath the Bluff code and then the three others had disappeared so I went to shore landed went to shore to the Scots guards and hoped I could get a signal through to Mike clap. I was going to take the landing craft out and meet the ship at just off Elifnallet that was the plan. The pilot wouldn't lure me onto the one landing craft that was sheltering because the wind was too gusty and he couldn't keep the helicopter hovering properly. So anyway I went and sent message which of course inevitably didn't get through to Mike clap. Anyway I did eventually get onboard the landing craft because I must have got it to come into the beach to collect me. I got to him, I just stood on the beach waving my hands, I got to him but I said where are the other burgers? The second battalion on the parachute regiment pinched them and took them off to Fitzroy. My order is to be into weight here because we've got a job to do tonight to get and connect the Welsh guards. Oh well that's where they are sir. I think we were the poor cogs and how that happened is perhaps another story but it was not a good move by two pair out. You know to pinch the new craft or pinch anything which is already under orders from a non operation but that's a slightly different story on its end. I suppose I'd have done the same thing if I wanted to move my men but it didn't help. So when I should have been meeting the Welsh guards I could see with the landing craft. Of course H.B. S. Fellas or the Welsh guard in Bart got the launching point off of Fellas and Ireland. They were landing craft. So they had two landing craft on board which could then it take half the Welsh guards obviously and that was there. I knew there was a lot of discussion about which half but of course they'd already been pre lifted. You went from right of the launching point and then said who were going to put in what landing craft? It's all done in advance. So anyway that's how only half the Welsh guards were all there. It fits right not to bluff coverage where they wanted to go and the first thing I was aware of is actually shivering myself to sleep when I was sleeping there on the beach somewhere and next thing I knew was a Welsh guardsman on a motorcycle came and said I use a rory measure running this end I said well sort of because I had no official task and I said Christ the Welsh guards how do you forget him? Well he said well we're only half of us here. The other half had to go back to St Carlos because we were in the two landing craft and that was that stage. Well that was sir you and Sir Vitalia explaining that a combination of bad weather and two parra borrowing that three of the entrepreneurs landing craft without permission whether reason why he was unable to make the rendezvous. Now a couple of interesting points I'd like to raise here saw that now the two parras Hutzper in Nicking the two landing craft as you and says himself in something he might have considered if he'd been in their situation and this again this is something that I found that when I was down there is that there's a very free and easy attitude to other people's property there's a word for it rousing and it's meant to be again one of these kind of service where does it come from this word? RAS RAS replenishment at C and so this goes into which is kind of where do you get supplied you know in bidotion or something and this is sort of morphed into this word rousing which basically means picking up anything that's lying around that isn't nailed down. I found that to my own cost when I had some rather wonderful binoculars which I bought just before I went on board camera and I had them slung around my neck rommel style for of course I put them down went off to have a pee or something came back they'd gone you know and they've all started being razz made they've been razzed and I did actually luckily about 15 minutes later I saw some guy I think was a marine with them stung around his time so I think they're mildly so all right might you know no hard feeling he said it wasn't it'd be all just part of the culture anyway that was a light hearted aside but very very serious matters at hand here the result from all this is the only half the Welsh guards were taken ashore on the two landing craft during the night of the 6th of 7th of June and a Philip Dimmock we're saying commanding the Welsh guards water platoon and he had to make the difficult decision to leave most of his men behind. The decision was taken to take the first loss out let them go and I remember turning to the commanding officer and saying but my patoon the mortar lines are still here and he said well and my patoon headquarters was with the battalion headquarters on the boats ready to go all my kit was obviously because I climbed off it with the boats ready to go so he said will you have a choice go or stay and I said well I've got to go with my kit and the doors were coming up and I said right I'm going to go I've got to get back to my kit they're coming they will be following us in two hours time they were only in our two hours behind so it didn't matter so I went and disappeared and we then obviously landed a bluff cove disembarked and set up after the small war ground but the other two companies and the mortar line weren't there now we didn't really know we were just waiting for them to arrive behind us I mean we knew they were coming behind us that's what I was told but they didn't and then we realized that they had gone back around and then got on when they got back around they didn't disembarked from H. Miss Fearless and got on in their case the segala had well that was Philip Democ on his departure from Fearless on the night of 6th 7th June leaving the bulk of his mortar platoon behind he seems to think they were due to follow just a couple of hours later of course as we know sadly there weren't enough landing craft as we've already discussed and they would be delayed at least 24 hours so I think before we enter into the tragic phase of the story we've got to reflect on a couple of things that set it into context war is a matter of luck we both know that and whoever's the luckiest wins I think it's a bit of a generalisation but there's a sort of truth at the heart of that so far the task force have had their share of bad luck Atlantic and Virgo and down probably being the biggest setback in their face but they've had some good luck too they've got into sandcolors water where they're very enclosed space they should be sitting ducks for the Argentinian air force but they for one reason or another they've managed to get away with it and the air attacks have actually now eased off and so all it's also true is that the you know the new arrival is to fire brigade guys don't really know what the Argentine air forces capable of they haven't been in sandcolors water yeah you almost needed to have been there since certainly since the landings on the 21st of May you know the graphic accounts of both you and the other people who are there that day Patrick have given would have left no one in any doubt that the danger of being caught in a relatively unprotected ship like one of these big LSL's by Argentinian aircraft was something you want to do everything you could to avoid so the question is you know you make sure that you use shipping certainly with a lot of troops on board as infrequently as possible I mean that's what makes this whole decision so so confusing I suppose even when the benefit of hindsight Patrick because of the danger from the air having said that as you point out these attacks are seem to be wearing off you know the caps the sea Harris seem to have got the upper hand and I think it wasn't just five brigade I think right across the board people would begin to get a sense of actually I think you know I think the worst of it as far as air attacks are over right well the other element of course is that as I've said before if something goes right a bold stroke you take a decision you take a gamble it pays off and everyone says you're a genius it doesn't and everyone makes you the villain of the piece so that's something to be born in mind after the break we'll discuss the tragic events of the 8th of June after the balance of the Welsh guards have been transported to Bluffcove in the landing ship so gall I had welcome back in part one we explain why only half the first Welsh guards were dropped at Fitzroy on the 7th of June the balance that's two rifle companies and the bulk of the mortar platoon returned to St Colors water on HMS fearless at which point the Navy decided it was too dangerous to expose an assault ship like fearless without a large escort for a third time so the decision was taken to send the guards that night the 7th of the 8th of June in the smaller 5,700 ton landing ship Sir Gala had that's an LSS landing ship logistics it should be mentioned that these LSSs were actually part of the Royal Fleet auxiliary and were largely crewed by civilians and the ship itself was virtually unarmed it had only an old fashioned World War II boathons on board a separate LSS said Tristron had been sent on the same journey the night before with a huge load of artillery shells it arrived unannounced on the 7th of June much to you and South Bitalia's surprise So I went on board to Tristron saw the captain of the offloading of Tristron was taking place and the captain Ray kind of invited me to have a drink with him after dinner in his south web and they were very clear but a good meal was the first for a very very long time and sitting in his cabin we agreed that his ship was in grieved engine as soon as we could unload the better so the unloading went on on the storm night when in the night there's not the hindrance to military operations and I turned in in a comfortable bed for the first time for midnight Well that was you and South Bitalia turning in on Tristron and at 4am that night he's woken in his bunk by a staff officer from Fibergate with a request to send a landing craft urgently to Goose Green to bring back the vehicles and vital signals equipment of Fibergate's main headquarters. South Bitalia orders Foxtrop 4 one of the two landing crafts that had brought the Welsh guards from Fierless under the command of Colossage and Johnston of the Royal Marines to sail at once to Goose Green and return under the cover of night I mean he stressed that do not come back by day there was now just one landing craft and a mexi floak pontoon in the little bay. South Bitalia having carried out those instructions goes back to sleep but at 7am he's woken a second time Captain Roger Green came down to where I was sleeping said you and come up to the bridge I didn't you didn't believe this went up the bridge and now as a harrah face a gallow had it went through four cables away at anchor and looking through the binoculars it was clear that she was full of men in addition to what I happened to know was the field ambulance and the repair battery both of which were needed as sure as soon as possible but the men had to be god off whoever they were I didn't know at that stage had to be god off quickly because not any idea in the way but if the ship is here you're going to lose a lot of men and there was no doubt in my mind or Captain Roger Green might have these ships were engraved injured there was no anti air defense at all so I jumped into the landing craft which was I'm landing Christrum and there's now half full of ammunition and we steamed across as far as we could to Sikalahat and there her stern ramp was down which is ideal for more in a long side because it's only about two or three feet up over the sides of the landing cart get on board and on the stern there are two Welsh guards officers majors and I know their names I didn't then but I know their names that but I'm afraid I've never ever mentioned their names in public not really keen to do so now they knew who they are and they knew I knew who they are and I've discussed them with their commandeer officer since anyway these two majors I said look I can get to a shore right now to a Fitzroy they said no we want to get a bluff cove well I explained that you can't get a bluff cove in daylight for a start and be you can't get a bluff cove in Sikalahat because she's six thousand times ship trawing about 13 feet and she simply doesn't fit but you can go shore and I'll hide to whatever you want and I'll take you around there in the dark and they weren't having that they wanted to get a bluff cove in Sikalahat and they can walk there was a bridge across a creek which had been blown up by the archantines S.W.s but it had been repaired so that it was going to cut their walk down from about 14 miles to seven miles I think I'm going to rather stupid to say this on air but then quickly on that but they were pretty determined they were going to have to walk a very very long way and they weren't hooked to it and they just refused to get off. They gave them a direct order and then said look at an actuarum after the Commodore which was partially true and my order is you get your men off then they said they wouldn't take an order from a rod rains major which is a I think stupid thing to say in the middle of the wall when you get a specialist anyway a major in the rains then was it couldn't normally have to incurn it but then let's go into that I tell them that that was their decision and anything that happens was entirely their responsibility I went to shore and found I think his name was Barney Roth Smith he was an officer and star officer in Fabregade who were forming up in them borders forming up in Pittsroy and I said Barney I just come from Scalahead and half your Montreal battalion's Welsh Guard is still on board and they went get off despite my pleading and he said I didn't believe him I said well your problem but half of them is still on board Scalahead and they got picked it off they really have got to get off and they said right leave it to me and so I really felt I couldn't do any more the offleting of Tristram is going happily the offletting of the field ambulance and the repair was about to happen so I went off to the settlement where I met our own babysitter who had come out from standing when the balls started called Janet and I went up to the big house to the Stuart family and I said that having a bear I overlooking the anchorage I mean I had absolutely nothing to do I failed to get the burgers off the ship and the offletting was taken place as planned over a ammunition and stuff and we were having a bear there at the Stuart family and suddenly we saw the air card coming and I saw the bomb Tristram and Gallagher where I hope to back this guy is still on board and of course the crews and everybody else so I rushed onto the beach and casualties was by then coming ashore and I felt rather helpless so I just took off my jacket and carried a stretcher for a couple of hours and bringing wound it up from the beach to the helicopter landing zone I think the buzz had got around the muskian helicopter hotel the team back in St Carlos that we now had a really serious problem and that's it well that was you and South be tailior being very blunt there in his testimony it couldn't really be clearer about the sequence of events as he saw it I think you know again we've got to enter a bit of a caveat about the two Welsh Guards majors refusing to disembark they thought they were doing the right thing they were waiting for orders they didn't want to subject their men have already had you know ordeal out of ordeal to yet another one with this proposed or expected yomp all the way around from Fitzroy to Bluff Cove so and again we've got a stress they didn't know what it was like to be under Argentinian air attack the absence of firsthand experience I think probably you know was it was a huge handicap in their decision making process another point what South be tailior may not have realized is that him having spoken to Barney Ross Smith steps were now in hand to disembark the men from Sir Gellahad but another one of those things that you just can't budget for the ramp of the landing craft jammed in the upright position meaning the men would have to clamber down the side of the ship as this was about to happen at one 10 pm four jets two mirages and two skyhawks straight across the sky and bombed both Gellahad and Tristram within seconds of the first bomb hitting Gellahad petrol and ammunition ignited at the whole centre of the ship was burning furiously I mean the absolute horrific accounts from multiple sources one account reads men saw their own skin and flesh fry and melt before their eyes as if in slow motion watch others fighting to douse flames in their hair and to rip off their own burning clothing then they began to stagger towards the ship side and help each other in a shock stupor towards life rafts helicopters now arrive and use their down draft to push the survivors boats away from the flames and all that afternoon and evening a procession of blackened days and badly wounded men were ferried to Ajax Bay for medical treatment a total of 33 Welsh guardsmen seven members of the Royal Navy and 11 other seamen and soldiers were killed on Sir Gellahad and another hundred injured many of them suffering severe burns the bulk of the dead Welsh guardsmen were in Philip Demick's mortar platoon which for some reason had been left on the tank deck with their ammunition they never stood a chance they were supposed to be there in the morning and there was nothing and we waited and we waited until the afternoon and it was at that stage that the aircraft came in obviously attacked the Gellahad and the Sir Gellahad and then we could see the smoke coming up from behind the hill didn't have any idea the one thing I did know was the we weren't there that my platoon wasn't there because they had set off in the morning if that makes sense then those little aircraft came over us just I suppose sharpen us up a bit well it certainly did and they attacked the ground troops as I suppose they were flying round to go and do another attack at Fitzroy but had no idea and it was only later that afternoon the Patelian headquarters well we were informed what had happened numbers wise we had no idea or who we had been informed they were getting off the Sir Gellahad and they had been attacked that's all I knew that evening the detail came through the next morning it was at that stage that I heard the mortar platoon would never meet up they would not get there they were hit and I did not know the numbers but they were stuck in Fitzroy or going to the medical stations the other three sections the mortar lines were on the Gellahad in the tank deck the tank deck had the ammunition it was that that was hit or that that then subsequently exploded and caused such severe well like a death and injury and that's why the mortar platoon was hit many were killed and many were burned seriously injured actually I had of my platoon 23 were killed and eight were seriously injured it was quite a hard time but and I remember very clearly when we came back from being under commander three commander brigade I said now I want to return to the battalion I have to return to battalion because I'd just been informed of the figures the numbers and I really felt I must get back to my platoon headquarters and so very kindly I went back they said yes okay and they came under commander five brigade the five brigade assaults the subsequent nights I discussed it in a really brief form with my war officer and one or two others around in battalion quarters but I said we've got to get to the end now we've got to keep going we've got the five brigade assault we're supposed to be taking Sapa Hill and that is our task we did the night move and night move up and all the things and it was only at the end when we were on Sapa Hill on that first night that I said I now want to discuss it with my war officer actually I want to now discuss because I you know it was not easy but I knew up to that stage I had to keep going I wanted to know why the boats weren't there what the heck was going on but that's in hindsight and I didn't want to know it at the time because we were trying to get to the end why did the aircraft the sidewinder and so why did that happen and so you're asking yourself and I have asked myself all the way afterwards why the gallop why were they there what was the cause where why didn't they get off in time I know all the answers the exact answers as to why it all happened but of course that went on and on and it did take a few years to come together as to why it all happened and why they were on the segala had and they hadn't got off and why they were on the tank deck and why weren't they higher up I believe it might have been and I had this is the one thing I have not answered they didn't have an officer who would say no men and ammunition don't sit together it goes through my mind every day hey but it probably made no difference and the company commanders were the senior people would tell me he's getting not it and that's what it is but I'm not convinced I just always knew ammunition and men don't go together well that was Philip Demick the well scars mortar officers speculating on whether or not the tragedy would have happened if he had been present yeah so I think it's important to stress Patrick that it wasn't just Philip Demick who wasn't there it was also the the senior NCO in other words the whole of the the top effectively of the mortar platoon that is the HQ was on land and the the question Philip Demick is asking is if he or his senior NCOs had been there would they actually have allowed the tragedy to unfold in quite the way it did so two elements to that one get them off the tank deck because of there's an attack they're going to be in mortal danger from being as he puts it you know you never put men in ammunition in in such close proximity and to could he as an officer as a captain actually have influenced those two company commanders to get them in off quicker we'll never know for sure but what you can see so clearly in Philip Demick's testimony is you know the emotion you know is really raw when I spoke to him you know a sense of survivor's guilt which you and I both know having interviewed many many veterans over many books is absolutely typical you almost can't win you either die in war or if you survive there's a kind of regret why me why why me and why did the others have to go yeah I think it's it's very very mark you'll hear it in the testimony of loads of guys that are in in the fall clums and of course it's 99 times out of 100 it's it's not there fault it's just events so many things can go wrong often they don't when they do in war you know it tends to be catastrophic so I have a huge simply for everyone involved in this event and yeah as you say the emotion as we'll be hearing a bit later on actually a story very raw anyone who was there would never forget it well what's not in doubt is that the carnage that was caused on the tank deck by the fires and the exploding ammunition was pretty appalling and someone who witnessed those apocalyptic scenes on the gallow head was Coxon Dave Watkins who just arrived at Fitzroy with ammunition and supplies on his landing craft Foxtrop 3 so then we got around to Bluff Cove and by which time the boats and that were on fire the the Ellis cells were on the gallow head and all that it was just a terrible terrible site so because we had all the ammunition on we needed to get that off loaded quickly which we got rid of that and then instead of working out what we're going to do the captain that I was with me the army guy on me he was something to do with the Ellis cells and whatever and he all well I say all of me he didn't order me he told me to take him towards the gallow head and by the time we got to the gallow head you have to try and understand that these boats have a ramp at the rear so what he wanted to do was to land by the ramp and then we wanted to go on board the ship and when we got there he says Coliseyd he said I wanted to come with me to be a witness to what we're going to watch and what we're going to see so I left my second cockson on the boat to make sure everything is okay on the understanding that if anything happened he was to disappear quickly and if necessary leave us on the boat so we walked down the tank deck under the gallow head and with all due respect I don't particularly want to tell you what it was like in there because I can feel it now it's just the smell and the sights and the things in there were just it was completely was inhuman it's inhuman what you were looking at and it's just like a scene from hell the fires were burning the bodies line of everywhere the bits of bodies line everywhere you were under the impression you didn't know where the ship was going to blow up or not it was just awful absolutely awful and that caused me an awful lot of problem and we got the got the word from him he said I've seen enough now so we left we got back on the boat on my boat the landing craft and we just appeared down the cove to a point where we could lie up alongside the bank as it was but it was very very exposed very very flat there was no way that you could be out of cover so to speak again this memory I might be playing tricks on me but that was where we were when we heard about Foxy Rock 4 because they'd left this area to carry on down coastal sand towards good screen and everything else and that's where they got attacked and and hit badly and blown up that's where everybody died well that was Dave Watkins with an incredibly graphic and moving description of the carnage on boards the gala had he almost didn't want to go into the details did he how did he describe it it was a scene from hell you know fires burning and body parts all over the place I mean absolutely horrific he also mentions the attack on the landing craft Foxtrop 4 which had been sent to goose green as we already explained to collect five brigades HQ vehicles and signal equipment and told not to return until it was dark unfortunately Foxtrop 4's coxson Colossgt Johnston chose to return by daylight I'd be shut up once by the navy when we tried to move at night he said I'm not going to risk that again it was early afternoon and Foxtrop 4 had just reached a point to the south of Johnson Island when it was attacked by two pairs of skyhawks with bombs and cannon one bomb struck the stern control position killing Johnston and five of his crew the effect on Dave Watkins and the crews of the other landing craft was profound Foxtrop 4 was Colossgt Johnston Brian Johnson okay and at the time at the time of the attack they were on route down to the goose green area on near particular boat they had seven people seven crewmen and on the attack five died and they were never found and no one was found a biggie pod one died on the boat the other the other ones were never found never and I was under the impression it was a pukara as opposed to an SNDAR they were playing by again I might be rolling that but that was the kind of impression I was given at the time because again when something like that happens nothing makes any more sense from from my own my own benefit I was completely number about it because these guys were people that I'd lived with and worked with and two of them I'd known for ten fifteen years I served in 40 commander with one of them and so it wasn't just the case of knowing the people because they were on the fearless it was a case I've known them for many many many years beforehand and I've met their families and I've met their wives and I into certain cases I've met you know children and so on and so forth so when this thing happened literally it's the most unbelievable devastating thing that could possibly happen and and that remains with you and it remains with me today and I make no secret I will sit and I will look at the Fox.4 remembrance website and I'll see a comment like it and it will bring tears to my eyes even now 40 years after well you can still hear the emotional and day walk in's voice there after all these years it's really like lots of lots of family and I think of it's happening in close proximity it makes it all the war unforgettable guys I've spoken to 40 years on they're talking perfectly normally and then they come to recount some particular incidents and they you know they well up and their their voice breaks it's a real testively to the depth of those experiences not just in the Forkens but in any war I think we've got to just finally before we move on from this topic saw say something about blame finger pointing do we ever get to the bottom of these things you know I know that Tony Wilson I suppose has emerged as perhaps being the person that most people if they are inclined to attach blame would would mention by simply by his insistence on fire brigade moving forward and taking part in the final assault he's taken a lot of stick there's no it's no question about that Patrick there's even been a bit of pushback on Twitter this week with the odd commentators suggesting that too much blame has been given to him I think one particular comment was you know people have heaped abuse on him they know who they are but the problem I got with a comment like that is you and I have both spoken to an awful lot of people about these incidents leading up to the segala head I think both of us accept tragedies like this have multiple causes it's not one but there's often a chain reaction and the chain reaction tends to start at the top an ambitious determined commander wants to get his guys into action does so in a relatively irresponsible way that is by not consulting with his superiors and the problem I've got with the comment of I think he's been harshly done by is that virtually everyone I've spoken to all thinks the same thing in other words there seems to be a consensus of opinion that Wilson was not a good idea to send to the south Atlantic yeah there is a certain amount of cut of it into unit as always rivalry in these things I mean Wilson was flamboyant figure he was many people commented on his habit wearing green wellies hunter Wellington boots and battle and the red marae of course which the powers he was it perfectly title to wear the red beret he'd done his jumps and he'd also well an MC and all the non we mustn't forget he'd shown you know solely qualities but you know big a later rival didn't quite fit into the kind of rough detourty he thought of the Marines the powers I think all these things counted against him and it must be remembered it's either if you talking about where responsibility lies it's really up to Jeremy Moore as the overall Lanke about to say no you're not going to do this but he let him have his head so let's it's not be too harsh on Tony Wilson good point just a quick point of the acceptability or not of wearing the green beret or the maroon beret I think it should be pointed out that you can have done your jumps you can be jump qualified Patrick and you can wear the wings but the powers would say you don't wear the red beret unless you've actually been a power so I just want to get that one in there because I suspect we may have the odd comments about that in the weeks to come yeah yeah they have to be a brave man to cross across the paras on a matter of protocol like that we've now going to move onto the attack on Fox Drop 4 which we heard about there from Dave Watkins but it was being seen from the air by the seahariah pilot David Morgan notable as Mog we've heard from Mog before but he's starting to give us a quite extraordinary description of what happened next I'd been briefed to do my first ever deck landing with another of the junior pilots on 800 they were trying to get us all night current which I wasn't very keen on at all there's no point in flying off the dark it's awful the plan was to launch Dave Smith and myself about 30 minutes before dusk go and do a sortie and then come back and land around about 30 minutes after dark which would get us the ticking the box and meant we weren't allowed to drink any beer in the evening we actually were launched slightly earlier than the plan because a raid had been picked up ashore and we got there around about 30 minutes before sundown I suppose and the Tristram and Galad had been hit by the formation of Skywalks and were burning fiercely you know we've seen all the films and we sat above at 10,000 feet just doing a visual cap mainly and just sweeping with the radar when we're on the Wesley headings and watching the rescue efforts and I noticed a small landing craft about five miles six miles south of there and called that in and was told that it was friendly so each time we were on the eastern end of the cap doing our rotate turning towards each other to clear each other's tail to go west again I looked down just to make sure this little landing craft was okay and I've got to the stage where I checked my fuel and realized I had about two minutes fuel remaining before I had to go back as I was turning onto the Wesley heading I've made my mental plan that once we got to the western end of the patrol line we climbed back up and to go back to the ship and do our dreaded night landing and in that turn I looked down and saw four aircraft running into attack the landing craft and it was exactly the most inconvenient times I've just passed Dave Smith head on in the turn when I'd seen them so I just shoved the nose down whipped the flap up trip the limitres and funded to zero G to get the maximum acceleration I could and went downhill as fast as I possibly could to try and catch these guys I don't to this day know how fast I was going but I know that Dave Smith was behind me and when he eventually saw me I was leaving him behind and he was doing 650 knots which is 30 or 40 knots faster than the seahariere as supposed to go but I came steaming in going like a train watched one sky hawk open fire with his guns and then drop a bomb which missed the landing craft then a second one attacked which actually put a bomb right on the stern which made me very very angry and I decided I was going to take him out and then I saw another aircraft to the left of me which would be in a position to threaten me if I'd gone for the number two so I broke left lot a sidewinder onto him and fired at minimum range both 300 yard range and watch the missile go straight up his jet pipe and just blew the aircraft as smithereens and unfortunately I was going so fast that as the missile came off the rails it went supersonic immediately and I think the shock wave threw my aircraft almost on its back to the right bearing in mind I was below 50 feet at this stage over the sea a few minutes after dark so there wasn't very good visibility anywhere I rolled the aircraft back upright and realized I was pointing at the number two sky hawk trying to lock my other missile and it wouldn't lock initially and then it did finally lock I fired it he went into a hard left hand turn the missile came swinging across my nose to chase him and I think he'd saw the missile because he then reversed his turn to the right and the missile came back across the nose and hit him just behind the cockpit at about 90 degrees off and I can remember seeing the cockpit your 90 degrees to the right and then go straight into the water because he was only about 20 feet above the water and the next thing I saw was a parachute open right in front of my face and I physically ducked as I went underneath he was so close and he was still slowing down horizontal in his parachute as I went past him unfortunately when I fired my second missile I lost the gunside which was a known glitch in the software but by the time I turned the gunside off and back on again the other guy would have got away so I just pulled him to the to the bottom of the windscreen squeezed the gun's trigger and let him fly up through to the top of the windscreen and then pulled him to the bottom again and fired and I didn't see any hits but Dave Smith at this stage had seen me fired two missiles so he knew roughly where I was and then he saw an aircraft flying very very low with explosions all rounded on the water and he called for me to pull up because he thought it was me being fired at and as I pulled up he realized that this aircraft must be an enemy so he locked his missile and fired at a very long range and I looked back over my shoulder in the climb and saw his missile run out the rocket motor stopped burning about halfway to the target and it must be right on maximum range because about three or four seconds after the motor stopped there was a flash of the warhead and a huge secondary explosion as the aircraft hit the hit the ground in Lafonia. Wow yes all that will happen in less time than it takes to tell yes that's a real interesting thought that is now there's incredible speeds you're talking about I mean your thought processes must be superhuman to be able to kind of react in time to actually do all those things not just to fly the aeroplane but to lock on and to shoot and all the rest of it then it's the value of training in peacetime you can train reasonably well the only thing you can't train for in peacetime is the fear factor when someone starts firing a back at you or when you actually see stuff coming off your aircraft and shooting people down but everything else you can train for and we had trained quite hard. Now when we spoke before I remember you telling me that when you got back to Hermes you were kind of surprised by your own reactions and instead of feeling as one might expect sort of dubel and on a high if you like you were actually struck by I think you called it suddenly a tack of melancholy can you tell us a bit about that yes obviously we were initially we were I mean a huge amount of adrenaline flowing by the time you got up to high altitude I said to Dave just make your own way home mate you know you're a few miles behind me don't bother to try and join up and I looked at the fuel and the range and realized that I wasn't going to make it back which was a bit of a sobering thought when the sea temperature was about three degrees but the ship turned towards us and for the 30 40 minutes it took us to get home they came towards us at 32 knots so they just closed the range sufficiently and I actually landed with 90 seconds worth of fuel left and Dave Smith had slightly less than that and the ship of course had found one of the thunderstorms and was sitting underneath it which didn't help. So we were pretty much running on a adrenaline by the time we got back and huge dubelations you know when we walked into the engineer's office and then up to see wings and then the captain and then the admiral luckily they kept the bar open and had three pints lined up for each of us after all the dubelation had died down and the adrenaline had started to wear off I realized that you know I just killed two guys who I met in a pub somewhere I would have been the best of pals with and in fact the fourth guy in the formation I am best of pals with and we email them quite regularly and in fact we went back to the islands together in 2019 and went back to the wreckage of the last guy you know that Dave Smith shot down and put up a little memorial and you know it struck me that it was a bloody silly thing shooting down guys you knew you'd be friends with and they thought exactly the same but we were where we were. Well that was David Mog Morgan giving an unbelievably gripping account of the danger he faced and the courage he showed in engaging the Skyhawks that attacked Fox Drop 4 so close did he get to one of the planes that he narrowly misses the parachute from one of the ejected pilots that he shot down. Now his partner Dave Smith shot down one of the other two therefore three out of those four attacking planes were brought down and it's interesting that Mog Morgan talks about the contrast frankly when he gets back to the aircraft carrier between his initial dubelation you know drinks at the bar celebrating a bit like sort of battle Britain type style celebrations but how quickly Patrick that turns to melancholy as he realized that he's actually killed two people. Yeah I thought there's very kind of honest of him to say that we've spoken about this before and he told me he went into the ship cinema and actually read a poem that he carried with him from the second world war about precise data about the whoever's dying in the air there's someone like Hugh there's this sort of aviators camaraderie they both share this love of flying and the same thing happened in the second world war between fighter command and the Luftwaffe opposite numbers that they felt that it was kind of awful that they were united in this love of flying and yet we're using it to try and kill each other. One point's worth mentioning actually is that this was I think I'm right in saying the last time there was an actual dog fight when two fast jets went head to head at each other I think there'd been no occasions which actually match and encounter like this which is a you know kind of world war two sort of engagement but brilliantly clear I love this pointing out that the actual thing took less time in reality that it did to recount it. Yeah and there's a nice code of seal to the story actually if you believe in the end that war should end with some kind of reconciliation and that's the fact that he talks you know as we've already discussed about his regrettic killing two pilots the third one was killed by Dave Smith but the uplifting end of the story is that as he told us he's now best of pals with the fourth Argentinian pilot who got away. Well that's what we've got time for this week next time we're going to consider the endgame of the campaign as three commandeer brigade and five brigade closing on port Stanley and begin the battle for the mountains with attacks on Mount Longdon Mount Harriet and two sisters on the night of the 11th of June 1982. See you then