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, 18 Jul 2022 01:00
With hundreds of messages received through the course of the series, Patrick and Saul answer as many questions they can and add some responses from listeners who were involved in the campaign.
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Hello and welcome to this special bonus episode of the Battleground podcast. I'm Saul David and today Patrick Bishop and I are going to respond to many of the comments and queries you've sent in about our recent Faulkner's War series and we're also going to play an amazing piece of audience that was recorded during the war and that's been just sent in to us. Okay let's get started. The first message we've got was an email and it said, nice comment to begin with, from Craig Hawkes and it said, ''Lump this morning's podcast, you're both doing a cracking job with the series. I had a question regarding the role of British Special Forces in and around Stanley both before and during the war. I've read some very minor mentions of them getting in amongst the Argentines during the initial invasion and to stare up a bit of trouble, blew on blues during the occupation. I've read several books about the campaign but brave few touch on their activity in Stanley itself and would love to hear your thoughts. Patrick, do you have any comments about that? The SAS and the SBS were inserted well before the landing, points over the island on East Falkham and West Falkham and in locations where it was felt the enemy might be present. What they're doing there really is doing a job that the traditionally would have been done by the RAF, that is getting real on the ground information which would have been gleaned from reconnaissance flights. But we didn't have that capability, it was just too far away and the harriers that we did have in the area weren't equipped to take photographs. It had to be done in a pre modern age way of actually getting eyes on stuff on the ground so that's what they were there doing. Craig mentions the blue on blue. There was one infamous moment where the SBS apparently stray into the SAS territory in terms of patrolling on East Falkham and one SBS soldier was shot and killed. That was a tragedy, that can happen unfortunately in war. The question more generally of why Craig hasn't heard more detail about special forces operations goes down to the question of a murder, doesn't it Patrick? The question is who's actually keeping this a murder? Special forces still can't talk about their operations even 40 years ago. The most I've been able to get to in terms of my SBS but was 1948. Everything after that is pretty much held under closure and it's only when people break ranks like Superior Delabilia did after the Gulf War that you get some of these books and generally speaking those who do speak out will be PNG. In other words, Persona non Grato and will not invite it back to the regiment in effect. That's why we don't know much about them but we did have as we flagged up earlier on the podcast two SBS operators speaking for the first time about what they did. I suspect there'll be more of that in the years to come and it certainly strikes me Patrick the 40 years is long enough for special forces operations to be kept secret. I can't see that there's much of a security risk involved there. I think they've made a bit of a world for their own backs with this ethos of secrecy because they want to be able to tell their stories like everyone else does and there are ways of getting around it as Superior Delabilia found. Of course that kind of open I would say the flood gates but certainly there was a steady trickle of stuff that technically shouldn't have been allowed thereafter. I just want to get back to the subject of the efficiency of patrolling as a means of getting information and I'm afraid the answer is that it's not that efficient because for the simple obvious reasons of the restrictions all you've got is your eyeballs essentially or binoculars to see what's going on and you get a very restrictive picture. So I know that some of the battalion commanders in the Fultons weren't terribly impressed by the quality of the SAS information they were getting back. There were more complimentary about the intel from the SBS because I think there was more tightly focused it was on things like the condition of beaches was it possible to actually make a learning here etc. But the miscalculation of numbers as things feature we've seen throughout the story isn't it? Absolutely right and of course it could have had real consequences. The attack on Goose Green we talked about the estimates of numbers there. Probably they thought it would be relatively similar numbers. There was actually a 3 to 1 disparity against and the same thing going into some of the battles for Port Stanley itself. We heard about the of course the brutal fight that the Scots guards do on Tumble Dan and they expect many fewer people on top there. So yes it could have had a real consequence. Right let's move on. Second email this is another nice comment from a guy called Pete Snowden. Much enjoying the series apart from having to wait for a week for the next Monday which is nice. He would like us to be talking more frequently than once a week. Are you going to cover the medical story of Commander Rick Jolly and others? And his last comment is you may be interested to know that the story of Tumble Dan is used in graphic detail to inspire the Scots guards in their infantry training at the Bayonet Lesson exercise. Looking forward to hearing your take on it. So do you want to comment a little bit about Rick Jolly first Patrick? Because that is a bit of the story we've missed out and it is a remarkable tale of the Falklands War. Yeah I do regret that we didn't actually take a look at that because it was a fantastic story. A great achievement. It's a very larger than life character, you know, terrifically inspiring man. He was on the camera on the way down. We all got to know him well. And once he got his shore, of course he set up the famous Red and Green life saving machine in the disused refrigeration plant in Ajax Bay. Pretty sort of grim environment. But it did a fantastic job. I visited it a few times. So I remember actually going there just after an Argentinian pilot had been brought there having ejected from his vast jet over San Carlos water. And it's very impressed by the way that the Argentinians would give it exactly the same treatment as everyone else. I think they even made a sort of special point of being extra kind of caring and attentive and kind to them essentially. To quell the fears which have been instilled by some of their commanders in them that they were up against as ruthless. Probably could have done harm once they actually fell into their clutches. So that was all very good. And of course part of the drama was that at one point a bomb lodged in the Ajax Bay facility unexplained bomb. We could have come on to that a bit later on. And so they were working for some of the time with it with a thought any second the whole place would just go up with a huge bang. But that didn't deter them. Incredible. Camera battery, incredible kind of a spree that they all showed. And they did a fantastic job patching people up before then sending them off to the hospital ship Uganda. Yeah. And just really addressing the issue of the Scott's guards. I mean that isn't that that's fascinating isn't it patching still used today. The attack on Tumble down in their Bay and neck training. I mean you you referred at the time to the fact that this is very much a second world war battle. But you can see that the sort of aggression that's needed both from platoon leaders and junior NCOs to keep the men moving forward is absolutely vital to the training of the British army today. And it's fascinating to me to realize that they use that very iconic battle to get them up for it. Okay. Now we address a couple of questions before which we've had follow up messages about. And that was the derivation of the terms tabbing and yomping. Now we've got quite an interesting suggestion for both of these and they may well be correct. This came in from Bob Maycock and he says on the subject of tabbing I'd always understood that it stands for tactical advance with Bergen and not tactical advance to battle. I'm not entirely convinced about that one Bob. I think it's tactical advance to battle. But we also got to follow up on the yomp which none of us were sure about and actually this came in from one of the SPS operators who said I'm pretty sure it means your own marching pace. Have you ever heard that before? No, never heard that one. It sounds a little bit technical does it? Your own marching pace. And it kind of wouldn't make much sense because if you decide that you're not going to keep up with the guy at the front and very rapidly the column will be extending over several miles. So I don't know. It's a thought. It's a thought a good one. Okay. Moving on. Another very nice comment about the podcast. This is from GR and he said on my Twitter feed, thanks for the podcast. The whole series has been excellent. The interviews have been particularly interesting. Will you be able to make the full length versions available once the series is finished? Also, do you have any plans to cover other conflicts in future series? Well, we've already addressed the first question in our previous episode, which is we are moving directly onto the Ukraine. As for the full length versions, we do have one or two. We haven't played at all. And one, interesting enough, which sort of intersects with Patrick's comments about the Red and Green live machine. That is a bomb disposal expert who was tasked with diffusing the bomb that was lodged there gave a wonderful interview and we'll be playing that in full in a future bonus episode. So those are the responses for those two, but thank you very much for the query. Another comment, Andrew Hooper, avidly listened to every episode, all brilliant, so compelling, so well researched and produced, presented by a fantastic double act. I'm blushing as I hear this, Patrick. I'm only interspersed with eyewitness reports. A magnificent tribute to all the brave men, many of whom were the same generation as me. So it's good to hear comments like that. Absolutely, yeah. That's really the highest praise without getting too big headed about it. I think we were really very chuffed to get such positive responses from the people who were actually there. So I just want to get back to the question of a further series. Yeah, we are definitely doing this Ukraine thing. It's obviously going to be slightly different because it's an ongoing thing. But I think there's a huge amount of interest in the kind of nitty gritty of the war and the big picture as well, which we're not getting from conventional media at the moment, as often happens, the initial kind of saturation coverage doesn't take long to fade. And so I'm now scrambling around just from conventional newspapers and television news to find out what the hell is going on there. And I get a sense that quite a few people share that frustration, don't you, Saul? Yes, absolutely, Patrick. I mean, you know, I personally find it a little bit confusing as to what's going on at the moment, the news this morning, Lohansk has been effectively handed over to the Russians. So things are happening on the ground and we're not getting that much detail. So we're going to try and drill down a little bit into this. We're going to try and give a summary, frankly, of what's happened in the previous week, but also to talk to some interesting people. We won't, as Patrick says, be able to go into quite the same forensic detail as we have been able to with the Falklands War. And that's, frankly, the difference between current affairs and history. But we hope that our contribution will, you know, will make a real, will give a real insight, frankly, into what's going on and will fill a bit of a gap, which both of us feel is there. Okay, so moving on to other comments. This is from Helena Heissett. I also found the episode, that is episode, that's the segala had episode. Interesting, but confronting as well. Interesting, she says confronting, meaning quite difficult to deal with some of the material we're talking about. You know, I think that's the point, if you're talking honestly about war, some of it is tough to listen to. It is fascinating, she went on to write, to listen to the veterans talk about their experiences. You can still hear the trauma in their voices, even after all these years, veterans need significant and ongoing support. Love the pod. Great, yeah. Well, you're actually right about the truth that PTSD never really fades. I've become friendly with a guy who I didn't know at the time, but I've met since, who was a private soldier there in the parachute regiment, he rose through the ranks at the upper left hand and colonel. And even after all that time, he was a bold soldier back in the day, one of the most aggressive parrots you'd wish to meet. Very easy going, happy, go lucky, sort of bloke, but he's quite open about the fact that his life has been periodically blighted by PTSD ever since. He's very vocal on the subject, he's a campaigner on the subject, so that is very much a real thing. On the other hand, the thing, it's still a very, very sore memory after all these years, there's still a certain amount of controversy and blame apportioning and all the rest of it. Again, I think in the passing of time, does something to soften these memories, but I think it'll be a long time before it ever goes away. OK, this is from Matt Row. This is another one coming into my Twitter feed. Absolutely fantastic podcast. The whole series has been gripping. I hope when the Fogpons series is over, you can pick another topic and continue. Well, we've answered that response, but thank you, Matt. This is from Lydia Jane. I've listened to lots of podcasts and watched and read a lot of stuff about the Fogpons war over the last few months, but this podcast with the two of you is staggeringly good. Highly recommended. Thank you so much, Lydia. We appreciate your comments. Does anyone say anything nasty about the podcast, all the way? I filtered those ones out, particularly where they were wanted to. Well, let's have a... Honestly, I'm joking. You know, listen, you and I both know you can't please everyone all of the time and I haven't had a single, highly critical comment about the podcast. Just maybe the odd thing about we would have liked to have heard from Argentinian voices. And I think we should address that now, actually, Patrick, because you and I and Matt, who's our fixer, who we gave a good shout out to in the last episode, made sterling efforts to try and get the voice from the Argentinian side. But sadly, there was no one who was actually prepared to stand up or at least we could contact and speak to us about that, which is, frankly, a bit of a shame, isn't it? It is a shame. I recently made a documentary about the Forkland Switch, which we're not in Channel 4 in March, when we did manage to find a couple of Argentinians who were, you know, very happy to talk, actually. And I have to say that what they came up with was not really terribly illuminating. I was really interested to hear how much thought they'd put into the conflict subsequently and a bit about their personal experiences. But it was quite sort of propagandistic. It was largely this rather kind of video, dare I say, it's sort of Latin Americans sort of rather much to approach the whole thing, that this was all about our honour and the Forkland's belong to them. They were the last male venus. And it wasn't actually terribly illuminating. I'm not saying for a moment that there aren't loads of people that particularly, these were officers, particularly among the conscript I'd love to hear from them. But I'm sure that they would have had something, well, different to say to what the officers were saying, but it was just an afraid beyond our resources. But it is something that I feel is a gap in the series. OK. This is Simon Thompson, excellent podcast, by the way. My question is, and it's actually two questions, how close was the operation to failing because of one, the approaching Arctic winter or two operational factors such as insufficient supplies, ships, aircraft requiring maintenance, etc. In other words, if the task force had left one week later, would the outcome have been different? Please answer this, it would make my day. Patrick, what do you think? Well, I think you're absolutely right there. It was the biggest enemy, ultimately, was time. Time because of the weather, the conditions were day by day getting worse to the point where they would have been unbearable. And secondly, time because of the wear and tear on particularly on the fleet, on the men on the ground shore, but particularly the fleet. You know, being out there in the South Atlantic after a couple of weeks, everything starts, things start going wrong on a regular basis and trying to a distance of 8,000 miles to keep up any kind of maintenance program would have been impossible. So I think you would have seen a day by day a reduction in the efficiency of the every aspect of the task force. The point where it became impossible to maintain our presence there and we'd have to have come home. I think that's why the Argentinians were banking on. Yeah, it's fascinating, isn't it? To realise after the event, we discover that the original Argentine plan is to invade later in the year and actually they're bumped into it by the South Georgia crisis. And the plan, of course, is to force us to respond during their winter. When it in effect, we wouldn't have been able to respond. So, you know, it was a factor. Would have weak, which was Simon's question of made a difference. I'm not so sure a weak would have made a difference, but you certainly get the sense from the commanders down the Julian Thompson and everyone else that time is of the essence. That's why he was so determined. Crack on. That's why the whole business of 5th Brigade became so controversial because it in effect slowed up the land campaign. Yeah, nothing that's absolutely right. I think a week maybe not a fortnight, perhaps. Yeah. Okay, so we've got another question. This is a different Simon this time. Question for the podcast relevant to Falklands, but came to mind when reading your great in a Verticommer's SPS book are all raw marine commandos and are all commandos raw Marines in the UK forces. I guess the follow up question is, was there a change between the Second World War and the Falklands? That sounds like a complicated question, but actually I think the answer is really to be straightforward. Is this right Patrick? If you're a raw Marine, you're also a Commando now. The two are sort of interchangeable, but it wasn't always the case because as I explained in my book, Commando's only begin during the Second World War and during the Second World War, there was a distinction between army commandos and raw Marine commandos. Now only the latter exists. Is that correct, Patrick? I think that's the answer. Yeah, I think you've got it spot on the commandos of Resforms has sort of been around the idea of a Commando starting in most recently, and it was South Africa and the Boehr of War, which is I think whether the modern iteration of it developed, the idea was sold to Churchill early on. Well, you know this very well, so independent companies and they become Commando's. They have these training centers up in Scotland, in Verilot, in Verilot and elsewhere. What's the point of sort of, I've got the name of Ashley Carrey, Ashley Carrey Karlsor, that's the great trading base, worth a trip actually, it's terrific fun. They've sort of kept quite a lot of the old enough for the infrastructure for you to get an idea of what it was like. And of course it's like a natural training area, you've got sort of rivers, mountains, all sorts of things you could exhaust yourself. Sounds proud to me. There's a great story actually about going ashore on in Deep, when four Commando went ashore, they were individually met by all sorts of machine gun fire and mortar fire and some one piped up and said, this is even worse than at the carrier. Did you give you a sense of how tough it really was? Great stuff. Here's another one from James Collier, congratulations on a really well produced and insightful podcast. It was great to hear the perspective of so many veterans from across the ranks and services. And while we do regret missing out on the Argentinian perspective, we were very keen, weren't we Patrick, to make sure that this wasn't just, you know, upper middle class voices and that we would hear from all the ranks and all the services. But anyway, the questions that he asks are interesting. What are the advice of the conflict, what were the assessments of our likelihood of success both within the MOD and amongst our allies? I'm sure I read somewhere that a pre war USMC, that's obviously the Marine Corps, US Marine Corps study, predicted that it was odds on we would fail to retake the islands. Do you know anything about that, Patrick? Yeah, but this is referenced from time to time about this US Marine Corps study, what quite why they would be doing it, I don't know. But yeah, I've come across it, but I've never actually managed to locate the study, but it's not really rocket science, is it? It's sort of pretty obvious that projecting force that distance with the resources that Britain had at that time was going to be problematic. I think the thing was, it was just about doable. And it was at the last point in recent military history, given the steady decline in numbers and resources that it was possible. Yeah, okay, he's got a second query, well, in fact, he's got three questions, the second one's also interesting. How close a run thing was it, where we just dealt with that, but he goes into more specifics here. What would it have taken for us to fail? For example, the number of task force vessels were hit, but these bombs did not detonate for various reasons. Had we lost a handful more frigates of destroyers, would that have ended the mission, or would it have taken the loss of a carrier to really end the campaign? What do you think, Patrick? I think frigates and destroyers we probably could have lived with the loss of a carrier would have been much more of a thing, because it's, of course, it's sort of about air and protection that the carrier, born, carriers could give to the ground forces. So I think if that had been taken out of the equation or a big chunk of the air defenses provided by the, by the carriers, had been removed, then the vulnerability factor zooms up for the, for the land forces, and I think that might, that might have tipped the balance. The whole question of air cover, you know, this was perhaps the biggest single risk, I think, is the, is the imbalance in air forces. And I think that was probably the, the biggest gamble, something that perhaps needs a bit more focus, but that's certainly what, what focus most people's minds on the way down when they were assessing the dangers. Yeah, and I think just to, you know, go back to the, we addressed the issue of, of the near sinking of Hermes by an exoscient missile, when, of course, sadly, Atlantic conveyor went down instead. We discussed whether or not that could have been a deliberate sacrifice of the, the tanker. I, I thought it might have been Patrick, you, you didn't agree with me, which is fine. We're, we're allowed to disagree. But the broader point here is that the carriers were absolutely crucial. So although Woodward may not have deliberately sacrificed it, he certainly was prepared to put pretty much all his other ships in the way, including the Atlantic conveyor, as this so called chaff wall, to protect the aircraft carriers. And while that seems, might seem to some listeners quite cold blooded, it seems to me a completely logical use, sadly, in war. You sometimes have to sacrifice or at least put at risk other, other elements of your, of your kit to save the more important ones. So, you know, to me, that would have been a perfectly legitimate use of, of other kit. Of course, it's not so easy for the, the families of people who die on those other ships to accept that, but that, that seems to be something that's always happened through war. Okay. Now, the third part of the question from James Collier is what was the legacy from the conflict in terms of any major changes in UK military doctrine strategy, tactics or procurement? Obviously, a lot of the plan cuts were halted or reversed, but otherwise did we just go back to training and preparing for the same set of Cold War missions? Patrick, what do you think? Do you want, do you want James? I don't, I don't know the answer to that one. Except in the broadest terms, I think we did pretty much, well, one thing that did happen was that there was certainly a feeling among the marine's afterwards that had it not been for the war, they might well have ended up on the scrapping, they might have been one of the major casualties of the ongoing programme of shrinking the British armed forces. So that was one thing you can say came out of it. The Marines survived and went on to prosper. In terms of, I think it would have been, I don't know, I'm just thinking out loud here, but I think that it would have been pretty bizarre to have any kind of retilting of, kind of, future predictions about what kind of wars we might be facing in future on the basis of this one very bizarre war. It was an anomaly and anachronism, etc. I mean, this is always the case, of course. I mean, who would have known that we would actually, a couple of decades later be fighting guys wearing flip flops and carrying AK47s that all our military resources would be going on to fighting this extraordinary sort of asymmetric wars in Iraq and post to them Iraq and Afghanistan. So yeah, I mean, as far as I'm aware, we just kind of went back to our NATO Cold War posture, which of course was about very soon to become to an end as well. Yeah, I think it's also worth saying, though, Patrick, there were very real changes in terms of the sort of long term determination to keep some kind of air stroke, sea power as part of the British armed forces. So you get a situation now where we have these two huge aircraft carriers, very controversial, not everyone agrees with them, particularly if you're not in the Royal Navy. But I think the Faulkland's taught us, you need to prepare for all eventualities and given the nature of the two conflicts we've recently fought, you might have imagined that that was going to be the future of warfare. So that also tells us, doesn't it, Patrick, with the Ukraine conflict now, you need to have kits that can be used in multiple different types of ways. And my personal feeling is that the aircraft carriers, although they cost an awful lot of money, actually will serve us very well. And in a war against Russia, for example, if it ever comes to that, we hope it won't in terms of a hot war. That's exactly the sort of thing you need. Yeah, I mean, the thing is with the military, you can never say never when it comes to the government, because five years ago, investing huge amounts of money in some fast jets would seem to be perhaps the wrong way of using your, again, always heavily pressurized resources. But now, fast jets, they're pretty good things to have. So it's a terrible, procurement is a terrible thing to have to be responsible for, because you're almost always going to get it wrong. You're going to absolutely not predict the shape of future wars. OK, here's a question from Matthew. First of all, he just wants to say how much he's loved the recent Faulkland's podcast. It's been really fascinating. His question is, how did the Paris and Commandos, as well as the Special Forces, survive on those mountains for such a long period of time? In episode 12, you touched on how most people would have been hospitalised with exposure, but these guys not only survive, but then they went and fought the battles after that. It's astonishing. I understand these are tough men and they go through rigorous training, but in a practical sense, how do they actually get through it? Did they exercise to keep warm? Did they have decent shelter? Were they kitted out with adequate enough clothing? I mean, great questions, Matthew. And, Patrick, you were in the mountains, so how unerved did everyone survive? The answer, Matthew, is I really don't know. I mean, it was, it was unbelievable. It was just so miserable. The tent issue, as civis, we were saying, where are the tents? Where are the tents? There are no tents. What you see is you make a bivvy out of a poncho, which was a supposedly waterproof cape. And any bits of wood you could find lying around, which of course would not be actually not existent in the Forkens, and bits and pieces of kit entrenching towards. With that, you rigged up this pathetic little shelter over a shell scrape that you would dug to protect yourself a little bit of minimal protection from Argentinian cellar. Of course, as soon as you stuck a spade into the very thin topsoil on the Forkens, it filled up with water. So it was incredibly miserable. And the actual kit itself, boots, it all comes down to boots in the end. Our boots were rubbish. The DMS boot leaked. The sole was incredibly stiff. A couple of, if you were wearing them for the first time, after a couple of miles, you were pretty crippled. Of course, lots of guys have made their own provisions there. They're their own boots, brought their own boots. The Argentinian boots, as I've said before, were much, much better. The actual quality of the clothing was pretty lousy as well. So not very waterproof. Some of the officers have brought their barbers with them, which served them much better than the kind of outer covering, the outer clothing that was sort of standard issue. So I think it basically came down to incredible fitness and morale. So these guys, we just kept going with the fact that they were physically very tough, mentally very tough, and that terrific sort of camaraderie, that means that the weakest or the most vulnerable, any given moment, is going to get massive support from the guys around him. OK, this is from Danian, slightly off topic as it is a battleground podcast, but it would be interesting to know how the news media were reporting the events. What they knew were allowed to report and so on, particularly with journalists on the ground, excellent podcast, the end. So that's obviously a question for you Patrick. I think we've answered some of that in the episodes, but if you could just go into a little bit more detail about the challenges you faced reporting from what was really a close circuit in terms of you getting information out. Entirely, so there's about 30 journalists there, all British, there's only one international news outlet, which was Reuters. There was a chat called Lesdoud from Reuters, everyone else was from either BBC, ITN, British National, the Sunday newspapers, regional newspapers. So entirely British affair. The first thing we've got to mention is that there was censorship in place, the Ministry of Defence sent down some civilian officials who were meant to look after us, not the mind as they were known as, not always affectionately, and they were meant to basically kind of manage us, but also to censor our copies. So what they were looking for was anything that gave away any operational details at the tool. This could be very wide in. But let's start by saying that none of us was interested in giving away stuff that was going to be of any use to the enemy, because we were obviously going to be in the firing line if they heard it and acted on it. So yeah, we were perfectly happy to go along with that. Unfortunately, it was kind of some of the miners were more liberal and more intelligent in interpreting those parameters than others. The huge problem, of course, was the actual business of getting your stuff out. So if you wrote something, you then had to act to leave where you were to get back to one of the ships to send it off, having been censored via the SAT communications. That meant you then had all the hassle of getting back to where you had been. So it was, you had to think long and hard before you took that decision. But the other thing, of course, is that everything was pulled. So everything that everyone wrote was available to any news outlet who wanted to use it. So the element of competition, which is very, very strong in journalism, was not really present there. Now that's the perspective from where we were. You could only really write about it or, in my case, write or broadcast, in the case of the others when it was all over. And those plenty of great stuff that came out then. From the perspective of people operating in London, the two big leaks that really drove people, enraged people on the ground. Well, the main, let's talk about the main one, was, of course, the goose green, giving away the fact that the goose green attack had begun, even before it had actually been launched. So if that wasn't a breach of security, I don't know what was. Now that didn't come from any of us down on the fork, because that came from someone strangely enough who picked it up in a London club. Some politician had turned up for lunch at the club. It was dropped the fact that the goose green operation was mistakenly said to be under way. In fact, it hadn't quite started then. And that was picked up by a BBC reporter who blindly went on to broadcast it, astonishing now that the BBC would do that. It was a real security risk, it really did potentially endanger lives. And that, as I say, caused understandable fury among the people out there. OK. Now, now the comment, this is from an Oli Ford. During the Falklands podcast, why didn't the naval gunfire Bata Mount Longdon before three parrowent up it, rather than when they were on it? The element of surprise was never going to last. Do we know enough about the detail of Mount Longdon to answer that question, Patrick? I mean, I wouldn't assume that there was a certain amount of softening up from the naval gunfire even before they went in. But is that the point? It was a battle of surprise. Well, there certainly was a surprise element. As indeed, there was in, I think, in all the mountain battles. But I'm afraid I can't answer that question, Oli. I mean, there certainly wasn't naval gunfire directed at Longdon, but when it came in, how that decision was made, I'm afraid I don't know. OK. Now, I've got quite a detail one here, and I'm not sure we're going to be able to deal with all of it, but some of the comments are very interesting. Really enjoying your Falklands War podcast. This is from a Rob Barash. As a veteran of the Israeli defence forces, I wanted to point out that it's not axiomatic that conscription makes for poor soldiers, as the major participants in World War II would testify. There are a few key factors to making an effective conscription based fighting force, though. I never made it past sergeant, and I'm neither a military historian nor a military affairs analyst, so I could be full of rubbish. But he's got a couple of questions. I think it's worth addressing, actually. Do the conscripts believe in what they're fighting for? In other words, if they don't, that doesn't help. And I think we could probably say that was true for some of them in the Falklands. Is conscription relatively universal? Are conscripts suckers who don't have the money or connections to get out of the draft? D.G. Donald Trump and his infamous bone spurs? Or as in Israel since 1948, it is almost universal. So again, the question is, morale would be affected if you feel that you're the ones doing the fighting because of your sort of poor economic circumstances. Even if the military relies on conscription, says Rob, are combat units filled with people who want to be there? And they were all conscripts, the IDF's front line combat units are filled with soldiers who asked to serve there. So he's constantly using the IDF as an example of country sculpt soldiers that worked. The question is, do they work in all cases? And I think you and I both agree, Patrick. In the Falklands, probably for some of the reasons Rob's pointed out. He also talks about training, how effective he's training, how long your service is. It helps, of course, if the service is longer, not sure. And final comedy makes a lot is made about the role of long serving professional NCOs in NATO militaries. And I'm sure they're excellent, but our NCOs who were only a year or two older than us were fantastic and our junior officers were excellent too. So some interesting comments there about Rob, from Rob Patrick, what do you feel? I mean, clearly that some conscript army is a better than others, aren't they? Yeah, there are conscripts and conscripts. Of course, with the IDF, these railies, he's in a vital part of citizenship. So I think that's definitely at the top of the scale of commitment and professionalism and so forth. And of course, you know, morale and spree, very vital elements. You certainly didn't have that when the case of the Argentinian. So I think there are two operas at the end of the spectrum, if you're comparing the IDF to the poor old Argentinians. Yeah, it's really the strength of the contract. I think that the state has with its conscripts. In the case of the Israel, of course, it's very, very strong in the case of Argentina. It wasn't at all. What you get is a very, very strong sense that we've referred to before disconnect between the officers and the men, which is only going to create inefficiency. Now, I've got a fascinating email from someone called Rich Jackson, who messaged me a bad his father who was a veteran of the Falklands. He was serving on Hercules in the RAF and the Hercules that were assigned to special forces. So we've got to special forces here. And he points out in his original email, followed up by an email from his dad, giving some of the details of the operations he was on. And it's really fascinating stuff, Patrick. Basically, he was assigned to the mission that was going to take out the exoset bearing aircraft. That's the super etondards on the ground in Argentina. I mean, this was a mission that we know, historians know was aborted, but he actually was going to go ahead. And he gets some fascinating detail. His job was to get the rear ramp down as quickly as possible. Now, normally they went down reasonably slowly for obvious reasons, but he devised the way where you could just drop it and just go bang. And of course, the importance was the guys get off as quickly as possible and they can get back on as quickly as possible. And very much reminds me of my in Tebby book, Operation Thunderbolt, where the Hercules came in, very similar operation, and undoubtedly would have inspired the SAS actually to doing this. The reason that doesn't go ahead, even after he's been given a baller king by his boss, not to use this quick release mechanism, is because they have problems with, well, first of all, they're told that they're stopped as they're about to take off. But a similar operation he talks about is stopped because of in flight refueling issues. So there were all kinds of mad camp missions that the SAS were going to launch from ascension that Rich's dad was involved in, Harvey Jackson is his name, but they were, fortunately, I suppose in some cases, stopped because of various technical issues because the body can't, I suspect, would mean a lot higher if they actually had gone on those missions. Perhaps you do know anything about the detail of any of those? I don't, but I do know that the forces to extend is a kind of playground for their special forces. They've got this unique opportunity to try out all sorts of, as you say, mad camp ideas. And I have heard various stories, and we've heard stories from some of our contributors that we didn't broadcast about some of the things that they were asked to do. Do you remember the helicopter pilot who was asked by the SAS weather? The helicopter could hover over his suspected minefield, and the SAS team climbed onto the helicopter to the back, walked down the helicopter, and then disempowered, while it was hovering over the mountain on the other side. I mean, this is sort of like, you do think, well, hang on a minute, but there was clearly a lot of that going on. OK, we're going to take a quick break now. And when we come back, we've got a real treat for you. It's a bit of audio from the last air raid against British naval ships of the Falklands War, and I promise you, it's pretty dramatic. Welcome back. A few more questions now. Here's Carl Reid, and he asks us, why didn't the UK invoke Article 5 of the NATO Treaty after the Argentine invasion as the US did after 9.11? Patrick, do you have a thought about that? Well, you know, that's a really, really interesting question to which, once again, I have to say I have a specific answer, but of course, Article 5 is an attack on one, isn't a attack upon all, which I think the Falklands would have met that criterion. And I can only speculate that it was because of the peculiar nature of the conflict. This is very much a British thing. It's very much framed in a sort of colonial setting. So it would be pretty hard, even though technically it might meet the criterion. It's pretty hard to argue that an attack on a little island, some little islands, many thousands of miles away from the rest of the kind of NATO sphere, it really presents any kind of threat to the common security. Of course, the other element is the colonial element, isn't it, Saul, you've got this very much, sorry, the post imperial element. So, you know, Britain's very sensitive about this charge, which is being made by the Argentinians that this is really kind of 19th century problem they're trying to resolve. Yeah, for sure. And you've got the complication with the Americans in South America. They very much see the Argentinians as a bastion of anti communism. And this was going to make it very unlikely, frankly, that they were going to respond to a request from Article 5. And it may be that alone, actually, which discouraged us from doing so. What we did do, of course, is make great efforts successful as it turned out in the United Nations for a condemnation of the invasion. So, that was a diplomatic coup. But the chances of getting NATO fighting on side in self defense in a verdict, I think we're frankly pretty unlikely, so they didn't even bother trying it. Okay, now we come to a really fascinating message from someone called Stan. Well, Will Stan Bowles, of course, you know, these nicknames, the military, will always give each other in this case relating to the famous 1970s footballer. But he was, this is really fascinating. I was serving as a mine clearance diver on the fleet clearance diving team during the campaign. We were based on the Tristram, then intrepid in the thick of it. The divers are the Navy EOD, IED operatives, you know, the bomb disposal, basically. And so we're employed in making safe UXBs, unexploded bombs amongst other tasks. One being only 90 meters from the Antelope when a thousand pound bomb was embedded in her and then detonated, I have witnessed the impact of air dropped weapons on the enclosed spaces in a warship. Many ships were struck with one thousand pound bombs that fell to detonate. Antrim, Argonaut, twice, Glasgow, Broad Sword, Plymouth, times four times, and the Antelope. All the LSLs with one exception were struck by bombs in San Carlos. As you know, these LSLs carried a huge amount of kit. Had these weapons detonated, the damage and casualties would have been awful. The Plymouth, having means struck by four bombs, would have disintegrated, likewise the Argonaut. I could write much more. Please understand that, although please to have contributed, this is not a shout out for the divers. But a suggestion that the war would have looked very different if not lost, had these weapons detonated. For an insight, you may wish to Google R&Divers Falklands War. For a nine minute BBC feature with myself and my Oppo Tony Grume, and I would absolutely recommend looking at that. Now it's interesting because we continue this conversation. I responded and said, thanks so much for your email. I spoke with one of your colleagues, a guy called Piggy Trotter, who helped to remove the unexploded bomb from Salant Salad. It was too late to include in the main body of the story, but we'll add the whole interview as a bonus episode. So that's going to follow on from this bonus episode, probably. Hopefully, this will remind people of the absolute vital work that you and the other divers did in the Falklands. I take your point about the fortune of so many bombs not exploding, and we'll read out some of your email, which I've just done. Now his response was also interesting. He goes on to say, the navy was alarmed, but content fielding UXBs, which lasted only until broadcast by the BBC. Patrick referred to this, of course, before. Thereafter the bombs were fitted with retard fins, slowing them down in flight, and thus allowing time for them to become fully armed, not ideal. As you said, luck plays a massive part in war. Really, we should have been smashed. Patrick, what's your feeling about that? I mean, it was a close run thing. This was a question asked before by another of our listeners. Was this, you know, the difference between those bombs exploding because they were dropped at low level or not, really the crucial difference? Well, I don't think it's possible to say that with any kind of authority or accuracy, but certainly life would have been a hell of a lot harder if those badly wrongly fused bombs had been set correctly. There'd been a lot more carnage in Suncolors, water, a lot more noise would have been lost, lost a lot more stores, and kit would have gone down. It would have made the job of the land forces, it measured the harder, but it didn't happen. And as we all agree, you know, luck is incredibly important. And the balance of luck, I think we can say, was on the British side throughout the Halka campaign. Even though many things went wrong, a lot more could have gone wrong. Yeah, that bit of information that Stan Bowles gave about the retard fins is fascinating, isn't it? Because we'd always been led to believe, historians have always been led to believe that actually the odd difference just dropped their bombs from a slightly higher height, and that gave them the chance to arm, but they actually found a technical solution that allowed them to keep coming in at low level, which of course was much safer for their pilots. So fascinating stuff. Thank you very much, Stan, for that. And I think we've saved the best to last here, Patrick, because this is not only a fascinating email, but also an amazing bit of audio, which was sent with it. And this is the email from a man called John Hughes. Many thanks for a very enjoyable series. At the end of episode 12, you invited listeners comments, which is why he's writing in. In 2022, the mass media's focus and the public understanding of the Falka campaign would seem to be limited generally to Belgrano, Goose Green, the Welsh Guards of Bluff Cove, etc, etc. There would have been no victory without the land campaign, of course, and the availability of TV imagery from ashore will always be significant. But the fact that Operation Corporate, that's the overall name for the Falka and the campaign, was overwhelmingly a naval undertaking, and a great success for the naval service overall, is sometimes lost, I feel. You touch briefly on Stena Inspector and the repair of Gormorgan, but there is a huge story of endeavor and achievement to be covered in the logistics and support effort, from the initial effort by the organisation to store the task force, the dock yards that converted ships, fitted Hello Pads and RES points to merchant ships, the RFA, the involvement of, you know, etc, etc. Such as the Shell and BP tankers that very fuel down to the task force, and the merchant ships that took stores daily into St Carlos, these stories are never told. He goes on to say, for your information, you mentioned in an earlier episode that the new CO for two parrots parachuted into the sea and speculated he was picked up by a small craft. A slow Hercules would have been nowhere near the islands themselves. He was picked up by Penelope, in which I was a junior officer. That's HMS Penelope, which was the destroyer, some distance north of the islands. As we all watched him come down, one wagon board said that, as he was an army officer, the next parachute would be for his labrador. And then we get to the really interesting bit of all of this, Patrick, great email. On the night of the 13th of 14th of June, Penelope and company with Cardiff was escorting Nordic ferry along the northern coast of East Falkland. We were jumped by some Argentine aircraft, and though the intelligence was not fully conclusive, it is believed that this was the final attack on a Royal Naval ship. The attached recording made on board that night may be interesting. So we're just going to play that recording because it is quite remarkable. Here it is. The I eat the meat of the shit! We're out there! Jesus, what? That was a shit man. I'm inside the naked one. I'm really glad. I'm glad to be very glad he was. Well, I went to the switch on when he was with me. It was a quick check hand of sacred. I went to the kitchen. I was cooking as a cook. The question is not the top risk. You know what I'm talking about? I'm talking about the elderly. We don't tell. We don't tell. We don't tell. We don't tell. We don't tell. We don't tell. We don't know. We don't know. We don't know. We don't know. Where's the first pan? It's the guns. It's the first. Don't worry about it. Think about what you got to do. You don't have to look around. Looks very消... I know it does. You're right. Is anybody happy? Yeah, I'm out. I want to hear who in the exhibition's because my ears sensor is beeping, tipo I peaked here and switched. I'll go up to the top of the seat. I'll see you get back. Excuse me, Mickey's too much. Mickey's actually with a right foot. Just keep going. Do what you told. The right foot. If he's got the crystals, you know, say that Mickey isn't with the right foot. Yeah, no. Mickey's just doing the moment. He's picking up the screws. He's not. He's in the no head shot. Wow, that was quite something, wasn't it? I mean, what struck me first was the, the cacophony, this all round barrage of noise you're getting. But contrasting with that is the astonishing coolness of the voices we hear. People are told to get on with their jobs calmly. Yeah, on the, on the weapon, but don't rush it, you know, take it. I do make sure it's all safe. You know, that's really quite impressive. I found. Yeah, great, great bit of actuality there. Just to get back to, to the point earlier that John made about, about logistics, yes, of course, it's, it's, it's really unfair the way that. The backroom boys, the people who aren't up at the front who are, the people who are not up at the back, the attention of the cameras and the, the reporters, they, they do go on the song. Their, their feats are not recorded. They treasure the memories themselves. They know what they did, but no one else did. And it, it was a huge logistical victory. I mean, this was something that could not have been done. Were it not for the dedication of skill of this army of, so we salute them today. We do indeed. Now, just one extra bit of information to add. This came from John Hughes after an email exchange with me. He actually points out that the recording was made by a weapons engineering mechanic. And the chatter that you hear in the background is the team discussing the reloading of the C cat. So, you know, great stuff. Remarkable bit of audio from the Falklands war. Okay, so I think that's all we have time for this week. Patrick and I are going to be signing off for a short time. Short break. We'll play one or two bonus episodes in the interim. And then we'll be back very shortly with Battleground the Ukraine. Maarkaz, you know.