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, 30 May 2022 01:00
As the British forces pushed into the island from their landing point at San Carlos Water, they encountered a well-defended Argentinian position in the settlement of Goose Green, leading to the most ferocious land battle of the war. Saul and Patrick explore the controversial reasoning behind the attack, with eye-witness testimony from those at the heart of the action.
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Hello and welcome to episode 9 of Bathground, the Falklands, I'm Patrick Bishop and today with Saul David we'll be discussing the first real land clash of the campaign. That's the Bathroom Goose Green which took place on the 28th and 29th of May just a week after three Commando Brigade had got safely ashore at San Carlos Water. It had been a victory before of course when British troops recaptured South Georgia but there the Argentine guards are surrendered without much of a fight but at this one was a real set two, the men of two parrots who were tasked with the operation lost 18 dead including of course their commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel H. Jones and there were 64 more wounded on the Argentinian side the losses a bit vague but they were in the range of 50 killed and at least 100 wounded. There was a very hard 14 counter and the victory provided a boost to morale particularly back home but the question remains was this battle really necessary. Well let's put the episode into contact shall we the 5,000 odd Marines and parrots of three Commando Brigade who made the initial landing are now ashore and about to push out from the beach head. Reinforcements also are on their way in the shape of five infantry brigade who had left Britain aboard the QE2 on the 12th of May and are expected to backfill the positions vacated by the initial force as they press ahead Julian Thompson says that they will come in and reinforce as necessary. Now the objective of three Commando Brigade is port Stanley 50 miles to the east of San Carlos Water around which most of the enemy troops are clustered. The twin settlements of Darwin and Goose Green are about a dozen miles to the south and lie along a narrow isthmus. The Argentinians who put a garrison there but no one knew how many an SAS patrol reckon they're about a hundred brigade intelligence thought it was more in the region of about 450 in fact they were well over 1200 in any case they were not considered a huge threat. The point is the Argentinians would have to get over a range of hills to the south of San Carlos Water called Sussex Mountains. The isthmus itself is completely devoid of any cover if someone said it's like a sort of billiard table, kind of rolling billiard table, devoid of trees or bushes and so the view of brigade headquarters was that the Argentinians had basically set up what someone called a self administering prisoner of war camp. There was some talk of a raid just beforehand in order to kind of keep their heads down there were some fears particularly back at home that there might be some threat from the air, from the air strip there there was a kind of pretty crude air strip with a couple of arrow mackies and I think a pukara anyway that sort of light ground attack aircraft rather than fast jets and that would pose a threat. But the whole situation changed on the 25th of May indeed the raid was actually launched and it got a little way when this was going to be conducted by two parrots when it was called off because the weather was too bad to lift any guns up there to support the attack. And I think there was quite a feeling of relief when that happened but things changed dramatically on the 25th of May when Julian Thompson who was then busy working on his revised plan of attack he now had to take account of the fact that he'd be operating without the lift provided by the Chanook and Wessex helicopters that had gone down on the Atlantic conveyor which had just been sunk. And so Thompson is very keen to press on to try and seize control of Mount Kent which is this big feature in the middle of the island which dominates all the surrounding. Grounder looks down directly on Port Stanley the ultimate objective. However while he's working on this he's called to the satellite turbo Ajax Bay and told there he's put on to Northwood and told by John Fieldhouse the overall commander that he was now to make a plan to attack and capture not raid but actually capture Goose Green. The impetus for this came not from the military for back home but from the politicians from number 10 for Mrs. Thatcher and those around her. Their feeling was that after several days of unbroken bad news i.e. the sinking not only of the Atlantic conveyor but also the destroyer HMS Coventry the country really needed some good news. Okay so this is a political decision it wouldn't be the first time when it saw that a battle had been ordered for the purposes of people in power. No and not the last of course Patrick I mean you know a couple of famous examples come to mind. Stalingrad probably the best known of all where Hitler overalls his military command in what they're intending to do and insists that the city that bears his opponent's name Staling of course is taken against all good military advice and certainly watering down the plan to head further south and take the vital oil regions of the Caucasus but also there's that better known example I suppose as far as the British concern which was North Africa in 1940 to 1941 amazing success against the Italians but thrown away really by Churchill's determination to launch an expedition into Greece in early 1941 which took away all the momentum of that initial incursion across Italian North Africa and gave the Germans of course time to launch their own reinforcements in the shape of Romulan of course we know that the war changes dramatically as a result of that but you you have examples too I'm sure Patrick yeah absolutely I mean on a smaller scale my latest book is about the raid on the epit August 1942 Operation Jubilee which was absolutely a political operation basically it was cool because the Russians and the Americans who have just come into the war feel that the Brits aren't doing enough the Russians are furious with us for not opening a second front so Churchill's view sensibly I think we will agree in hindsight was that there was no possibility of launching a full scale attack on the continent at that point it would almost certainly be a disaster but something had to be done so this was a sort of token raid it was a complete debacle but nonetheless the feeling was that something had to be done at the time I can sort of sympathize I mean it's all very well to look back and say oh it wasn't an idiotic idea but there are moments sadly in war when these kind of sacrifices have to be made in order to sustain the all round effort and the all round effort of course is political and diplomatic as much as it is military a lot of the time so we desperately needed to keep the Russians in the war at that stage of the summer of 1942 there was a real possibility they might actually sign a separate piece with Hitler which would have been really catastrophic for us so I think in the case of Goose Green it's harder to argue what do you reckon do you think there's reasonable grounds for it? No not really and of course as we're going to hear in a little bit more detail in a while from Julian Thompson there wasn't really any obvious apart from political need and when politics clashes with military imperative you often get bad news as we're going to discover of course from the commanders on the ground point of view in particular H Jones commanding to power there was no argument and actually he was quite keen to get into action and I know that you met him on the journey down Patrick his plan was reasonably straightforward they would use as much firepower as they could get both from naval gunfire and also from 105 millimeter guns but not many of them only unfortunately three and their own heavy support weapons they could only take down unfortunately only two of their mortars to support a classic ground infantry attack over open ground I mean you've seen the you've seen the terrain down there Patrick it's very open there's not a lot of cover and that's why fire support is so important H Jones had asked for more fire support but he was told by Brigadier Thompson and we'll learn the reasons why in a moment that actually there wasn't going to be any more forthcoming so it was really going to be an old fashioned infantry attack they would move into position and the cover of darkness during the night of the 26th 27th lie up all day at a place called Camilla Creek House which is just very close to the entrance to the Isthmus where most of the Argentinian positions were and then attack in the early hours of the 28th and hopefully with what fire support they had be able to winch all the Argentinians out of their positions I'll say a little bit about two parrots and particularly their commander now two parrots are you know a real fighting outfit replete with all the virtues of the parachute regiment they're very keen like everyone is to get stuck in all the way down they've been trying to get the ship is carrying them the master of the ship of the Nauland to hurry up because they've got to they're really worried that it might all be over by the time they get there when they arrive they're stuck on top of Sussex mountains and they're looking down onto Sun Carlos Water and they can see the ships being sunk in the Argentinian air force swooping in so there's a big feeling of frustration which is reinforced by the fact that the conditions up they're absolutely horrible they want to move get a move on get stuck in but having said that there's still a bit concerned about when they get the news that they're going to first of all raid good screen and then actually attack good screen I met eight students on the way down he was a very charming guy obviously very committed to the role he'd not necessarily been born to because I think his father was in the Navy he came from a prosperous west of England farming family been to Eden but he decided the soldiering life was him and he really did look the part his company commanders very impressive guys John Crossland B company had been in the SAS dear Farah Hockley a company came from a long military family his father had an honorary position in the parachute regiment I think he was Colonel Comodan so he got these very committed guys but when they you actually look at what you're being asked to do there's a very funnels down this isbos the Argentinians no matter how vague the numbers are there's certainly a very very good defensive position there's no cover and it's quite difficult to generate the kind of massive violence as the paris put it is necessary to keep the momentum going in the circumstance as if unless you've got considerable support the weapons they've got themselves as a very fast moving unit are pretty light so you really need the artillery support you really need the very limited armoured support they're once available from the light armoured cars they've got the Syllitas and the Scorpios and of course the naval gunfire is very important as well we'll hear that this wasn't for coming in a way that the Jones wanted so let's get to the battle itself we've been very fortunate to hear from Nigel Spud Ealy then a private in two paris 50 strong C company and today the author of an excellent new book on the battle called Goose Green the decisive battle of the Falklands war Nigel told us about that battle it started on the 27th at 2200 hours we got the order very brief orders to go and lay the start line for a company a company was the first company to be put into a into battle a start line is an imaginary line on the ground where it's close enough to the enemy to affect an attack but not as close to compromise while you're lining up for that attack and that's why I sort of say I'm point man I was point man because I was the point of the first patrol to lead and set that start line up for a company their attack was on to Burnside House be company were to attack Bokka House about an hour later while D company were held in reserve and that's the way infantry battalions work you know two up one in reserve and that's it a company put their attack in the Argentinians have fled and the next point was for a company would be Coronation Point and Darwin Hill now Colonel Jones had thought that the battle for Goose Green would be overcome first light and in the Falklands first lights about 10 o clock in the morning well of course a company got snagged up on Darwin Hill in a ferocious battle and they didn't managed to take the hill until first light little before 10 o clock while D company then came up from their reserve to move to take the airfield B company swung right flanking to still take their objective on Bokka House but what wasn't known to the battalion at the time through no intelligence and no real fault of anybody's really was the fact that there were trenches Argentine trenches in front of all of the objectives that the rifle company said to take and because the ground was so exposed you couldn't really blame the SES we've been on the ground a month before wrecking these positions because they couldn't get close enough to you know to fold proper intelligence reports back on the enemy so when a company assaulted Darwin Hill like I said it was a vicious battle we were in reserve I could see the battle two 300 meters in front of me we were getting all the overshots from the Argentinian mortarounds so we had to dash to the base of this Darwin Hill Darwin Hill was like a elongated pimple not particularly high but it had rolling rows of sort of folds of like it had been sort of cultivated ain't you know by the ancient inhabitants almost like terraces along the side yeah like terraces yeah which gave you cover from view but not really cover from fire so it was at that point a company got held up and Colonel Jones came forward I wasn't there so but I have heard stories about phrases like come on a company get your skirts on follow me a company OC didn't seem to be in control as Jones came up and Jones affected his own assault on part the hillside and sadly got killed doing the assault when that happened it came over the radio Sunray down Sunray being the call sign of a commanding officer Sunray could be a corporal of a patrol but so we immediately knew it was Colonel Jones was down we didn't know it been killed but then a company took the hill and see company marched up the hill and went forward south through a company's position and held the position south of Darwin Hill overlooking Goose Green I remember walking through those positions seeing the death the dying or the prisoners Argentine prisoners seeing our boys dead you know my mates it on all of us to move forward we had to clear trenches because they company literally just taken and they were in bits really there was the young kids up there some of them are in tears and to see your dead mates there was quite a shocker being seen company and the old sweats and I say old sweats I was 23 at the time but in some respects with the Italian two par had been blooded a couple years previous through Warren Point I was on the second bomb I was on the sort of cure after quick reaction false from Bezbrook so we knew what law was about but nobody not even I don't think any British units since I think career possibly had fought such a vicious battle of Darwin Hill anyway so we moved forward held the forward south and ground and from that position we could actually see a straight in front of us all the Argentinians so some gun placements behind the guns were there was a separate of Goose Green to my right at about two o clock was the airfield with the becaras on it I remember we were fighting down an isthmus which was only half mile wide and on the left and the right was the sea and at the bottom of this isthmus was behind the Goose Green settlement was more sea so really they couldn't have gone anywhere okay so we held up there and for about an hour having enough so you know smoking get a brew on and listen to all the of Chinese parliaments and the whisper is going on who was killed and who's this and who's missing and you know it was kind of the combat soldiers talk but you're still very focused on what you've got to do and the extraordinary order we got around about 12 o clock was the seat company wrecky advanced to contact towards Goose Green we just looked at amazement each other and my patrol commander Ken because I was a Tom at the time the private soldier said right spot this my nickname said right spot point man again and I'm like oh my god you kidding me honey you said no point man and basically we headed off down this forward slope in arrowhead formation which means one man in front and two to the left and four goes all the way back and in the middle about 20 30 yards back would be your HQ which is where the OC officer commanding of sea country would be with his signals unit and stuff so with that I fixed bayonets and we advanced to contact in the distance I could see all the Argentinians and I was wondering why aren't they firing at us did they think we were them did they actually think that they had repelled us from Darwin Hill so as we're advancing about two 300 meters in front of me there was this canvas tent affair which was flapping in the wind and there was a it was a stretch it covered a stretch it didn't realize it at the time and I threw a white phosphorus grenade into that and that caught fire and just shot it all up didn't inspect the treachery just where I just carried on forward and that's when the heavens erupted I mean we were attacked on both sides um you know from the east and the west they opened up with both the guns that they took off the ships mortars artillery, alley con 20 mil alley con anti aircraft guns in the ground roll and they cut us they cut us down in fact they because I was so far forward with my mates we actually ran into dead ground and it was the HQ of sea company which got absolutely smashed we lost one guy four badly injured in fact out of nine or ten guys there was only one guy that survived without scratch and the ironic thing of that we left him with poor old uh mark homersmith who was killed left him for three hours because he couldn't get back just under fire left him for three hours with four mark and um while he locked watched us put the assault carried on the attack he's been affected this day with post traumatic stress so that's where we are at the moment we um we're running to dead ground and obviously to hold our position and find out what the hell was going on but by which time we we'd been sort of with bomb burst we'd scattered all over the place uh so this commander control element was lost very early on on the assault into goose green and because we were sea company we were used to working in four man patrols five man patrols unlike rifle companies who work in sections two groups of four three groups of four you know it's twelve twelve guys twelve soldiers so we then worked in a sort of buddy buddy system and we just tried to advance as uh quickly and as carefully as possible to the front there was an estuary coming in from the left which then filtered down to a bridge your wooden bridge which was part of a roadhead but it was it wasn't a metal road it was just a dirt track with with track to a rut site uh and the arges were running back across that towards sort of goose green and we were sort of taking them out and advancing at the same time and as sea company were advancing decumpity were coming closing in from the right part of elements of the right hand side of decumpity were closing in with us we eventually get down by this estuary and there's a stone building which are now known to be the dairy and a small little banker of about a meter half high and above that were all the argy positions and they had taken over a pit farm and they'd that upturned all these pig style things and um used them as sort of accommodation tents um so we fought through that and it's quite weird really because you could hear the Spanish voices really really bizarre because we were that close to them and it always reminded me of the longest day that that second world war film with John Wayne when those paratroopers were walking along the line that stone wall fence wall stone wall yeah and the Germans were on the other side and they just passed each other you know that just my nan taught me to see that in less the square years and years ago and that's always stayed with me and that's how it felt when I was in goose screen there anyway we sort of fought through them and all the shouted down and we'd lost comms to anybody behind us up at Darwin Hill there's somebody said that the patrols were gonna assault the schoolhouse and I thought where the hell's the schoolhouse because that wasn't mentioned in the briefings they were just snap brief briefings that we were told and I looked at sort of seven o clock tom and I saw this huge big building I've never seen it before a big wooden building apparently it was the biggest building on the islands anyway double out of argy's foreign out of there Argentinians and patrols put a an attack into there and did a did a bit of sort of room clearance I think they cleared the first room because I fired a 66 which is a shoulder fired anti tank rocket like a mini bazooka American designed very good weapon really good weapon but you threw it and you chucked it away it was only one for my round hit the roof and British jagged off and I made a mind and then fight his one and went in through the top window and set the bloody place on fire the ones that could get out ran out behind them ran off down the beach towards goose screen but us soldiers we always we're always referred to old war movies and stuff and there was a steve with sanny said I saw the the schoolhouse go up and I saw the Argentinians escape out the back running down the beach but it was this lone guide everyone was firing at him and he said he reminded me of the bridge too far when that paratrooper went running out to pick up this weapons bundle and he was under the fire of the Germans and he ran out and everyone was cheering him and when he got to the container he opened up and it was full of berries you know so Steve relates that story to the this lone Argentinian running we don't know whether he survived or not but look back at it 40 years and then you go well I mean it's it's funny how you can sort of relate all these things but there was a lot of death around the schoolhouse and around that area where we were fighting through um we didn't we couldn't progress too far forward there was big watertowel that's as far as we got because the the intensity of the fire was just crazy I mean it was just how the battalion survived I do not know so a very graphic account of the battle there by Nigel ealy who in the interview went on to talk about the ordeal of attacks by Pekara aircraft which dropped napalm the cries of the wounded and the incredible herrrorism of the scout helicopter pilots who came in as it was getting dark to kazavak the many casualties now at one point Nigel mentioned age Jones's death Patrick what's your feeling about the effect that had on the battle this decision to actually lead an attack himself is of course becomes very controversial it wins age Jones the VC but there were plenty of critics around saying well he shouldn't have been there in the in the first place we'll hear what Julian Thompson has to say about that later on but subsequently it was seen as an inspirational thing whether it had any effect on the battle at that point I think it's genuinely open to dispute because no one apart from the people of midi around him knew this had happened it certainly did show a high degree of moral courage and it was in the great traditions of the of the regiment what happens next of course is that when you use that sunray as which is the code word given to the CEO is down I remember hearing that come over the net actually where I was sunray is down I didn't know what that meant that I was told it means that age Jones has been at least injured when this reaches Chris Kebel his two IC he is of course now in control he actually does a great job in taking over the situation and it's very very difficult to actually as we heard issue specific commands but insofar as he can do that he does do that and from now on the battle is here's I think sometimes he doesn't get enough credit for for the outcome yeah absolutely right Patrick you know we can go around his circles on whether or not age Jones's decision made a big difference what we do know for sure is that relatively soon after his wounding his mortal wounding actually the Argentinian position or at least the fire coming from the Argentinian position on Darwin Hill was silenced it was probably silenced by a machine gun fire and 66 millimeter rocket fire and as I say within a relatively short period of time white flags that appeared and 76 Argentinians were taken prisoner 39 of them wounded so you can see that the storm of fire that had been put down in their positions was gradually beginning to tell and as you say Patrick the battle is still far from over I mean we're on the morning of the 28th and and actually one of the key moments on the other side of the isthmus and this is this is a bit that's not often spoken about is where Kebel has actually instructed the support company to bring its Milan anti tank rockets and heavier machine guns to bear on the high ground that's holding up decompanied and after a storm of fire is put down decompanied actually advances on foot charges literally with the bayonet that line of positions and takes them you know so it's another pretty impressive bit of infantry attacking almost first world war in its intensity and really giving an example of the parachute regiment at his best which is showing aggression even even in the face of some pretty tough positions so on the evening of the 28th both sides are probably thinking where's this going to go anyway the Paris pullback behind the ridge blind so they're no longer in danger from the direct fire from from the Argentinian positions meanwhile there's a feeling back at brigade that maybe this is the time to make an approach call on the Argentinians to surrender so a message is relayed to the garrison via CB radio this is how the problem to islanders communicate with each other and the message gets to the farm manager and goose green that's a mr. goss Eric Goss and he passes it on to p. agi the the Argentinian commander and it says you know would you be willing to accept a delegation who'll go forward from the British lines in the morning offering the terms of a surrender the terms of the that the British were offering a pretty extreme really I mean they're the basically unconditional surrender but the Argentinians decide they don't really the face of the firepower they're seeing that the British can now bring to bear and the absence of any great support from their own side they think they don't have much of a choice so the next morning the surrender is done they they they're British sensibly allow the Argentinians their dignity and so they're allowed to parade before they lay down their weapons and then their commander p. agi burns the regimental flag and the troops then become prisoners of war and I went down shortly after the the surrender that was later that morning I think in a helicopter the first thing that struck me flying over the battlefield was just how tough the fight must have been because it seemed that every inch of ground had been struck by some weapon or another the big splashes that have been made and the turf by the mortars and by the artillery fire I really was a very impressive sight got to goose green itself and there were lots of disconsolate Argentinians wandering around the the paras are absolutely exhausted and of course we'll talk about this later but the civilians the the inhabitants of goose green and Darwin it all been heard into a hall there for the duration of the fight were now free but they were pretty frazzled as well they were obviously delighted to be free but didn't really have the energy to express their joy yeah and one of the striking things of course for the paras when they finally took the surrender is the number of defenders that was still there you you talked about pioji and he had the main force of about 900 men who were still in one piece and there you know some very dramatic pictures of them all putting down their helmets that's one of the most famous pictures of the war just a sea of helmets you can see how many people were there but it wasn't just that 900 they were also air force men there as well I mean the total garrison as we as we mentioned at the beginning was about 1200 and they didn't realize they didn't have any idea the sheer number of men that were defending that position and if you think that the two par are even when it began was only 450 strongly to take a number of casualties you get a sense of you know forget about attacking with a three to one advantage they're attacking with a one to three disadvantage so pretty remarkable frankly what two par are did during that battle it was a victory but at a cost as we were already discovered and this caused Julian Thompson a certain amount of regret afterwards this is what he told us when we spoke to him I was summoned by field house to a meeting by satcom which had just been established as large satcom facility it just been established as short in Ajax Bay right by my logistics set up because previously to that if I wanted to speak on satcom I have to go out to one of the ships and it's been established there and I then was told by field house that everyone was getting very impatient and they they wanted something done and what was going to be done was a good screen because that was the closest to where we were of course it was a problem because if you think of saying call us as a centre of a clock we actually wanted to go to three o clock we were being pulled down to six o clock right off the line of march and with a lack of helicopters it meant to support we could give to two par are had to be taken priority of everything else for their attack on goose green and therefore it slowed down the move in the in the right direction I didn't want to go to goose green my intelligence officer who was a very sharp cookie said to me it's a self administering POW camp they've locked themselves in there but the obsession I gather later I didn't know it at a time was to worry about the airfield there that they might go to attack the beachhead area well they could using aramaquias and pukaras but nothing seriously rotten like fast jets because you couldn't fire fast jets off the goose green house trip it was a grass strip short one I mean I under the resource age Jones and it was my fault and it's known as to blame with me because you said to me I'd like some light armor I said you can't have it because I didn't want it being bogged down in in the ground going down there which he wouldn't have done that was me seeing difficulties where they didn't exist and I should have gone down myself not suggesting you would have done better had I personally been there but I should have taken my attack plus another maneuver unit plus some armor and this of course is all with the advantage of hindsight is what I would have done I didn't do that so the battalion was at one stage pretty much left on wasn't entirely left in its own resources and one stage they were pinned down on four slopes which they will no doubt describe being engaged by Argentine 35 millimeter anti aircraft guns which is bloody young doesn't and what actually broke the deadlock was GR3s flying in and attacking the gun sites which broke I think the will of the gunners to keep firing and enable the parachute return and to continue their advance and really they did it all on their own without very little help from anyone else and they pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps they fought a fantastic battle let me encapsulate my personal feelings by saying that whenever I'm asked about this I always quote the example of 50 division in Normandy in the first six weeks of the campaign where they lost 12 infantry CEOs in six weeks now they're only nine battalions they lost 130 percent not all dead but wounded as well and there's nothing in the rule book which says the Kamali officers are not meant to be killed they're killed in large numbers in war because they he realized and I would never try and second guess him that it bogged down he personally had to get a bit of a momentum behind it which is what he did I think a lot of people can exaggerate his parts and say that you know the battalion was failing wasn't failing he just needed that thing to click it over and that's what he thought he would do whether his personal intervention or not did do what he wanted to do and one can't tell one would have to be there at the time but I'd never try and second guess the Kamali officer wants to go forward because many of my Kamali officers were right up front in attacks and had they been killed people say oh they shouldn't have been there they were where they thought they had to be so that was Julian Thompson speaking very frankly about his thoughts after the battle I think he's verdict on on H's decision to go forward is the right one interesting statistic there about about D day casualties among senior officers so it's really it's really the CEO's call isn't it if he feels he needs to be there then he needs to be there I think that's fair enough yeah I mean he talks about you know the mistake of not giving H armor you mentioned the similitarism the and the salad and armoured vehicles Julian Thompson thought that actually the ground wouldn't be wouldn't be firm enough and yet he was you know big enough in retrospect to admit that actually on inspecting it later on it would have worked and that that sort of crucial extra bit of firepower might have made all the difference in ending the battle sooner and saving one or two lives but you know as also as Julian Thompson said this is with the benefit of hindsight of course you do not have that when you're making these decisions yeah there the some armchair generals later came out and said well maybe they should have been two battalion strength units down there but that would have been such an enormous diversion of forces on something that had been called a very short notice we have to remember and indeed you know I think we would all now agree militarily it was really pretty pointless as we came in on this point it's a political battle it's not a tactical or a strategic battle I wonder if Patrick one of the effects which it hasn't often been mentioned but I think we should air now in favor of the battle being fought is that the result well of course was known to the Argentine garrison around Port Stanley they realised they were up against some pretty formidable troops and and may it possibly have weakened the resistance we'll never know for sure but certainly when the news got back that 1200 men had been effectively taken out by relatively small force must have made those conscripts in the defensive positions around Port Stanley think twice and did that lead to a collapse in morale and fighting capacity earlier than it might have done yeah well that's I think that's highly possible you've got this very strange setup among the Argentinian forces you got highly motivated people who are highly trained they feel themselves to be very patriotic in you know pretty efficient units of the special forces type units and then you've got these country boys who've just been probably don't know what they're therefore bit like the Russians and many of the Russians in Ukraine today so you've got this kind of big disparity in motivation between the as properly trained professionals and the conscripts and that cannot have created much kind of group cohesion I would have thought and this would have put a big dent in it when they heard the news about goose grids so yeah I think you're right about that well something we haven't talked about much until this point is what was the experience like of occupation for the 1800 people we've gone to save I think the folks of Darwin and Goose Green had a particularly horrible time could you imagine being heard it into village hall essentially just hearing all this pandemonium outside not knowing who was winning who was losing what your fate was going to be whether a shell was going to land on top of the building and kill a lot of you it must have been absolutely harrowing we're going to talk in more general terms afterwards with Graham bound who was on the island at the time very thoughtful guy editor of the penguin news about the experience of occupation as he and others lived it during those weeks welcome back now the Falkland Islanders struck us as outsiders coming in with a task force as a rather unusual society the first ones we met were in I bet anyway we're in Port San Carlos settlement which was exactly where we came ashore it was kind of big sheep station type thing there everyone seemed kind of almost unsurprised to see us they had this a very imperturbable nature and I think you know obviously what we thought about it a bit if you're living in this very isolated communities all sorts of traumatic things are thrown at you all the time in from nature from just that hardy life you're living so I think they're used to adversity and with rather kind of abrable stowa system they just put up with what's coming their way we came very fond of them and I remain a great supporter of the desire to remain independent now to hear it from a Falkland Islander himself we're talking to Graham Boud he's the author of a terrific book on the occupation called Fortress Falkland's life under siege in Britain's last outpost he's going to tell us about his experience is I asked him first why the islanders were so opposed to the idea of Argentilian sovereignty I think it was a massive cultural difference if you asked any Falkland Islander around at that time they would say that the Argentine way of life was not ours it was perfectly charming and lovely and during the 70s we all enjoyed going to Buenos Aires and we traveled around by any way traveled around Argentina a lot but at the same time they didn't seem to be particularly reliable stewards of our future and who knew what our future might hold so we all felt that Britain if not particularly relying in that relationship as I've just described they would or should allow the islands to develop as they wanted to and we knew that the Argentines would not allow that we would just simply become another province of Argentina that's the big picture but the smaller picture was through the 70s there was the most appalling military junter in power and they killed approximately 30,000 of their own people just for you know doing things that we would accept was perfectly normal in the UK but perhaps leaning slightly it's the left you didn't have to do much to disappear or to be thrown in the back of a Ford Falcon and turn up later in a bag by the side of a road so that didn't appeal tell me about the day of the invasion where were you when you first got wind of it I first got wind of it about eight o clock the night before when I was in the upland goose with some journalists who'd flown in a day or two before from the UK and also an Argentine photographer called Rafael who took iconic pictures of the invasion and we were clustered around my little panasonic shortwave radio listening to what was going on and then we heard there was going to be a dramatic announcement from the governor at that point I literally remember the blood draining out of my face I just have that moment sort of etched on my memory as one in which I was profoundly shocked and afraid because we'd fooled ourselves into thinking that if there was going to be any military action it would be around south Georgia not in the forefathers and that was the night of the beginning of a whole night of as far as I was concerned real concern and fear and I think applied to everybody so by the morning after not getting much sleep I went to help at the radio station for a while didn't sleep I ended up at the upland goose with my friends and my family my aunt there and I was taking photographs as the troops came through a broth road from the upland goose and so that's I decided at that point that I was watching history so I better do my best to record it quite right to tell me about your first encounter with an Argentinian one of the invaders I'd managed to not consciously but I'd almost blocked a road with my jeep and I had somebody come looking for me in uniform and that worried me slightly no sorry an announcement came over the radio yeah local radio station and I was asked to go to some point I can't quite remember where but nearby with a white flag and when I got there I thought this doesn't sound good but all they really wanted me to do was move my vehicle because it was stopping their huge amphibious personnel carriers from getting along that stretch of road so that was my first encounter with them by that time the really furious fighting around government house had subsided in fact it had stopped and the Marines under the instruction of Rex Hunt had surrendered so I think we all felt a huge feeling of relief that the Argentines hadn't for example shelled the town you know which I thought they might do at one point and so it was over for the time being we felt a huge sense of relief and what they'd like in their dealings with you day to day the ordinary people of Port Stanley for the first week or so there was euphoria on the Argentine side they didn't believe that Britain was going to organize any kind of relief force frankly I didn't either and they believed they were there to stay so they were very keen on us resuming life as normal they were giving all kinds of guarantees that you know schools would reopen shortly we could continue to live our lives as normal but you know of course there would be Argentine pesos instead of pounds and we would drive on the right instead of the left and things like that but that to them anyway I suppose seemed fairly benevolent and I was able to take photographs a lot and I was able to get out and about nobody particularly bothered me it was a bit of a phony war in fact for that period and we were genuinely reasonably safe the Argentines had no intention of provoking anything at that stage quite contrary they were involved in quite furious diplomacy to try and stop the British mounting task force so that was an easy period but it became different as time went by and gradually the Argentine authorities began issuing edits which were quite authoritarian at times they could be killing this sort of thing that was coming out from the local radio station which they'd taken over was you know due respect must be shown to Argentine national symbols and any transgression will be met with trial and punishment under the military code that kind of saying you know which was a bit chilling so the least but that took a while to develop and was this link to events on the military front such as you know the thinking of the Belgrano etc did you notice a change of mood things like that happened yes by the end of April I think on the 25th of April South Georgia was attacked and at that point everything sort of pivoted and suddenly I felt anyway that the good cop bad cop sort of balanced in the Argentine occupation had changed and the bad guys were now in charge they started arbitrary arrests on the 27th of April I think it was they rounded up about 10 individuals who were either community leaders or known for their outspoken opposition or everything Argentine or were important members of the local defense force and shipped them off to be locked up at Fox Bay they began arbitrary arrests on the streets I was arrested just an interrogate just for walking up the road and so everything changed after the war I met one of the individuals who was involved in that a chap called Lisa Commodore Blumarieve and he told me for an interview from my book that he was rapidly losing control and the hardliners were taking control and we felt it what about when the British troops first get as short as the atmosphere changed dramatically then yeah well that time they had become set in their new ways which was dressed up as in our interest you know for example we had to be at home off the streets with blackouts in the windows and so on by 6 pm but this was said to be for our own safety they cut any kind of business hours for any business in a remain open just one or two hours a day they'd increased the tempo of their arbitrary searches and houses which had a menacing tone to them they were searching we now known for radios which they believed were there and indeed were so the whole feeling of a traditional typical occupation army became very real what about the presence now the beginning to feel of the British task force for example there are air raids on the airport once the troops are assured you start getting naval bombardments etc there must have been a point where you well perhaps you've got more to fear from people are coming to save us than we do from the people who have invaded us certainly it was 50 50 I think yes I mean after the first of May when we were on almost on the receiving end of the Vulcan raid which was swiftly followed up by the shelling of the experts of Stanley the same day from then on the shelling attacks and the air raids built up to sort of crescendo pitch around Stanley and it seemed to me at the time that they were getting closer and closer and closer so almost daily those sorry almost nightly the naval shelling which would begin usually between 10 pm and midnight and then carry on until about three or four would get closer to the center of Stanley and consequently the people who were still in Stanley were also getting closer into the center of Stanley they were vacating their houses and moving into what they felt was safer houses such as the upland goose hotel which was built like the proverbial where I was and at one point quite late on there was a proposal that all the civilians should congregate in the brick built Protestant procedural as a relatively safe place I think we all had mixed feelings about that but there wasn't time to do that but yes I mean the shelling dread night the Navy would come in and shell Stanley and its environs then during the day the carriers would attack often six or eight ten times a day Stanley and the environment well that was Graham Bounds who was of course in port Stanley during the time of occupation and I have to confess the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up as he moved from the initial description of the Argentinians behaving pretty well you know pretty correctly nothing too sinister life as normal then reasonably swiftly as it became clear one of Tastools who was being sent two ships were being sunk in the case of the Belgrano and three the British had actually landed on the far side of East Forkland then everything changes then people are being arrested for no good reason there all kinds of searches of houses for to get hold of these radios which of course they were using and giving information to the British but slowly but surely you began to realise this may presage what life could have been like under the Argentinians with effectively a military dictatorship in charge and he you know he explains very clearly at the beginning of that one of the reasons we didn't want to be part of Argentinian or although we loved visiting Argentinian we had nothing against them per se is is their political system and this is often forgotten when we talk about the lead up to war and what you know whether or not the Argentinians should have had sovereignty you know frankly we would have been handing over these people to the care of a pretty desperate bunch yeah and these aren't actual Argentinians these are people they want to persuade to become Argentinian we know as grown put out how they treat their own people so I think you see a pattern here which is common to other occupations that we know a lot about like the journal occupation initial occupation of France in 1940 once again they're on their best behavior they're very correct that's the term that is used a lot they're very polite they don't steal things they might take things but they will offer to pay for them etc and initially there's a kind of further french feel and maybe they're not quite as bad as we thought they were of course that changes very rapidly if anyone puts up any sign of resistance doesn't cooperate 100% then the mask slips and the mood changes very rapidly and it's not long of course before people are being carted off shot if they're communist as hostages etc etc so yeah I think the misgivings were absolutely justified and it is I think to their great credit that the foreigners were never really seduced into this idea of okay well we'll do what the foreign office wants us to do and fall into line and become part of this pretty nasty regime with which has got a very difficult history and absolutely shot through with violence and repression okay now we're going to hear a slightly different view of the occupation from the perspective of Leona Roberts currently a member of the Faulkland Islands legislative assembly but then a 10 year old school girl living in Port Stanley with her brother 17 and mum who operated the radio telephone station which allowed rural islanders known collectively as the camp to keep in touch with the capital so it was really bizarre to be honest because there was this sense in the day before that there was something happening now as a 10 year old I wasn't really aware obviously of what that might be but there was a real a real tension in the air and it was evident that there was there was something afoot and then of course we heard about the impending invasion when the governor came on the radio and and said we have reliable information that an invasion fleet is on the way and will be here in the early hours of the morning so everybody was listening to that of course and that was one of the most frightening times I think for me personally because there was so much uncertainty about what what that might mean and what might happen so my mum put me to bed for your dress shoes by by the side of my bed and woke me up when we heard the first the first shots sort of in the early hours of the morning and then we spent invasion night we went to my neighbour who was single lady the first lady with a small children so we went around sort of trying to keep her company and to have a bit of comfort I guess ourselves and spent the whole night sheltering under an overturned sofa and a kitchen table listening to the radio as everybody in the forecarns was because they were incredible they kept broadcasting throughout the night trying to keep us updated with what was happening and people were calling in and saying you know we can see boats coming in we can hear explosions you know it was it was absolutely terrifying to be perfectly honest okay what was your first action encounter with with Argentinean troops or Argentinean officials well I guess through you know through the early hours of the morning we could hear the the Royal Marines you know we sort of around the house you could hear first off you know British voices shouting to each other and shooting we lift up on the edge gets a time and then you know that was followed fairly shortly after by by Argentine voices and more shooting and noise so that was yeah that was that was really frightening we've got a chimney shot off from all there was all sorts of things but he stayed in the house and later that day after the surrender had been agreed and there were Argentine troops kind of all over the town and coming in and these awful big personnel carriers yeah so they were sort of coming through the town and the retreats everywhere who were we're giving out instructions and pieces of paper and you know well we were told you know you couldn't go out without sort of waving a white flag and because of my mum's job on the RT she was called by the head of education at the time to see if she would go into work essentially because we still have a boarding school in Stanley for for the camp children and obviously there'd be no time to get them back out to their homes so there were a lot of really frantic parents that they're wanting to know that their children were okay and a lot of very scared kids so my mum agreed absolutely she would go down and open up the RT station I mean it's a bit comical in the way because she couldn't find anything that would serve as a white flag immediately and so the best she could find was that sort of doll's dress that I had for one of these you know big tall doll and so she folded this thing over and sort of went off out our front gate I remember watching her walking up the road through all of these troops you know waving this this little doll's dress and you know really not knowing if she was ever going to come back and but she did happily that was fine they were allowed to open up the RT and she should put the the children in contact with her parents and was back a couple of hours later so I guess that was our first sort of encounter really you know with them and how would you characterize these early days of occupation in terms of the the treatment of the islanders by the Argentinians well I think we were we were very lucky really in that you know the we're there were no sort of attacks on civilians or anything like that throughout although an awful lot was damaged and and houses were horribly vandalized and was there was some really bad treatment but there were no no sort of physical attacks I think you know they seem to have been a bit of an impression that among some of them certainly that they were almost coming as liberators and they sort of expected to be welcomed and we're quite taken aback to find that that wasn't the case but it was very frightening because everything everything changed sort of overnight you know we were suddenly not the my mom could drive but we were you know something instructed to be driving on the other side of the road and you know there were there were all these rules in place and obviously the streets completely overrun was troops and there's a tiny tiny very peaceful community I mean that was that was startling in the extreme and incredibly uncomfortable and you know all the routine things that as a child you used to you know just to vanish overnight so obviously the schools were closed they were turned into to garrisons everything everything just changed spectacularly it was so how did you keep yourself occupied well you know the funny thing is in forklifts back then we didn't in 1982 we didn't have TV anyway you know so we were all very used to occupying ourselves and I think we you know play board games and all those sorts of things but really it was it was just trying to find a way to fill the days because even now you know we're a bigger community but children still have an enormous amount of freedom and so you know it's a 10 year old I was quite used to just going off and wondering around in the countryside really and of course that suddenly wasn't possible either so there was there was a lot of sitting and waiting I remember my my 17 year old brother spent an awful lot of time kind of working on a Rubik's cube which he had shown me before and did solve before before the liberation I have to say yeah no it was it was incredibly bizarre experience but there was also this sense of waiting you know because once we heard that the task force was on the way as a child you know was that sort of optimism that you have as a 10 year old I was quite convinced everything was going to work out fine I mean I had no concept of what would happen in between and the cost that we're being heard there but yeah you know once we knew the task force was coming it was I well it's a matter of time and then there was this uncomfortable period of of waiting and and settling in you know as things got closer I guess there's a bit where I find it quite difficult to remember I whereas this sort of sense of limbo I would go in to the RT with my mum so that I could kind of just be close to her but you know that became very difficult as things progressed because as the Argentine forces can reinforce and build up and and again we suddenly started finding you know there were the machine gun posts in our gardens everything just became so bizarre and foreign and alien to us did the attitude of the Argentinians change once they knew a task force was on the way I mean did you get the impression I know you were you were pretty young in those days but did your mum get the impression that the Argentinians assumed that actually there was nothing the British could do I mean that this was a you know this is a fate of complete yeah it's quite quite odd I guess looking back on it and trying to try to separate what was my perception at the time and what I know now but you know the attitude changed definitely as things progressed and as the task force got closer and after we had the first raids on Stanley Airport so the blackback raid was the first tangible moment for us you know this the things where we're really going to start happening you know there was somebody who was broadcasting to the British forces who was managing to get messages out on a ham radio and so part of the sort of changing attitude of the Argentinian forces was they they realized that very much they weren't welcome and so they started looking around for who was sending these messages and my mum because she spoke Spanish my father was Chilean and also the fact she worked on radio I think made her a suspect so we had our high searched I think three or four times that was happening to other people too there were at that point there was a lot more threatening behavior going on towards locals you know there were arrests there was yeah there was that was things really started getting quite you know much more difficult then and that was sort of exacerbated I guess by the fact that as I'm sure you've heard your average Argentine soldier the sort of conscript was well looked after you know by their own leadership and so we were seeing begging for food in Stanley which is completely alien concept for us you know I'd never seen anything like that and that was very difficult too actually and I know you know certainly my mum found that that very hard to see you know people are my starving in our streets and I mentioned goose green of course the battle for goose green was particularly grim affair and but what interests me is what's happening on the other side of that which is the number of islanders from the settlement who are all penned together aren't they I mean was your mum aware of what was going on there was she in contact with anyone over there yes so again through you know obviously through her work she was able to to sort of get a bit of understanding what was happening and you know people were able to get messages back into family so I don't think anybody really fully understood until afterwards but it was 115 people locked in a very small community hall you know sleeping on the floor and they sort of went under the put the kids under the floorboards as things got worse and worse but limited food just one toilet then they were elderly there was a baby who was about nine months old I think you know and they had a really tough time they were locked up for every month that was Leonor Roberts giving a wonderfully graphic account of life under occupation from the perspective of a 10 year old I feel that the behavior of the fault of does was admirable there was no hint of collaboration indeed some of the males of the other Terry Peck famously the ex police chief went off and joined up with a huge assistance with his local knowledge to be advancing forces so they did actually reinforce that notion that we would behave better perhaps than other European nations are of those circumstances anyway it's something that we could talk about forever but I think we've been at move on we've got to think about what's coming up next goose green great victory in terms of propaganda or any way I'm sure it up not the supports wiggling back home but it certainly makes people feel that the thing is all pointing in the right direction progress is being made Julian Thompson of course has now already started the process of moving forward mindless those extra helicopters he desperately needed to lift the troops into their next positions so what they have to do now is is warp to where they're meant to be in the next episode we're going to hear all about the epic march to feel in that by the marines and the paras which is when the world heard the word young for the first time yes there will also discuss the arrival of fibergate under its CEO brigadier Tony Wilson that event was to have dramatic consequences for the whole campaign do join us for the next installment goodbye