Monday, 12 November 2007

Day 10

This is the last day and I have a stack of stuff I want to get done, though I am sure I won't get a chance to do it all. I was awake at something like 5.45am and having done my diary I took myself for a walk. Stanley was pretty quiet at this time of the morning with just a few people out and about. I got a couple of good photos taken on the jetty looking into town which is where pretty much mirrored those taken by Vic.

I found myself heading to Memorial Wood as I still had a number of crosses left that had the Scots Guards emblem on them. It seemed appropriate to use them. I was going to go yesterday but decided that the weather was too bad and that I didn’t really want to be surrounded by other people when I paid my respects to the lads who had died. The diagram we had been supplied with was very good and I was able to easily find the trees that had been planted for each of the guys, who died either on the diversion or up on Tumbledown.

Having paid my respects, I made my way back to Aunty Teen's and had my usual breakfast of porridge before heading up to the Drill Hall where we were due to meet the guys from PWRR. It seems that some things in the Army never change and due to a miscommunication the bus didn’t arrive until almost 10am which was an hour later than planned. No matter, they eventually turned up and we headed off. There were quite a few interested, maybe close to fifty, so after a quick briefing we headed to the diversionary attack area.

The bus stopped somewhat short of the area, so doing this part of the tour took a bit longer than expected. Still we managed well enough to show everyone where Danny Wight and John Pashley died and explained a little about the reasons behind attack and what happened. I think the consensus of opinion among the guys who were there, is that it was a disaster with regards casualties but that it focused attention on an area of the battlefield from where they were expecting an attack. However looking at the terrain, it’s highly unlikely that any forces were pinned down there, as reinforcing Tumbledown from the area of the Stanley road was not something easily done at night.

Getting back on the bus, we then dropped everybody off opposite Goat Ridge and crossed a rock run to reach the area that the battalion had deployed from helicopters in 1982. We showed them the mortar line and pointed out the remains of trenches and holes left by artillery. From here we followed the route we took to the start line passing the Regimental Aid Post and Tactical Headquarters. Crossing the fence (which they seemed to have trouble doing without almost destroying it) we moved onto G Company objective.

When I did this last time with Alex we had pretty much bypassed this feature and instead skirted it. This time with Jim Gillanders and Roy Catchpole we walked over the feature and they described how the company had deployed for attack. Roy was able to find his old firing positions and even retrieved a few shell cases from rounds he had fired. It seemed to mean a lot to him, as I know the events of that night have weighed heavily these past years.

By now the group was quite spread out with small clumps of PWRR being led by various vets around features that represented the various stages of the attack. Our group caught up with Jock Davidson who was talking through the movements made by his platoon through the rocks to the left flank and rear of the main Argentine positions facing Left Flank. He interspersed his commentary with various talks about what he had learnt about soldiering due to the experiences he had that night. It was all solid stuff considering these guys are soon to deploy to Afghanistan and have recently finished a tour of Basra province in Iraq.

Meanwhile Simon was describing the route taken by Kisley and the events that unfurled around him. They had moved almost directly up the main draw and through the Argentine positions. Simon described being given a grenade to throw into a trench that Kisley wanted to attack and how nervous he was handling it, as he didn’t have much experience of using one. What followed was grisly as the grenades exploded in the trench killing one of the soldiers manning it and wounding the other. Simon then told us how he ran up to the trench and pointed his rifle and the wounded man and came within a fraction of a second of shooting him. Instead the wounded soldier put his hands up to surrender and then promptly fell over. This happened a couple of times and Simon almost shot him again thinking he was messing around. With the adrenaline pumping and the dark it took him a second to realise that the hapless soldier was trying to stand up and surrender but the grenade and blown off his foot, hence he kept falling over all the time.
At this Simon applied a dressing and calmed the chap down before passing him to somebody else to look after him.

We worked our way up the mountain finding old bits of webbing, trenches, discarded ammunition, old ponchos, entrenching tools, communication cable and lots of empty bullet cases and link. Teresa, a widow of one of the men, was desperate to reconstruct the events that led to her husbands death, as nobody has been able to shed much light on how he died. Simon was pretty adamant that Clark had been killed next to the spot where Binnie was wounded. We found the spot where Binnie was shot as it was the same gap in the rocks where Right Flank had formed up and where I was stationed during the attack. It seemed to answer questions for her and of course she was very emotional, she was standing on the spot where her husband had died twenty five years earlier.

We walked up to the memorial at the end of Tumbledown and I read the Ode again , which went down well. I was also carrying a bottle of Whiskey I had bought at Duty Free on the way over and it seemed an appropriate moment to share it with everyone. With over fifty people having a nip, we didn’t get much, but it was a fitting toast to absent friends.

We dropped off the back of Tumbledown and walked back to Moody Brook, looking at the remains of numerous bunker complexes that once dotted this area. The is where the Argentines massed their artillery and it is close to there, in the saddle between William and Tumbledown, that Mike Sear found the Argentine mortar line.

We bid the lads from PWRR goodbye and then went on our separate ways. I found time to do some shopping for gifts before going to see Sue. She had invited myself and Alex for lunch but I had been unable to go so, I dropped by to have a cup of tea. I fed the two pet lambs which were very cute. One was so hungry that he started sucking my little finger once he had finished his feed.

I had supper with Teen before going with her to the farewell bash up at the Drill Hall. The event was well attended and entertainment from the PWRR choir as well as the Scots Guards pipers was very much appreciated. I got an invite to attend a party at Patrick Watts house but instead I took Teen home, she looked exhausted and to be honest so was I.


Anonymous said...

'Instead the wounded soldier put his hands up to surrender and then promptly fell over. This happened a couple of times and Simon almost shot him again thinking he was messing around. With the adrenaline pumping and the dark it took him a second to realise that the hapless soldier was trying to stand up and surrender but the grenade and blown off his foot, hence he kept falling over all the time.'

One can only imagine the terror of that poor human being. War is the most barbaric waste of human lives on all sides. That young man was lucky as he lived (hopefully)to have some kind of a full life, unlike the others on both sides who's graves lay on the Falkland Islands and else where. In war there are really no winners. Only victims. We need to learn this and find some way to solve our problems through dialogue.

Politicians have it too easy. Wars would be far fewer and less frequent, if it were the politician's that had to fight and
kill each other in an arena.

Nowadays it seems they are the last to suffer and the first to send people to fight in dreadful places and sometimes because 'war is good for the governmental ratings' or financial gree and gain. Why is life considered so very cheap? Life is the most precious of all treasures. Governments would do well to realise this far more deeply instead of wasting the lives of others..learn to solve issues of greed, anger and stupidity without sending men and women to war.
Susie (Steve's wife)

Anonymous said...

My heart also goes out the the lady who's husband was killed and went to try to find the spot where he died and how. Also all the other families who's beloved relatives have been torn from them so needlessly.