Sunday, 27 January 2008

2SG Diversion Attack

For 25 years various accounts and books have documented the attack by 2SG on Tumbledown. The plans for the attack originally stated that 2SG would attack in broad daylight across the Southern slopes of Tumbledown from the area around Pony Pass. This was the direction from which the Argentines expected the attack to come from and as such their defences reflected this.

It was decided by the commanding officer LT COL Mike Scott that this wasn't a very good plan so everything was changed so that instead Tumbledown would be taken from the flank and rolled up. Part of this plan called for a diversion attack to be mounted from the same area (Pony Pass) that was intended to give the impression of an attack and hopefully divert attention to this area.

The diversion attack called for the men to crawl to within 200m of the enemy position and then go "noisy". Sadly in the confusion of the night the reinforced patrol walked right into the Argentine positions before being fired on at point blank range. WO2 Danny Wight (2SG) and LCPL John Pashley (9PARA RE) were killed almost instantly and in the ensuing melee and retreat almost all the other members were wounded.

The exact spot where this happened had remained lost until 2 pipers who were on the attack located the spot where the contact had been made. Not only where the trenches still visible but evidence of the fire fight was shrewn around the area including a discarded clansmen radio battery.

This video is of pipers playing at a small adhoc memorial at the cairn built by pipers Steven Duffy and MacGuiness. (Steve is playing the pipes closest to the camera, McGuiness is not playing the pipes but is wearing his pipers hat).

As the camera pans around you will see a glimpse of a peat bank. It was on top of this that the Argentines had their trenches and the dip in front the bank is where Danny and John were killed.

Reading accounts as to why they were allowed to get so close the Argentines claim that they were waiting for orders from their command post which was to the rear and that they had been watching the Scots Guards getting closer for the previous 30 minutes using night sights. Talking to the pipers though they remember the distinctive sound of zips on sleeping bags being hastily undone which would seem to imply that the position was asleep and the sentry who opened up was either totally unaware of the Scots Guards approaching in the dark until the very last minute or he was an extremely cool customer and waited until he could literally see the "whites of their eyes"

2 comments:

Hobgoblin said...

Steve,

Great blog - some really interesting stuff!

I am currently responsible for overseeing the Tumbledown battlefield tour for the military down here at Mount Pleasant. One of the things I have been trying to find out recently is the location of the diversionary attack as I suspect that the spot that we currently 'brief' it is well off the mark. Do you have any maps you can put up or a grid ref for the makeshift memorial so that I can visit the spot and amend our tour accordingly.

Steve Cocks said...

Hi Hobgoblin

Feel free to contact me at steve_cocks@hotmail.com so I can discuss this and maybe other aspects of the battle.

In the meantime the best way to locate the area of the diversion attack (and I am afraid I have no map reference, stopped doing those 20 years when I left the Army) is to describe it to you.

If you are travelling from Mount Pleasant to Stanley you come up through Pony Pass with Mt Challenger to your left. You pass an area to your right that has been named "Boot Hill" which for some reason I have yet to find out has become the resting place for old boots. Park up there

Cross the fence to your right so that you are walking away from Tumbledown and William.

You are now heading out into the area that the diversion attack took place. The contact was about 300-400 in from this fence, the area is now marked by a small cairn that erected by 2 of the pipers that took part in the attack.

The Argentine positions were on top of a peat bank and you can still see traces of the trenches they dug. Where the small cairn was built is just behind the first line of these. If you stand with your back to the cairn and look to your 2 o'clock you will see the remains of the trench from which Danny Wight and John Pashley were shot.

When we got there in November there were spent rounds lying on the ground as well as discarded British equipment such as a smashed clansman radio (which was in fact smashed before being dumped by the signaller on the raid). There was also the tail fin from a mortar lying in a crater just in front of the trenches.

Sorry I can't be more exact but that is 100% where it all happened. Hopefully it wouldnt be too hard to find