Monday, 3 March 2008

The Arrogance of Youth

I don't really remember the exact time frame but pretty soon after the ceasefire my Pay Master came to visit me and have a chat. He commented on the fact that my glasses were cracked and I told him it was caused by shrapnel up on Tumbeldown, though in all honesty I think I rolled onto them in my sleeping bag.

He found this story, along with my description of the battle fascinating and in a sort of way it made me different from everyone else in the office. He had, along with my Div 2 Kieth Foly, stayed behind with the HQ Company Echelon well away from the front line. Steve the office Sergeant was of course doing rear party back in London and of the various Pay Clerks that were with the rifle companies I was the only one to have gone onto the mountain.

Or so I thought.

When we eventually came back to Chelsea my status as the "war hero" boosted my confidence and when Steve was posted away my Pay Master promoted me over the heads of 2 senior Corporals to become the office Sergeant. Of course my world collapsed when I was posted away myself but thats another story.

One of the many good things that has happened in the last 12 months is that I have been able to get back in touch with old comrades and have been able to talk to all the surviving members of my Pay Team. Recently one of them came to visit me and we spent a very enjoyable weekend catching up on the last 25 years.

This is when I found out that I was not the only member of my Pay Team who went up on Tumbeldown but in fact John was also up there and in a capacity far different from what I was used for.

My company decided to use all the Corp Attached (and there were quite a few of us) as Company Echelon. They used us as human mules and we basically carried as much ammunition and medical supplies as we could get our hands on.

John's company, Left Flank, decided that they needed more rifles in the attack therefore John was put into an adhoc rifle section that was assembled at the last minute. As Left Flank advanced to contact they came under an incredible weight of fire which instantly killed at least one guardsmen and wounded countless others. John was right in the thick of it with men being hit left and right of where he stood. With the cries of the wounded ringing in his ears John threw himself to the ground and returned fire using up all his ammunition (100 rounds) in a very short time. After this he, along with the majority of the company, moved into whatever cover they could find as progress forwards was completely impossible.

Left Flank were pinned down for hours before accurate artillery and mortar fire was able to be registered onto the defenses and one of the platoons was able to work there way up and behind the Argentine 4 platoon. Once the defence started to unhinge Left Flank charged up and cleared their way forward but John, with no ammunition stayed where he was. Something he says was "not his greatest hour".

I can only apologise for my arrogance John in claiming I was the only member of the Pay Corp on Tumbledown that night. I had no idea as you never mentioned that you were there, or if you did I wasn't really listening being so caught up in myself.

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