Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Letter written 25 July 1982

Dear Mum, Dad and Dave

The helicopter which will take the mail away will be here any minute now so I thought I should write you a few lines.

I bring good news even though you may know from the papers etc. We sail aboard the "Norland" on July 31st to arrive at Ascension Islands on about the 6-7th August. We will then loll around in the sun for a couple of days before being flown back to arrive on the 8,9 or 10th August.

As you can imagine everyone is over the moon with the news. Ah I hear the chopper now. Will write later

Lots of love (I mean it)

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Letter written 12 July 1982

Dear Mum, Dad and Dave

Today I received 2 of your letters. Dad's was dated 19th June and Mum's was dated 21st June. However never mind. I was so glad to have heard from you both and that everyone is alright.

I'm currently still at Ajax Bay south of San Carlos sitting in an old refridgeration plant suffering from soldiers syndrome, BOREDOM!! Since the Argentinian prisoners left nearly 2 weeks ago I have being doing nothing except dismantling this, moving that, filling this and carrying that.

We have now got a projector so we can see the odd film. The navy have been very hospitable over the last few days. We have all had a turn at going aboard HMS Minerva which was in the vicinity for a few days until she left yesterday. We have all had a shower, a good meal and then all getting merrily drunk.

We still have no certain date when we're due back. However rumour control and the grapevine puts the date somewhere between 18th-22nd July. We also do not know how we are going back whether by sea, air or a combination of both. One good thing though is that the advance party have left so we must go soon.

By the sounds of it this will be a one battalion posting and the Scots Guards are not part of it. When I was on the Minerva I saw a video of the news when the Welsh Guards were bombed at Fitzroy. Having seen the video it reminded me of many things. Thank god I'm still alive to tell my story unlike those poor sods.

The house sounds terrific, I can't wait to see the end results. I hope to have at least 3 weeks leave if not more so perhaps we can spend a little time together.

I picked up some more bric a brac today including a key belonging to the late HMS Argonaut which was sunk off San Carlos as well as a map of Stanley I hope to have the map framed as a memory. I've also got a Falklands One Pound note, an Argentinian helmet, an Argentinian marine corps belt and an Argentinian hat.

Before I forget and I hope I'm not too late in saying so HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD. I hope you received my letter concerning the food parcel. If you did forget it because I dont think I'll be here much longer. If it's too late never mind. I would like to ranble on a bit more but I wouldn't. Giving you all my information will give me nothing to say later one.

Lots of love your very bored son

Letter written 26 June 1982

Dear Mum, Dad and Dave

Thought I would drop you a line as I'm not doing anything in particular. After having a relaxing if not sometimes boring 4 or 5 days on board the Mv St Edmund I, and about 70 others, have been moved to Ajax Bay on East Falklands. Ajax Bay is where the 8 Scots Guards who were killed are buried. Visiting the cemetery is quite moving.

We are currently guarding about 500 Argies in an old refrigeration plant. It's just like Colditz. It's quite strange to watch fellow humans beings working while you stand there with a loaded rifle. They are not a bad bunch. We have 4 distinct groups, the higher ranking officers i.e Generals, Brigadiers etc are kept under lock and key nearly all the time; for for their own safety. The second group are the lower ranking officers, these are company and platoon commanders. They aren't very friendly because they lost he! he! and they celebrate mass at 1.00am every morning. All you hear is Santa Amria blah blah Santa Maria blah blah etc for about 1/2 hour, wierd!! The third group are the SNCO's who are all regular troops and make up the company sergeant majors etc. These are fairly reserved but sometimes indulge in small amounts of conversation. The 4th group are the conscripts. These are the most popular among us. They are, almost to the man, cheerful, helpful and obedient. If you tell them to do something they do it immediately. They make up about 75% of our
prisoners and they all seem to be quite happy with being a prisoner.

Well so much about me. I received all your letters in one batch about 1 week ago. Some went way back into May. I am very glad to hear all the news.

Mum you mentioned a parcel. Weill if you could send me a copy of Tolkiens "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings" I would be most grateful. If you could also send me a photo of you all that would be very nice. Apart from that I leave any other things up to you and Dad.

As far as coming home is concerned the latest rumour, which is quite high powered, seems to suggest mid-July to late August. So it seems I'll spend my 19th birthday out here.

Well all my love to you all
Love Steven

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Letter written 19 June 1982

Dear Mum, Dad and Dave

I thought I'd better drop you a line to tell you how I am. By this time you should have received my radiogram telling you that I'm all right. Well I unlike many of the lads who have trenchfoot or frostbite in their feet.

As you are well aware the Argies have packed it in, and about time too. I don't know if you know but the Scots Guards lost 8 dead and countless wounded. My company had 9 wounded altogether which is not a lot concidering it was our company that booted the last of the Argentine Marines off the posistion.

Well this is something I never want to do again in a hurry, and there are certainly some experiences that I especially do not want to relive. The Falklands themselves are wet, cold and very uninviting. Why the Argies were willing to lose thousands of men for it is beyond me!!

We landed at San Carlos Bay on the 2nd June after transferring from the QE2 to the Canberra at South Georgia. We spent 3 days there without even seeing an Argie plane. We then moved to Bluff Cove which is on the East coast about 19kms from Stanley. We dug in and did nothing but shoot down 2 Skyhawks who were responsible for the bombing of the Welsh Guards at Fitzroy.

After a week at Bluff Cove we attacked and took Tumbledown. That night was the most frightning time of my life and at least 3 times I can now honestly say that I have been shelled, mortared and shot at by both British forces and Argentinian.

After the battle we stacked the dead in piles and after that we were flown back to Fitzroy were we spent 4 days in a sheep pen. I am now on the Sir Edmund which is a British Rail North Sea Ferry.

Well how was your holiday in Spain Mum, and how was your boating holiday Dad. I have been on a wonderful holiday in the Falklands. Hopefully I will be back for my birthday but that is only speculation.

Hope to see you very soon. Can't wait to see the house now that you have been working on it. All my love to all of you


Saturday, 13 September 2008

Radio Gram sent 21 June 1982

The words my parents had been waiting for sent a week after the fighting was over

Feeling Fine, I'm in one piece. Hope to see you soon, give my love to all the family, Love Steve

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Letter written 21 May 1982

Dear Mum, Dad and Dave

Choppers came in today and yesterday to ferry essential supplies such as beer, soft drinks, chocolate and mail so I received both your letters, it was great hearing from you. I wrote to both of you yesterday so I haven't got a lot to say.

We aren't staying on the Ascension Islands, as a matter of fact all we are doiing is going around it in circles taking on supplies. Tonight we go South but you probably know about this from the news anyway. When we join the Task Force we will probably vacate the QE2 and board naval vessels to minimise the chances of all of 5 brigade being blown out of the water. As a result things will probably be much safer.

Rumours are rife but it is probable the QE2 will become a hospital ship so I wouldn't particularly wish to come back on board as a passenger. 5 brigade has 2 options. We are primamrily a reserve force to back up the paras and marines but there again we may be required to act indepently. Again rumour has it that there is another brigade under going traininbg and we hope that they will form a garrison.

As it stands we stand little chance of kicking the Argies off the islands through purely military operations in the forseeable future. We need to outnumber the enemy 3 to 1 to gain a certain victory. We are led to believe that they outnumber us by 2 to 1. However that isn't all that bad because most of the troops are new recruits from February. They use the same infantry weapons that we do so fully appreciate their ability in firepower. Saying that there weapons may be unusable due to the weather and the inexperienced training of the troops.

We expect to encounter pretty bad weather as we go further south. The weather itself is about the same as a Scottish winter, however saying that the wind is constantly blowing and can be a serious threat. The islands are gradually sinking into sea so the large majority of the islands are marshy and the atmosphere is very damp. Cover from the elements will be few and far between as there are only 2 clumps of trees in the netire islands.

I can't remember if I told you my job but in case I haven't I am now with company stores. Our job in life will be to ferry supplies such as food, water and ammunition up to the ftont line. We will probably be engaged in guarding and supply dumps and other instalations. My job as a pay clerk is now down to about 2 to 3 hours a week so it be hard graft. We have no idea when we will be back to England but as far as I am concerned the sooner the better

Morale is high though the novelty of going to war has to the large majority now worn off. I have never seen a body of men more dedicated to deal a crushing defeat to the Argies.

I am getting very fit as we do a hours rigorous training every day. This normally entails everyone running around the QE2 from Brigadier downwards. I'm getting a nice tan which puts a shame on my other ones and that is only from 1 hours exposure a day to the sun.

I think of you back in England and it is only now that I realise what a wonderful existence we live. As I think ahead to the conditions we will most probably have to endure I would be quite happy to say "here, keep the bloody islands". However I don't feel that way and never will.

Lots of love

Monday, 8 September 2008

Letter written 19 May 1982

Dear Mum, Dad and Dave

This letter will probably reach you either before, after or at the same time as my other one. The other one is in an envelope which has a stamp on it.

We are now 8 days from Southampton and for obvious security reasons I can't say where we are exactly although it doesn't make much difference. However we stopped for a few hours at Freetown on the west coast of Africa before we crossed the equator.

Training has been very intense with helicopter drills, lifeboat training as well as fitness training. The fitness training can be pretty bad at times. We ran around the deck of the QE21 8 times followed by 1/2 hous of press ups etc and the temperature was 77. The weather is getting hotter all the time and is now about 85.

As far as I go the worst I have encountered so far is the stuffy conditions as well as the weather. The conditions are cramped but they are apparently going to get worse, the food started off great but gradually they are making the food more basic. They are eventually making conditions more primitive for obvious reasons as you can't transfer troops from luxury to living in the field.

We're getting many lectures on many interesting topics but again we can't mention them because they are all classified subjects. Things could very well get sticky if we invade and they resist. The biggest question in everyones mind is not where we land or when or how or if, but will the Argies resist. I know I wouldn't.

Well there is plenty more to write about but I'm really very tired and weary from the heat. I write again very soon or as soon as possible.

I love you all, I'll be thinking of you when we invade


Sunday, 7 September 2008

Letter written 12 May 1982

One of the many advantages of having all my documents in one place is that I now have access to the letters I wrote to my family during the campaign. Unknown to myself my mother kept these letters safe and returned them to me a couple of years ago.

They make for some interesting reading and give me an insight to my thoughts at the time.

This is the first one I wrote while on board the QE2

Dear Mum, Dad and Dave

Well everyone I write to you my first letter for almost 2 years aboard the QE2. After an early start (3.00am) we finally boarded the QE2 at about 7.30am, watched by a small crowd of relatives and a huge hoard of photographers and film crews. I have got a cabin which built for 2 people, however they have crammed 3 of us in here. The QE2 has changed from an obvious luxury liner into a troop ship for some 3,000 troops. Gone have the display cabinets and fixtures from the corridors and main meeting places. Cardboard and mats cover the floors, gone have the plush lounges to be replaced by rows and rows of camp beds. She has been stripped down to what a cross channel ferry looks like. However there are still many good things. The food is fantasti. Its cooked by the crew, not army chefs, and as a result we get very well fed. We are actually allowed galklons of milk to drink and we get GRAPEFRUIT!! for breakfast. Waiters clear up and keep the dining rooms clean each meal time, which can't be easy when there are 3,000 troops on board. Everywhere you go there are soldiers, machine guns, rifles, sub-machine guns, anti-tank weapons, mortars, anti-aircraft weapons and piles and piles of stores which spill out onto the decks in all directions. Along with the Welsh Guards and Gurkhas there are artillery, rapier anti-aircraft crews and personnel from every corps and support arms in the army.

The crew are fantastic, they are cheery, helpful and quite willing to engage in conversation. I pity them for they must be used to quite dosile, rich and well mannered passengers. Now they have to cope with us!!

So far we have done nothing but sit around and explore the ship. Its huge with a swimming pool, a laundarette, cinema and shops. One funny thing I heard was one of the crew commenting on that all the army exists on is beer and chocolate which makes up a vast amount of the stock. Prices are very cheap, everything is at cost price and its suprising how much we were over charged in the shops on shore.

Morale is very high and everyone is having a great time writing messages on sheets and hanging them over the sides. Boredom is the only fatal thing that we have to watch out for. As I have previously mentioned there is virtually no extra space to do weapon training and exercide but that doesn't really concern me.

Well that's all I have got to offer as news at my end. There are no problems at my end except I havent got any stamps so could you send me 2 or 3 please? I will re-imburse you of course. As far as the bank is concerned forget what I said. I'll draw money over the table which will make my bank paymenst very small.

Well lots of love to all the family. Write as sonn as possible and hopefully I'll get back in 2 weeks time


Friday, 5 September 2008

Updated my library

For the first time ever all my library of books on the Falklands are in the same country so added them all to the list.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

British Library

Found a wonderful resource today that will help me track down all known publications in English on the Falklands War. The British Library have catalogs of their entire collection so it came as no surprise to see that they have well over 250 published books on the war. Of course a number of them are duplicates as they have gone through a number of revisions but still, it makes an interesting read.

Time to look up some of the missing titles and add to my collection.