Goose Green at 40
The most significant land battle fought by modern Western armies since WWII took place some 40 years ago this week, pitting some ~700 British paratroopers of 2 PARA, augmented by elements of the Royal Marines and SAS, against some 1,200 Argentines including conscripts of the 12th (12IR) and ranger-style elite troops of the 25th Infantry (25IR) Regiment with supporting forces. Although fought in 1982, other than the use of a handful of shoulder-fired guided missiles and the fleeting presence of helicopters, it was not much different from a battalion-level scrap in 1945.
In the end, it came down to little groups of men with rifles, sub guns, and, yes, even bayonets, fighting for inches and paying with blood.
At the end of the day, 2 PARA suffered so many casualties– including its commander — to meet the historical definition of being decimated while the Argentines were all either killed or captured.
Despite their name and unit history, 2 PARA arrived in the Falklands by ship, made a “feet wet” amphibious landing on 24 May, and walked almost the entire route from San Carlos to Port Stanly across inhospitable terrain, fighting both at Goose Green and again a fortnight later at Wireless Ridge, then walked into Stanley for the liberation on 14 June.
Their only airlift, from Darwin to the Fitzroy, was a brief one on 2 June by the sole British CH-47 (Bravo November) that made it ashore in which some 81 Paras were crammed into the chopper. A second trap crammed 75 men.
Talk about a rough three weeks.
The British over the weekend marked the 40th Anniversary of the liberation of Goose Green, East Falkland.
Peter Kennedy was a 25-year-old Lieutenant at Goose Green and spoke in a recent 21-minute interview about the battle, in which he was suddenly thrust into leading the final attack.