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Book 22 RM hold off Argentine Army

Discussion in 'All other military discussion' started by John A Silkstone, Apr 15, 2009.

  1. John A Silkstone United Kingdom

    John A Silkstone Mi General MI.Net Member

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    The 22 Royal Marines who took on Argentine Falklands invasion force

    The story of how 22 Royal Marines took on an entire Argentine invasion force at the start of the Falklands War has been told for the first time by one of the men involved.

    Urged by its commanders not to surrender to enemy troops advancing on the tiny Atlantic outpost of South Georgia, the small band managed to shoot down a helicopter gunship and disable a warship in an action described as a modern day "Rorke's Drift".

    The Argentines never revealed how many the men they lost that day, but the two-hour battle gave the Junta its first bloody nose and Margaret Thatcher the evidence she needed to convince the House of Commons that the Falklands could be won back.

    They had instructions to monitor a group of Argentine scrap metal workers who had provocatively hoisted their national flag on the British territory, located some 1,400 kilometres east of the Falklands.

    Within a week, they heard the Governor of the Falklands, Rex Hunt, declare a state of emergency on the BBC World Service and shortly afterwards, on April 2, that the Falklands had been invaded.

    Lt Mills sent a message to the HMS Endurance, the Royal Navy's Ice Patrol ship in the Falklands, asking for instructions. The response came back: "When asked to surrender you are not to do so."

    They set about booby-trapping the shore and fashioning a bomb beneath the jetty that was packed with nuts, bolts and harpoon heads, posing in front of it for one last picture just 30 seconds before they heard the first Argentinian helicopter approaching.

    Using just small arms fire, the men who were later nicknamed Mills' Marauders shot down the Puma gunship as it attempted to land.

    As hundreds of Argentine troops swarmed onto the island, they decided to take out a warship.

    Using a combination of bazookas and small arms fire, they targeted the Argentine Corvette ARA Guerrico which was too close to shore to use its own guns.

    Holed beneath the water line, its Exocet launchers and front gun destroyed, the listing ship limped away from the island.

    In his book, Too Few Too Far, S/C Thomsen described how he and his comrades never expected to live and so were not afraid to push their luck.

    He said: "We were putting sniper fire through the Guerrico's bridge so they didn't know where they were going. It was the first time in history anything like that had been done.

    "At the same time they were landing troops from two or three other ships and we were outnumbered 50-1, or 100-1 if you count everyone on their ships.

    "It was like Rorke's Drift, except the enemy was well armed.

    "At the end our escape route had been cut off and one of us had been hit in the arm. I was about to put some mortars down on the shore when I saw the boss walking towards the enemy. He just went up to them and said that we'd fight to the last and carry on killing them and it was the Argies who called it a day.

    "They couldn't believe there were only 22 of us. We weren't expected to come back, it was a one-way ticket for me."

    The marines were rounded up and taken as prisoners of war to Argentina, but were returned home shortly afterwards where they were feted as national heroes.

    S/C Thomsen, now 51, rose to the rank of sergeant and was later team leader of the Royal Marines freefall display team.

    He is married with two children and lives on the south coast. Too Few Too Far is published by Amberely.

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