The Battle for Goose Green by Steve Taylor


Mi Sergeant Major
MI.Net Member
Apr 12, 2005
Steve Taylor · 12 followers
12 hours ago near Salhya, Baghdad ·

  • 31 years ago today, the battle for Darwin Hill/Goose Green on The Falkland Islands took place. I was 20 years old at the time and just signed on again after my first 3 years of military service. Here are some of my recollections for that event: On that day and leading up to it. Three closely related encounter. in what was supposed to be a raid turned out to be one of the most famous battles in history. 650 Paratroopers from Great Britain's elite 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, 650 strong, took on 2000 plus heavily defended Argentine positions. General Jeramy Moore, was bitter about The PARAs abilities, what he see lacking in his own Marines. Years later he would say Goose Green was of no tactical importance. "It should have been left to wither on the vine," The idea of a frontal attack or direct attack on the capital Stanley would have not go so favourably. **** the armchair generals after the event, on how they might have done it. Only one regiment in the British Army had the will power, guts and determination to win against all broke the back of the Argentines.Goose Green broke their will.

    Pre Encounter
    For several days Lt Col "H" Jones wanted to kick start the battle as malaise had set in with the Marines; whom one would have thought were anxious to regain the islands after their ignoble surrender at Moody Brook. Their tactic seem to be, "As soon as we land, they are bound to give up knowing the Marines are coming." You have to walk the walk if you’re gonna talk the talk! We start to get aerial bombarded by Argy fighter jets. 3 platoon took out a Super Entenard with a rake of machine gun rash up it’s under carriage. "H," after several cancellations has had enough. 3 times he asks the Commando Brigade Commander Brigadier Julian Thompson to take battalion size raid on to Goose Green. A day or so before. I get poked in the eye with a radio antennae, whilst going on watch that night. As a precaution I am sent down to the sick bay. Casualty no 003. Several blokes there with frost bite from the wet landings. I am disgusted to see Marines, going through and steeling from their bergens (rucksacks). Rumours about Goose Green filter down. Me and casualty 001 and 002, hatch a plan. If we can't join the battle, we will sneak out the medical station and join n 2 PARA, one way or another. we are going into battle with our mates. Due to delays we managed to join them. Permission denied again! The Marines think it can't be done as tactics dictate a 3:1 ratio in attackers to defenders. At best we were 1:1 good odds for a PARATOOPER. Later we found the odds were stacked a lot higher against us. Once committed we were never expected to come out alive. Thompson based the capabilities of the attack on his own Marines and therefore deemed the mission impossible. He obviously did not know the capabilities of a PARATROOPER!!! "I'm going to Goose Green tonight "H" screamed. “Well you won't get any support from me,” was Thompson's retort. "I don't need your f***ing support, I've got 650 PARATROOPERS!!!" So off we jolly well went. 5 miles North of Goose Green, the battalion lays up for the night, ready for a pre-dawn attack on Darwin Hill and the settlement at Goose Green. A Company are in a house, crammed full the body heat of 100+ men warms the cold air. I take my turn on the battalion radio, monitoring the BBC World Service. 2 Hours sitting in a freezing shell scrape, I look at the nice warm house, mmm 30 minutes and I will be back in there asleep. Suddenly the defence Secretary announces on the WORLD SERVICE. "BRITISH PARATROOPERS" are positioned 5 mile North of Goose Green preparing to attack," WHAAAAAT!" the idiot just gave our position away!!!!! Turmoil, do I keep quiet, nice warm house, or let everyone know....bugger. “Sir!” I shout to Farrah-Hockley, Officer Commanding A Company. “John Knott has just announced on the world service we are 5 miles North of Goose Green!" "H" is fuming, "I will f***ing sue John Knott if one of my men is killed!" Everyone piles out of the house into defensive positions. Within minutes we hear Enemy Chinook Heavy lift helicopters moving reinforcements in. The odds from 1:1 just moved against us. Our own Harriers flew up the valley, tilting their wings in salute to us as they started bombing runs.

    Encounter One:
    Burnside House first of three encounters on 28th May. 3 platoon one of 2 platoons assaulting a house near to Darwin/Goose Green, 800 rounds of Machine gun fire, several hundred rounds from rifle fire, 84 mm anti-tank round 2 66 mm rockets, Fragmentation grenades, a few white phosphorous and we find an islander family inside, unscathed, says a lot for our shooting,,, well we did set fire to a mattress! On "Cease Fire" from the Company Sergeant Major, Baz Kenny had just pulled the pin on a grenade. Rather than try to put it back in, he threw it over his shoulder. A loud CRUMP, and an irate CSM Colin Price "Who the **** threw that grenade??????" Stifled laughter and giggles! B Company still accuse us for shooting at them, but that was probably the fleeing Argies. Well I did fire one shot, but pulled it high when I recognized the distinctive outline of a Paratrooper compared to an Argie.

    Encounter Two:
    Battle for Darwin Hill, just to the North of Goose Green. Having just taken out several machine gun positions, we start to take in 155 mm Artillery rounds. The explosions are wide of the mark to the side and to the front and rear. It did not take long to realise they were ranging in on us using a technique called halving and bracketing. Somewhere a mile or so away an observer was adjusting the fire. Our laughs at their poor attempts soon subside, as large junks or real estate start to be thrown up un the air and the concussion waves can be felt. We are on the shoreline protected by a steep bank and mound and to our left is the sea. We get on the radio and call our mortar team for a "Fire Mission" we guesstimate the range as 1000 meter and the bearing as 3250 mills magnetic. "Shot out" is heard of over the net as the first round is fired for us to make adjustments on" A few moments later the whistle of the mortar bomb can be heard over head, followed by the high explosive crump! Silence, no more incoming fire. Spot on firsts time maybe. We call back "5 rounds fire for effect" As the fall mission swings into action. "Bravo one Three that was your fire for effect" ****, the battalion was out of fire support. Everyone was short on ammo and supplies. Luckily we took out the spotter with the adjusting round. Darwin was taken with paratroopers on their stomachs crawling towards a well-defended enemy, dug in, overhead protection and crates of ammunition in his position. Inch by inch we took the ground, bayonets fitted and grim determination to win the day. We lived for the moment. Kit was abandoned, pockets stuffed with spare magazines and a bottle of water. There were no tactics, just guts and grit and an iron hard will to win. The Parachute Regiment's reputation as the finest infantry in the world was at stake too. After the battle I recall stepping over some orange electric fence wire. I recall the intelligence brief. "Argentinian army marks their MINE FIELDS with electric wire.” Boss" I calmly call out. To 2LT Guy Wallis, the platoon Commander, “We are in a MINE FIELD" Slowly and carefully, watching each step we move forward. Sometimes a mine field is a dummy one, but you don't know that until you reach the other side all in one piece. I find an enemy soldier left behind a machine gun, a belt of 2 hundred strapped on ready to go. "Someone notices it as I do.."Steve get him away from that gun!" I move over to him, rifle ready to take him out should he so much as breathe. I am coved in crap, red eyes from lack of sleep, cam cream on in my best war paint and festooned with belts of ammunition. He shrinks back from me as I approach. I grab him under his arm pit and lift him, surprisingly off the ground with one hand. He is weak, frightened and shivering, he has been wounded several times and patched up. All aggression leaves me and pity creeps in. I am freezing, wet cold and hungry. You lose anywhere between 20,000 - 30,000 calories during a battle; all reserves are depleted and your body starts to crash. I see a great Coat lying discarded. I has noticed it earlier and it was going to keep me warm that night. I draped it round his shoulders and escorted him to where teh other POWs were being centralised. I gave him to one of our medics who took care of him. Meanwhile I learned a mate has been hit in the spine. I go over to him, as I am the only one who seems to have radio comms still. I call in for a heli MEDEVAC, I look into Paul's eyes as he is lying on his front, and his pain filled eyes are losing their sparkle. I am literally watching his life force drain from him. I get a reply from the heli. "Unable to MEDEVAC Artillery barrage in progress. All around enemy artillery and mortars are slamming in the ground throwing huge chunks of the peat earth everywhere. I look at Paul, Gibbo, the medic looks at me and shakes his head, nothing we can do to save him. I call the heli MEDEVAC again. "Barrage lifted (I lie) we have urgent life threatening spinal injury" "Roger Bravo One Three inbound three minutes." Rounds continue to plummet down as the chopper lands. The pilot could be heard cursing as his barley manages to get out. Paul survived that day and later went on to be commissioned from the ranks.

    "Three platoon," Major Farrah-Hockley calls. You have not had any casualties, go and join C Company, they are going to move into Goose Green. C Company consisted of the Reconnaissance Platoon and The Patrols Platoon, who conducted Long Range Patrol missions. Three Platoon formed up as their third platoon. Before us a billiard table stretching a mile long, no cover unfolded in front of us. My radio was on the blink. I had a trailing wire antennae fitted so as not to be a sniper target. Radio operators and more so the radio itself are priority target for snipers. Jim Beattie the Platoon sergeant decided to fit the 4 foot whip antennae to improve comms. Going over a fence line it must have got knocked back, so as I lay down it was sticking up. A few Argies started to run s these us, everyone started shooting at them. Rounds were hitting all-around them. One went down back up, ran again. **** we were cheering for them to get to safety, we almost wanted them to escape. Finally and sadly they lost and never got up again. Down in Goose Green, the enemy was showing ingenuity. They had rigged 35mm rockets to a children’s slide and were ranging them down between Recce and patrols and 3 Platoon. The rockets were exploding all around and amongst us. Three lads got hit, one was only in water bottle. We all thought we were going to cop it. We kept turning out bodies off as we hear the rockets whistling in, trying to expose fleshy parts of our bodies to absorb the hits. We started crawling back to behind the bank. A Marine liaison officer too lazy to crawl got up and ran for the bank, he was hit as soon as he had gone one pace, dead! I next minute my ears are ringing, a huge thump was felt as something hit my helmet. I looked at the Boss "Guy" Wallis. "Boss what the **** did you throw that for?" thinking he was getting my attention. "Get your f***ing helmet back on Steve!" he yelled. I looked at the top of it. A bullet hole had gone strait through the top, just missing my head, I noticed antennae sticking up too. "Oooh that was close," I said to myself grinning. Finally I get over the fence line screaming in agony rubbing the back of my leg. Several of the lads came to my help. "Where you hit Steve?" "I'm not hit, I've got f***ing cramp!" I said laughing. "Oh **** off will ya, we though you got hit!" The damp grass, the exertion and exhaustion of the day had mad my thigh muscles knot up! That night amongst the burning gorse bushes, I lay in a trench I had scraped away at the frozen ground. Huddled in an Argie sleeping bag, I tried to sleep. Steve Lewis came round, always the bearer of doom and gloom.and bad news rumours. "OK lads, D company are all dead, B Company are down to 20 men, we are going to go back in the morning until the Argies have surrendered or we are all dead! Thoughts raced through my head, "what would people think, was this another Arnhem, were 2 PARA, had fought against all odds almost to the last man, where we to be found wanting or we had failed. Paul Winder looked at me. "Steve, we are all going to be dead tomorrow," "No, I said 12 of us will survive,” I replied. No idea where that figure came from, just that I was going to be amongst them. They huddled up to me in the trench, like two cuckoos, they gradually squeezed me out and evicted me from the nest...buggers! The glow from the burning gorse bush and peat silhouettes of soldiers looked surreal. I had collected spare weapons and ammo. One machine gun ready for anti-aircraft, up against a bush pointing towards Goose Green, my own issued SLR and best of all Folding Butt FN MAG. a superior version of our own SLR and fully auto. A Paratrooper’s dream weapon. The fight had gone from the enemy, the battle had paused but had not yet ended. We lived by our motto UTRINQUE PARATUS "Ready for Anything" We never rest on our laurels and exhausted and hungry as we were, we were prepared to fight on again. Suddenly I hear the Harrier Jump jets come screaming in dropping their payload. The earth shakes as the heavy ordnance explodes, flame slight the night sky. I curse "f***ing RAF WANKERS HAVE MISSED" The shortage of bombs meant there would be no rerun. Little did I know Maj Chris Keeble, who had assumed Command of 2 PARA after the heroic dearth of Lt Col Jones, later to win the Victoria Cross; had just arranged a demonstration on what would befall the defenders should they choose to continue.

    All in all a f***ing long day!
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I enjoyed that read. It contained a balanced mixture of realism and humour as you would expect from a soldier. Not sure the Marines would be totally happy about his account but if that's what he experienced then that's what he writes.
Excellent. Great to read such a good account and straight from the horses mouth. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience.

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