Short Stories


I now had the Clansman 320 H.F. radio that Steve Willie had been carrying tuned into the BBC to listen to the World Services. It was about the most reliable source of information about what was happening. Dat de dat de dah de, da da da da da. God how I was beginning to hate that tune .It really managed to get on my tits. I’ll remember that tune for the rest of my life. I was squatting down in the corner of the sheep sheds writing the daily bulletin on a scrap piece of paper. Quite happily listening to a man 8 thousand miles away, telling me what was going on in this small corner of the South Atlantic, on my own doorstep you might say. At least he seemed to know more than what the officer’s were passing on to us at any rate. It had been the result of listening to a similar broadcast that the world had learned we were at Camilla Creek prior to the assault on Darwin and Goose Green. I hoped today would herald some good news.

  We were now living in the sheep sheds at a settlement called Fitzroy .We had been here for a couple of days after having moved back from the Bluff Cove settlement about 3 or so miles away. Fitzroy was being set up as the Brigade H.Q. Once it was fully established and further troops had arrived you could bet that we would end up back up on the bloody hills again. I suppose somebody had to do it, just why us all the time? A small circle of light appeared on the wooden floor next to the radio. Followed in rapid succession by several more. I looked up and could that they were coming from holes that had magically formed on the corrugated roof of the sheep sheds. From the corner of my eye I caught movement.

    Several people were charging about wildly, gesturing, lips moving frantically. I couldn’t concentrate on the voice any more any way. I stood up slowly and removed the headset. Bedlam hit my ears. Then I was knocked off my feet as an explosion rocked the building. Grabbing my helmet and weapon I ran for the door. I hit the bright sunshine at gallop and tried to focus. It was night vision in reverse as the interior of the sheds had been quite dark, now I was out the light dazzled me. Once again I was bowled over though there was no sound of an explosion this time. Just the steady whumping noise of a helicopter’s spinning rotor blades. I had been knocked off my feet by the down draft of a Sea King helicopter. It was bobbing up and down by the side of the building, threatening to lift the complete roof off the flimsy structure. Now I was outside it was chaos, blokes were running and slipping arse over tit on the muddy grassy surface, some blown along by the chopper’s down draught.

   I could see a plume of black smoke rising from behind the small out cropped peninsula where the lads had been re-zeroing their weapons. It was part of the landing dock and the outcrop was linked to the main shore by the wooden jetty. It was from behind this outcrop where the smoke (now as black as the ace of spades) spewed upwards. Stark, chilling, more than just smoke it rose like a malevolent genie against the serene blue of the sky. A bad omen for what was to come. It was also where the Sir Galahad and Sir Tristan lay at anchor. I started to run. I headed towards the line trenches we had dug over the last couple of days. As I ran down the slight slope I could see people firing weapons from every type of position. Hip, shoulder, waist you name it. SLR’s, SMG’s, GPMG’s even pistols were going off.

Then I saw it. It came in low. It popped up from nowhere in fact. An A4 Sky Hawk. I could see the pilot clearly, big bushy moustache with a slight grin on his face, looking back over his left shoulder. He soon lost the grin though. When he leveled out, and saw all the shit that was being sent in his direction. The pilot could only see the tracer though; most of the nine mm was ordinary ball. He must have literally flown into a wall of lead. His plane must have been hit by some of it, because he kicked in his after burners. With a flash of flames from his engine exhaust, he was soon a black dot heading for the horizon. Then, as if to confirm everybody’s hopes. Black plumes of oily smoke could be seen trailing behind him he never made past the horizon, the thin column of smoke lay testament to that. More aircraft appeared from where huge explosions caused the very air to rumble. On the outcrop above the jetty was a small group, of three blokes standing silhouetted against the gray rocks. It was one of the air Defence detachments. They had the shoulder mounted blowpipe ground to air missiles. They let one fly. Then I realized why the Sea King was bobbing behind our shed, and what had first knocked me off my feet.

We all watched fascinated as the missile they launched changed direction in mid flight. (It had lost the Sky Hawks due to their turbo-assisted exits). Having been launched it was however still trying to acquire a target. It now decided to home onto the nearest heat source. It turned out to be the Sea king helicopter. He bobbed back down again. The helicopter pilot was using the corrugated sheep shed as a screen from the missile. The earlier explosion was from the first Blowpipe missile the detachment had fired and not an enemy bomb. The Air Defence detachments were unlucky. The first missile they had launched at the leading aircraft had apparently just missed the cockpit. They had fired as it was directly beside them and the missile hadn’t armed until it had gone passed the Sky Hawk. Being armed and having passed the Sky Hawk it was looking for an alternative or second target.

The missile now picked up the heat from the engines of the Sea King which had been unloading from the Sir Galahad. Dodging behind the large sheep sheds had screened the helicopters heat signature. The missile tracking the target altered its trajectory, then losing in effect all sight of the target, nosed dived into the ground on the opposite side of the sheds from the helicopter. Exploding on impact with the ground.  This second attempt by the Blowpipe crew looked like it was taking the same route as the first. This second missile, now having lost all sense of purpose flew towards our trenches. It may have lost its target, but as the earlier one proved. They still went bang. I dove into the nearest trench landing on top of its occupants. The second Blowpipe arced and exploded harmlessly in the peat near the shore. It turned out it was a bit of tit for tat in the end. Apparently we had pinned down the Blowpipe teams with all our small arms fire in the first place. (Probably just as well for the crew of the Sea King). I was just being bodily thrown out of the trench when a third wave of Sky Hawk’s appeared in front of us. The Blowpipe detachment once again dived for cover, and I didn’t blame them one little bit. Cause we all opened up again.


Later when the skies finally cleared of Argentinean planes and all that remained was the black oily smoke and the constant to and fro of helicopters I made my way to the pebbly beach. Where we met the arrival of the blackened survivors of the Galahad and Tristan, the Welsh Guards had finally come ashore. They threw ropes from the prow of the cumbersome lifeboats; we waded - waist deep in the water pulling them hand over hand the final few yards to the shore.


I miss the lads.

I miss those crisp clear nights.

When the frost glistens in the moonlight.

I miss those lonely exposed hills.

Lashed by the rain.

I miss the young and innocent faces, some of whom we'll never see again.

I miss the laughter and the crack.

I miss their morbid sense of humor,

The childish pranks and their unspoken laws.

I miss that sense of belonging, that unique bond.

I miss youth at it's best.

Though I'll grow old unlike the rest.

What I miss most

I miss the lads.

Jim Love

Was it worth it? In the end yes.

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