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 11th/12th June 1982

Sergeant I J McKay of B Company, awarded posthumous Victoria Cross

on to 45. 45 Cdo Battle for Two Sisters


3 Para
, including GPMG's, LAW's, MAW's, Milans and 81mm mortars; in support, 6x105mm artillery of 79 Bty, 29 Cdo Regt RA, frigate "Avenger" with 1x4.5in.In reserve - 2 Para

3 Para Commanders: Lt Col H W R Pike, Maj D A Collett A Coy (1, 2 and 3 Platoons), Maj M H Argue B Coy (4, 5 and 6 Platoons), Maj H M Osborne C Coy, Maj P P Butler D (Patrol) Coy

7th Inf Regt
defending Mount Longdon and Wireless Ridge area, supported by snipers, heavy mg's, mortars and artillery.


Approach to Mount Longdon - After tabbing across East Falkland from Port San Carlos, securing Estancia House on Monday 31st, and next day moving Tac HQ and A Coy on to Mount Estancia, B Coy to the south of Mount Vernet and C Coy on to Mount Vernet itself, 3 Para prepared for its attack on Mount Longdon.

On Thursday 3rd, A and B Coys set up patrol bases near Murrell Bridge, and over the next week, D (Patrol) Coy and the other rifle Coys intensively patrolled towards their objective, at times penetrating Argentine positions and clashing with the enemy. Two members of D Coy were decorated for their reconnaissance patrols as well as guiding in B Coy on the night of the attack. This took place on Friday 11th, after 3 Para moved from Murrell Bridge to the attack start line.

With minefields to the south, the Argentines on Wireless Ridge to the east, and given the long and narrow summit ridge of Mount Longdon, Lt Col Pike decided to launch a silent attack from the west. With C Coy in reserve and fire support teams staying on the start line, the plan was for B Coy to take the length of the summit ('Fly Half' and 'Full Back') while A Coy occupied the northern spur ('Wing Forward') as a fire support base for the B Coy attack. Once Mount Longdon was secured, A and C Coys would, if possible, move on to Wireless Ridge. After a short delay, A and B Coys started off from 'Freekick' at 8.15 pm.

(In the actual battle, A Coy was unable to reach 'Wing Forward' and took over from B Coy the taking of 'Full Back'. 2 Para had the task of capturing Wireless Ridge two days later.).


Battle for Mount Longdon - As B Coy (4, 5 and 6 Platoons) approached Mount Longdon in the dark, on the left, one of 4 Platoon's men stepped on a mine and the alerted Argentines opened fire at the start of a battle that stretched through to dawn, ten hours later. On the right, 6 Platoon got on to the western summit with little fighting, but a by-passed bunker fired into them as they pushed through 'Fly Half', and later, when pinned down, they suffered a number of men killed by mainly sniper fire. Meanwhile 4 and 5 Platoons, using anti-armour weapons against enemy bunkers, fought their way on to the western end, but as they attempted to move to the east came under heavy automatic fire. 4 Platoon's commander was wounded, platoon Sgt McKay took over, and collecting some of his men and Cpl Bailey moved in to knock out a heavy machine gun post. In an action which led to the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross, Sgt McKay and one of the men were killed, but the enemy position was silenced. Now a second heavy machine gun held up B Coy HQ and 5 Platoon. Sgt Fuller was put in charge of 4 Platoon and with support from 5, tried to knock out this one, but without success. Maj Argue now pulled back both 4 and 5 Platoons, and called down artillery and naval gunfire on the enemy positions, after which a left flanking attack was put in, making some progress. Before long, they and the rest of B Coy found themselves under fire again, and having taken such heavy casualties, Lt Col Pike brought B Coy to a halt half way along the Longdon summit ridge.

A Coy (1, 2 and 3 Platoons) had meanwhile moved from 'Freekick' towards 'Wing Forward', but taken losses from the fire of the Argentine positions on the eastern end of the summit which were now holding up B Coy. With little hope of making progress, A Coy was pulled back to the western end of Longdon, moved through B Coy, and with artillery and GPMG support, 1 and 2 Platoons worked their way along the eastern half of the summit clearing the enemy positions with rifle and bayonet and grenades. Now the Argentines started withdrawing, and as soon as 'Full Back' was secured, 3 Platoon moved down the slope facing Wireless Ridge. As dawn broke, and with no possibility of exploiting forward, 3 Para started digging in on Mount Longdon to spend the next two days under heavy and accurate artillery fire.

Eighteen Paras and an attached Royal Engineer had been killed in the attack with many more wounded, and three more Paras and a REME craftsman were killed in the subsequent shelling.


British Gallantry Awards


Approach to* and Battle for Mount Longdon by 3 Para
Sgt I J McKay (post VC), B Coy
Lt Col H W R Pike (DSO) MBE
Maj M H Argue (MC), B Coy
Maj D A Collett (MC), A Coy
Staff Sgt B Faulkner (DCM), Regt Aid Post
Sgt J S Pettinger (DCM), D (Patrol) Coy *
Pvt R J de M Absolon (post MM), D (Patrol) Coy *
Cpl I P Bailey (MM), B Coy
Sgt D Fuller (MM), B Coy

Capt W A McCracken (MC) RA, NGFO, 29 Cdo Regt RA (citation also includes Wireless Ridge)


Men of A Coy, 3 Para after the
Battle for Mount Longdon
(Courtesy - Airborne Forces Museum)

Battle for Mount Longdon - from the Art of Daniel Bechennec




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