Sapper Hill

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Gaucho stone corral at Sapper Hill, (120 m in diameter,
3 m high); dated 1840s

Sapper Hill (453 ft) is on East Falkland, Falkland Islands.[1] It is just to the south of Stanley, and is heavily mined from the Falklands War. It is named after a troop of sappers who were based at Moody Brook barracks.

Falklands War[edit]

Mount Tumbledown, Mount William and Sapper Hill lie west of Stanley. Because of its proximity to Stanley, Sapper Hill was of huge strategic importance. They were held by BIM-5, a reinforced, cold weather trained and equipped, marine Argentine battalion. The BIM 5 positions were bombarded, both from the sea by naval gunfire and from the air by the Royal Air Force Harriers. At 4.30 p.m., on 7 June, a British Harrier bombing positions held by the 5th Marine Battalion was hit by concentrated fire from M Company (under Marine Sub-Lieutenant Rodolfo Cionchi) on Sapper Hill.

As part of the British plan in the Battle of Mount Tumbledown, the 1st Battalion the 7th Gurkha Rifles (1/7 GR) was given the task of capturing the sub-hill of Mount William held by O Company, the 5th Marine Battalion's reserve, and then allow the Royal Marines under the command of the Welsh Guards through to seize Sapper Hill, the final obstacle before Stanley. The attacks were supported by naval gunfire from HMS Active's 4.5 inch gun. During the initial assault, Royal Marines from C company 9 troop 40 commando were dropped almost on top of the Argentine position by helicopter, resulting in a brief firefight. Three Argentine marines from 5 BIM were killed and 4 members of 9 troop were wounded - the last casualties suffered in the war.[2]

The 5th Marines worked their way back into Stanley, leaving M Company to cover the retreat. At the foot of the hill there was an enormous minefield. A group of Sappers went ahead to clear a path across the mines, but when the Welsh Guardsmen advanced they found Sapper Hill abandoned. The delay caused by the mines in fact may have saved lives. The Marine companies had been deeply entrenched and very well equipped with heavy automatic weapons. To Guardsman Tracy Evans the Sapper Hill positions looked impregnable:

'We were led to an area that the company would rest at for the night, I still took in the fact the Argies had prepared Sapper Hill well, they had depth positions that would have made the task of taking it very hard. (Taken from the diary of Guardsman Tracy Evans, who served in 4 Platoon, 2 Company, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Strange, Ian (1983) The Falkland Islands
  2. ^ Van Der Bijl, Nicholas & Hannon, Paul, p.8, Argentine Forces in the Falklands, Osprey Publishing Ltd, 1992, ISBN 1-85532-227-7

Coordinates: 51°42′25″S 57°52′12″W / 51.707°S 57.870°W / -51.707; -57.870