Battle of Mount Longdon

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Battle of Mount Longdon
Part of Falklands War
Mountains around Mount Longdon
Date11–12 June 1982
Result British victory
 United Kingdom  Argentina
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Lt. Col Hew Pike Argentina Maj. Carlos Carrizo-Salvadores
Units involved

Parachute Regiment cap badge.jpg Parachute Regiment

Flag of the British Army (1938-present).svg 3 Commando Brigade

United Kingdom Royal Navy

10th Mechanized Infantry Brigade

601 Commando Company
601st National Gendarmerie Special Forces Squadron
6 light guns
1 frigate
Casualties and losses
23 killed (22 paratroopers, 1 craftsman)
54[1]-60 wounded/injured[2][3]wounded (including 2 sappers wounded[4][5]and a number of gunners injured[6])
31 killed[7]
120 wounded [8]
50 captured
Battle of Mount Longdon is located in Falkland Islands
Battle of Mount Longdon
Location within Falkland Islands

The Battle of Mount Longdon was an engagement of the Falklands War between the British Third Battalion, of the Parachute Regiment supported by six L118 light guns and the vessel HMS Avenger and Argentine forces consisting of the 7th Infantry Regiment and other ad hoc additions. The engagement took place on 11–12 June 1982, a mixture of hand-to-hand bayonet charges and ranged engagments, resulting in the British victory and their occupation of a key position around the besieged Argentine garrison at Port Stanley.

There has been some controversy over the actions undertaken by the NCOs and Officers on the Argentine side in respect to the treatment of their men before and during the battle, with a number of conscripts coming forward to accuse Sub Lieutenant Juan Domingo Baldini of "clash[ing] with everyone" and not taking care of his troops to the best of his ability, though this is disputed, as is the nature of his subsequent death. Additionally, there are claims of testimony from 23 people about a soldier who was shot to death by a corporal, four other former combatants who starved to death, and at least 15 cases of conscripts who were staked out on the ground.


British forces[edit]

The British force consisted of Third Battalion, the Parachute Regiment (3 PARA) under Lieutenant Colonel Hew Pike with artillery support from six L118 light guns of 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery; Second Battalion, the Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) were in reserve. Naval gunfire support was provided by HMS Avenger's 4.5-in gun.

Argentine forces[edit]

The Argentine forces consisted of B Company, 7th Infantry Regiment (RI 7), part of 10th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, as well as detachments from other units. The local Argentine commander was the 34-year-old Major Carlos Carrizo Salvadores, the second-in-command of RI 7.[9] The 7th Infantry Regiment, reinforced by two Marine Infantry platoons, held Mount Longdon, Wireless Ridge to the northwest of the Capital, Port Stanley and to their east, Cortley Ridge. Marine Teniente de Navío (naval rank equivalent to army captain) Sergio Andrés Dachary had arrived at Mount Longdon in the week preceding the battle, and was on hand to control the Marine-manned heavy machine-guns and protecting riflemen there.[10]

The Argentine forces on Mount Longdon were not raw conscripts, but recalled reservists with a year of military training under their belts. Part of this training saw 7th Regiment undertake major, all-arms collective training in central Argentina alongside the 3rd and 6th Infantry Regiments of the 10th Brigade.[11] The young RI 7 soldiers were not going to abandon their positions easily and several were prepared to hold their ground. They possessed fully automatic FN FAL rifles, FAP light machine guns and PAMS sub-machine guns; these weapons delivered more firepower than the British L1A1 rifle (SLR). They were also equipped with FN MAG 7.62mm general purpose machineguns, which were almost identical to those of the Paras. At their San Miguel del Monte training camp the 7th Regiment companies prepared for possible war against Chile and carried out some intense helicopter drills with the 601st Combat Aviation Battalion.[12] Some fifty of the 7th Regiment were to fight more resolutely than the rest and share their skills, having been put through a commando course organized by commando-trained Major Oscar Jaimet,[13] the Operations Officer of the 6th Infantry Regiment (RI 6). Private Jorge Altieri in an interview after the war told how he trained hard (under training organized by Drill-Sergeant Pedro Maciel Reyes[14]) with B Company:

I was issued with a FAL 7.62 millimetre rifle. Other guys were given FAP light machineguns – and others got PAMS [submachineguns]. The main emphasis in shooting was making every bullet count. I was also shown how to use a bazooka, how to make and lay booby-traps, and how to navigate at night, and we went on helicopter drills, night and day attacks and ambushes.[15]

Altieri of Sub Lieutenant Juan Domingo Baldini's 1st Platoon, would also claim the conscripts experienced much hunger, despite permission to go through the stockpiled cold rations on Mount Longdon:

During wartime, the higher ranking officers are in totally different places ... Sub Lieutenant Baldini would receive orders from Major Carrizo who was further down, to use our cold rations and that the more nutritious food we'd get when the fighting started because they didn't know if they'd be able to supply us with food. From 16 April to 11 June we fought, we'd have soup with lentils, green peas and some piece of mutton. We would tell our officer: "We can't tell the British soldiers to wait so that we could get better food and then start shooting ... We weren't properly fed prior to the fighting like we should've been, we were weakened.[16]

The experiences in Baldini's platoon varied from soldier to soldier. Private Luis Aparicio claims that he and others once escaped into Port Stanley where they were able to buy cigarettes, jam, bread, apples and cookies and that the corporal in charge of his group would allow them to shoot and eat sheep, but that in the last 20 days they hardly got any food.[17] He also admits that the 1st Platoon was taken out of the mountain twice, in April and at the beginning of May, so that the soldiers could get a chance to shower in Port Stanley and that on the last march into town, the men were allowed to stay there under roofs overnight.[18] Private Carlos Amato claims that Baldini had a net stretched outside his tent that contained tinned provisions for his men, but claims these cold rations were poor quality, although he would consume them after getting a fellow conscript to heat them up first and that the NCOs in the platoon had no qualms in eating the cold rations made available to everybody in 1st Platoon.[17] Sergio Delgado claims that he hated his section leader, Corporal Geronimo Diaz of the 1st Platoon, but says that the NCO allowed him and four other conscripts to open up and drink several cans of beer that had been helicoptered forward.[17] Private Alberto Carbone claims that Baldini would always get him to go and look for firewood so that the officer could heat up his food while the remainder of the platoon "starved" and that Baldini "clashed with everyone" and was left to himself and "died alone" as a result.[17]

Subteniente Baldini is accused of having handed out field punishment to a number of conscripts for having abandoned their posts to go looking for food. "Our own officers were our greatest enemies", says Ernesto Alonso of Baldini's platoon [19] who later became the president of CECIM, an anti-war veterans group founded by Rodolfo Carrizo and former conscripts of the 7th Regiment. "They supplied themselves with whiskey from the pubs, but they weren’t prepared for war. They disappeared when things got serious."[20] Alonso also claims the conscripts on Mount Longdon fought “without any type of leadership by our commanders, the officers and NCOs."[21] Alonso admits he took no part in the fighting for he was evacuated during the daylight hours of 11 June, a victim of shell-shock during an artillery bombardment.[22] The previous day, Private Carbone had also been evacuated after he shot himself in his left thigh while inside his tent as is revealed in the book Two Sides of Hell (Bloomsbury Publishing, 1994). Baldini applied first-aid and allowed the conscript to be taken down the mountain, where a helicopter arrived to take the wounded soldier to Stanley Hospital, but not before coming under heavy rifle fire from nervous sentries on Wireless Ridge that damaged the helicopter.

British Warrant Officer Nick van der Bijl (who interviewed Argentine POWs), maintains that the defenders on Longdon were helped to make themselves as comfortable as possible under the circumstances and that their officers, including Baldini, tried hard to bolster morale:

Baldini was later heavily criticized by veterans for being indifferent and selfish toward his men although this seems to have come from several petulant soldiers who failed to appreciate his efforts to keep them alive in difficult conditions.[23]

Baldini was reported to have handed cups of hot chocolate milk to his sodden conscripts in late May 1982.[24]

In 2016, Victor José Bruno (former 7th Regiment private) spoke in defence of Subteniente Baldini, claiming that the officer would happily share his cigarettes with the smokers in his platoon and that Baldini, although suffering from the onset of a serious case of trench foot, refused to be evacuated.[25]

In 2009, Argentine authorities in Comodoro Rivadavia ratified a decision made by authorities in Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego (which, according to Argentina, have authority over the islands), announcing their intention to charge 70 officers and NCOs with inhumane treatment of conscript soldiers during the war.[26]

"We have testimony from 23 people about a soldier who was shot to death by a corporal, four other former combatants who starved to death, and at least 15 cases of conscripts who were staked out on the ground", Pablo Vassel, president of the Human Rights Department of the province of Corrientes, told Inter Press Service News Agency.[27] The conscript that was supposedly "shot to death", has been identified as Marine Private Rito Portillo, who according to the military surgeon that attended him (Major Andino Luis Francisco), was shot in error on the night of 4–5 May when returning to his tent from nearby latrines.[28] There are serious claims that false testimonies were used as evidence in accusing the Argentine officers and NCOs and Vassel had to step down from his post in 2010.[29] Since the 2009 announcement was made, no one in the military or among the retired officers and NCOs has been charged, causing Pablo Vassel in April 2014 to comment:

For over two years we've been waiting for a final say on behalf of the courts ... There are some types of crimes that no state should allow to go unpunished, no matter how much time has passed, such as the crimes of the dictatorship. Last year Germany sentenced a 98-year-old corporal for his role in the concentration camps in one of the Eastern European countries occupied by Nazi Germany. It didn't take into account his age or rank.[30]

In 2016, retired-Colonel Horacio Sánchez Mariño (former 601 Combat Aviation Battalion pilot), in an online newspaper article criticized the anti-war veterans group CECIM for accusing the Argentine Army of dereliction of duty, accusing the veterans association of being caranchos (vultures) that lived off the Argentine dead.[31]


British advance[edit]

3 PARA and the supporting Royal Engineers from the 9th Parachute Squadron[32] made a desperate march across the hills north of Mount Simon to seize the key piece of high ground above the settlement of Estancia, also known as Estancia House. The weather conditions were atrocious, with the Paras marching through steep slippery hillocks to the objective. Nick Rose was a private in 6 Platoon under Lieutenant Jonathan Shaw:

The terrain dictated exactly how we advanced. A lot of the time if we were going along on tracks – what few we did go on – we used Indian file, which is staggered file on either side of the track, like a zig-zag. But there are great rivers of rock – big white boulders – and you have to cross them and then there's the heather and the gorse and its constantly wet. So the wind chill factor was – I think somebody said minus 40 degrees – and storm force winds and horizontal rain – a nightmare scenario. ... We are horrible, we're miserable as sin, all of us – we're missing home, want a dry fag [cigarette], warm, dry boots, a cheese and onion sandwich and a bottle of blue top milk. I used to dream of these.[33]

Captain Matthew Selfridge of 3 PARA and Captain Robbie Burns from the 9th Parachute Squadron (Royal Engineers) set up a patrol base near Murrell Bridge, two kilometres west of Mount Longdon on 3 June, protected by 4 Platoon (under Lieutenant Ian Bickerdike) from B Company.[34] From their forward operating base, Selfridge and Burns sent out patrols to scout out and harass the Argentine positions on Mount Longdon. A Royal Engineer of 2 Troop (Lance-Corporal Hare) was seriously wounded while on patrol with 3 PARA.[35]Terry Peck, a former FIDF member also carried out patrolling, and in early June, while pretending to have gotten lost while riding his motorbike, he chatted to a group of five conscripts (under Corporal Geronimo Diaz of Baldini's 1st Platoon) that had been tasked with guarding provisions that had been helicoptered forward and were relaxing in the sun after drinking several cans of beer on the eastern end of Mount Longdon.[17]Not long after this successful foray, Peck while guiding a close-target-reconnaissance patrol (under Corporal Peter Hadden) opened fire in error at Sergeant John Pettinger's standing patrol also from 3 PARA's D Company, but no British casualties were registered in this friendly fire incident.[36]

An example of a British snatch patrol that failed to obtain a prisoner was provided by 3 PARA on the night of 4–5 June 1982. A three-man patrol from D Company consisting of Corporal Jerry Phillips and Privates Richard Absolon and Bill Hayward was sent out to the northern slopes of Mount Longdon.[37]The small party was detailed to penetrate Sub-Lieutenant Juan Baldini's 1st Platoon on the western slopes to secure a prisoner, supported to their rear by a battery of six 105 mm field guns, under cover of which the specialist snipers shot at Baldini while another fired a 66mm anti-tank rocket at one of the 1st Platoon mortar pits under Corporal Óscar Carrizo. The Argentine commanders reacted vigorously, and the sniper team found themselves under prompt and accurate machinegun, artillery and mortar fire. There were no Argentine casualties. One British participant nevertheless claimed to have shot and killed two Argentines and demolished one mortar crew with a rocket at close range.[37]

On the Argentine side, it was soon realised that the 7th Infantry Regiment Reconnaissance Platoon under Second Lieutenant Francisco Ramón Galíndez Matienzo on the surrounding Wireless Ridge position were in no condition to carry out their own patrolling for they had been designated the Argentine reserve on Wireless Ridge. Thus the Argentine Commando units, normally used for deep-recce [reconnaissance] had to take on this role. They were able to do so with some success and in the early hours of 7 June when a combined patrol of the 601 Commando Company and 601st National Gendarmerie Special Forces Squadron, investigating reports from Major Jaimet of enemy activity around Murrell Bridge[38] was seen approaching the bridge. After several nights in the area Corporals Peter Hadden and Mark Brown and their patrols had just arrived at the bluff on the western bank of the Murrell River which Sergeant Ian Addle's patrol was using as a base.[39]

Within a short time, a sentry reported moving figures down near the bridge. The Paras opened up and a confused firefight developed in the darkness, with small arms, machinegun, British LAW rockets and Argentine Energa rifle grenades being exchanged. Captain Rubén Teófilo Figueroa's 2nd Assault Section from 601 Commando Company was very aggressive and before dawn had forced the Paras to withdraw, having to leave behind much of their equipment.[40] Only one Argentine NCO (Drill Sergeant Rubén Poggi), was slightly wounded during the Argentine counter-ambush.[41] From then on British patrols had to be mounted closer to their own lines.[39]

As the official history of the Parachute Regiment acknowledged:

They were forced to evacuate their position rapidly, leaving behind their packs and radio, but succeeded in withdrawing without suffering any casualties. The location was checked on the evening of 8 June by another patrol, but there was no sign of the packs or radio, which meant the battalion's radio net could have been compromised.[39]

That same night, another an 8-man section (under Corporal Oscar Nicolás Albornoz-Guevara) from the 4th Regiment's C Company on nearby Two Sisters Mountain attempted to map out the British positions in Estancia House area, but British lookouts detected this force and 3 PARA's Mortar Platoon repelled the Argentine patrol.[42]

Nevertheless, despite evidence of aggressive Argentine patrolling, Colonel Pike and his company commanders on the eve of battle still held the Argentine regulars in low regard and did not expect them to put up much resistance.[43] For this reason the British hoped to surprise the Argentine commanders by advancing as close to their forward platoon as possible under cover of darkness, before storming into their trenches with fixed bayonets. The three major objectives – 'Fly Half', 'Full Back' and 'Wing Forward' – were named after positions in Rugby football. B Company would attack through 'Fly Half' and proceed to 'Full Back', while A Company, followed by C Company if necessary, would do the same on Wireless Ridge.[44]

But morale was still reasonably strong in the 7th Regiment. Private Fabián Passaro of B Company served on Longdon with Baldini's 1st Platoon and remembers life at the time:

Most of us had adjusted to what we'd been landed in, we'd adjusted to the war. But some boys [identified in the book "Two Sides Of Hell/Los Dos Lados Del Infierno"] were still very depressed and, in many cases, were getting worse all the time. Of course, we were very fed up with wearing the same clothes for so many days, going without a shower, being so cold, eating badly. It was too many things together, quite apart from our natural fear of the war, the shelling and all that. But I think some of us were adapting better than others. There were kids who were very worried; and I tried to buoy them up a bit. 'Don't worry,' I told them. 'Nothing will happen, we're safe here. 'Don't you see they could never get right up here? There's one thousand of us; if they try to climb, we'll see them, we'll shoot the shit out of them." [45]

When 3 PARA's B Company (under Major Mike Argue) fixed bayonets to storm the Argentine 1st Platoon positions on Mount Longdon, they found themselves running into a minefield. British sappers subsequently counted some 1,500 anti-personnel mines that Lieutenant Diego Arreseigor's platoon of Sappers from the 10th Mechanized Ingineer Company had laid along the western and northern slopes of Mount Longdon, but only two exploded recalled Corporal Peter Cuxson,[46] because the rest were frozen. Otherwise the final battle for Port Stanley would have been an altogether different story, concludes the NCO who took an Argentine machine-gun position that night.

Assault on Longdon[edit]

As dusk set-in, 3 PARA moved to their start lines and, after a brief stop, began to make the four-hour-long advance on their objectives. As B Company approached Mount Longdon, Corporal Brian Milne stepped on a mine, which after a very silent approach, alerted Sub-Lieutenant Baldini's platoon of conscripts. More than 20 Argentinian soldiers emerged from their tents to lay down fire, but most of the platoon was still struggling out of its sleeping bags when Lieutenant Ian Bickerdike's No. 4 Platoon was among them, machinegunning and grenading the helpless Argentines.

Corporal Stewart McLaughlin was in the thick of the action, clearing out an Argentine 7.62mm machinegun from the high ground overlooking the western slopes. He mustered his section, ordered them to fix bayonets and then led them up the hill into a hail of machinegun fire.

Lieutenant Jonathan Shaw's No. 6 Platoon, on the right flank of B Company, captured the summit of 'Fly Half' with no fighting. However, they had missed half a dozen Argentine conscripts of the 3rd Platoon, having grenaded several abandoned bunkers, and these launched a fierce attack on the unsuspecting platoon, resulting in a number of casualties before the area was cleared. For three hours the hand-to-hand combat raged in the 1st Platoon sector, until the Paras drove out the defenders.

All around the 1st Platoon position, small groups of soldiers were fighting for their lives. Privates Ben Gough and Dominic Gray managed to crawl undetected up to an Argentine bunker and crouched beside it as the Marine conscripts inside blasted away into the night. In unison the two Paras each pulled the pin out of a grenade and 'posted' them through the firing slit of the bunker. The instant the grenades exploded, the two jumped in the bunker and started to bayonet the two Marines. Private Gray killed a Marine by sticking his bayonet through his eye socket. They were both mentioned in despatches. Marine Corporal Carlos Rafael Colemil was part of the forward defence and fought as a sniper:

A British soldier climbed over the rock which supported the accommodation bunker of the 105mm gun crew, and from here he was silhouetted. He screamed like he was giving out orders. I aimed and fired and he fell, then Conscript Daniel Ferrandis alerted me to the approach of three British soldiers on the flank. I observed with the night sight; they were very close. I saw one of them was carrying a gun with bipod; he fell at the first shot and shouted. Another man approached him and I fired again and also got him ... Many people fell to the ground screaming, but soon the enemy was aware of my presence and every time I fired a shot I received a great deal of fire in response. Not long after my main action I was wounded ... We could also hear the cries for help from the Rasit radar operator Sergeant Roque Nista, who was wounded. I could hear Sergeant Omar Cabral, who was a sniper: he was also firing.[47]

According to the account of Private Victor José Bruno, Baldini was killed as he tried to unjam a machinegun. "The Lieutenant pushed us back and stood up trying to unlock the barrel but then he was shot in his belly by enemy fire", he recalled in an interview with Eduardo César Gerding of the Nottingham Malvinas Group. Corporal Dario Ríos was found lying dead with his platoon commander, which disproves Private Carbone's claim that Baldini "died alone". Baldini's weapon and boots were removed for the use of British soldiers.[48] Also killed in the initial fighting was Cavalry Sergeant Jorge Alberto Ron (according to Private Altieri who was wounded in the blast that killed the NCO[49]) and the Argentine forward artillery observation officer, Lieutenant Alberto Rolando Ramos, whose last message was that his position was surrounded. Sub-Lieutenant Baldini was awarded the Argentine Nation to the Valour in Combat Medal.

Argentine reinforcements[edit]

Just as it seemed as if the Paras would overwhelm 2nd Lieutenant Enrique Neirotti's 3rd Platoon on the southern half and Staff Sergeant Raúl González's 2nd Platoon on the northern half of the mountain, reinforcements from 2nd Lieutenant Hugo Quiroga's 1st Platoon, 10th Engineer Company on 'Full Back' arrived to help Neirotti and González. Throughout the initial fighting in this sector, most of the Argentine positions on the saddle of the mountain held, the newly arrived engineers using head-mounted nightsights, proving particularly deadly to the Paras.

Private Nick Rose in 6 Platoon resumes the story:

Pete Gray stood up and went to throw a '42' grenade and he was shot by a sniper in his left forearm. We thought the grenade had gone off. We punched his arm down onto the ground to staunch the bleeding, believing he'd lost half his right forearm and hand, but it was still there and his arm bent at the forearm instead of the elbow – a horrible thing to watch. ...There's 'incoming' everywhere, loads of stuff going down the range and then 'bang' my pal "Fester" [Tony Greenwood], gets it just above his left eye, only a yard away from me. That was a terrible thing. 'Fester' was such a lovely guy. Then it was 'Baz' Barratt. 'Baz' had gone back to try to get field dressings for Pete Grey and [as] he was coming back, 'bang', he got it in the back. This was when we just stalled as a platoon. (Jon Cooksey, op. cit., p. 66)

The battle was going badly for Major Mike Argue. Argentine resistance was strong and well organized. At the centre of the mountain were Marine conscripts Jorge Maciel and Claudio Scaglione in a bunker with a heavy machinegun and Marine conscripts Luis Fernández and Sergio Giuseppetti with night-scope equipped rifles.

Lieutenant Bickerdike, a signaller and Sergeant Ian McKay and a number of other men in No. 4 Platoon were attempting to perform reconnaissance on the Marine positions; in doing so, the platoon commander and signaller were wounded. Sergeant McKay realising something needed to be done, decided to attack the Marine heavy machinegun position that was causing so much damage.

The assault was met by a hail of fire. Corporal Ian Bailey was seriously wounded, a Private was killed and another wounded. Despite these losses Sergeant McKay, with complete disregard for his own safety for which he was to win a posthumous Victoria Cross, continued to charge the enemy position alone, lobbing grenades, and was killed. Peter Harclerode who was granted open access to the war diary of the 3rd Battalion and subsequently wrote PARA! (Arms & Armour Press, 1993), pointed out that McKay and his team cleared several Marine riflemen from the position but failed to neutralize the heavy machinegun.

Corporal McLaughlin managed to crawl to within grenade-throwing range of the Marine heavy-machinegun team, but despite several efforts with fragmentation grenades and 66 mm rockets, he was unable to silence it.[50]

Major Carrizo-Salvadores on 'Full Back' had remained in touch with the Argentine commanders in Port Stanley:

Around midnight I asked RHQ for infantry reinforcements, and I was given a rifle platoon from Captain Hugo García's C Company. First Lieutenant Raúl Fernando Castañeda gathered the sections of his platoon, hooked around First Sergeant Raúl González's 2nd Platoon that was already fighting and delivered a counterattack [at about 2 am local time]. The Platoon fought with great courage in fierce hand-to-hand combat and the battle raged for two more hours, but gradually the enemy broke contact and withdrew while being engaged by artillery strikes.[51]

Argentine counterattack[edit]

It was now the turn of the Argentines to counterattack. Major Carrizo-Salvadores manoeuvred Castañeda's reinforced platoon to close with 4 and 5 Platoons; meanwhile, under the direction of Corporal Jorge Daniel Arribas, part of Castañeda's platoon converged on the British aid post. Colour Sergeant Brian Faulkner, seeing that more than 20 wounded Paras on the western slopes of the mountain were about to fall into the hands of Corporal Arribas, deployed anyone fit enough to defend the British Regimental Aid Post.

"I picked four blokes and got up on this high feature, and as I did so this troop of twenty or thirty Argentines [in fact a reinforced section of just fifteen riflemen under Corporal Arribas] were coming towards us. We just opened fire on them. We don't know how many we killed, but they got what they deserved, because none of them were left standing when we'd finished with them." said Faulkner.[52]

Things were so bad that Major Argue's company ceased firing and devoted their full efforts to withdrawing from 'Fly Half'. Peter Harclerode, a noted British historian of the Parachute Regiment, went on record, saying that:

under covering fire, Nos. 4 and 5 Platoons withdrew, but another man was killed and others wounded in the process. At that point, Lieutenant Colonel Hew Pike and his 'R' Group arrived on the scene and Major Argue briefed him on the situation. Shortly afterwards, Company Sergeant-Major Weeks reported that both platoons had pulled back to a safe distance and that all the wounded had been recovered. The dead, however, had to be left where they had fallen. Meanwhile, on the southern slope of the objective, the wounded from No. 6 Platoon were being evacuated while the rest remained under cover of the rocks.[53]

The British 3rd Commando Brigade commander, Brigadier Julian Thompson was reported as having said:

"I was on the point of withdrawing my Paras from Mount Longdon. We couldn't believe that these teenagers disguised as soldiers were causing us to suffer many casualties." [54]

By the time the 21 survivors of Castañeda's 46-man platoon had worked their way off the mountain, they were utterly exhausted. One of them, Private Leonardo Rondi, was sporting a maroon beret – taken from a dead Parachute Regiment soldier.[55] Private Rondi, having dodged groups of Paras to deliver messages to Castañeda's section leaders, had found the body of a Para behind a rock (it may have been Sergeant McKay) and took his red beret and SLR which he later gave to the Argentine commanders as trophies.[56] Rondi was awarded the Argentine Nation to the Valour in Combat Medal.

British resume the attack[edit]

Following the unexpectedly fierce fighting on 'Fly Half', Maj. Argue pulled back Nos. 4, and 5 Platoons, and 29 Commando Regiment directed artillery fire at the mountain from Mount Kent, after which the area was flanked from the left. Under heavy fire, the remnants of 4 and 5 Platoons, under Lieutenant Mark Cox, advanced upon their objective of 'Full Back', taking some casualties from Casteñeda's platoon in the form of Corporal Julio Nardielo Mamani's section as they did so. As he was clearing the Argentine position, Private Grey was injured from a headshot but refused to be evacuated until Maj. Argue had consolidated his troops properly in their positions on 'Fly Half'. Private Kevin Connery personally dispatched three wounded Argentines in this action. The Paras could not move any further without taking unacceptable losses and so were pulled back to the western end of Mount Longdon, with the orders for Major David Collett's A Company to move through B Company and assault, from the west, the eastern objective of 'Full Back', a heavily defended position, with covering fire being given from Support Company.

Lieutenant David Wright and Second Lieutenant Ian Moore mustered their platoons near the western summit and had briefed them on how to deal with the enemy. They then attacked the position, clearing it of its Argentine garrison with rifle, grenade and bayonet in close quarters combat. As A Company was clearing the final positions, Corporal McLaughlin was injured by a Czekalski recoilless rifle round fired from Wireless Ridge (reportedly the anti-tank gun operated by Corporals Julio César Canteros and Jorge Norberto González from the 7th Regiment Recce Platoon on nearby 'Rough Diamond'), and was subsequently killed by an 81mm round fired from First Sergeant Mario Ricardo Alcaide's Mortar Platoon on 'Rough Diamond' as he was making his way to the aid post.

The Argentines rigorously defended 'Full Back'. Although already wounded, Corporal Manuel Medina of Castañeda's platoon took over another recoilless rifle detachment and personally fired along the ridge at Support Company, killing three Paras,[57] including Private Peter Heddicker, who took the full force of a 105 mm anti-tank round, and three others were also wounded. Major Carrizo-Salvadores abandoned his command bunker on 'Full Back' only when a MILAN missile smashed into some rocks just behind him.[58] In the command bunker Major Collett found 2,000 cigarettes, which he gave to the smokers in his company. The swearing in English on the part of the conscripts,[59] and the discovery of several dead Argentine Marine conscripts dressed in camouflaged uniforms at first led the Paras to believe they had encountered mercenaries from the United States on Mount Longdon.[48]


National Memorial Arboretum, plaque to Jason, Neil & Ian

The battle lasted twelve hours and had been costly to both sides. 3 PARA lost seventeen killed during the battle; one Royal Engineer attached to 3 PARA also died. Two of the 3 PARA dead – Privates Ian Scrivens and Jason Burt – were only seventeen years old, and Private Neil Grose was killed on his 18th birthday. A total of forty British paratroopers were wounded during the battle. A further four Paras and one REME craftsman were killed and seven Paratroopers were wounded in the following two-day shelling that followed, that was directed by Sub-Lieutenant Marcelo de Marco of the 5th Marines on Tumbledown Mountain. Several Paras were also wounded by the counter-fire directed by the Argentine Forward Artillery Observation Officer (Major Guillermo Nani) on Wireless Ridge on the night of 13–14 June.[60] Another eight Paras had been wounded in an earlier Friendly fire incident.[61]A Royal Marine Commando Sapper (Sergeant Peter Thorpe) was also wounded on the western lower slopes of Mount Longdon in the daylight hours of 12 June, when he was sent forward to assist members of an artillery battery trapped inside a disabled Snowcat tracked vehicle that had run into a minefield.[62]The Argentines suffered 31 dead[7] and 120 wounded, with 50 also being taken prisoner.

Lance-Corporal Vincent Bramley was patrolling the western half of Mount Longdon when he was confronted with the full horror of the night combat. The 3 PARA NCO and keen writer stumbled upon the bodies of five Paratroopers killed by Neirotti's 3rd Platoon.[63]

A few bullets whizzed overhead and smashed into the rocks. A corporal shouted that Tumbledown was firing at us. We ran into a tight gap in the path [and] came to an abrupt halt, as it was a dead end. Four or five bodies lay sprawled there, close together. This time they were our own men: the camouflaged Para smocks hit my eyes immediately. CSM [Company-Sergeant-Major] Weeks was standing over them like a guardian, screaming at some of his men to cover the further end of the path and a small crest. The CSM and Sergeant P [Pettinger] exchanged quick words. I wasn't listening; my mind was totally occupied with looking into the crags for the enemy. I turned and looked at our own lads, dead on the ground, mowed down when they tried to rush through this gap. I felt both anger and sadness. The CSM's face showed the strain of having seen most of his company either wounded or shot dead. That night's fighting was written in every line of his face.[64]


The 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment won numerous decorations for this action:


  1. ^ "Battle casualties for 3 Para were twenty-two killed and fifty-four wounded." The Paras, Frank Hilton, p. 241, BBC, 1983
  2. ^ "We'd lost something like twenty-two guys up to that point, dead, but three times more than that were wounded." Bloody Hell: The Price Soldiers Pay, Daniel Hallock, pg. 60, Plough Publishing House, 1999
  3. ^ "Our battalion had lost twenty-three men there, with more than sixty wounded." Forward Into Hell, Vincent Bramley, John Blake Publishing
  4. ^ "Not long after, they heard that Lance-Corporal Hare of 2 Troop had been seriously wounded while on patrol with 3 Para." The Paratroopers, Ashley Brown, Jonathan Reed, p. 124, National Historical Society, 1990
  5. ^ The other companies had skirted one minefield on their approach and Staff Sergeant Pete Thorpe of Condor Troop Royal Engineers was later to lose his foot on a mine while trying to extract a damaged vehicle with injured gunners, near Murrell Bridge. The Yompers: With 45 Commando in the Falklands War, Ian Gardiner, p. 161, Pen & Sword, 2012
  6. ^ The other companies had skirted one minefield on their approach and Staff Sergeant Pete Thorpe of Condor Troop Royal Engineers was later to lose his foot on a mine while trying to extract a damaged vehicle with injured gunners, near Murrell Bridge. The Yompers: With 45 Commando in the Falklands War, Ian Gardiner, p. 161, Pen & Sword, 2012
  7. ^ a b La Guerra Inaudita: Historia del Conflicto del Atlántico Sur, Rubén Oscar Moro, p. 479-480, Pleamar, 01/01/1985
  8. ^ Monte Longdon:La batalla en la que los francotiradores argentinos desafiaron el sueño imperialista de la «pérfida» Inglaterra
  9. ^ Wars of the Americas: A Chronology of Armed Conflict in the Western Hemisphere, 1492 to the Present, Volume 1, David Marley, p.1076, ABC-CLIO, 28/02/2008
  10. ^ Batallón 5: El Batallón de Infantería de Marina No. 5 en la Guerra de las Malvinas, Emilio Villarino, p.93, Aller Atucha, 1992
  11. ^ "Towards the end of October 1981 Brigadier-General Jofre laid on a major exercise in which the fully armed and equipped 10th Infantry Brigade pushed its way north and west towards the General Acha training area in La Pampa province high on the lower slopes of the Andes about 1,000 kilometres from Buenos Aires. The climax came with a brigade mechanized infantry assault, while overhead Skyhawks, representing both friendly and enemy air support, strafed hulks with rockets. The Argentinian Army Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant-General Roberto Viola, paid close attention to the performance of the brigade. It tested the men. " 5th Infantry Brigade in the Falklands 1982,Nicholas Van der Bijl, David Aldea, p.29, Leo Cooper, 2003
  12. ^ Major Carlos Carrizo Salvadores recalled that: "During 1981 the Regiment was selected to take part in an exercise with 601st Combat Aviation Battalion. This was a terrific opportunity for the rifle companies to work with the Army Aviation and it was excellent value. " 5th Infantry Brigade in the Falklands 1982,Nicholas Van der Bijl, David Aldea, p.29, Leo Cooper, 2003
  13. ^ "He was an Army commando who had fought against the People's Revolutionary Army in Tucuman province during the 'Dirty War'. Thoroughly professional and a dedicated soldier, he expected high standards and exercised rigid but fair discipline. It was to Jaimet that Brigadier-General Jofre turned to when he wanted a heli-borne company. " 5th Infantry Brigade in the Falklands 1982,Nicholas Van der Bijl, David Aldea, p.161, Leo Cooper, 2003
  14. ^ Programa 32 - 9 de Agosto 2018 (Malvinas Su Historia
  15. ^ Vincent Bramley, Two Sides of Hell, p. 9, Bloomsbury Publishing Limited, 1994; published in Argentina as Los Dos Lados Del Infierno
  16. ^ VGM Jorge “Beto” Altieri: “Yo defendí a la Patria y la Patria no me defiende… Yo necesito a la Patria…”
  17. ^ a b c d e "Malvinas: 57 días a sopa". Archived from the original on 19 January 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  18. ^ "Los protogonistas cuentan la historia" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  19. ^ "La historia de dos ex enemigos en Malvinas frente a frente - Edición Impresa".
  20. ^ Argentina's Falklands War Veterans. 'Cannon Fodder in a War We Couldn't Win'. By Jens Glüsing. Der Spiegel, 4 March 2007
  21. ^ "Carrizo Salvadores: el represor que miente sobre su rol en Malvinas". Infojus Noticias.
  22. ^ Administrator. "Ernesto Alonso: "Volveremos a Malvinas de la mano de América Latina"".
  23. ^ Nicholas van der Bijl, Nine Battles to Stanley, p. 155, Leo Cooper, 1994
  24. ^ "Mount Longdon". 1 February 2014. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014.
  25. ^ Malvinas Banda de Hermanos Regimiento Infantería 7 (Programa 37 - Sábado 6/08/2016)
  26. ^ Confirman el juzgamiento por torturas en Malvinas, (In Spanish), Clarín, Buenos Aires, 27 June 2009
  27. ^ ARGENTINA: Soldiers Report Torture, Murder - By Superiors - in Malvinas. By Marcela Valente. IPS Archived 21 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Recuerdo el nombre de un soldado que murió, al que yo mismo enterré. Se llamaba Rito Portillo, un morochito de Marina. Vino muy mal herido, tenía una profunda herida en el abdomen con exposición de vísceras. Lo atendimos pero... Llegué a conversar bastante con él. Lo único que me decía es que eso le dolía mucho. No lloraba, no gritaba, no se quejaba en forma desmesurada. Se murió mansamente, mansamente... No dijo ninguna frase heroica ni nada. Solo se murió mansamente, diciendo que a él le dolía. No fue ningún sargento Cabral ni nada por el estilo. Se murió, pero lo hizo sin gritos, hasta sin demagogia. Humildemente, como debe haber sido su vida... Asi quisiera morirme yo, de la misma manera.(HECTOR RUBEN SIMEONI, Malvinas: Contrahistoria, páginas 152/153, Editorial Inédita, 1984)
  29. ^ "Escándalo Malvinas: cómo se inventaron denuncias sobre torturas". Periodico Tribuna de Periodistas.
  30. ^ "Sigue estancada la investigación por torturas en Malvinas". Archived from the original on 15 February 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
  31. ^ Los caranchos de nuestros muertos y heridos de Malvinas
  32. ^ "Ahead of the main body, 2 Troop under Captain Robbie Burns was already ashore and had completed the long walk to Port Stanley with 3 Commando Brigade; 2 Troop claims to be the only 3 Commando Brigade unit to walk all the way to Stanley." The Paratroopers, Ashley Brown, Jonathan Reed, p. 124, National Historical Society, 1990
  33. ^ Jon Cooksey, 3 PARA Mount Longdon: The Bloodiest Battle, pp. 35-36, Pen & Sword Books Ltd
  34. ^ "Longdon was the most likely objective for his Battalion. He set up a patrol base in the area of the Murrell Bridge, protected by 4 Platoon from B Company. The Battalion's patrols staged through this patrol base, reducing the distance that they had to travel to reach Mount Longdon and return to the main position each night." 3 Commando Brigade in the Falklands, Julian Thomson, Pen & Sword, 2008
  35. ^ "Not long after, they heard that Lance-Corporal Hare of 2 Troop had been seriously wounded while on patrol with 3 Para." The Paratroopers, Ashley Brown, Jonathan Reed, p. 124, National Historical Society, 1990
  36. ^ He was patrolling with Corporal Pete Hadden when another group of men emerged from the gloom. A no-go corridor had been agreed to avoid blue-on-blue incidents, but Terry had led Hadden's group across it. Recognising the approaching patrol, Sergeant John Pettinger told his team to hold its fire. But Terry was not so cautious and fired several rifle rounds at the 'enemy'.Invasion 1982: The Falkland Islanders' Story, Graham Bound, p. 189, Casemate Publishers, 2007
  37. ^ a b Hugh Bicheno, Razor's Edge: The Unofficial History of the Falklands War, p. 213, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006
  38. ^ Nine battles to Stanley, Nicholas Van der Bijl, p.163, Leo Cooper, 30/09/1999
  39. ^ a b c PARA!, p. 345, by Peter Harclerode
  40. ^ Nine battles to Stanley, Nicholas Van der Bijl, p.164, Leo Cooper, 30/09/1999
  41. ^ Comandos en acción: el Ejército en Malvinas, Isidoro Ruiz Moreno, p.328, Emecé Editores, 01/01/1986
  42. ^ Volveremos!, Jorge R. Farinella, p. 125, Editorial Rosario, 1984
  43. ^ "Told for the first time - the most extraordinary and compelling story of the Falklands War".
  44. ^ Christian Jennings & Adrian Weale, Green-Eyed Boys: 3 PARA & The Battle For Mount Longdon, p. 187
  45. ^ Daniel Kon,Los Chicos de la Guerra/The Boys Of The War, p. 151, New English Library, 1983
  46. ^ Twilight Warriors: Inside the World's Special Forces. St Martin Press, 1995
  47. ^ James O'Connell, Three Days in June, p.?, Kindle edition, 2014
  48. ^ a b Nine battles to Stanley, Nicholas Van der Bijl, p.173, Leo Cooper, 30/09/1999
  49. ^ VGM Jorge "Beto" Altieri: "Yo defendí a la Patria y la Patria no me defiende… Yo necesito a la Patria…"BAHIANOTICIAS.COM 02/04/2009
  50. ^ Christian Jennings and Adrian Weale, Green-Eyed Boys: 3 Para and the Battle for Mount Longdon, p. 142, HarperCollins, 1996
  51. ^ Crónica de las Grandes Batallas del Ejército Argentino: Historia de Caballeros Valientes y Desdichados, Alberto Jorge Maffey, p. 348, Círculo Militar, 2000
  52. ^ Above All, Courage: The Falklands Front Line - First-hand Accounts, Max Arthur, p. 220, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1985
  53. ^ Peter Harclerode, PARA!: Fifty Years of The Parachute Regiment, p. 354, Arms & Armour Press, 1993
  54. ^ Jon Cooksey, 3 PARA Mount Longdon: The Bloodiest Battle, p. 98, Pen & Sword Books Ltd
  55. ^ "'You never get over it, but I have a double problem. I was fighting against Brits, people who were as good as family'".
  56. ^ Nine battles to Stanley, Nicholas Van der Bijl, p.176, Leo Cooper, 30/09/1999
  57. ^ Nine battles to Stanley, Nicholas Van der Bijl, p.177, Leo Cooper, 30/09/1999
  58. ^ Malvinas: Relatos de Soldados, Martín Antonio Balza, p.83, Círculo Militar, 1986
  59. ^ "The reservists in Castaneda's platoon all knew each other well. Having been conscripted from Lanus and Bandfield, Buenos Aires, many of the conscripts indulged a taste for Hollywood movies and American swearing. This 46-man platoon came in at the critical moment and showed themeselves to be willing to fight at close quarters. The platoon fought bitterly on the northern sector of Mount Longdon and not altogether without success. Castaneda's men made attacks on the advancing British Paratroopers, compelling them to eventually withdraw after 2 hours of brutal boulder-to-boulder fighting". Mount Longdon: The Argentinian Story Archived 1 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  60. ^ "There is half an hour between dawn and the arrival of the first casualties, mainly Scots Guards from Tumbledown. Fitzroy are saturated, and Teal Inlet busy with 3 Para casualties from an all-night stonking of Mount Longdon by enemy artillery. Red and Green Life Machine, Rick Jolly, p. 127, Transworld Publishers Limited, 1984
  61. ^ "The location of the patrol from A Company was somehow sent by battalion HQ on a different radio net to C Company as an enemy grid reference. The C Company patrol commander plotted this enemy position on his map and realised he could see soldiers there—some fifteen hundred metres away, too far to recognise who they were. Using great skill, he was able to bring down artillery and machine gun fire onto the A Company patrol, chasing them down into a re-entrant, wounding most of them, two with serious head-wounds. Forgotten Voices of the Falklands, Hugh McManners, p. 334, Random House, 2008
  62. ^ The other companies had skirted one minefield on their approach and Staff Sergeant Pete Thorpe of Condor Troop Royal Engineers was later to lose his foot on a mine while trying to extract a damaged vehicle with injured gunners, near Murrell Bridge. The Yompers: With 45 Commando in the Falklands War, Ian Gardiner, p. 161, Pen & Sword, 2012
  63. ^ "When Lieutenant Neirotti and his platoon sergeant were both badly wounded, Captain Lopez took over 3rd Platoon and gave Shaw's men a torrid time, especially when they missed a large bunker in the darkness." Nicholas Van der Bijl, Nine battles to Stanley, p. 172, Leo Cooper, 1999
  64. ^ Vincent Bramley, Excursion to Hell, p. 121, Bloomsbury 1991, ISBN 0-7475-0953-0

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°40′12″S 57°58′51″W / 51.67000°S 57.98083°W / -51.67000; -57.98083