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Mark Adkin
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
This book tells the story of the battle for Goose Green - the first crucial clash of the Falklands War - through the eyes of the commanders, both British and Argentine, from brigadier to corporal. It follows in detail, with the aid of maps, the 14 hours of vicious infantry fighting of both sides as they struggled for the tiny settlement of Goose Green. The book explains how 2 Para came close to failure as the battalion fought over open ground, in daylight, without adequate fire support against prepared positions. Controversial questions - such as: was it an unnecessary battle? Why did London overrule the brigadier commander's reluctance to attack? Did Colonel Jones's solo charge, which won him the VC, decide the issue? - all are discussed frankly. The author, himself a former infantry officer, has had the full support of The Parachute Regiment, and has assembled the views and comments of over 45 veterans of all ranks who fought there.

Another great book from Pen and Sword. I'll start with a niggle first . The colour of the paper and the print font are a bit unfriendly to the eyes I found but apart from that this a jolly interesting and informative read all round with maps and photographs.

As a Sapper I have no idea of infantry tactics I just assumed that all the fighting platoons just charged in and got the job done. Mark Adkin however breaks the mystic of the infantry and provides the reader with all the small unit details and tactics that you could need, in fact it now appears that the fighting man has a plan and often a routine for his battles which I now appreciate much more. This was one hell of a battle which I don't think is really understood by people even now whilst the Falklands campaign is still relatively recent news. I'm going to quote a passage now which I think sets the scene.

"2 Para's victory at Goose Green was outstanding, even unique. It is difficult to find in modern history of a similar story of a single, isolated infantry battalion fighting its way forward over seven kilometers, against a series of in depth defensive positions. This is precisely what 2 Para had to do."

In the event just about everything seemed set against these paratroopers. Most were physically tired and hungry at the start; it was to be a frontal attack through a series of enemy positions, with the final objective seven kilometers away; the timing proved wildly optimistic with the result that 75% of the action was fought in daylight on bare undulating terrain, the enemy had the advantage of prepared positions (including anti aircraft guns laid to be used as anti infantry weapons). Ammunition resupply (for the paras) was at best ad hoc, at worst non existent: casualties had often to lie where they fell for hours.

The battalion succeeded despite meager and frequently inaccurate artillery support; despite dreadful weather conditions that prevented any air support until the fighting was over: despite the fact that the Naval gunfire which so much reliance was placed failed at the outset: despite its own heavier support weapons either being left behind or not being able to bring effective direct fire to bear until two thirds of the way thorough the battle : and despite the death of the commanding officer at a critical juncture. In other words it was a triumph for the rifleman and junior leaders.

This brought home to me how the infantry fight and how the British Paratrooper has gained a world wide reputation for being one of the best fighting men around. A superb read, and if you are old enough to remember this war as seen on TV, read this book and prepare to be amazed and humbled.
Four and a half mushrooms.

A great end to 2019.

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