Battle of Mount Tumbledown 13th June 1982

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  1. At 8:30 p.m. on 13 June the diversionary attack began. The 2nd Bn Scots Guards' Reconnaissance Platoon, commanded by Major Richard Bethell (a former SAS officer), and supported by four light tanks of the Blues and Royals, attacked the Argentinian marine company entrenched on the lower slopes of Mount William. On Mount William's southern slopes, one of the tanks was taken out of action by a booby trap. The initial advance was unopposed, but a heavy firefight broke out when British troops made contact with Argentine defences. The Argentines opened fire, killing two British soldiers and wounding four. After two hours of hard fighting, the British secured the position.
    Fearing a counter-attack, the British platoon withdrew into an undetected minefield, and were forced to abandon their dead. Two men were wounded covering the withdrawal and four more were wounded by mines. The explosions prompted the marine commanders to order the 81 mm mortar platoon on Mount William to open fire on the minefield and the likely withdrawal route of anyone attacking Mount William. The barrage lasted for about forty minutes and more British casualties would have been suffered if the mortar bombs had not landed on soft peat, which absorbed most of the blasts.
    Night attack

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Final Actions, 13 to 14 June 1982

    At 9 p.m., half an hour after the start of the diversionary attack, Major Iain Dalzel-Job's G Company started its advance of nearly two miles. Reaching its objective undetected, the company found the western end of the mountain undefended and occupied it easily. Major John Kiszely's Left Flank passed through them and reached the central region of the peak unopposed, but then came under heavy fire. The Argentinians, later learned to be of company strength, directed mortar, grenade, machine gun, and small arms fire from very close range at the British company, killing two British soldiers: Guardsman Ronald Tanbini and Sergeant John Simeon. Marine Sub-Lieutenant Héctor Mino's 5th Platoon, Amphibious Engineer Company, held the rocks to the right of Marine Sub-Lieutenant Carlos Vázquez's 4th Platoon, 5th Marines. In the center and to the left of the 4th Platoon were Second Lieutenant Óscar Silva's RI 4 platoon, which had recently fought well on Goat Ridge. For four or five hours, three platoons of Argentinian riflemen, machine gunners, and mortar men pinned the British down. To help identify the bunkers, the Guardsmen fired flares into the summit. The Guardsmen traded 66 mm rockets and 84 mm anti-tank rounds with the Argentinians, protected in their rock bunkers. The enemy refused to budge and the Scots Guards could hear some of the Argentinians shouting obscene phrases in English and even singing as they fought. Meanwhile, two Royal Navy frigates, HMS Yarmouth and HMS Active, were pounding Tumbledown with 4.5 inch guns. At one stage Colonel Scott thought the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards might have to withdraw and attack again the next night, 'The old nails were being bitten a bit, if we had been held on Tumbledown it might have encouraged them to keep on fighting.'
    The fighting was hard going for Left Flank. The Argentinians had well dug-in machine guns and snipers. At 2:30 a.m., however, a second British assault overwhelmed the Argentinian defences. British troops swarmed the mountaintop and drove the Argentinians out, at times fighting with fixed bayonets. Major Kiszely, who was to become a senior general after the war, was the first man into the enemy position, personally shooting two enemy conscripts and bayoneting a third, his bayonet breaking in two. Seeing their company commander among the Argentinians inspired 14 and 15 Platoons to make the final dash across open ground to get within bayoneting distance of the marines. Kiszely and six other Guardsmen suddenly found themselves standing on top of the mountain, looking down on Stanley under street lighting and with vehicles moving along the roads. The Argentinians now counter-attacked and a burst of machine gun fire from 3rd Platoon of Second Lieutenant Augusto La Madrid injured three British men, including Lieutenant Alasdair Mitchell, commander of 15 Platoon. A bullet passed through the compass secured on Kiszely's belt. For his bayonet charge Major Kiszely was awarded the Military Cross.

    By 6 a.m., Left Flank's attack had clearly stalled and had cost the British company 7 men killed and 18 wounded. On the eastern half of the mountain the platoon of conscripts of La Madrid were still holding out, so Colonel Scott ordered Right Flank to push on to clear the final positions. Major Simon Price sent 2 and 3 Platoons forward, preceded by a barrage of 66 mm rockets to clear the forward RI 6 platoon. Major Price placed 1 Platoon high up in the rocks to provide fire support for the assault troops. Lieutenant Robert Lawrence led 3 Platoon around to the right of the Argentinian platoon, hoping to take the Argentinians by surprise. They were detected, however, and the British were briefly pinned down by gunfire before a bayonet charge overwhelmed the Argentinian defenders. Lance-Corporal Graham Rennie of 3 Platoon in the book 5th Infantry Brigade in the Falklands (Pen & Sword Books, 2003) later described the attack:
    Our assault was initiated by a Guardsman killing a sniper, which was followed by a volley of 66 mm anti-tanks rounds. We ran forward in extended line, machine-gunners and riflemen firing from the hip to keep the enemy heads down, enabling us to cover the open ground in the shortest possible time. Halfway across the open ground 2 Platoon went to ground to give covering fire support, enabling us to gain a foothold on the enemy position. From then on we fought from crag to crag, rock to rock, taking out pockets of enemy and lone riflemen, all of who resisted fiercely.

    As La Madrid withdrew in the face of a superior assaulting force, the platoons under Second Lieutenant Aldo Franco and Guillermo Robredo moved in from the eastern edge of the mountain to try to help La Madrid and the Marine 2nd platoon (under Second Lieutenant Marcelo Oruezabala) holding the saddle between Mounts Tumbledown and William. Advancing out of the central region of Tumbledown Mountain, the British again came under heavy fire from the Argentinians, but by advancing in pairs under covering fire, the British succeeded in clearing those RI 6 Company platoons as well, gaining firm control of the mountain's eastern side. Right Flank had achieved this at the cost of five wounded, including Lt. Lawrence. In his moment of victory on the eastern slopes, Lawrence was almost killed when a bullet fired by an Argentine sniper tore off the side of his head. He was awarded the Military Cross for bravery, but he spent a year in a wheelchair and was almost totally paralyzed. The Argentinian sniper with a FAL rifle had helped cover the Argentinean retreat, firing shots at a Scout helicopter evacuating wounded off Tumbledown and injuring two Guardsmen before the Scots Guards mortally wounded him in a hail of gunfire.

    RIP guys you will never be forgotten

    Guardsman Derek J. Denholm

    Guardsman David Malcolmson

    L/Sgt. Clark Mitchell MID

    Guardsman James Reynolds DSM

    Sgt. John J. Simeon

    Guardsman Archibald G. Stirling

    Guardsman Ronald Tanbini​

    D/Sgt. Daniel Wight
    L/Cpl. J. B. Pashley (R E)

    L/Cpl. C. C. Thomas (ACC)​
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  2. Every man a giant. RiP to all who didn't come home
  3. Its a sleeples night tonight ,as it was then .Seems only like yesterday not 29 years on.


    Once a Guardsman always a Guardsman.
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  4. Bravo Zulu gentlemen!
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  5. RIP my friends and comrades.
  6. Minor point - that's "Wight", not "Wright".
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  7. Pararegtom

    Pararegtom LE Book Reviewer

    Mr Lawrence 29years down the road and you do so much for so many, Sir I salute you. Nemo Me Impune Lacessit
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  8. "Kiszely and six other Guardsmen suddenly found themselves standing on top of the mountain, looking down on Stanley under street lighting and with vehicles moving along the roads."

    That was probably the most scared I have ever been in my life! I honestly thought we had lost the entire company and it was just us and the Coy Commander!

    Sleep well old friends. I will be drinking to you tonight and probably laying awake reliving it all over again. You are always missed.

    "Up Guards and at 'em!
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  9. Doesn't feel right to 'like' that post.

    Hope you remember more good memories of your mates than bad mate.

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  10. Having walked up Mount Tumbledown in 1990 and seeing the terrain, I still today wonder how the bloody hell you did it! total respect.
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  11. RIP and remembrance of those who have slipped away since.
  12. I also reached the summit with Kiszley and Mitchell, and if you can remember the sentence that Kiszley said to Mitchell when we got there, just before the crap hit the fan again, then you will agree with me that it was quite comical if he hadnt been serious.
  13. I was fortunate to meet and work with Majors Kizely and Bethell after the Falklands. Top guys.

    I was fortunate enough to be sat well to the rear and only watched the battles from a distance, but the sights and sounds of the fighting carried a long way. I can only imagine what it was like being right in the middle of it.

    Respect to you guys who made the assault and RIP to those who fell.

    Where have the last 30 years gone though?

  14. I have walked the battlefield and what the 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards achieved that night can only be described as incredible.
  15. Yes, having wandered about there 18 months later, respect and admiration!