Falklands War - The Untold Story

Heads up, decent looking program on Ch4 now about the Falklands War with some of the decision making players interviewed including then 22 SAS CO Mike Rose.
 
`The Rose interview -



Lieutenant Colonel Michael Rose: ‘You can’t stop at that point. The war just went on’



Lieutenant Colonel Michael Rose: 'Punching the air is for football matches. At the end of a war like that, you just feel very tired and relieved' CREDIT: John Lawrence
It was a foul evening, dark and bitterly cold, when Lieutenant Colonel Michael Rose first heard rumour a helicopter had gone down in the South Atlantic off the Falkland Islands.

The then 42-year-old was aboard HMS Fearless, the command ship directing the British war in the Falklands, with Rose the commanding officer for all SAS operations. Despite the lack of information, Rose instinctively knew his men were on board. “I knew in my heart of hearts it was ours,” he recalls.
About an hour later, Rose was stopped in a passageway on the ship by Julian Thompson, the commanding officer of 3 Commando Brigade, who broke the news that the Sea King helicopter that had gone down while transporting troops and equipment between two Navy ships was carrying members of two separate SAS squadrons.

Ultimately, more than 20 troops were killed in the crash on May 19, 1982 – the worst single loss of life in the history of the elite regiment since its formation during the Second World War. The men either died on impact or drowned in the freezing ocean. Just nine survived.
“He later said it was the only time he had seen me fall silent,” Rose recalls. “One’s heart just stops.”
Steel helmets abandoned by Argentine armed forces who surrendered at Goose Green to British troops during the Falklands War

Steel helmets abandoned by Argentine armed forces who surrendered at Goose Green to British troops during the Falklands War CREDIT: PA

Back in Britain, an operation clicked into gear to send a military representative to tell all the families of the killed troops at precisely the same time, to prevent word leaking out first. The final widow was tracked down to a supermarket in Newcastle, where the awful news was delivered.
The following evening, Rose gathered the survivors from both SAS squadrons below deck on HMS Intrepid to make the hardest speech of his life. Even more so given the rattle of anti-aircraft fire and explosions as the Argentinians launched aerial attacks on the British fleet.

Six weeks after the invasion had started, the Falklands War was at a critical juncture, and Rose told his troops now was not the time to grieve.

“The SAS was already deployed,” he says, “and we had been there since three weeks before the main landings and were scattered all over the place. You can’t stop at that point. The war just went on.”
Rose has never previously given a newspaper interview about his role during the Falklands, and as Britain prepares to mark the 40th anniversary of the conflict, he insists he is only doing so because he is not bound by the normal code of silence the SAS usually applies to its operations. He says after the loss of the Sea King helicopter in 1982, the Ministry of Defence took the decision to break with established protocols and “tell the world what the SAS had been achieving to justify that terrible loss”.

Rose in 1994 as newly appointed British Commander of the UN Protection Force in Bosnia

Rose in 1994 as newly appointed British Commander of the UN Protection Force in Bosnia CREDIT: PA
He is giving the interview ahead of a new documentary into the Falklands campaign which airs on Channel 4 tonight and features Rose alongside other senior commanders. In reflecting on the campaign in the documentary he is especially critical over the decision-making which led to the Argentine bombing of the Navy ships Sir Tristram and Sir Galahad (the deadliest day of the war). Rose describes the subsequent board of inquiry into the tragedy as a "complete whitewash" and claims the defence that the ships were deployed because of the need to open up a southern flank are untrue. He is also critical of some of the decision-making at Northwood headquarters which directed operations from the UK. "We very nearly lost the war because of some extraordinary bad decisions that were taken by Northwood with regards to the land battle," he says.

At 82 years old, Sir Michael Rose, who retired from the military in 1997 as a General, still looks every inch the Special Forces soldier. He sits ramrod straight, despite having recently broken a rib falling off a ladder, and regularly thumps the table in front of him for emphasis. We meet in a pub close to his home in Herefordshire – SAS country, where the regiment trains and where he still bumps into old comrades on country yomps who greet him with “Hello, boss”. “They are a very active bunch,” he reports of his fellow SAS retirees.
His command of the elite unit gave him a ringside seat to the key geopolitical moments of the 1980s and 1990s. Rose was in a command room two doors down from the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980 when the SAS stormed the building, in front of the world’s media, to kill the gunmen who had taken 26 people hostage.
His position also afforded him unique access to then prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Rose recalls her visiting Northern Ireland in August 1979, just a few months after she became PM, following the Warrenpoint ambush (the deadliest attack on British troops during the Troubles).

A month or so after the success of the Iranian Embassy siege, Thatcher flew by helicopter to visit SAS barracks in Herefordshire, and he engineered an hour-long private meeting. Afterwards, his wife, Angela, and two young children were invited by the prime minister for tea at 10 Downing Street.
The history of the SAS in the Falklands is not without controversy. Infamously, the regiment was involved in the botched Operation Mikado, a failed attempt to attack an Argentinian air base. Rose agrees it was “an utter disaster”, but insists he played no part in the operation as it was run separately from his chain of command.
Members of 3 Commando Brigade during the war

Members of 3 Commando Brigade during the war CREDIT: PA
Similarly, an early assault on South Georgia involving the SAS failed due to appalling weather conditions, which resulted in the loss of two helicopters.

But, as Rose is quick to point out, SAS troops were also involved in pivotal moments of the conflict. Most famous is the combined assault on Pebble Island, a daring raid that destroyed around a dozen Argentine aircraft.

For Rose, the most important role the SAS provided was the “critical intelligence on which land battle was based”. One of his commandos, he says, spent 28 days hiding out on Mount Kent in wind, rain and snow, with just one resupply, to wire back constant updates of the enemy position.
Key to their success were state-of-the-art portable satellite communication systems that Rose had personally borrowed from a contact in the US Special Forces. At the time, the only British Army satellite communication system was so large, it required a Land Rover to carry it.

Aside from commanding and equipping his men, Rose also personally played a unique role in the conflict – by being the man to negotiate the Argentine surrender.
He established a line of communications with the enemy through a captured Argentine air commodore, and secured an agreement to meet the military governor of the island, Mario Menendez, in Port Stanley.
After a tense four hours of late-night negotiations with the governor, who Rose recalls as immaculately dressed in white gloves and an utterly “useless individual”, the surrender was agreed. The following morning, he hoisted a Union flag borrowed from one of his SAS Squadrons as the first to fly over Port Stanley.
“Punching the air is for football matches,” he says of the victory. “At the end of a war like that, you just feel very tired and relieved.”

Rose and his wife Angela at Buckingham Palace after receiving his knighthood

Rose and his wife Angela at Buckingham Palace after receiving his knighthood CREDIT: Stefan Rousseau
Certainly, the Falklands was not to be his last conflict. Later, he commanded UN forces during the war in Bosnia. And, in a bleak retelling of history, he notes the same tactics employed by the former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic during the siege of Sarajevo as are now being used by Vladimir Putin in Ukraine. “They are shelling cities almost as a fall-back position, but it is not going to win them the war,” he says.
Putin, he believes, is “completely deranged”, but warns against Nato provocation by installing a no-fly zone or troops in Ukraine: “He needs to be very carefully handled.”

In preparation of the 40th anniversary of the Falklands, Rose started unpacking some of the old boxes in his home. Among the various mementos was a box of tape recordings of the peace negotiations which had been taken from his satellite phone. He dug out an old tape recorder and listened to them all. “At one point, I can hear myself saying: ‘He’s agreed to surrender everything. The war is over,’” he says. “When I heard that again, the hairs came up on the back of my neck.”

Even 40 years on, Rose is still coming to terms with its legacy. On Remembrance Sunday, he often visits the SAS memorial at the regiment’s headquarters in Hereford to honour those who died under his command. “It was something that could never have been avoided, but you just think of all the good guys you lost,” he says. “As simple as that.”
 
Unless people have said before, it seems its a opportunity to get some things of their chests before they depart this world! Commander 5 Brigade comes in for some serious stick.
 
There was a programme the Para`s at Goose Green - it was a documentary featuring the Company Commanders walking through the actions that day - it was very good programme - they told it as it was warts and all - Phil Neame and Farrar Hockley I recall

Archie
 
Well that was a very good program. As i mentioned, they wanted to say it how it was rather than what was reported then or since. Well worth a watch on catch-up if you missed it.
 

Dalef65

Old-Salt
I've read a lot of stuff about the Falklands war, and there was some stuff that I've never heard before in there.
I wonder if the Commander of 5 Inf Bed will feel he wants to respond to some of the points aired.
 
I've read a lot of stuff about the Falklands war, and there was some stuff that I've never heard before in there.
I wonder if the Commander of 5 Inf Bed will feel he wants to respond to some of the points aired.
Doubt it, he died 2019.
 
I've read a lot of stuff about the Falklands war, and there was some stuff that I've never heard before in there.
I wonder if the Commander of 5 Inf Bed will feel he wants to respond to some of the points aired.
Probably not - he’s been dead for quite a while.
 
I've read a lot of stuff about the Falklands war, and there was some stuff that I've never heard before in there.
I wonder if the Commander of 5 Inf Bed will feel he wants to respond to some of the points aired.
Wilson died in 2019, which may be why people are talking so freely.
 
Wilson died in 2019, which may be why people are talking so freely.
Seems very dodgy blaming one man for most of the issues, especially as he no longer has any capacity to reply. Warfare and plans would be easy if it wasn’t for the enemy.
 
Seems very dodgy blaming one man for most of the issues, especially as he no longer has any capacity to reply. Warfare and plans would be easy if it wasn’t for the enemy.
I agree - it seems like he got a raw deal. Having your brigade dismembered and having to create one from scratch must have been tough.
 

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