Penal Company on the Falklands - A memoir of the parachute regiment at war 1982 by Philip Neame.

ARRSE Rating
4.00 star(s)
A review by @6 Gallon Pot

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Having recently read 'Goose Green' by Nigel Ely, it took me a while to get into Penal Company. Perhaps because after knowing little about the battle for Goose Green/Darwin, Nigel Ely had already educated me as to what happened. So, it took a while, but once I had, then I read voraciously. I don’t mean this to be a comparison of the two books, but I guess it’s going to seem that way. One book by a private soldier, one by a company commander.

At first I felt like I’d already read the story, I guess I had, but soon I found myself fully engrossed in the tale as told by Philip. It was interesting to read about the dynamics between the hierarchy as well as the interaction between the company commander and his ‘Toms’. The reader is swept along with the author as he describes the journey from San Carlos through to Stanley.

There is no love lost here between the Paras and the Royal Marines and that comes across frequently in his writing. The ‘mistakes’ made are laid out for the reader and punches are not pulled. Not something that I was unaware of, but shocking all the same. He’s not bitter about mistakes that got his lads killed, more philosophical, but you are left in no doubt about his feelings toward his lads that were killed due to a ‘blue on blue’ incident.

The best bit for me was the end. I’m not being facetious. but the last chapter and the epilogue is where the author deals with the aftermath of the war. The last chapter about being at home and how he and his men were treated. Then the epilogue where he looks back and lays his feeling bare about the war. You are left in no doubt of his personal opinions about the war, the immediate aftermath and the lessons learned.

Not sure how many other veterans reading this will have experienced an almost embarrassment in the way they were treated by their superiors who hadn’t been there after coming home. I for one can sympathise. My medal was chucked across her desk by my divisional officer when it was issued to me, as an afterthought to a bollocking and a trip to the Commander’s table for losing my ID card.

An enjoyable book, well written that found me engrossed and living the story.

4.5 stars out of 5

Amazon product
 
Last edited:

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
I appear to have started a debate.

For clarity, I was aware that D Company, 3Para was their Patrol company.

I wished to know if the same applied to 2Para. (At the time)

Thanks to all for answering.
 

6 Gallon Pot

Old-Salt
I appear to have started a debate.

For clarity, I was aware that D Company, 3Para was their Patrol company.

I wished to know if the same applied to 2Para. (At the time)

Thanks to all for answering.
According to Philip Neame, no. C company was the patrol company. It has since been changed to be in line with 'normal' procedure.
 
According to Philip Neame, no. C company was the patrol company. It has since been changed to be in line with 'normal' procedure.
It went back to Confrontation with Indonesia in Borneo (63-66). They needed more SAS/SF type units to provide OP's about Indonesian Army border crossing. Guards Para Company and the Gurkha Para Company had fufilled the role. As the Parachute Regiment had supplied an independant squadron to operate with 22 SAS in Malaya from 1955 to 57 it was thought by the higher ups that they would be suitable to supply a specialist patrol company. C (Bruneval) company was selected for this role and went to Borneo. The rest of 2 Para went a bit later in 1965 for a sixth month tour.

3 Para formed a patrol company from D company and it filled the same role in Borneo in 1966. I don't think the rest of 3 Para did a six month tour there though. C Company did an independant tour in Radfan in 1967 and all three battalions formed Patrol companies in their orbat's. I am not sure how long they survived, especially during the lean manning years of the nineties. I think C Company 2 Para was a Gurkha reinforcement company for a while.
 
It went back to Confrontation with Indonesia in Borneo (63-66). They needed more SAS/SF type units to provide OP's about Indonesian Army border crossing. Guards Para Company and the Gurkha Para Company had fufilled the role. As the Parachute Regiment had supplied an independant squadron to operate with 22 SAS in Malaya from 1955 to 57 it was thought by the higher ups that they would be suitable to supply a specialist patrol company. C (Bruneval) company was selected for this role and went to Borneo. The rest of 2 Para went a bit later in 1965 for a sixth month tour.

3 Para formed a patrol company from D company and it filled the same role in Borneo in 1966. I don't think the rest of 3 Para did a six month tour there though. C Company did an independant tour in Radfan in 1967 and all three battalions formed Patrol companies in their orbat's. I am not sure how long they survived, especially during the lean manning years of the nineties. I think C Company 2 Para was a Gurkha reinforcement company for a while.
This use of Parachute battalion patrol companies continued. In 1975 D Coy 3PARA deployed to South Armagh for IIRC about two months to carry out COP type tasks. When the SAS then deployed in early ‘76 they were referred to as “D Company” for some considerable time.

Apologies for thread drift.
 

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