I was reading through an older book of lightning strikes of the elite forces called Surprise Attack. It’s older but has some good information and diagrams and it’s something I can jump in and out of to learn from. It had about the battle for Mount Harriet in it.
The Falkland Islands are cold, wet, snowy and shit. A bit like Lapland but without Santa. So when we had to send some troops to kick the Argentinians off of our land, the Royal Marines were the perfect unit, toppers with snowy warfare training and ready to roll.
It was the night of the 11/12th June. This was the last major land fighting that occurred. I have looked at the first contact of the war before. The Royal Marines were in plenty of battles in the Falklands.
The Royal Marines and Paras were attacking three mountains on the same night. The British had Two Sisters and Mount Longdon also on the hit list.
Taking Mount Harriet
Today I wanted to share a bit of what I’ve been reading about taking Mount Harriet. One of the toughest tasks of retaking the Falklands was to take Mount Harriet. High ground is valuable. This is high (for the Falklands), so we needed to take it.
The Argentinian 4th Infantry Regiment held the ground with 400 troops. Lieutenant-Colonel Diego Soria was their commander. The Argentinians knew the area but they aren’t Commandos.
At the base of the mountain is a track that links Goose Green and Stanley and Mount Harriet stands alongside the track. Wall Mountain was nearby. On Wall Mountain we had forward observers. They’re fucking hoofing and they direct a constant stream of mortar fire, artillery support from 29 Commando and naval fire right on to the Argentinians heads so that’ll keep the fuckers quiet for a while at least.
42 Commando were tasked with taking Harriet. Commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Nick Vaux, he realised that the enemy had mines and machine guns that covered the forward slopes. The enemy could see over the open ground from strong positions therefore the marines couldn’t right flank.
Running Out of Options
There were two options left. The left hand side (north) and the rear but 45 Commando men were operating in the left hand side. They were attacking Two Sisters, so a blue on blue couldn’t be risked. That was out of the question therefore the rear it was.
Sergeant Collins from K Coy had a route that the lads would take but Vaux was worried about open ground – possibly illuminated by moonlight – that had to be crossed. Lads dropped artillery and mortars on the enemies heads to distract them.
Marines set up Milans on Mount Wall. These were to provide covering fire when the assault was taking place. More fire support was provided by HMS Yarmouth, three artillery batteries and on top of that 42 had their own Tac HQ.
On the afternoon of 11th June they cammed up and weighed themselves down with extra ammo and equipment before they made their way along the narrow track in freezing weather. When they approached the start point, 42 Cdo mortars lit up the slope and the Milans started hitting the enemy machine gun posts.
A Barrage of Fire
A barrage of fire rained down on the slope, killing two and injuring twenty-five enemy. A British war correspondent said this:
We were involved with one night attack on Mount Harriet, when the Welsh Guards were coming up as a back-up. This involved marching for several hours on a very dark night, through a minefield. Sporadic shellfire slowed our progress tremendously. Eventually we made the base of Mount Harriet, which was coming under incredible fire from a frigate off shore. The whole mountain seemed to erupt in flame. It seemed impossible that anybody could survive an attack like that. This went on for well over an hour, shell after shell whistling over our heads and hitting the mountain. Eventually this was lifted and the Marines went in. To our amazement, there seemed to be an incredible amount of fighting going on. There was a lot of tracer fire. The whole night was being lit up by flares, which cast a dead, unrealistic, pall over the whole scene.
The attack started. L Coy headed to the left hand side to provide a dummy attack. This would both distract and occupy the enemy while K Coy headed up the rear to launch the full assault.
Marines Make Their Way Up Mount Harriet Fast
It didn’t take long and K Coy had got to within 100 meters of the Argentinian positions like some fucking ninjas on an old school Bruce Lee film. Taking only around 40 minutes to reach the top of Mount Harriet, leading elements of K Coy had captured an Argentinian command post, four 120mm mortars and some heavy machine guns. You don’t fuck with Royal!
Marines saw survivors running away to the east towards Stanley. Smoke and darkness surrounded the enemy. The marines overran their position. The enemy couldn’t deal with the bootnecks after losing their command post and mortars early on. The Argentines also lost some heavy machine guns.
The lads cleared the crest line two hours later and the fighting was over in about 5 hours. 42 Commando took over 300 prisoners. The second highest by any unit in the war (2nd Battalion Paras had the most).
They then yomped on towards Stanley.
Cheers to the Falklands War Pics Facebook page that let me share their pictures so go and check them out, they have tons of them there.