Today started out with a drive of around an hour to San Carlos going through The Devils Kitchen and over the Sussex mountains which provided a great view over San Carlos Water
Our next stop shortly after was at Blue Beach were 2 Para and 5 Infantry Brigade came ashore. Across the water we were able to see Red Beach in Ajax Bay. Here the British Landed more troops and founded a field hospital inside an old meat factory.
We then went into the cemetery at San Carlos where a small number of British dead are buried. There are only 14 graves here as most families chose to have their relatives returned to the UK.
We next visited the San Carlos Museum where we got an idea of the scale of the landings. We also learned about the Eagle Troop from the Argentine army who where camped out on top of Fanning Head. This high ground overlooking San Carlos Water was an ideal location for the Argentine’s to watch the beach head and send intelligence back to the aircraft attacking the British. The British had to send SAS troops up onto the ridge to scatter this force and help protect the beach head.
Our next stop was back at the top of Sussex Mtn. This was the spot where British Para troops spent 5 nights before moving on towards Goose Green. It was interesting to see the fox holes built by the troops still here. After this they again set off on foot for Camilla Creek which was the start line for the assault on Goose Green.
On our way back to Goose Green we stopped at the Argentine cemetery. A poignant place somewhat ruined on our visit by the Argentinean school trip being directed by a film crew. They had arrived with flags and banners and were being talked to by teachers around the soldiers graves, all the while being filmed for what our argentine members of the tour even described as propaganda!
After a quick stop for lunch we visited the site of the first major fighting of the war. This was at Darwin Ridge where A company from 2 Para were pinned down for hours trying to take the ridge. This was the location were Colonel H Jones won the VC for a death or glory charge towards the machine gun nest.
After finally overcoming Darwin Ridge through the somewhat unconventional use of Milan anti tank weapons the battle moved on to Goose Green. Here the Para’s surrounded the settlement before sending a letter to the argentine commander informing him he was surrounded and out numbered. He believed this to be a force of around 3000 men to the 1200 he had at goose green. He therefore surrendered and was shocked when he discovered that in fact there were only 300 or so troops in the British force!
After this we visited the shearing sheds in Goose Green where the Argentinian soldiers were held after their surrender. This was interesting to see as much for their intended use as for the historical significance of the place.
After this we took a detour from the war history to go and see Brodie Creek bridge. The most southerly suspension bridge in the world and great for a photograph!
On our return from Brodie Creek we visited the building where the surrender of Goose Green was signed. The most non-descript shed in a field you could imagine given its significance to the islands.
It is now used as the storage shed for the airfield fire tender!
It was also interesting to see so many signs warning about the presence of mines. These are still being cleared slowly but for the time being there are large areas that are out of bounds.
Our final two stopping points before getting back to the lodge where the grave of a Harrier pilot shot down while on a bombing mission over Goose Green. This was followed by the 2 Para memorial overlooking Goose Green and Darwin.
All in all a fantastic day out that has given me a much better understanding of the war from both sides. As many islanders have commented to us it seems the war set back UK/Argentine discussions regarding the Falklands and while the islanders are glad to remain British the poor relations with their nearest neighbour benefit neither side!
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