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News > Pangbournian Stories > OP Falklands Veterans add their voice to book review

OP Falklands Veterans add their voice to book review

In the latest issue of the prestigious Naval Review, three OPs who fought in the Falklands conflict in 1982 have launched a critical assault on a new book about the conflict published last year,
The Naval Review
The Naval Review

Too Thin for a Shroud robustly defends those Army personnel on board the landing craft Sir Galahad when it was attacked by the Argentinian Air Force in Bluff Cove during the Falklands conflict in June 1982. forty eight men, including thirty two Welsh Guards, were killed during the raid and the Sir Galahad was sunk.

Lt Col Ewen Southby-Tailyour (55-59), Col Mark Waring (69-74) and Col Ivar Hellberg (56-60), writing separately, all argue that Black’s analysis, in which he seeks to blame General Jeremy Moore, the Royal Marine commander of the land forces, and Admiral John Fieldhouse, the overall commander of the Task Force, for misguided decisions that led to the tragedy, is deeply flawed and “likely to cause anguish” for the relatives of those who died. At the time of the war, Black was a junior Welsh Guards officer on Sir Galahad.

According to Southby-Tailyour (one of several people who tried to prevent publication of the book on the grounds that it would re-open 40-year-old wounds to no good purpose), Black’s book is “full of inaccuracies” and misinterpretations.” Waring argues that the book is replete with “appalling and basic inaccuracies.” Hellberg describes the book as “a minefield of flaws and errors” caused by a “fundamental misunderstanding of amphibious warfare” and military logistics.

Given the role of each of these OP critics in the conflict, this amounts to a heavyweight rebuttal. Southby-Tailyour, a Royal Marine expert in small boat warfare and the only member of the Task Force who knew the Falklands coastline first-hand, personally intervened to get the two Welsh Guards companies on Sir Galahad to disembark as fast as possible. He was ignored.

Hellberg commanded the Commando Logistics Regiment, witnessed the disaster and intervened to urge the senior Welsh Guards officer on Sir Galahad to land all embarked military personnel (about 352 men) immediately – just as Southby-Tailyour had done four hours earlier. Waring, a Royal Artillery officer who led a 90-man gun battery positioned on the slopes above Port Stanley, terms Black “naïve.” In particular, he disputes Black’s contentions about waste of ammunition. Waring has been commissioned to write an official history of the RA in the Falklands, takes regular tours to the Falklands battlefields and possesses a huge archive of material related to the conflict.

All three OPs strongly support the leadership of Gen Moore and Admiral Fieldhouse. They also raise indirect questions about the preparedness for combat and general competence of the Welsh Guards and 5 Brigade – still a touchy subject in military circles which has been barely explored by historians since 1982.  

Overall, in the words of another reviewer of the book in the Naval Review, Rear Admiral Jeremy Larken who captained HMS Fearless during the conflict, this book falls “in the realm of fake news.”

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