Battle for the Falklands - The Battle for Mount Harriet - 42 Cdo RM - 11/12 June 1982
Following K Coy's helicopter flight forward on to Mount Kent over the night of Sunday 30th May to join D Sqn SAS, the rest of 42 Cdo moved to Mount Challenger during that week, and were eventually joined by K Coy. From there, they pushed out a troop strength observation post to Wall Mountain, and planned for an attack on the heavily defended Mount Harriet.
An advance direct from Wall Mountain across minefields and into Argentine machine guns, was out of the question, and a left flanking move would risk overlapping 45 Cdo's assault on Two Sisters. Lt Col Vaux therefore decided on a right hook taking him well south of the more northerly Fitzroy/Stanley track to come up behind the Argentines from the south east. Finding an approach route through the extensive minefields and pinpointing enemy positions on this side of Mount Harriet called for careful patrolling, and for his part in this, Sgt Collins was decorated. And, as in the other battles and the approaches to them, men of the Royal Engineers played a key role in dealing with the minefields.
The final plan was to leave J Coy on Wall Mountain ('Tara') both as a reserve and to create a diversion, and for K and L Coys to march from the western end of Wall Mountain and across the Fitzroy/Stanley track before swinging east and then up to the start line behind Mount Harriet ('Zoya'). Moving off at 8.30 pm, K Coy was to attack the eastern end, and an hour later, L Coy the western end, after which 42 Cdo would move on to take Goat Ridge ('Katrina'). Unlike the other two attacks, this one was 'noisy' with Mount Harriet receiving a preliminary bombardment as part of the diversion plan.
On Friday 11th, as 42 Cdo prepared to move off, Argentine shellfire killed one of the Marines on Wall Mountain. Later, K and L Coys started off from Mount Challenger, with one of J Coy's Troops going ahead to mark the route and drop off Milan sections, including one on the Stanley track in case any of the Argentine Panhard armoured cars should appear. They were also due to meet up with a Welsh Guards patrol assigned to secure 42 Cdo's start line. But there was a delay and H-hour held up, although J Coy went ahead and opened fire from Wall Mountain to simulate a large scale clash.
Battle for Mount Harriet - K Coy crossed the start line at 10.00 pm, and almost reached the Argentine positions without being spotted. On the left, 1 Troop engaged the first enemy, and 2 Troop to the right went ahead to start clearing their part of K Coy's objective during which time 42 Cdo suffered its only fatal casualty of the night. 3 Troop now passed through 2 Troop on to the summit, and with 1 Troop below them to the south, started to work their way westwards bunker-by-bunker, but were held up by machine gun fire. It was at this time that three K Coy Corporals - Newland of 1 Troop and Eccles and Ward of 3 Troop - won the Military Medal for taking the enemy position.
While K Coy was fighting on the eastern end of the summit and coming under artillery fire, L Coy was making its way up towards the western end of Mount Harriet under heavy machine gun fire which opened up soon after they crossed the start line. Milans were successful in knocking out these and other enemy sniper positions, but it took a number of hours and casualties from artillery, before L Coy's half of the summit was taken, still in the dark. 5 Troop was then sent forward to the next objective just to the north of the summit, but was initially held up until the enemy resistance crumbled under mortar and artillery fire.
With dawn and L Coy still fighting forward, K Coy was ordered on to Goat Ridge, by which time J Coy had moved directly across from Wall Mountain to join in the final securing of Mount Harriet, running through a minefield on the way.
In successfully taking its objective, 42 Cdo had lost just one man killed.
British Gallantry Awards
Approach to* and Battle for Mount Harriet by 42 Cdo RM Lt Col N F Vaux (DSO) RM Capt P M Babbington (MC) RM, K Coy Sgt M Collins (MM) RM, K Coy * Cpl M Eccles (MM) RM, K Coy Cpl S C Newland (MM) RM, K Coy Cpl C N H Ward (MM) RM, K Coy
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