• Si Biggs

Tumbledown, Wireless Ridge, & Sapper Hill

Updated: Jun 27

Unit/ Formation: 42 Cdo RM


Location: Mount Tumbledown and Wireless Ridge


Period/ Conflict: The Falklands War


Year: 1982


Date/s: 13–14 June 1982


The Battle of Mount Tumbledown was an attack by the British Army and the Royal Marines on the remaining heights over-looking Stanley, the Falkland Islands capital.


Mount Tumbledown, Mount William and Sapper Hill lie west of the capital. Due to their proximity to the capital, they were of strategic importance during the 1982 War. They were held by the Argentine 5th Naval Infantry Battalion (BIM 5), a reinforced, cold weather trained and equipped, Marine battalion.


Final Actions, 13 to 14 June 1982 (Wikipedia)

The assaulting British forces were the 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards, 42 Commando, Royal Marines Mortar platoon and four light tanks of the Blues and Royals. The 1st Battalion, 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles were held in reserve.


One of a number of night battles that took place during the British advance towards Stanley, the battle led to British troops capturing all the heights above the town, allowing the town's capture and the surrender of the Argentine forces on the islands.


40 Commando - The Last Firefight - Sapper Hill


Unit/ Formation: 40 Cdo RM


Location: Sapper Hill


Period/ Conflict: The Falklands War


Year: 1982


Date/s: 14th June 1982


On the 10th and 11th of June two companies of 40 Commando, Alpha and Charlie Company, replaced the Welsh Guards’ losses caused by loss of the Sir Tristram and Sir Galahad, forming over half of the battalions fighting strength, they moved forward with that battalion to be the reserve force for the Scots Guards’ attack on Mount Tumbledown and the 1/7 Gurkhas attack on Mount William. [2]


As part of the British plan for the Battle of Mount Tumbledown, the 1st Battalion the 7th Gurkha Rifles (1/7 GR) was given the task of capturing the sub-hill of Mount William held by O Company, the 5th (Argentine) Marine Battalion's reserve, and then allow the Royal Marines under the command of the Welsh Guards through to seize Sapper Hill, the final obstacle before Stanley. The attacks were supported by naval gunfire from HMS Active.



During the initial assault, Royal Marines from Charlie company, 40 Commando took part in the only daylight helicopter assault of the Falklands conflict, due to a map reading error by the helicopters, which were ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) SeaKings and so not as familiar with land operations as their 'junglie' counterparts, they had overshot and continued past the landing zone and flared to land on the track just below a small hill


The Royal Marines prepared to dismount when a fusillade of shots rang out. Both helicopters shuttered under the hits, but miraculously, no one was injured. The troops made a rapid exit and both helicopters were able to lift off despite extensive damage.


7 Troop had been inserted almost on top of the Argentine position and immediately sustained 2 minor casualties, the Troop began an immediate assault also engaging with GPMG's (General Purpose Machine Guns) and 66mm anti-tank rockets.

Marines from 40 Commando embarking for the move up to Sapper Hill, boarding an ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) Sea King, 14th June 1982.

If the Argentines had not surrendered and all British movements stopped, Charlie Company followed by Alpha Company would likely have been first to reach Stanley. [2]


Six Royal Marines were wounded by mines and small-arms fire securing Sapper Hill, including four Marines from 40 Commando, one Sapper from Condor Troop (59 Indep Cdo Sqn Royal Engineers) and a forward officer (Major Brian Armitage) from 3 Commando Brigade HQs.


Leading Medical Assistant George Black RN, attached to 40 Commando RM, received a Mention in Despatches in recognition of his service during operations in the South Atlantic on Sapper Hill.


Rank: Acting Leading Medical Assistant

Unit/Base: '3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines'

Service: Royal Navy

Number: D156353Y

Honours & Awards: Mentioned in Despatches

Recommendation

"On the night of 13 June 1982 on the Island of East Falkland,

40 Commando Royal Marines were advancing on the Sapper Hill feature, three kilometres to the West of Port Stanley. leading elements became entrapped in an unmarked anti-personnel minefield and a number of casualties were incurred.

Showing a complete disregard for his own safety, Leading medical assistant Black, Royal Navy, went into the minefield to treat the wounded. His calm professional manner and bravery inspired and calmed the men around him. His actions undoubtedly saved lives. Leading medical assistant Black is recommended for Mention in Despatches."



then received orders from 5 Brigade, with whom they remained, to move forward by helicopter to a forming-up position south-west of Mount William and attack Sapper Hill. C Company, 40 Commando, moved first to secure the forming-up position, followed by A Company. Unfortunately the pilots of the helicopters carrying 7 Troop made a map-reading error and landed them three kilometres further forward than intended, on Sapper Hill instead of the lower slopes of Mount William. The enemy opened fire, wounding two Marines slightly. In the subsequent battle several Argentines were killed before the remainder surrendered. At this stage news of the cease-fire was heard and the Welsh Guards moved quickly to occupy Sapper Hill.
This unilateral move by 5 Brigade without telling anybody had potential for a major 'blue-on-blue', a euphemism for shooting at one's own side. Sapper Hill was 45 Commando's objective; this was known to Divisional Headquarters. Perhaps Wilson, smarting at having lost the earlier argument over who was to have the Welsh Guards under command, was determined to take Sapper Hill himself.
As 45 Commando advanced up Sapper Hill they were surprised to find it already occupied by the Welsh Guards. Luckily it was daylight and the visibility was good.
By 1.30 pm 45 Commando was starting to dig in on Sapper Hill, they and the Welsh Guards providing a stronghold on a key feature overlooking the town. should the Argentines decide to change their minds.

[Major General Julian Thompson - No Picnic]



[2] SAN CARLOS TO STANLEY - 40 Commando in the Falklands War

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