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The Airborne Poet – Jim ‘Jock’ Love

  • Posted on 30 May 2021
  • 10 min read

Jay Morgan Hyrons, widow of Gary Bingley MM+, profiles James ‘Jock’ Love, Airborne gunner, Foreign Legionary and Man of Letters, also known as The Airborne Poet

James Love, also known as Jock, is a bear of a man and one I am proud to call a friend. He was born in Glasgow in March 1955 and went to schools in Scotland and Canada. After a brief spell in the City of Glasgow Police, Jim joined the Army in 1973. In February 1974, he voluntered for parachute training.

Portadown 1978

During his time in the armed forces, Jim completed four tours in Northern Ireland, served in the Falklands War in 1982 and gained many qualifications, although these are mainly military. He holds the General Service Medal with Northern Ireland clasp, the South Atlantic Medal with the Rosette for combattants, British Wings, American Wings and Canadian Wings. 

His military qualifications include Basic Parachute Course, Military Freefall Parachutist, Sniper, Combat Survival Instructor, AFV Instructor, Regimental Signals Instructor and Small Arms Instructor. As an Advanced Signaller (RSI), Jim stood in as Forward Observation Officer on ADV Operation Ack as the Regiment was short a captain. 

After passing P Company and earning his wings at RAF Abingdon, Gunner Love joined I Parachute Battery, Bull’s Troop, 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery. He joined the Black Knights Freefall Team as a junior member and also won the Army Novice Accuracy Championship in 1977. That year saw 7 RHA, which had served in Ulster, stripped of its airborne status because of defence cuts and posted to Osnabrück in West Germany.

Gunner Love disappeared whilst the Regiment was in West Germany and joined the French Foreign Legion. Jim made the rank of caporal and was posted to the R.I.L.E. Depot in Castelnaudary. Unfortunately, the pay and conditions were not the greatest and Jim decided to ‘leave’ and rejoin the British Army.

After getting out of France, he hitchhiked to Osnabrück, where 7 RHA was still stationed, walking the last eighty kilometres in a blizzard. Tried by Court Martial under Section 38 of the Army Act 1955, Jim served seven months and eleven days of his jail sentence, with six weeks in solitary. However, he earned a remission of sentence of three months and four days for good conduct. 

Released from military prison, Jim then returned to Aldershot in 1981 and joined the parachute contingent of 4th Field Regiment Royal Artillery. As part of the Pre-Parachute selection staff, Bombardier Love helped to train several officers who made it to the ranks of Colonel, Brigadier and even a General. He was then assigned to the Forward Observation Party (FOP) attached to B Company, 2 PARA, where he was the signaller for the officer directing artillery fire.

Jim, on the left in the middle row, with men of A Coy 2 PARA at Port Stanley Race Course on June 14th 1982. Centre is Sgt Terence ‘Ted’ Barrett, awarded the Military Medal

During the run-up to the cruise south in 1982, Jim was given four hours leave to get married on the 20th of April. Two days before reaching the Falkland Islands on the MV Norland, Jim was informed that he could not go ashore as he had “signed off” and, as a consequence, had to re-enlist. He went ashore with the first wave on Blue Beach Two on May 21st1982. On the top of the Sussex Mountains in the west of East Falkland, above San Carlos Water, Jim was transferred to A Coy, 2 PARA after a member of an Observation Post team fell foul of the OC. 

Jim served on attachment to A Coy until June 1982 when his FOP returned to 29 (Corunna) Field Battery, 4th Field Regiment RA and 2 PARA sailed home on the Norland.

Guarding General Menendez on the MV St Edmund 1982

Before flying home from the Falklands some weeks later, Jim’s unit guarded Argentine General Mario Menendez and other prisoners of war aboard the former Sealink ferry MV St Edmund, which took the Argenines home a month later after the Argentine junta formally accepted that the war was over. 

Jim bought himself out of the Army in 1991 for £200 and was employed as Group Manager at various military establishments on Salisbury Plain, including DBRNA Winterbourne Gunner and DSTL Porton Down, to name but two. He was also responsible for establishing the only ‘Overt’ MOD PAT Dog Sections in the United Kingdom. Jim was then engaged by the Ministry of Defence Guard Service at Tedworth House in Wiltshire as part of the MOD security team for the PRAC and H4H. 

In his quiet moments, Jim writes war poetry, some of which has been translated into Spanish, Turkish and Scottish and Welsh Gaelic. His poems have been included in several compilations of poetry. He has also published four books: Poetry From A Fragile Mind, Melancholy Moods, In The Midst of Darkness: PTSD – Mere Words Are Not Enough, and ¿Qué dirán de mí, eh, Inglaterra?, which was published in Buenos Aires.

Jim is single and lives in the Wiltshire garrison town of Tidworth. He has completed a Mental Health First Aid at Work course and enjoys the trust of the wounded and traumatised veterans who attend Tedworth House. A former Paratrooper but Forever Airborne, he has many brothers from other mothers. 

 

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