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Whisper Who Dares — Part 2

  • Posted on 28 Jun 2024
  • 11 min read

By Jock Love

Jock Love in June 1982

[The Airborne Poet Jock Love, detached from 4th Field Regiment Royal Artillery, to A Coy, 2 PARA as a signaller in the Forward Observation Party during the Falklands War, remembers the days after the Argentine surrender on June 14th 1982.

In this second of three short articles about those days, Jock recalls acquiring some war trophies after service led by 2 PARA padre David Cooper in Christ Church Cathedral, Port Stanley on June 20th 1982.

Hermes thanks PRA South-East Regional Secretary David Smart, who first published Jock Love’s writings on his Parachute Regiment HSF website years ago and, of course, Jock Love whose work we are always proud to publish.]

Jock Love recalls: I don’t remember too much after the church service in the Port Stanley cathedral. I may even have muddled the sequence of events. But who’s telling it anyway? We marched back, I suppose, and must have carried on drinking.

Later, a group of us decided to go downtown. We were supposed to go no further than the war memorial or the race course. This of course, meant that all of Port Stanley’s shops and pubs were effectively out of bounds.

Under the guard of British paratroopers, Argentine POWs clean up ‘downtown’ Port Stanley in front of one of the settlement’s shops.

Perhaps I’ll re-phrase that: the two shops, one pub, and the hotel were in the out of bounds area. We were also getting kicked out of the house we were in sometime in the next couple of days. An alternative billet was supposed to be found but only in the short term as we were expecting to be sent back to the UK quite soon.

Using the excuse that we were looking for new accommodation, we went off on a few recce’s of our own. We looked around the jetty areas, down by the Falkland Island Store in downtown Stanley itself. One of the lads from B Coy, 2 PARA called out to me. He wanted a light, for his cigarette. I duly obliged, and asked what he was doing down there, tucked out of the way .

He replied that he was guarding the weapons in an effort to stop them being looted but that officers kept appearing and taking bits and pieces. It was getting to be a right pain in the arse. The sooner these weapons all disappeared, the better. I casually asked him what kind of weapons he was guarding. “Oh, you know,”, he said,  “Pistols,  forty-fives, nine mills. All sorts of shit.”.

I looked around in the gloom. It was getting dark. We were still working on Zulu timings so, although we all knew that it was ten o’clock in the morning, it was really about four or five o’clock in the evening. Totally confusing, to say the least . We had local time, ship’s time, Zulu time and GMT. At one stage, the Navy, Army and Royal Air Force were all on different times.  It amazed me that we actually won.

My B Coy mate obviously saw the look in my eyes. “I’m just going to have a seat, while I finish this smoke. Do us a favor, and keep an eye on this lot for me while I’m gone.”, he said. “Not a problem!”, said I. “Take your time, I’ll be fine.”. He trudged off into the darkness, the smell of tobacco smoke lingering fleetingly, and then was lost in the night.

Port Stanley June 1982: piles of surrendered Argentine weapons

I looked around but couldn’t see diddly squat. I bent down on one knee, looking out of the corner of my eye. All I could see was what appeared to be three enormous piles of coal or such like. They were about two meters across and about one and a half meters high. I looked round again, then stood up. The weapons must have all gone, or maybe they were behind the piles of coal.

I went for a closer look. As I got closer, I managed to kick an empty magazine, which went skidding across the wooden jetty into the sea. I tried to climb the first pile of coal and the barrel of an FN rifle poked me in the shin. I dropped to a squat. It was a pile of weapons, not coal as I had previously thought.

The next pile, was also rifles but the last pile, at the back, was the mother load: pistols. I started to fill my pockets. You must remember that I was seriously pissed. I checked that each pistol was unloaded then stuffed it in to my pockets. I had about six, or seven, nine mills and about four or five forty-fives. I thought I had enough; after all, I didn’t want to be too greedy.

A British paratrooper examines a American .45 ‘Grease Gun’ amongst piles of FN rifles laid down by Argentine troops after the surrender in June 1982

But there must have been hundreds if not as many as a thousand at least. The one I had liberated weighed a ton. They also smacked each other as I walked. So, there I was, clicking away as I walked when matey boy, called out, from the corner of the boat house: “Watch out for the monkeys! They’ll take ’em off you. And I don’t know you either! “.

Two Military Policemen or ‘monkeys’ in Port Stanley in June 1982 with PC Anton Livermore, the the only British civil policeman on the Falkland Islands during the Argentine occupation. Copyright: © IWM

“Who’s there?”, I replied . To which, the voice from the darkness replied: “Fuck off, Jock, you owe me a beer.”.

Sent from my iPhone

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