Friday, April 01, 2022

Fullbore Friday

What can just a few Marines do?

In March 1982, Thomsen was days from returning home from the small Royal Marine Falklands garrison when he was ordered to take eight men to South Georgia to monitor a group of Argentinian scrap dealers who had landed illegally and raised the Argentine flag, the incident which was to lead to full-blown war in the Falklands.

Along with 12 other Marines under Lieutenant Keith Mills they arrived on the desolate island in mid-March.

Two weeks later the crisis erupted when the Argentines invaded the Falklands. Section commander Thomsen and his comrades knew a large enemy force would descend on them within hours.

With no hope of reinforcements, they set about doing everything possible to prepare. They boobytrapped the shore and fashioned an enormous bomb beneath the jetty, packed with nuts, bolts and harpoon heads.


'It was a one-way ticket for me. It was just 30 seconds after we had that photo taken that the helicopter came in.'

Scurrying for cover they opened fire with rifles and machine guns and shot down the Puma gunship as it tried to land enemy troops.

'That was like a gift,' said Thomsen. 'That kicked off the battle, and we were 16-nil up from the start.'

As the battle raged, another Argentine helicopter was put out of action, but the Marines could not hold back the tide as hundreds of enemy soldiers swarmed ashore.

Still they kept up a fierce resistance, and when the Argentinian corvette the ARA Guerrico steamed into the bay, the Marines launched an audacious attack.

'It was raking us with its 40mm anti-aircraft gun until we wiped out the gun crew,' said Thomsen. 'We then used a bazooka, but three out of five rounds didn't go off.

'If they had we'd have sunk it. But we put it out of action and it was listing at 30 degrees.


'At the same time they were landing troops from two or three other ships and we were outnumbered 50-1, or 100-1 if you count everyone on their ships.


The fighting only ended when, in a 'brilliant bit of British bluff', Lieutenant Mills walked brazenly towards the Argentinians and warned his men would keep fighting unless they agreed to his terms  -  including safe passage off the island.

The Argentinians agreed  -  but were astonished to discover they had been facing just 22 Marines.

The Marines were flown back to Britain. They later joined the British task force which liberated the Falklands. South Georgia was recaptured on April 25.

Now, imagine a modern version of this detachment if they were armed with a few NLAW, Stinger MANPAD ... and brought with them the USMC's Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System, or NMESIS?


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