From sailing to the South Atlantic to the final battle at Wireless Ridge, paratroopers have studied the Falklands Conflict with the soldiers who fought it.
Some 20 Falklands veterans from 2nd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) joined the current generation of paratroopers at Merville Barracks, Colchester for a study day to draw out lessons that can be applied to modern operations.
After the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands on 2 April 1982, both 2 and 3 PARA were deployed at short notice as part of the British task force sent to retake the islands. They landed at San Carlos on 21 May before fighting their way across the islands, with Argentine forces surrendering on 14 June.
The challenges faced by paratroopers in 1982 and the reasons for their success are relevant to 2 PARA in 2022, with the unit held at very high readiness to deploy on operations as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, the British Army’s global response force.
Paul Farrar, who was a captain in command of 2 PARA’s Patrols Platoon in 1982, said: “The overriding lesson we learnt from the Falklands was to expect the unexpected. As a battalion we were in good physical condition with shared experiences and excellent junior leadership we’d developed serving in Northern Ireland the year before. The Falklands was a ‘come as you are party’, we were happy to accept it on those terms and everyone did what was expected of them.
“The paratroopers of today are the same as we were in 1982 and I’m sure they could do what we did in the Falklands, but they’d do it differently. If you understand your role, have confidence in your skills and are motivated, then you can achieve anything.”
"If you understand your role, have confidence in your skills and are motivated, then you can achieve anything.” Paul Farrar
2 PARA Falklands veteran
Section commander Corporal Rob Evans said: “The Falklands is a proud part of The Parachute Regiment’s history – these guys are who we look up to, and it’s fascinating to hear their stories firsthand and just to be able to shake their hands.
“It was interesting to hear a platoon commander’s perspective that fighting is the easy part, the challenge is keeping morale up when everyone is tired, wet, cold and there isn’t much information about what’s happening next. As the only officer, the platoon is looking to him for everything. If as a section commander I can look after my blokes to give the boss some space, that helps the whole platoon do its job.”
Last August the 33-year-old from Liverpool was in the 2 PARA Battlegroup deployed on Operation Pitting, the evacuation of Afghanistan.
“I would love to come back in 40 years to talk to the next generation about what we did in Kabul,” he said. “It was very different to the Falklands, but I can recognise a lot of what is being said about 1982 in my experiences.”
“I would love to come back in 40 years to talk to the next generation about what we did in Kabul. It was very different to the Falklands, but I can recognise a lot of what is being said about 1982 in my experiences.” Corporal Rob Evans
Forty-two members of The Parachute Regiment and attached personnel were killed and 95 wounded in the Falklands. Among 71 medals awarded, two Victoria Crosses were posthumously awarded to Lt Col ‘H’ Jones, the Commanding Officer 2 PARA, and 3 PARA’s Sgt Ian McKay. The Parachute Regiment was conferred with the battle honours of Falkland Island 1982, Goose Green, Mount Longdon and Wireless Ridge.