Falklands

Falklands 40: The battle of Two Sisters

British Armed Forces fought their way towards the capital of the Falkland Islands, Port Stanley, in a series of battles on the evening of 11 June 1982.

Forces News spoke to some of those involved in the battle, as the nation reflects on the conflict 40 years ago.

Ian Gardiner, 45 Commando Royal Marines, had an objective for X-Ray Company - capture one of the Two Sisters mountains.

However, there was a time constraint on the plans.

Ian Gardiner 45 Commando Royal Marines Falklands 40 The battle of Mt Two Sisters CREDIT BFBS
Ian Gardiner, 45 Commando Royal Marines (Picture: BFBS).

"We knew that time would be of the essence because HMS Glamorgan, wonderful asset that she was, was in danger of being hit by an exocet missile if she were found there in daylight," he said.

"We knew there was a land-based missile system on the coast, waiting to pluck off plums just like her. 

"However, we also knew it only had a daylight capability. 

Watch: Memorial service held for two ships attacked during Falklands War.

"So as long as it was dark, Glamorgan would be fine but if we were still fighting our battle at dawn, she would have to leave."

He added that when the Marines got themselves "into the rocks" they "were not going to lose".

"They'd missed their chance to really inflict damage upon us getting across the open ground," he said.

"My Marines were not going to lose a battle, gutter fight, in the rocks, halfway up a mountain in the dark, in a snowstorm. 

"This is what we do."

Nick Vaux, Commanding Officer of 42 Commando Royal Marines Falklands 40 The battle of Mt Two Sisters CREDIT BFBS
Nick Vaux, Commanding Officer of 42 Commando Royal Marines (Picture: BFBS).

Nick Vaux, Commanding Officer of 42 Commando Royal Marines, tasked his men to patrol forward to gain information on enemy positions and intimidate them. 

However, Nick made it very clear that if the Argentinians wanted to flee they must be allowed to, saying: "What I did say to everybody which is worth repeating, I said ... 'I believe that these conscripted, fairly simple, Argentine soldiers will surrender if you let them, so let them.  

"They fought to begin with and then when they realised that things were not going their way, they legged it and we let them."

Ian Bailey 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment Falklands 40 The battle of Mt Two Sisters CREDIT BFBS
Ian Bailey, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (Picture: BFBS).

Ian Bailey of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment was given orders by the Platoon Commander that he and his comrades would be attacking Mount Longdon but what they did not know was that they were standing in a minefield. 

4 Platoon were also in the same minefield and without realising it, Corporal Brian Milne stepped on a mine setting it off.

Brian Faulkner of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment said that "alerted everybody on the mountain". 

"The fighting that took place that night was by small groups of men. 

"It wasn't controlled by the Company Commanders anymore because it wasn't a Company Commanders war on this particular night."  

At this stage in the battle, Ian Bailey was shot in his right leg, neck and hand.

As he lay on the ground, he looked to his right and saw Sergeant Ian McKay – who was later posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross for his bravery during this battle - moving around the position.

Brian Faulkner 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment Falklands 40 The battle of Mt Two Sisters CREDIT BFBS
Brian Faulkner, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (Picture: BFBS).

Ian Bailey said: "I don't know if he knew that I got shot. I don't know if he knew the other people who got injured. I never saw him again. I saw him move forward around the back of the position that had shot me."  

Brian was friends with Ian McKay and describes him as a "great guy".

He speaks glowingly of his bravery saying: "To save the lives of two or three of his companions … he just took the bulls by the horn and ran straight at the position that was firing at his small detachment and just carried on and as he got to the … lip of the trench ... he was killed, he was shot and he saved a very precarious situation." 

Head to our Falklands 40 page, where you can find our memorial wall, as well as more Falklands stories, videos and podcasts.