Falklands

'It's A Real War': Veteran Remembers Falklands Conflict

Colour Sergeant Brian Faulkner served during the Falklands War and fought in the Battle of Mount Longdon.

On 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands.

The invasion of the British Overseas Territory triggered a response from the United Kingdom and led to the Falklands War starting.

Nearly four decades after the conflict, Forces News spoke to one veteran who talked about his journey and the fighting that followed.

Brian Faulkner left his job as a Yorkshire miner and joined 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, rising to the rank of Colour Sergeant.

As Argentine forces took over the Falklands, Brian and others were told to report to their commanding officer for an unexpected task.

"Our destination was the Naval Air Station at Yeovilton," Brian recalled.

"We were going there to catch an aircraft to take us somewhere – we didn't know where we were going until we got there," he recalled.

Brian and his comrades were "placed on this aircraft" and flown to Gibraltar.

"As we got there, we were told we were going to requisition the [SS] Canberra to bring it back to England, [to] Southampton for the troops to board and it to be used as a troop ship."

On 9 April, the ocean liner SS Canberra set sail for the South Atlantic.

"As we were sailing out of Southampton everybody along the coast knew what the ship was doing and who was on it, and they'd all stopped, turned their cars towards the sea and all turned their lights on... and gave us a send-off with all their headlights.

"That was quite a moving moment."

The troops trained hard while on board, but they thought the war might not happen.

Brian Faulkner speaks to Forces News BFBS about Falkands War DATE UNKNOWN CREDIT BFBS_0.jpg
Brian served as a combat medic during the Falklands War.

All that changed on 2 May 1982, when the Argentine Navy's cruiser ARA General Belgrano was sunk by a Royal Navy submarine.

"Cheering, shouting, everything was happening… and then, within minutes, all the guys suddenly realised what had happened.

"This is it: it's a real war," Brian told Forces News.

He added: "They started to think of those poor sailors on board the ship – we're not that bad... where we wished them all to drown or die."

As a combat medic, Brian was attached to a Regimental Aid Post to defend it and assist the wounded.

Soon after landing at Port San Carlos, he boarded a helicopter sent out to support injured paratroopers.

The helicopter Brian was on crashed.

"Bang! An almighty noise came out [and] the helicopter turned over," he remembers.

"We just held on. Down she went. I don't know what height it was.

"We hit the deck, rolled over a few times and then just crawled ourselves out and checked that everybody in the aircraft was okay."

Brian and all the others on board survived the crash.

The soldiers did not let the incident get in the way of their duties and used the helicopter as a shield as they tended to the wounded.

After a Tactical Advance to Battle (TAB) of 56 miles, the battalion reached its major objective: a silent attack to capture Mount Longdon.

"We set off on our TAB and it was a good old airborne 'snake' – just one line going through," Brian explained.

"B Company in the lead, A Company to our right, C Company in reserve, back left.

"We got down, settled the ammunition where the Fire Support Group wanted everything.

Brian Faulkner and his family at the ceremony where he received the Distinguished Conduct Medal DATE UNKNOWN CREDIT Brian Faulkner.jpg
Brian was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his gallantry during the Battle of Mount Longdon (Picture: Brian Faulkner).

"B Company then marched across a minefield, which was unknown to us, and they got right to the base of the mountain, but one of the corporal section commanders stepped on a mine and that alerted everybody on the mountain."

The explosion triggered a response from the other forces.

"The fighting that took place that night was by small groups of men, it wasn't controlled by company commanders because it wasn't a company commanders' war on this particular night – it belonged to the individual soldiers and corporals."

The fighting resulted in "some heavy casualties" for B Company.

"It was sunshine battle surgery: do the best you can."

"The guys were also dragging wounded Argentinians out of their positions" so they could be treated.  

After losing Mount Longdon and several other battles soon after, the Argentinians surrendered on 14 June 1982.

Brian was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his gallantry during the Battle of Mount Longdon.

Cover image: Brian Faulkner pictured during the Falklands War (Picture: Brian Faulkner).