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THE KING'S REGIMENT AND THE FALKLANDS
(as recalled by Lieutenant Colonel Robin Hodges at the 40th anniversary of the war)

One of the great treats about being a Regimental Historian is that one picks up lots of trivia. One such fact was that Major General Sir Jeremy Moore, who commanded the British land forces during the battles to retake the Falkland Islands in 1982, was born in The King’s Regiment Medical Room at Litchfield in 1928. His father, Captain ‘Tim’ Moore was Adjutant of the 2nd Battalion. On the 10th Anniversary of the war I invited Jeremy Moore to dine with my Officers in our Mess at Hounslow. He was good company, and we were all inspired by his presence.

In 1982 when news of the Falklands War was broadcast, the 1st Battalion (1 KINGS) was in Germany. After over two years of intense preparation and training the Battalion was confident that it was amongst the best in the Army and hopeful that it would be selected for the second Brigade that was to be sent south to the Falklands. Unfortunately, as a NATO battalion we could not be deployed and spent that summer training for armoured warfare in Canada.

In 1982, the only Kingsman who managed to go south was Major Rory Stewart. The rumour was that he stowed away on the QE2, reporting to the Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles once the ship was south of Ascension Island. He was appointed Officer Commanding HQ Company and after the Argentinian surrender was responsible for the Prisoners of War.

It was to be 1986 before 1 KINGS was sent to the Falklands. Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Gaskell and I went down first to recce the tasks. We found Port Stanley still littered with the detritus of war and very untidy. The new airfield at Mount Pleasant had a huge building which the troops christened the ‘Death Star’ from all the lights in the blackness of the South Atlantic.

The Battalion HQ and Major Paul Filler with A Company was to be based on a Coastel, a floating accommodation block in Port Stanley. B Company commanded by Major John Wilkinson was to be on West Falklands, and I was to deploy C Company to protect RAF Mount Pleasant and Mare Harbour which were still being built. Each Company was to have a Platoon out in the ‘Camp’ patrolling the isolated farms and any possible landing places for Argentinian forces.

The Battalion was also responsible for the defence of South Georgia. The token force commanded by Major Tim David was based on the reinforced Recce Platoon.
During our four-month deployment C Company was reinforced by a platoon from the Territorial Army 5th/8th Battalion (5/8 KINGS), spending their two weeks ‘summer holiday’ in sub-Antarctic weather.

We patrolled across the islands with war-scales of ammunition for about five days at a time. Our packs weighed around 80 pounds. Half way through the tour C Company discovered a shot-down Argentinian Pucará aircraft complete with pilot. His father and sister were allowed to attend the military funeral which C Company conducted but had to travel from Argentina to France to UK and then south as no direct communication was allowed between Argentina and the Falklands. 
On our last day after four months on the Falklands intelligence was received from Argentina that their air force had gone on alert. Unfortunately stores and ammunition had been handed over to the Q Advance Party of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. For a while it seemed as though Mount Pleasant was to be defended with bayonets. Fortunately it was a false alarm.

In the natural harbour at Stanley was the hulk of a Liverpool built wooden ship, the Jhelum, which had been abandoned in 1870. The Regiment was to provide support to Liverpool Maritime Museum attempting to prevent the ship becoming a complete wreck.

In 1992 1 KINGS was ordered to deploy a reinforced Company to Mount Pleasant and to South Georgia. Working on the principal of always sending the best Company Commander and best silver on a Detachment, I deployed B Company commanded by Major Chris Owen reinforced by a platoon from the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (PWRR) to the Falklands. Major Clive Bugg, who was in the last few months of service commanded, and became post-master of South Georgia from November 1992 to March 1993. 

As the Commanding Officer I visited the Company in the Falklands, my third visit down south.

In the 1990s the mission of the Territorial Army was changed to providing individual Reservists to reinforce the Regular Army and during the last years of the century several volunteers from 5/8 KINGS served in the Falklands.

In 2002 a Detachment of 1 KINGS Mortar Platoon deployed to the Falklands to provide fire support for the Resident Infantry Company, and so another generation of Kingsmen experienced all three seasons in an hour.

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