Pebble Island, The Falklands War 1982...

 

...from Pen and Sword

 

Title: Pebble Island, The Falklands War 1982

Author: Francis Mackay and Jon Cooksey

Publisher: Pen and Sword Books

ISBN: 978-1-47389-295-8

A new reprint of a title first published in 2007 and republished now in 2017 as we remember the Falklands conflict now 35 years ago.  I still find it hard to believe it is really that long ago.  The Falklands War of 1982 will always remain in my mind for very personal reasons, firstly because my son, my eldest child, was born at the beginning of the week that Argentine forces invaded the island, and secondly that we were concerned for family members who were in the Falklands at the time, my aunt and my uncle, Rex Hunt, who was Governor of the islands at the time.

This book looks back at the particular raid by the SAS on an Argentine landing ground set up on the Falkland Islands at Pebble Island.  It was the first such raid undertaken by the SAS since WW2.  The particular raid, though part of a larger mission, was known as Operation Prelim.  There were 6 Pucara aircraft based on a grass landing field at Pebble Island and which were considered a significant threat to the planned landings of British troops.  What we have is the detailed story of the planning and execution of the raid which succeeded in destroying all the Pucaras, along with a Shorts Skyvan and 4 Mentors.  Though there were wounded on both sides but the SAS team managed to get in, destroy the target aircraft and withdraw without any fatalities.  Supported by helicopters based on HMS Hermes, which had itself been risked in moving onto a danger area plus gunfire support from Royal Navy ships it makes for fascinating reading.  The 10 chapters explain the story and examine the aftermath in terms of the wider conflict, the possible consequences of the raid.  After the Introduction it starts by examining 'The Threat', then 'Pebble Island', 'Occupation', 'Defence', 'Special Forces', 'Reconnaissance and Planning', 'Raid', 'Aftermath', 'Riposte' and 'Epilogue'.

The book is heavily illustrated with photos taken both at the time, and showing the locations and memorials put in place since, along with maps and some good artwork illustrating weapons and aircraft that were involved.  The authors have been to the area and had reference to the memories of veterans and the islanders who were there, plus I am pleased to hear, from information from Argentinian source as well, which helps provide a good balance to the whole account.  Now many years after the events it is interesting to read the detail behind a successful Special Forces operation in what was to become a successful liberation of the islands and undertaken at a distance of some 8,000 miles from home.  Well worth reading.

Robin