Lacombe man was there 35 years ago when Falklands invaded

Story now being told about British commandos defence, firefight

Thirty-five years ago, on April 2, 1982, 22-year-old Royal Marines Commando Colin Jones was in one heck of a firefight — just 70 British soldiers versus 3,000 Argentine special forces.

It was the beginning of the 74-day Falklands War, as Argentina, in a long festering disagreement with Britain about sovereignty, invaded the islands. The story about that first day’s conflict was always downplayed by the British government. It is now being told in a factual book by a British military history author.

Colin Jones, now age 57 and a Canadian citizen working in the oilpatch who lives in Lacombe with his family, was unable to attend Tuesday’s launch of the book in Portsmouth, England. Many of his former mates from the detachment known as NP8901 were going to be there at the book signing.

On the night of the attack, Jones had been stationed in the Falklands for about year. He was based at Government House in Port Stanley, the Falklands capital, and part of the governor’s personal defence.

“There was a huge firefight at first when they (Argentines) arrived. … There was well over a thousand rounds fired by us, and anti-tank weapons fired.” The Brits did not have large weapons or even any heavy vehicles.

The defence only lasted from 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. but the British took out some Argentine armoured vehicles with about 30 soldiers in each one, Jones said. One commando was injured.

Sir Rex Hunt, Governor, Commander-in-Chief and Vice Admiral of the Falkland Islands, decided to surrender. The soldiers, including Jones, were taken prisoner.

Jones said the official word has always been that it was just a minor skirmish and only a couple of Argentines died, but he and the other Brits who were there say many more actually did.

The First Casualty — The Untold Story of the Falklands War by author Ricky D. Phillips April 2, 1982, was launched on Tuesday evening in Portsmouth, England. Some of Jones’s detachment members were in attendance as the author drew attention to those hours when the Argentines arrived.

Jones and the other soldiers who surrendered were only held prisoners for about a day before they were flown to Argentina, then Chili, and finally back to England. They were swamped by the local press but weren’t allowed to talk much about it, Jones said.

At that time all he was thinking was “How do we get back at them?”

Soon after, the British sent a task force to the Falklands. The Argentines surrendered on June 14, 1982. When the conflict ended, 655 Argentine and 255 British servicemen, and three islanders, had died.

For the duration of the war, Jones and the original commandos were based on Ascension Island where they gave briefings to troops. They all keep in touch “big time”, said Jones, who is glad the story of his detachment is now being told.

He was discharged with an exemplary record from the British Royal Marines in 1986.

Just Posted

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

Red Deer’s Soundhouse closing its doors on Record Store Day

The owners of The Soundhouse want to shut down their store on… Continue reading

WATCH: Property taxes in Red Deer will go up 2.02 per cent in 2018

City council passes a “tough” budget that maintains most service levels

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month