Falklands Victoria Crosses

Two posthumous awards of the Victoria Cross were made to Parachute Regiment soldiers after the Falkland Islands' conflict. The first was to Lt Col ‘H’ Jones, who commanded 2 PARA at the battle of Goose Green. Sergeant Ian McKay was awarded the second for his action during the 3 PARA assault on Mount Longdon two weeks later.

Lieutenant Colonel Herbert ‘H’ Jones VC OBE, Commanding Officer 2 PARA, was severely wounded in a solo charge against an Argentine position on Darwin Hill and subsequently died of his wounds when Darwin Hill was secured but before he could be evacuated. Lieutenant Richard Nunn, the helicopter pilot who was tasked to evacuate the CO, was also killed and his co-pilot severely injured when his Scout helicopter was attacked by an Argentine Pucara aircraft as he took off from A Echelon at Camilla Creek House. Jones was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

During the night of 11/12th June 3 PARA conducted a night assault on an enemy battalion in prepared positions on Mount Longdon, one of the key objectives of the final Argentinean defence around Port Stanley.

Sergeant McKay was the Platoon Sergeant of 4 Platoon, pinned down and suffering heavy casualties. They were joined by elements of 5 Platoon, also unable to advance further.

Sergeant McKay moved forward with his platoon commander to reconnoitre the enemy bunkers to find a way through, but the officer was wounded. It was clear decisive action was needed to overcome the impasse and Sergeant McKay converted the reconnaissance into a hasty attack, fully aware of the strength and depth of the positions ahead. Most of his group were cut down by fire and he continued on alone, despatching the enemy with grenades at the point of death. This decisive action enabled his pinned platoons to continue the advance. Sergeant McKay’s body was found across the bunker he had cleared.

Both these instances of inspirational gallantry were indicative of the fighting ascendancy that 2 and 3 PARA achieved over the Argentinean defenders at Goose Green and Mount Longdon. It set the tone for the ultimate victory in the land campaign.

See account of Goose Green co-edited by Colonel David Benest

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