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Falklands anniversary: Memories of Battle of Goose Green

Category: England

Published: 28th May 2012 08:27:13

"Looking back now I can't believe how stupid we were," said Peter Kennedy about the first major land conflict of the Falklands War.

Thirty years ago, aged 25, he was part of the final attack in the Battle of Goose Green.

British troops experienced fierce fighting with Argentine forces during the 40-hour battle, during which 17 British troops and 47 Argentine soldiers lost their lives.

Mr Kennedy, who was born in Keighley, West Yorkshire, had been married for just three months when he was sent to the Falklands with 2 Para.

"Most of us joined the Army because we wanted to do something exciting," he said.

"As we got closer we started to feel a little bit anxious. The sinking of the Sheffield, where we lost 20 soldiers, was a shock.

"But I started focusing on 'this is what I joined the Army for, we were well trained, well prepared and ready for this'."

After spending five days at Port San Carlos and witnessing heavy air raids, Mr Kennedy and his comrades were given the order to secure Goose Green.

The battle started in the early hours of 28 May, and the British soldiers were subjected to artillery fire for hours at a time.

Mr Kennedy, now aged 55, said the conflict paused during the hours of darkness because more than 100 civilians were known to live in the area, and neither side were willing to put them at risk.

He said there was a "feeling of stalemate" during this time and he wondered whether the attack was going to continue.

It was in the closing stages of the battle, after his commanding officer was severely wounded, that Mr Kennedy was appointed company commander.

He said: "I wasn't prepared but I started planning. I was thinking 'we can do this'. In war it's best to be a bit over confident rather than under confident."

In the meantime, however, 2 Para's Major Chris Keeble had held talks with the Argentinian troops and persuaded them to surrender.

Mr Kennedy said: "We felt that we could do this whereas the Argentinians maybe felt that they couldn't.

"I was told I was going to lead the attack if they didn't surrender. Then they surrendered and I was relieved and also slightly disappointed.

"Chris had convinced them that we outnumbered them. It was almost a trick, a very good trick."

In fact, it was the British troops who had been vastly outnumbered. They took more than 1,000 prisoners of war.

"As we went down the final hill we saw there were well over 1,000 soldiers that had come out on this big field," Mr Kennedy recalled.

"They outnumbered us two to one.

"If they stayed and fought us back that would have been a really bloody battle."

Mr Kennedy, who at 29 became one of the youngest majors in the British Army, now lives in Shrewsbury with his wife and three children, two of whom have followed in his footsteps.

He left the Army 10 years ago and now runs his own business.

On Tuesday, exactly 30 years since the end of the battle, Mr Kennedy will relive the experience with hundreds of people at Harrogate Theatre.

All proceeds from ticket sales, a raffle and donations given to the box office will go to Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion and The Parachute Regiment Charity.

Two previous events in his home town have raised more than £5,000.

For the former soldier, looking back on the Battle of Goose Green stirs up mixed emotions.

"Firstly there's the loss of people's lives," he said.

"A lot of people were killed and wounded who I knew, there were many more that I didn't know.

"Especially now as a parent of children in the Army I can't imagine what it must have been like for the parents who lost children."

He said the experience had also been an "amazing adventure".

"I would not have missed it for the world. Like anybody else I have had other great life experiences but that does stand out," he said.

"It makes you realise that the normal difficulties of life that we all face, I wouldn't say they shrink in comparison but… it helps you cope with things that other people might get stressed about.

"It puts things in perspective."

Source:
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BBC News, 2012. Falklands anniversary: Memories of Battle of Goose Green [Online] (Updated 28th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1431260/Falklands-anniversary-Memories-of-Battle-of-Goose-Green [Accessed 24th Apr 2014]

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