5th Infantry Brigade in The Falklands War by Nick van der Bijl, David Aldea

By Nick van der Bijl, David Aldea

For many folks it was once three Commando Brigade, commanded through significant common Julian Thompson, and made of Royal Marines and Para's that recaptured the Falklands. but fifth Infantry Brigade performed a key and previously little said function during this notable saga. Cobbled jointly in haste (having been stripped of its resources to deliver three Commando Brigade as much as strength), it comprised mostly of 2 Guards battalions (2nd Scots and 1st Welsh) and the Gurkhas. Many felt it was once inadequately expert whilst it sailed from Southampton at the QE 2 and this view used to be given substance via early mess ups akin to the tragedy at Bluff Cove. but via the top, its contribution, of which Tumbledown is the simplest recognized, couldn't be denied. Why then used to be its commander (Brigadier Tony Wilson) so conspicuously missed while the medals and have been passed out?

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Previously orders were shouted or, more usually, delivered by runner. The PRC 350 and PRC 351 linked company commanders with their platoon commanders. Battalion Headquarters used the PRC 352 to communicate with its companies. All could be manpacked. Of the High Frequency variants, the PRC 320 was a manpack while the PRC 321 and 322 were vehicle-mounted. Using ‘Skywave’, its minimum range of 25 miles could be extended, particularly over water. ‘Skywave’ is essentially a wire aerial strung between two high poles, posts or trees with a coaxial connection to the rear of the set.

Technically, although both had their headquarters on the same ship, HMS Fearless, on the voyage south Thompson and Clapp should not have conferred without referring to Moore’s headquarters. But this was an impractical arrangement and, both men being of equivalent rank, they and their staffs disregarded the philosophy but were never really certain what was expected of them. Their fruitful relationship ensured that problems and difficulties were resolved amicably. Immediately available to Commodore Clapp were the only amphibious warfare ships the Royal Navy had – the Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ships HMS Fearless and Intrepid.

In terms of successor management, the Gunner commanding officer usually assumed command of formations in the event that the brigade commander went missing or was killed. This arrangement, initially, did not exist in Headquarters 5th Infantry Brigade. Of its other two batteries, 88 Battery had just returned from six months in Belize and was therefore left behind, leaving 97 Battery available for deployment. To ensure that 5th Infantry Brigade had sufficient direct artillery support, two teams of a battery commander and Forward Observation Officer parties, commanded by Major Roger Gwyn from 49th Field Regiment and Major Fallon of 132 Field Battery, Support Regiment, Royal Artillery at the School of Artillery at Larkhill respectively, joined 4th Field Regiment.

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