Parachute Regiment Helps Support The Falkland Islands
C (Bruneval) Coy, 2 PARA deployed 8,000 miles from Colchester to the Falkland Islands on Operation Falkland Islands Roulement Infantry Company (Op FIRIC). During their two months, the company rotated through three different roles, the provision of a QRF, training on the live-firing ranges and patrolling across the Islands.
The patrolling role is probably the most interesting of the three as it allowed the soldiers to get out and about to see the Islands and meet the people. Fortunately the soldiers had helicopter support to do this as there are just under 800 islands covering an area over half the size of Wales. That said, the soldiers of C Coy managed to clock up around 50 miles each on foot, hard work with the tough ground, lots of wind and very changeable weather conditions.
The majority of the Islands’ population lives in the capital Stanley, on East Falkland, but there are many smaller outposts across the rest of the Islands. It was around these sites that the patrols headed. The soldiers were often welcomed into the Islander’s homes and received tea and homemade cakes. In return, they would offer to help out around the farms – fence mending and sheep shearing both featuring on the jobs list!
The Falkland Islands mean a lot to the officers and soldiers of the Parachute Regiment; the 1982 Conflict and what the Regiment went through then played a large part in shaping who they are today. During their tour there, the company visited a number of the battlefields around the Islands, many of which still show very real signs of the conflict. Seeing spent ammunition cases still lying on the ground really helped bring home the reality of the Conflict to many of the soldiers.
L/Cpl Freeman, said: “I have read a lot about the Battle of Goose Green but it was hard to visualise what the ground was really like. Visiting the site of the battle and talking to the islanders who experienced it was a very humbling experience for me. It’s what we are all about as a family: remembering our forefathers and their sacrifice and using that ethos to drive us forward today.”
With the deployment coinciding with Remembrance Day, the company was given the honour of providing a platoon to march to the Cross of Sacrifice. Doing so alongside veterans from the Conflict and in front of HRH The Duke of Kent, really made the occasion a memorable one.
As well as all the hard work throughout the two months, the company managed to get out and about to track down some local wildlife: numerous penguins, elephant seals, dolphins and even a glimpse of a killer whale. Whilst the penguins at Colchester Zoo are quite a sight, the chance to see (and smell!) hundreds of them in their natural habitat was something that couldn’t be missed and won’t quickly be forgotten.
Maj Chris Prior, OC of C Coy summed up the tour: “I think the soldiers have had a fantastic time down here. The training, the tough conditions, the wildlife and the Islanders have all really made it a great deployment.”