The Falkland Islands 1982

  • C17 Squadrons Major C Sibun SSgt Dave Ward HQ was at one stage based in a cow shed at Fitzroy

    OC Major Colin Sibun and SSgt Dave Ward in Squadron HQ, which was at one stage based in a cow shed at Fitzroy

  • C18 On June 8 1982 Sgt Dick Lalinski and his crewman LCpl Julian Rigg had to make an emergency landing

    On June 8 1982 Sgt Dick Kalinski and his crewman LCpl Julian Rigg had to make an emergency landing

  • Goat Ridge June 12 1982 Capt Philip Piper and his crewman Cpl Les Berrisford flying CASEVAC

    Goat Ridge June 12 1982 – Capt Philip Piper and his crewman Cpl Les Berrisford flying a CASEVAC mission

  • M58 Captured Agentine Huey AE 409 which was renumbered 656 and pressed into service

    Captured Argentine Huey AE 409 which was renumbered 656 and pressed into service (currently on display at the Museum of Army Flying, Middle Wallop)

  • M59 A Gazelle and a RN Wessex over the barren falklands landscape

    A 656 Squadron Gazelle and Royal Navy Wessex over the barren Falklands landscape

  • oc 656 squadron major c sibun aac so2 lt helicopters maj tony mcmahon aac and oc 3cbas maj peter cameron

    OC 656 Squadron Major Colin Sibun AAC,  SO2 Light Helicopters Major Tony McMahon AAC and OC 3CBAS Major Peter Cameron

While half of the Scout Flight was in Kenya over the winter of 1981, the rest of the Squadron concentrated on night flying. Day was turned into night once a week and all turned up for work at 1800 hours and flew sorties until dawn, then went home to sleep. This training would prove to be of great benefit as events unfolded some months later. In October 1981, part of Scout Flight, commanded by Captain John Greenhalgh, and including Sergeants Dick Kalinski and Ian Roy, had deployed to Kenya with Lieutenant Colonel ‘H’ Jones and the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) to conduct infantry training.

John flew ‘H’ Jones on many occasions including solo to Masai Mara and around Mount Kenya to Kathendini,

‘Some of the sorties were so far that I was unable to take a crewman due to the altitude and high fuel load/all-up weight required. So he used to sit in the front and help with the map-reading or catch up on his sleep. The role of the CO in Kenya was very demanding … socially.’

John returned to the UK to fly the Scout, along with WO2 Mick Sharp and Sergeant Rich Walker, in the filming of the Pinewood Studios feature film Who Dares Wins, starring Lewis Collins, while Kalinski, Roy and Captain Iain Mackie spent a further few months in Kenya. Iain Mackie recalled that

‘Another unit we were supporting was commanded by Major Cedric Delves (later to win fame for the raid on Pebble Island in the Falklands War), which was based at a place called Impala Farm, a run-down establishment in the middle of nowhere about twenty miles north-west of Nanyuki. A lot involved taking people from A to B, sometimes delivering supplies or mail, frequently flying over a training area to ensure there were no lions or other dangerous animals, and sometimes there were!

Occasionally we were asked to fly with an underslung load, normally some rations or ammunition which was too bulky to carry inside the aircraft, so had to be flown in a net underneath.’

A particular passenger was appreciative,

‘We were advised by the High Commission in Nairobi that Lord Carrington, the Foreign Secretary, was visiting Kenya, and we were requested to support his visit and fly him on a number of occasions round various locations at the base of Mount Kenya to visit some projects that the UK Government has sponsored. I found him to be a very pleasant person, very easy to talk to and a delight to be with.’

Within a few months Lord Carrington would, of course, be in the public eye, as events in the South Atlantic unfolded. In an act which was both unusual and honourable, he resigned as Foreign Secretary on 05 April 1982, taking responsibility for failures within his department to foresee or prevent the Argentine invasion. Back in Kenya, Iain did not enjoy the HALO training anything like as much,

‘The HALO troop definitely made an impact, literally. Nanyuki sits at about 6000 feet above sea level. It is also very hot and the air is much thinner than at ground level. I would take the doors off the Scout, and take the rear seat out. Four parachutists would then sit in the back, with their legs out the sides, feet on the skids. I would then fly up to around 10,000 feet to drop them off.

The temperature up there is considerably colder than at ground level. Going up and down all day from boiling hot to very chilly, back to boiling hot etc – my mother would have warned me about getting a cold! We used to race the parachutists down. They would freefall from 10,000 feet to about 2000-1500 feet above ground level which didn’t seem to take much time at all. But then of course their descent slowed down when they deployed their canopy. As soon as they had left the aircraft, and it had stopped rocking violently, I was able to perform a fast descent, and was normally able to catch them up and land near the drop zone at pretty much the same time as they did.’

Scout Flight was away on exercise in Schleswig Holstein in late March 1982, while the main focus was the forthcoming logistical challenge presented by the move of the Squadron from Farnborough to the equally historic airfield of Netheravon in Wiltshire, which could trace its association with military flying back to 1913.

The Farewell Parade had been held on 12 March. Johnny Moss remembers the occasion well,

‘The salute was taken by the Managing Director of the Royal Aircraft Establishment and a flypast of six Scouts and six Gazelles was staged. The guests were seated in front of the Squadron hangar, which was bedecked in Army Air Corps blue flowers. It was a very sad day for all of us as we had enjoyed true independence there. There were no spot visits by Brigade HQ staff, as they had to obtain prior permission and special passes to visit the airfield.’