Adrian Weale

Death at Wireless Ridge

Our Boys: The Story of a Paratrooper

By

Allen Lane 378pp £20 order from our bookshop

When I received my copy of this book, or, rather, when I saw its title, I had a slightly queasy feeling that I was going to have to read a couple of hundred pages of hagiography about a young soldier killed before he had the chance to reach fulfilment, or some such worthy drivel. I could not have been more wrong.

On 17 June 1982, seven-year-old Helen Parr was woken by her mother to be told that her uncle Dave, a soldier serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment in the Falklands, was dead. He was one of 255 members of the British armed forces who were killed, along with 649 Argentine personnel and three civilian Falkland Islanders.

The Falklands War was a strange enough event at the time, but with thirty-six years of hindsight it seems almost fantastical. In comparison with the more recent conflicts in which Britain has become involved, it was peculiarly uncomplicated. From the British perspective at least, the use of force was absolutely justified and legal under international law; the war was fought in geographical isolation, with almost no risk of third parties becoming involved; civilian casualties were minimal; and, although the opposing sides engaged with unrestrained violence, both Britain and Argentina abided, more or less, by the rules of war. It was also limited in time: less than three months encompassed the Argentine invasion, the assembly and dispatch of the British task force, the land campaign and the Argentine surrender.

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