The Red and Green Life Machine by Rick Jolly

It suddenly struck me, with total clarity, that I was watching history in the making, as well as the phenomenon of history repeating itself. Here was a group of Royal Navy warships, spread out in a line below us, taking on a well-handled enemy air force and protecting all the stores and troop ships huddled behind them. It had been much the same in Crete, forty one years (almost to the month) earlier, when twenty RN ships were lost and over two thousand sailors had been killed and wounded to save the British Army as it struggled to get off the island, and escape captivity after a dangerous passage to Alexandria. I felt calm and very proud.

In the distance we could see another attack begin on the ships at the southern end of the Falkland Sound. A black dot appeared above the horizon, then dipped, swooping in low and fast, then left two towering plumes of water where its bombs straddled the elderly Type 12 frigate, HMS Plymouth. The dot was now recognisable as a Mirage fighter bomber which climbed up and turned away from us, toward the distant Argentine mainland. Its jet engine reheat was lit and clearly visible as it twisted and weaved to make good its escape. Too late. A thin white line joined HMS Broadsword’s foredeck to the fleeing Argentine aircraft, which silently exploded, dissolving into metal confetti.

As Corporal Kevin Gleeson and I punched each other on the arm with excitement and laughter, I did not realise that what we had seen would be very important evidence to the Argentine pilot’s family some seventeen years later.