By Nick van der Bijl, David Aldea
For many of us it used to be three Commando Brigade, commanded by way of significant common Julian Thompson, and made of Royal Marines and Para's that recaptured the Falklands. but fifth Infantry Brigade performed a key and beforehand little said function during this outstanding saga. Cobbled jointly in haste (having been stripped of its resources to convey three Commando Brigade as much as strength), it comprised largely 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 by means of early mess ups reminiscent of the tragedy at Bluff Cove. but through the tip, 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 overlooked whilst the medals and have been passed out?
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Extra info for 5th Infantry Brigade in The Falklands War
Post-war the Battalion saw service in Aden, with the United Nations in Cyprus and, in between rotating with tours in Northern Ireland, was part of the British Army of the Rhine as mechanized infantry. In 1982 the Welsh Guards were based at Pirbright and had good access to ranges and exercise areas. The late 1970s/mid-1980s was a period when aircraft hijacking by armed quasi-military Palestine organizations was relatively common. In response, the Pirbright battalion were on stand-by to give military counter-terrorist support to Heathrow in Operation Trustee.
With the imminent departure of 3rd Commando Brigade and the probable need for another brigade, the Ministry of Defence reduced the Brigade’s ready-to-move status from the standard seven days to three days. Leave recall codewords were despatched to cancel the two-week Easter leave. On 9 April, the same day that SS Canberra sailed south to Ascension Island with 40 and 42 Commando and 3rd Parachute Battalion from Southampton, Brigadier Wilson held a planning conference at Brigade Headquarters where he explained that the Brigade had been warned for probable deployment to the South Atlantic either to support 3rd Commando Brigade or provide the garrison for the Falklands Islands and South Georgia for six months.
Air defence was provided by the Blowpipes of 43 Air Defence Battery from 32nd Guided Weapon Regiment. That 4th Field Regiment went to war with such a hotchpotch of organizations must be unusual for such an important asset. Its post-combat report briefly mentions the inability of the Regiment to train with 5th Infantry Brigade, but thereafter nothing further is said except to comment, pointedly, that the Brigade was not ‘only unfamiliar with 4th Field Regiment but with regimental gunnery as a whole, having no precedent for a gunner tactical headquarters and its services within the headquarters’.