Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Battle of Mount Longdon from the Argentine Point of View

Click this image for an expanded view. Argentine forces are represented in blue and British forces in red.

This battle was one of the bloodiest of the Malvinas/Falklands War. Both British and Argentine forces fought bravely in a vicious night fight where even bayonet charges were seen.

The purpose of this entry is to share some notes from official after action reports by the Ejercito Argentino (Argentine Army) and other book sources.

  • Mt. Longdon was at the west edge of the "sector Plata" (Silver sector), assigned to the 7th Infantry Regiment.
  • Mt. Longdon was defended by a reinforced infantry company, Company B of the 7th Infantry Regiment (keep in mind that in the Argentine Army's TOE, regiments have assets equivalent to a NATO battalion). Company B was reinforced with medium machine guns and had only one shooting system with night vision capability. The company had around 20 night vision goggles.
  • In charge of the defense of Mt. Longdon was the 7th Infantry Regiment's XO, Major Carrizo-Salvadores.
  • The Argentine troops were deployed in prepared defenses on Mt. Longdon as a strong point,  providing 360 degree security but with the main effort oriented west.
The British started pounding Mt.Longdon with indirect fire around dusk. These fires intensified around 2030.
At 2105, a British Paratrooper stepped on a mine west of the 1st Platoon position and all hell brook loose. 
  • During the pandemonium of battle, the 3rd Artillery Group forward observer attached to Company B (Lt. Alberto Ramos) added the following words to one of his calls for fire the base of fire near Puerto Argentino (Port Stanley): " This is hell. There are English [sic] everywhere and it's hard to figure out if what's falling is our artillery supporting us or the English [sic] artillery supporting them. The whole battlefield gets periodically illuminated by illumination rounds." (Translation is mine)
At around 2230 the situation was pretty intense.
  • Major Carrizo-Salvadores has lost all communication with the 1st Platoon
  • The west edges of the positions of the 2nd and 3rd Platoons were engaged with enemy forces coming from the west.
  • Leaders of 2nd and 3rd Platoons severely wounded
  • Artillery forward observer Lt. Ramos dead. Last transmission received from him was "We withdraw east".
The reserve Platoon (1st Platoon, 10th Engineers Company) is ordered to counter-attack using the south side of the slope through the 3rd Platoon. This counter-attack losses momentum and is blocked by the British. At 2400 this is the situation:
  • Major Carrizo-Salvadores receives confirmation from 1st Platoon troops withdrawing east that their platoon leader is dead.
  • Loss of communications with the 7th Regiment HQ (jammed signal?). Only available comms were with Army Group and a request for counter-attack with troops of the 7th Regiment is sent.
  • The whole Mt. Longdon position is divided in half by a British artillery barrage (this is probably the artillery barrage on the top of the hill that the British Paras requested just before securing the summit)
A counter-attack with troops of the 7th Regiment (C Company) starts pushing through the north slope of Mount Longdon at around 0230. It also becomes blocked. By this time, even when the total withdrawal form Mount Longdon has not been ordered, men from the 10th Cavalry Squadron (dismounted) secure a position southeast of Mt. Longdon in order to facilitate the withdrawal of the other troops towards Wireless Ridge. At 0500, the situation for the Argentines is desperate. Ammunition is critical, defenses penetrated at many points with lots of fighting positions are already surrounded (which in turn makes difficult to use indirect fires). At 0600, the order of withdraw is received. The Argentine withdraw towards Wireless Ridge ended at 0800.

Of the 278 men deployed at Mount Longdon, only 78 could withdraw ...

You can war game this battle with ProSim's "The Falklands War: 1982". A screenshot of the Mt. Longdon scenario is below.



Anonymous said...

Wondering a bit here, what was the reason of the British victory/Argentine defeat at Mt Longdon ?

-> British manpower (more troops used ?)
-> Firepower (arty ?)
-> ... ?

Rgds, Koen

JC said...

Hi Koen,

Thanks for your comment.

I would put my money in the superior British training. Don't forget the Argentine 7th Infantry Regiment was composed of conscripts who never trained for night operations. I don't know back then, but right now the British Army trains very hard for night operations.

Also, I would add the lack of a security zone in front of Mount Longdon. There was a minefield in front of the position, but when a British Para stepped on it it was already too late to catch the British in the open terrain below with indirect fire.

The 7th Infantry Regiment's deployment (Sector "Plata", covering both Mount Longdon and Wireless Ridge) is indeed very strange. It looks like the whole Regiment was oriented north, with Mount Longdon being just a strong point covering the left flank. I once asked to an Argentine Army Colonel about this and he was intrigued on how in the AARs the Coy boundaries or the 7th Infantry Regiment are actually labelled as phase lines(?!). Unfortunately we couldn't continue our weekly conversations about this (he had to leave his post as a military attache in Washington DC).


Anonymous said...

"The British started pounding Mt.Longdon with indirect fire around dusk. These fires intensified around 2030.
At 2105, a British Paratrooper stepped on a mine west of the 1st Platoon position and all hell brook loose."

Point of Information:

The advance of 3 PARA on the western flank of Longdon was a 'silent' attack- that is, made without mortar, artillery or Naval gunfire support.

It was only when Cpl Milne stepped on a mine and the Argentinians were made aware of the British presence, that the battle went 'noisy' and 3 PARA subsequently called in fire support.

Anonymous said...

I read the Daily mail today with Great Humor. Quote "The Paras routed enemy positions and secured a heroic victory." Actually the truth is different. The Argentinians where outnumbers, they had 278 conscripts versus the "heroic" Brits who had 450 Paratroopers and Commando's. As for a route, the Argentinians had 31 KIA and the Brits had 23 KIA.

james said...

Hi, if you're interested in the Falklands war, Parachute Regiment, Mount Longdon, then read the new book 'Three Days in June'

GeorgeA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC said...

Hi GeorgeA,

Pity you removed your comment. I humbly ask you to put it back if possible.