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Montevideo, December 13th 2018 - 16:19 UTC

British Royal Marine returns to Battlefield.

Monday, April 15th 2002 - 21:00 UTC
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Not surprisingly perhaps, Royal Marine Warrant Officer 2 John Cartledge, shows little emotion as he talks fluently and openly about the 10 hours battle for Mount Harriet, which he experienced nearly 20 years ago. He confirms the view that those Servicemen who stayed on in the Forces after the 1982 War, recovered far more quickly from their ordeal, than those who decided to return to a civilian way of life.

?Being with like-minded people who undertake this sort of job on behalf of the Government has really helped. I never get bad dreams or suffer stress-related problems - I remember it as part of a job, which I had to undertake. I have no bad feelings about it whatsoever', said the 38 year old Royal Marine, who served with 42 Commando during the War.

Recently published statistics show that more soldiers, on both sides, have committed suicide since the war, than those actually killed during the hostilities.

The war veteran returned this week to the Falklands, with a large group of media representatives, all sponsored by the Ministry of Defence in London. He has re-traced his steps on Mt. Harriet for television cameras, posed for pictures for the photographers and meticulously given graphic accounts of the battle, to the written press.

He was just 18 years old when he found himself, on a cold winter's night; in below freezing temperatures, attacking Argentine positions, in the dead of night, on the eastern slopes of the mountain. Typically the Royal Marines had carried out a whole series of reconnaissance missions, over a period of 10 days, before finally engaging in the assault.
They caught many of the Argentine 4th Infantry Battalion sleeping in their tents, as they approached, not from the closer western side as expected, but from the south-east, having taken the longer but tactically superior route.

It was a bloody and vicious battle as John Cartledge recalls. ?We closed to within 10 meters of the enemy, when Argentines would jump up out of the trenches, actually trying to move away from us, where we were fortunately able to cut them down'.

Only 2 British soldiers were lost during the well-planned and well-executed assault on Mt. Harriet. One Royal Marine died during the course of the battle, and another later to Argentine artillery fire.

Warrant Officer Cartledge was quick to praise the fighting abilities and spirit of the defending Argentines. ?They used the tactics which they had been taught along the way very well, and they were quite well prepared for an attack. They put up a strong fight from start to finish. They were also better equipped than we were. We had first generation night sights, which were large cumbersome pieces of equipment, while the Argentines had second generation American night sights that were compact and so much better than what we had.
The one deficiency which we exposed was that they had planned for a western end of the mountain attack, and therefore had not bothered to extended their defensive positions to the eastern end, where we ultimately attacked'.

Looking back at the events of 20 years ago, John Cartledge admits that being in a battle at the tender age of 18 gave him, ?a whole new perspective on life. I do not take matters that seriously now, I can actually ride out things that would be a major problem to other people, I just take it in my stride'.

However he admits that returning to Mount Harriet this week brought back unpleasant memories of friends badly wounded and maimed in action. ?I think about how they suffered, being left alone as we continued the attack - the order was given prior to the battle that our injured would have to remain where they fell, and we had to continue the attack, and pick them up later. It was a very difficult order to obey, particularly if it was your best mate who had been shot'.

He has no doubt that the cost of liberating the Falklands was worth the effort. ?Any war that we undertake is a failing by the politicians to do their job. So long as the people that we have liberated or fought for appreciate what we have done, in giving lives for their freedom, then I think it's very much well worth it'.

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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