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Encyclopedia > Battle of Top Malo House
Battle of Top Malo House
Part of Falklands War
Date 30th May 1982
Location Mount Simon, Falkland Islands
Result British victory
Combatants
United Kingdom Argentina
Commanders
Captain Rod Boswell Captain Vercesi
Strength
19 troops 13 troops
Casualties
3 wounded 2 killed
6 wounded
5 captured
Falklands War
Argentine InvasionPebble IslandSeal CoveGoose GreenTop Malo HouseMount HarrietTwo SistersMount LongdonWireless RidgeMount Tumbledown

The Battle of Top Malo House was fought on the 31st May 1982 during the Falklands War, between 1st section Argentine Special Forces from 602 Commando Company and a patrol formed from staff and students of the British Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre, a training unit of the Royal Marines placed under Operational Control of 3 Commando Brigade for Operation Corporate.[1] Combatants Argentina United Kingdom Commanders Presidente Leopoldo Galtieri Vice Admiral Juan Lombardo Brigadier General Ernesto Crespo Brigade General Mario Menéndez Prime minister Margaret Thatcher Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse Rear-Admiral Sandy Woodward Major General Jeremy Moore Casualties 649 killed 1,068 wounded 11,313 taken prisoner 75 fixed wing... Year 1982 (MCMLXXXII) was a common year starting on Friday (link displays the 1982 Gregorian calendar). ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Argentina. ... Combatants Argentina United Kingdom Commanders Presidente Leopoldo Galtieri Vice Admiral Juan Lombardo Brigadier General Ernesto Crespo Brigade General Mario Menéndez Prime minister Margaret Thatcher Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse Rear-Admiral Sandy Woodward Major General Jeremy Moore Casualties 649 killed 1,068 wounded 11,313 taken prisoner 75 fixed wing... Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Governor Rex Hunt Major Mike Norman RM Major Ian Nott RM Major Phil Sommers FIDF Admiral Carlos Busser Lieutenant commander Guillermo Sánchez-Sabarots Lieutenant commander Pedro Giachino† Strength 46 marines 11 RN sailors 25 FIDFs troops 600 troops (some 60 actually clashed with... The Raid on Pebble Island took place on 14-15 May 1982[citation needed] during the Falklands War. ... Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Captain Anthony Morton (HMS Yarmouth) Captain John Coward (HMS Brilliant) Captain Jorge A. Gopcevich-Canevari (ARA Monsunen) Strength 1 Type 22 frigate Frigate 1 Rothesay class Frigate 1 Armed coastal ship Casualties None Coastal ship beached (later taken in tow and rescued by ARA Forrest... Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Lt. ... Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Lt. ... Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Lt. ... Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Lt. ... Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Lt. ... Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Lt Col. ... Combatants Argentina United Kingdom Commanders Presidente Leopoldo Galtieri Vice Admiral Juan Lombardo Brigadier General Ernesto Crespo Brigade General Mario Menéndez Prime minister Margaret Thatcher Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse Rear-Admiral Sandy Woodward Major General Jeremy Moore Casualties 649 killed 1,068 wounded 11,313 taken prisoner 75 fixed wing... The Special Operations Forces Group (Spanish: Agrupación de Fuerzas de Operaciones Especiales, AFOE) is a special operations unit of the Argentine Army, created the December 6th of 2005 as the first operational element of the Proyecto Ejército Argentino 2025. ... The 602 Commando Company (Spanish: Compañía de Comandos 602) is a special operations unit of the Argentine Army, created May 21st, 1982. ... The Mountain Leader Training Cadre is a training element of the Royal Marines providing expertise in Mountain Warfare, cold weather survival and operations, and cliff assault. ... The Royal Marines (RM), are the Royal Navys elite fighting forces. ... 3 Commando Brigade is the main manoeuvre force of the British Royal Marines. ... Operation Corporate was the codename given to the 1982 British military involvement in the Falkland Islands during the Falklands War. ...

Contents

Background

Captain Rod Boswell of the Royal Marines Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre and eighteen of his men undertook the task which originated from a report made on 27 May by a four man patrol from the Cadre sited in an Observation Post on Bull Hill.[citation needed] The four man patrol had established the OP on the 21st of May as one of a number of small reconnaissance teams who were the eyes and ears of the Brigade.[citation needed] is the 147th day of the year (148th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...


Reconnaissance

The four man patrol were well forward on Bull Hill on the route from Teal Inlet to Stanley. They had just reported back to say that this may be the last message because two Argentine UH-1 helicopters were hovering over the OP.[citation needed] The helicopters flew off in the direction of Mount Simon; however, the sergeant commanding the team believed that the aircraft had probably dropped off Argentine Special Forces on the lower slopes of Mount Simon.[citation needed] The subsequent message back to Brigade Headquarters alerted the staff to the threat of Argentine Special Forces sited on high ground on the approaches to Teal Inlet and beyond. It would be the task of Captain Boswell and his team to eliminate this enemy. Teal Inlet and northern East Falkland Teal Inlet is a settlement on East Falkland, in the Falkland Islands, on the south shore of Salvador Water. ... Map of the Falkland Islands showing position of Stanley. ... The Bell UH-1 Iroquois, commonly known as the Huey, was a multipurpose military helicopter, famous for its use in the Vietnam war. ...


On the evening of the 30th of May Captain Boswell received a message from one of the patrols, in an OP on the lower slopes of Mount Simon, that they had just seen two Argentine UH-1 helicopters deliver a patrol of about sixteen men at Top Malo House, a deserted Shepard's house just 400m from their position. They also reported hearing several other helicopters in the vicinity.[citation needed]


It was already getting dark, which ruled out a Harrier GR3 strike against the house, and the location was out of range of the British artillery.


During 29 May the radio operator of the Argentine patrol after trying all morning, suddenly managed to get a message through to 10th Brigade HQ, that there was an air corridor to and from San Carlos to Mount Kent. Contact was immediately lost, never to be re-established. San Carlos is a settlement in northwestern East Falkland, lying south of Port San Carlos on San Carlos Water. ...


The Argentine patrol

The commander of the patrol was Captain Vercesi, commander of the 1st section, 602 Commando Company. The patrol was formed by 8 men of the first section plus two soldiers with Blowpipe missile. There was also one medic (First Sergeant Pedrozo) and First Sergeant Helguero from 601 Commando Company as the scout.[2] Canadian 129th Anti-Aircraft Defense Battery missile team with Blowpipe during NATO exercise Cornet Phaser. ... The 601 Commando Company (Spanish: Compañía de Comandos 601) is a special operations unit of the Argentine Army, created January 5, 1982. ...


The mission

Boswell was tasked with eliminating the patrol at Top Malo. The planned assault involved a helicopter insertion early on the morning of the 31st, landing in dead ground about 1000m away from the house, and attacking the house.


The battle

Embarked in a Sea King HC4 of 846 Naval Air Squadron, part of the Commando Helicopter Force, the team was loaded with sufficient supplies and ammunition to last a week in the field. The overloaded helicopter took off on a 45km flight, depositing the team on exactly the right spot to allow disembarkation for the short transit to the target. A seven-man fire team moved off to the left to take up a position 150m away from Top Malo House to provide support fire for the twelve-man assault group led by Boswell.[citation needed] There was a significant risk of compromise as the team was wearing dark uniforms against the snow, leading to the possibility of visual detection by sentries.[citation needed] Unknown to the British, the Argentines heard the helicopter's flying and accelerated actions to take their equipment and leave the house. For the original Viking use of the name, see Sea-King. ... 846 Naval Air Squadron is a squadron of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. ... The Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) is a component of the British Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. ...


Boswell initiated the engagement about two hours after dawn, following an order to fix bayonets, by firing a green flare into the air. This was the signal for the support group to fire six M72 LAW 66mm light anti-armour rockets at the house. As the first rocket was fired an Argentine sentry (Lieutenant Ernesto Espinosa, who was the Argentine sniper in the patrol) moved to the window of the upper floor, being immediately shot and wounded by a Corporal Groves in the support team armed with a sniper rifle.[citation needed] Lieutenant Horacio Losito says that Lt Espinosa raised the alarm and at the same time opened fire on the approaching British troops allowing the Argentines to get out of the house. ("Speaking Out" Michael Bilton & Peter Kosminsky pg. 195). One of the British members of the fire team was close enough for his 66mm LAW rocket launcher to be hit by Espinosa. As the LAW rockets hit the house it burst into flames. Boswell and his group charged forward, halted, fired two more rockets, and then charged again. The Argentines ran from the house to a nearby stream-bed about 200m away, firing as they ran. Lt Espinosa on the top floor was killed by a 66mm round while Sergeant Mateo Sbert was shot dead as he gave covering fire as the remaining Argentines exited the single door. Two British personnel, a sergeant and a corporal, were hit and badly wounded. The ammunition stacked inside the house exploded. As the British assault group moved forward the smoke from the burning building provided screening from the accurate fire from the Argentine commandos firing from the stream bed. ("No Picnic" Julian Thompson pg. 96) The M72 LAW (Light Anti-Tank Weapon, also referred to as the Light Anti-Armor Weapon or LAW) is a portable one-shot 66 mm anti-tank weapon, designed in the United States by Talley Defense Systems, produced by Nammo Raufoss AS in Norway. ...


The firefight went on for about forty-five minutes. ("Twilight Warriors" Martin Arostegui pg. 205)


With ammo running very low and two thirds of their patrol killed or wounded Captain Vercesi elected to surrender. Lieutenant Espinosa and Sergeant Sbert were awarded the posthumous Argentine Nation to the Heroic Valour in Combat Cross for this action. Argentine Nation to the Heroic Valour in Combat Cross (Spanish: ) is the highest national military decoration in Argentina. ...


Aftermath

Two Argentines were killed, six wounded and another five taken prisoner, with three of the British force having been wounded. ("The Fight for the Malvinas" Martin Middlebrook pg. 199) After the battle Captain Boswell comment to the Argentine Commander was: "Never in a house...". Unknown to the British the entire assault had been watched by Red de Observadores del Aire (R.O.A.) observation positions on Malo Hill and Mount Simon. In fact, a four man patrol led by Lieutenant Hadow watched the action from a nearby position just on the other side of Malo river. Fourteen R.O.A. personnel from these positions surrendered to 3 Para the next day. The Malo River (seen sometimes as Arroyo Malo - also its Spanish name) is a river in East Falkland, Falkland Islands [1]. It is so called from the Breton port of St Malo (also the root of Malvinas - Malouines), as the French were the first to settle in the Falkland Islands. ... The Parachute Regiment is the Airborne Infantry element of the British Army. ...


References

  1. ^ RAF.MOD.UK RAF history of Op Corporate accessed 26 Nov 06
  2. ^ The combat for Top Malo House in "Asi peleamos,Malvinas" by Colonel Horacio Losito Biblioteca Soldados, Argentina, 2006.

See also

  • [1] "It's horrible not even having a memory of someone. You love them, but you never knew them". By Gabriela Espinosa whose father Lieutenant Emilio Espinosa was killed in the Top Malo House fighting

 
 

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