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Encyclopedia > Battle of Two Sisters
Battle of Two Sisters
Part of Falklands War
Date 11 June - 12 June 1982
Location Two Sisters Ridge, Falkland Islands
Result British victory
Combatants
Flag of United Kingdom United Kingdom Flag of Argentina Argentina
Commanders
Lt. Col. Andrew Whitehead Maj. Ricardo Cordón
Strength
600 Royal Marines 350 troops
Casualties
8 Killed
17 wounded
20 killed
54 captured
Falklands War
Argentinian InvasionPebble IslandSeal CoveGoose GreenTop Malo HouseMount HarrietTwo SistersMount LongdonWireless RidgeMount Tumbledown
Selected east Falkland mountains
Selected east Falkland mountains

The Battle of Two Sisters was an engagement of the Falklands War during the British advance towards the capital Stanley that took place on the 11/12 June 1982. Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Sir John Fieldhouse Sir John Woodward Margaret Thatcher Leopoldo Galtieri Mario Menéndez Ernesto Crespo Casualties 258 killed[1] 777 wounded 59 taken prisoner 649 killed 1,068 wounded 11,313 taken prisoner The Falklands War (Spanish: ) was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the... June 11 is the 162nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (163rd in leap years), with 203 days remaining. ... June 12 is the 163rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (164th in leap years), with 202 days remaining. ... 1982 (MCMLXXXII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Argentina. ... Andrew Whitehead maintains a website highlighting the alleged connection between the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Islamist movements in the United States and elsewhere. ... Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Sir John Fieldhouse Sir John Woodward Margaret Thatcher Leopoldo Galtieri Mario Menéndez Ernesto Crespo Casualties 258 killed[1] 777 wounded 59 taken prisoner 649 killed 1,068 wounded 11,313 taken prisoner The Falklands War (Spanish: ) was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the... 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 Captain Rod Boswell 2nd Lieutenant Luis Albert Brown Strength 19 troops 16 troops Casualties 3 wounded 5 killed 6 wounded 5 captured The Battle of Top Malo House was fought on the 31st May 1982 during the Falklands War, between Argentinian Special Forces from 602... Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Lt. ... Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Lt. ... Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Lt. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Image File history File links Map of East Falkland showing mountains and settlements in the Mount Longdon area. ... Image File history File links Map of East Falkland showing mountains and settlements in the Mount Longdon area. ... Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Commanders Sir John Fieldhouse Sir John Woodward Margaret Thatcher Leopoldo Galtieri Mario Menéndez Ernesto Crespo Casualties 258 killed[1] 777 wounded 59 taken prisoner 649 killed 1,068 wounded 11,313 taken prisoner The Falklands War (Spanish: ) was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the... Official website: http://www. ... (Redirected from 11 June) June 11 is the 162nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (163rd in leap years), with 203 days remaining. ... June 12 is the 163rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (164th in leap years), with 202 days remaining. ... 1982 (MCMLXXXII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


The British force consisted of 45 Commando (45 CDO), Royal Marines under Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Whitehead (who later became a general) with support from six 105 mm guns of 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery. 2 PARA was in reserve. Naval gunfire-support was provided by HMS Glamorgan's 2 x 4.5 inch (114 mm) guns. The Argentinian force consisted of the 4th Infantry Regiment (RI 4). Command of Two Sisters was entrusted to Major Ricardo Cordón, second in command of RI 4, with the bulk of the defenders drawn from C Company with the 1st Platoon (Sub-Lieutenant Miguel Mosquera) and 2nd Platoon (Sub-Lieutenant Jorge Pérez Grandi) on the northern peak and the 3rd Platoon (Sub-Lieutenant Marcelo Llambias) on the southern peak and the 1st Platoon A Company (Sub-Lieutenant Juan Nazer) and Support Platoon (Second Lieutenant Luis Carlos Martella) on the saddle between the two peaks. Major Óscar Jaimet's B Company of the 6th Regiment occupied the saddle between Two Sisters and Mount Longdon. The Royal Marines (RM), are the Royal Navys elite fighting forces. ... 29 Commando Regiment is the Commando-trained unit of the British Armys Royal Artillery. ... The Royal Regiment of Artillery, generally known as the Royal Artillery (RA), is, despite its name, a corps of the British Army It is made up of a number of regiments. ... The Parachute Regiment is the Airborne Infantry element of the British Army. ... HMS Glamorgan (D19) was a County-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. ...


On 4 June the three companies of 45 CDO advanced on Bluff Cove Peak, on the lower slopes of Mount Kent, and was able to occupy the feature without opposition and was met by patrols from the SAS. Enemy opposition was desultory but on the night of 29 May a fierce firefight developed in taking the two important hills, that were intended to form part of an Argentine Special Forces line. Captain Andrés Ferrero's patrol (3rd Assault Section, 602nd Commando Company) made the base of Mount Kent but were then promptly pinned by machinegun and mortar fire. One Argentine NCO was wounded. Air Troop had two wounded from rifle fire. Probing attacks around the D Squadron positions continued throughout the night and at 11:00 AM on 30 May, about 12 Argentine Commandos tried to get up the summit of Bluff Cove Peak, but were driven off by D Squadron SAS which killed two of the party, First Lieutenant Rubén Eduardo Márquez and Sergeant Óscar Humberto Blas. First Lieutenant Márquez and Sergeant Blas showed great personal courage and leadership in the contact and were subsequently awarded the Cross for Heroic Valour in Combat (CHVC). During this contact the SAS suffered two casualties from grenades. The Argentine Commandos literally stumbled on a camp occupied by 15 SAS troopers, according to special forces historian Martin Arostegui who wrote Twilight Warriors: Inside The World's Special Forces (p. 205, Bloomsbury, 1995). Throughout 30 May Royal Air Force Harriers were active over Mount Kent. One of them in responding to a call for help from D Squadron attacked Mount Kent's eastern lower slopes and that led to its loss through small-arms fire.


A heavy mist hung over the Murrell River area and this assisted the 45 Commando Recce Troop to reach and sometimes penetrate the Argentine 3rd Platoon position under Sub-Lieutenant Marcelo Llambias. Marine Andrew Tubb of Recce Troop was on these patrols:

We were actually inside the Argentine position, so we ended up shelling ourselves. We did a lot of patrols up to Two Sisters ... that time [6 June] we pepper-potted [retreated] for about 400 metres to get out [the 3rd Platoon sergeant, Ramón Valdez, had launched a counterambush], through the Argy lines firing 66 [mm] rockets to fight through and regroup. We got artillery again to smoke us out. It took us well over an hour to get away and it seemed like a few minutes. We killed seventeen of them [two Army privates and three Sappers of a Marine mine-laying party were actually killed], and all we had was one bloke with a flesh wound.

—Robin Neillands, By Sea & Land: The Story of the Royal Marine Commandos, p. 402, Cassell Military Paperbacks, 2000

For his patrol action, Lieutenant Chris Fox received the Military Cross. In general terms, the Argentines were thoroughly entrenched, about 6000 metres or less across a no-man's-land. The Argentine positions were mined and patrolled heavily.


At about 2.10 am local time on 10 June a strong 45 Commando fighting patrol probed the 3rd Platoon position. In the ensuing fight Sergeants M. Cisneros and R. Acosta were killed; two more Argentine Commandos were wounded. The British military historian Bruce Quarrie wrote later: June 10 is the 161st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (162nd in leap years), with 204 days remaining. ...

A constant series of patrols was undertaken at night to scout out and harass the enemy. Typical was the patrol sent out in the early hours of the morning of 10 June. Lieutenant David Stewart of X-Ray Company, 45 Commando, had briefed his men during the previous afternoon, and by midnight they were ready. Heavily armed, with two machine-guns per section plus 66 mm rocket launchers and 2-inch [described by the British as 81 mm] mortars, the Troop moved off stealthily into the moonlit night towards a ridge some 4 km away where Argentine movement had been observed. Keeping well spaced out because of the good visibility, they moved across the rocky ground using the numerous shell holes for cover, and by 04.00 [1 am local time] were set to cross the final stretch of open ground in front of the enemy positions. Using a shallow stream for cover, they moved up the slope and deployed into position among the rocks in front of the Argentine trenches. With the help of a light-intensifying night scope, they could see sentries moving about. Suddenly, an Argentine machine-gun opened fire and the Marines launched a couple of flares from their [81 mm] 2-inch mortars, firing back with their own machine-guns and rifles. Within seconds three Argentine soldiers and two Marines were dead. Other figures could be seen running on the hill to the left, and four more Argentine soldiers fell to the accuracy of the Marines' fire. By this time, the Argentine troops further up the slope were wide awake, and a hail of fire forced the Marines to crouch in the shelter of the rocks. The situation was becoming decidedly unhealthy and Lieutenant Stewart decided to retire, with the objective of killing and harassing the enemy well and truly accomplished. However, a machine-gun to the Marines' right was pouring fire over their getaway route, and Stewart sent his veteran Sergeant, Jolly, with a couple of other men to take it out [They knew they were cut off with what looked a poor chance of escape. In these circumstances any panic or break in morale and the game was up]. After a difficult approach with little cover, there was a short burst of fire and the Argentine machine-gun fell silent. Leapfrogging by sections, the Troop retreated to the stream, by which time the Argentine fire was falling short and there were no further casualties.

—Bruce Quarrie, The Worlds Elite Forces, pp.53-54, Octopus Books Limited, 1985 June 10 is the 161st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (162nd in leap years), with 204 days remaining. ...

First Lieutenant Jorge Vizoso, an Army Commando, said later 'It was just like New Year's Eve fireworks' and claimed to have shot four or five Royal Marines.


Captain Ian Gardiner's X-Ray Company spearheaded the attack on Two Sisters, accompanied by the Unit's Commando trained padre, the Revd Wynne Jones. Lieutenant James Kelly's 1 Troop took the western third of the spineback on the southern peak of Two Sisters (Long Toenail) with no fighting taking place. However at 11:30 PM local time (see No Picnic, p.131), Lieutenant David Stewart's 3 Troop ran up against a very determined defence on the spineback and were unable to get forward. Beaten from their attempt to dislodge the Argentine 3rd Platoon, Lieutenant Chris Caroe's 2 Troop threw themselves at the platoon but the attack was dispersed with the help of artillery fire. For three or four hours X Ray Company was pinned down on the slopes of the mountain (According to Nicholas van der Bijl who wrote Nine Battles To Stanley). Colonel Andrew Whitehead realized that a single company could not hope to secure Two Sisters without massive casualties, and brought up the battalion's two other companies.


At about 12:30 AM local time (see No Picnic, p. 132)Yankee and Zulu Companies attacked the northern peak (Summer Days) and after a very hard two hour fight against two platoons and despite heavy machinegun and mortar fire, succeeded in capturing 'Summer Days'. The Z Company platoon commander, Lieutenant Clive Dytor, won the Military Cross by rallying his 8 Troop and leading it forward at bayonet point to take Summer Days. Yankee Company then advanced to attack the final objective capturing all of its objective all the way to the eastern end of Two Sisters. Second Lieutenant Aldo Franco and his RI 6 platoon successfully prevented Yankee Company from attacking the C Company as it withdrew from Two Sisters. Private Óscar Poltronieri who held up Yankee Company with accurate shooting with his rifle and a machinegun, was awarded the Cross for Heroic Valour in Combat (CHVC), the highest Argentine decoration for bravery. (Source Martin Middlebrook, The Fight For The Malvinas, Leo Cooper Paperbacks, 2003) Clive Dytor is headmaster of The Oratory School (Woodcote, nr Reading) and served with distinction in the Falklands War being awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in action. ...


The Argentinean Army Official Report on the war recommended Major Oscar Jaimet and CSM Jorge Pitrella for an MVC (Medal for Valour in Combat) for their conduct of their fighting withdrawal and subsequent behaviour on Tumbledown (this was later granted).


Nevertheless after the war had ended, many British officers were bitterly critical of the supposed lack of leadership the Argentinean commanders had provided on the battlefield. Indeed Colonel Andrew Whitehead looked in wonderment at the strength of the positions the enemy had abandoned. 'With fifty Royals,' he said, "I could have died of old age holding this place.' (Max Hastings, Going To The Wars, p. 363, Macmillan 2000) The reality of the defence of Two Sisters Mountain is that C/RI 4 offered a full-blooded resistance.


Sergeant-Major George Meachin of Yankee Company, would later praise the fighting abilities and spirit of Lieutenant Martella's Support Platoon:

We came under lots of effective fire from 0.50 calibre machineguns ...At the same time, mortars were coming down all over us, but the main threat was from those machinegunners who could see us in the open because of the moonlight. There were three machineguns and we brought down constant and effective salvoes of our own artillery fire on to them directly, 15 rounds at a time. There would be a pause, and they'd come back at us again. So we had to do it a second time, all over their positions. There'd be a pause, then 'boom, boom, boom,' they'd come back at us again. Conscripts don't do this, babies don't do this, men who are badly led and of low morale don't do this. They were good steadfast troops. I rate them.

—Bruce Quarrie, op. cit., p. 55, Octopus Books Limited, 1985

Hugh Bicheno described the moonscape of devastation:


Although Wireless Ridge and the saddle between Tumbledown and William are still heavily scarred, even after more than twenty years the beaten zone between the Two Sisters bear the most eloquent witness to the awesome power of the British artillery, which fired 1,500 shells at the Two Sisters that night. The still-churned area occupied by Nazer's platoon in particular leaves one in no doubt why they decamped immediately, while the saddle itself is dimpled with craters, testimony to the tenacity of Martella's HMGs and mortars. (Hugh Bicheno, Razor's Edge: The Unofficial History of the Falklands War, p. 242, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006)


There were no 'military pygmies' on the southern peak. The X-Ray Company Marines were in awe of the depleted 3rd Platoon who had put up such determined resistance, and their company commander in the book Above All, Courage (Cassell Military Paperbacks, 2002) later said:

A hard cadre of some twenty men had stayed behind and fought, and they were brave men. Those who stayed and fought had something. I for one would not wish to face my Marines in battle.

A lone rifleman on Long Toenail held out long after resistance had ended on the mountain. There was a humorous moment when the Revd Wynne Jones called to his Marines that he was 45 Commandos' padre.


Losses to the Commando had been high. Three Royal Marine Commandos and one Marine from 59 Independent Commando Squadron, Royal Engineers were killed taking Two Sisters and a further four had died in the skirmishes in no-man's-land, bringing the total to eight killed. Another 17, including platoon commanders (Lieutenants Fox, Dunning and Davies) had been wounded. The Argentines left behind 20 dead and 54 were taken prisoner. Captain Mike Barrow, in HMS Glamorgan, had bravely remained later than ordered to support Captain Ian Gardiner's company of Marines who were having a tough time on the southern ridge of Two Sisters, and had paid the penalty for overstaying the night-she was hit by a land based Exocet missile when she cut across the Exocet danger zone area to get away from the daytime air-threat. Thirteen British sailors died. The Corps of Royal Engineers (RE), commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army. ...


References

See also


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