Play / pause Coup de Main

Coup de Main

  • Chris Keeble
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon


Coup de main.

It's a military operation

meaning to do something extremely fast and quickly

using surprise, and guile, and skill

so the enemy has no warning that you're going to do it.

You arrive and you secure your objective.

And that was part of the ethos of the parachute regiment.

We were very lightly equipped, lightly armed,

so we have to rely on guile, speed,

and savagery of assault.

Old-fashioned gutter fighting.

Brigadier Wilson wanted to capture two settlements.

One was called Fitzroy and one was called Bluff Cove.

So I said, "What we'll do is a coup de main operation.

We'll fly two assault forces in one,

one to Bluff Cove, one to Fitzroy."

And we only had maybe 120 soldiers

to secure these two settlements,

so we had to do fast, at night,

and we needed to rely on the only platform

that was available to do that.

And that was the one surviving Chinook, Bravo November.

The Chinook platforms were on the Atlantic Conveyor,

and the Atlantic Conveyor was sunk.

And famous Bravo November was flying at the time

and didn't go down the craft.

It landed on the airstrip at Goose Green,

and as we were climbing in I needed 60 people

on the Chinook and the air loadmaster said, "I'm sorry,

but it's only a equipped," I think you said 30.

So one of my Sergeant Major's said,

"Well, you can fucking get off starters."

Of course, that was a bit rude,

but he made the point

that we needed 60 people on the Chinook.

And we got 60 heavily loaded paratroopers on the Chinook

with the ramp down and flew at low level towards Fitzroy.

The coup de main was unopposed.

So there were no RPGs and anti-aircraft weapons

in either settlement.

So there was no threat from that.

The threat probably was the weather.

The weather was appalling

and you had to be extremely skillful to fly in thick rain

and to fly at night with night goggles.

Requires an immense amount of skill.

So it was speed.

It was the skill of the pilots to navigate at very low level

across an unknown terrain,

'cause nobody, I don't think, had flown that route before,

and it enabled us to get in speedily and with surprise.

  • 2 PARA, Goose Green 1982

    © 2 PARA, Goose Green 1982

  • 2 PARA, Goose Green 1982

    © 2 PARA, Goose Green 1982

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