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Scram!: The Gripping First-hand Account of the Helicopter War in the Falklands [Paperback]

Harry Benson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
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Book Description

11 Oct 2012

In April 1982 Harry Benson was a 21-year-old Royal Navy commando helicopter pilot, fresh out of training and one of the youngest helicopter pilots to serve in the Falklands War. These pilots, nicknamed 'junglies', flew most of the land-based missions in the Falklands in their Sea King and Wessex helicopters. Much of what happened in the war - the politics, task force ships, Sea Harriers, landings, Paras and Marines - is well-known and documented. But almost nothing is known of the young commando helicopter pilots and aircrewmen who made it all happen on land and sea. This is their 'Boys Own' story, told for the very first time.

Harry Benson has interviewed forty of his former colleagues for the book creating a tale of skill, initiative, resourcefulness, humour, luck, and adventure. This is a fast-paced, meticulously researched and compelling account written by someone who was there, in the cockpit of a Wessex helicopter.

If you liked Apache, Vulcan 607 and Chickenhawk, you'll love Scram!

The word "Scram" was used to warn other junglies to go to ground or risk being shot down by their own side as Argentinean jets blasted through 'bomb alley'.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow (11 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099568829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099568827
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 95,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"This is the real deal - amazing stories of a forgotten front line from one who was there" (Patrick Bishop)

"Harry Benson’s book is immensely readable as a lucid, exciting account of the entire Falklands conflict, and valuable too, as written by a combatant, not a historian. With a Falklands commander warning us only this week that Britain without aircraft carriers can never again send a Task Force to the other side of the world, this book reminds us that we may need more Harry Bensons" (Daily Mail)

"Excellent" (Daily Telegraph)

"Excellent…truly must-read stuff" (Flight International magazine)

"A detailed account of the outstanding contribution of the medium-lift Marine and Royal Navy Wessex and Sea King helicopters…The best part of the book is his account of the frantic pace of helicopter support for land operations from D-Day on 21 May" (Literary Review) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

This is the thrilling untold story of the young helicopter pilots - most barely out of their teens - who risked their lives during this brief but ferocious war.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scram 19 Mar 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This fascinating account of the helicopter war in the Falklands in 1982 is long overdue. Harry Benson's style of writing perfectly captures the highs and lows of the contribution that all the different types of helicopters made to that conflict; in particular the 'Junglies'. I particularly enjoyed the way he moves around in time and location without ever losing the flow of the 'story'. His research has been meticulous and he has cross-checked details to ensure accuracy throughout. I was there myself for much of the conflict and know nearly all the characters in the book. Nonetheless, there are many incidents and anecdotes of which I was unaware and 'Scram' has filled in several gaps in my own memory and knowledge.

This is a really enjoyable book which I thoroughly recommend to anyone interested in this aspect of British military history.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SCRAM By Harry Benson. Filling in the details. 2 April 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Describing itself as `The Gripping First-Hand Account Of The Helicopter War In The Falklands" Harry Benson's book is exactly what it says on the tin. My own memories of the Falklands linger on 2 things. The sinking of the Sheffield and the indelible image of the Marines / Paras walking off across the bleak snow covered landscape of the Falklands, the last soldier having The Union Flag fluttering from his backpack. The details of the war have been filled in by Harry Benson's very well researched and brilliantly written book. The thrill of flying as fresh young Helicopter pilot, the precariousness of the job at times, the risks and near misses, the comradeship and dark humour in the most difficult of times, the courage of the pilots and the horror of war come across clearly and the book is also very moving in describing the human cost on both sides. Whilst he is describing the war from the perspective of the Helicopter Squadrons you get a real sense also of the bravery and courage of the Navy and Armed forces on the ground. A very good read for those who wish to know the reality of war beyond the TV images.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than Just a Story About Junglies 6 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a book right out of the top drawer. 'Scram' could be taken, simplisitically, as a series of exciting stories about the Falklands War and the commando helicopter operations, and that would make a good read in any event. But Harry Benson manages to weave in a deeper layer which brings to the foreground the personal and emotional aspects of any pilot, in any war, and with great subtlety. For example, a throw-away (but repeated) thematic (such as 'Where are the Pucaras?') can be a powerful instrument in putting across the constant fears and uncertainties that grip both the subject of the book (the aviator) and the book's target (the reader him or herself), and Harry uses this art well.

As well as the story of the Falklands battles, Harry manages to introduce some very useful, and readable, background threads such as information about general naval and flying training, the political lead up to the war, and how the wider Task Force went about his job, without breaking up the flow and tempo of the text. Neither did he fall foul (too much) of the normal temptations to criticise politicians, strategies, various commanders and other operational units, retrospectively. This would have been too easy for a book that rises above the normal 'My War and Wot I Fink of It' genre. Taking two examples, the fact that his squadron commander remained at Ascension Island throughout the war leading to command and control problems for the Wessex helicopter units, and that the Vulcan missions to bomb Stanley Airport had limited operational effect blown (sic) out of all proportion to the effort involved, were not developed as so as to interrupt the tight ambit of the narrative 'From the Sharp End'.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By Seaweed
I have already read a library copy and hugely enjoyed this most interesting book, but I have been sent the Arrow paperback edition (for review by the Army Rumour Service website) so must sing for my supper. I must record that I have equally enjoyed reading it again. Benson was a `Jungly' (naval Commando helicopter) pilot in the Falklands War, but these are not only his own reminiscences but those of his peers, culled from over forty personal interviews and other material, so a number of different hairy escapades are covered. He has done a very good job of the difficult task of making a coherent narrative covering the whole period - from South Georgia to the surrender - out of a patchwork of reminiscences from so many different people. And he has done us a public service in ensuring that their reminiscences are preserved. The idea of pulling all this together in a book came to him after a 2007 reunion and so this book is unlike, for instance, Chris Parry's `Down South' which was written up from that author's contemporary diary.

The Junglies themselves were luffed into the Falklands affair from Culdrose, Yeovilton, leave, and Northern Ireland, where the Fleet Air Arm had four Wessex maintaining two on call to the Army (the RAF needed twelve aircraft for the same job).

As to the RAF, like many other writers Benson calls out the pointlessness of that RAF exercise in self-advertisement, the Black Buck raids, backed up by a Jungly's photograph of the Stanley runway `in pretty good condition'. Benson also puts the blame for the loss of two irreplaceable Wessex on the Fortuna Glacier, and the near loss of a large number of ill-spared professionals, squarely on the SAS for their refusal to listen to those who knew better.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very easy to read
Very easy to read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and having read a number of publications on the Falklands it was good to get the perspective from people doing the job. Read more
Published 1 month ago by phantomfan
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good story
Published 1 month ago by David McRuvie
4.0 out of 5 stars accurate and informative
still reading it but so far a very accurate and informative account.
i was there so i know
Published 3 months ago by
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I loved this book. Typical understated response you get from the forces. Well worth a read! Would recommend it to all.
Published 3 months ago by NICK cochrane
2.0 out of 5 stars What, How and I know it was 1982!
Hi Harry! Were we in the same conflict? Didn't recall some of the incidents in your book and as a AAC pilot (not flying in the conflict though) I couldn't work out where these... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dr. C. Evans.
5.0 out of 5 stars Supreme courage
This is an excellent account of the helicopter war in the Falklands in 1982. The aircrews and groundcrews demonstrated great ability and courage in extraordinarily difficult... Read more
Published 5 months ago by TheMan
5.0 out of 5 stars SCRAM
FACINATING a good read and very informative if you are interested in aviation or just want to know more about the Falklands war this book is worth your time
Published 8 months ago by Ray Marra
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT.
As the author stated at the beginning of the book, nobody had ever written a book about the exploits of the helicopter pilots involved in the Falklands war. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Penny1702
5.0 out of 5 stars great book, must read
This book isnt just about helicopters. It tells the complete history of the falklands. I learnt bits that i never knew. Looking for a good book this wont let you down.
Published 9 months ago by stu
5.0 out of 5 stars A real page turner
A fantastic read. Humour, tragedy and drama, this book has the lot. So glad that I bought it, and well done to the author for giving such life and context to the stories.
Published 11 months ago by Jay Grady
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