Amphibious Assault Falklands: The Battle of San Carlos Water Paperback – 15 Feb 2007
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From the Back Cover
Since he was in charge of the amphibious operations in the Falklands War of 1982, it goes without saying that there is no one better qualified to tell the story of that aspect of the campaign than Commodore Michael Clapp. In answer to the obvious question, 'Why has it taken him nearly fourteen years to give his account of the vital role he played?' the answer will soon become apparent. Here he describes, with considerable candour, some of the problems met in a Navy racing to war and finding it necessary to recreate a largely abandoned operational technique in a somewhat ad hoc fashion. During the time it took to 'go south' some sense of order was imposed and a not very well defined command structure evolved. As Michael Clapp reveals, this was not done without generating a certain amount of friction. Here also is told how San Carlos Water was chosen for the assault and subsequent inshore operations. Michael Clapp and his small staff made their stand and can claim a major role in the defeat of the Argentine Air and Land Forces. Some of the facts revealed in this book will come as a surprise to many, both among those who 'went south' and among the armchair historians who think they know exactly what occurred. But Michael Clapp, aided by Ewen Southby-Tailyour and a mass of information given to them, has much to add to what has hitherto been told. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Michael Clapp is an author and historian.
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Top customer reviews
Michael Clapp was "Commodore Amphibious Warfare" during the Falklands War and co-author Ewen Southby-Tailyour was a serving Royal Marine Officer during that same conflict and whose knowledge of the waters of the Falklands was so invaluable before, during and even after the landings. It was Southby-Tailyour who warned the officer in charge (Not!, the Commanding Officer I hasten to add) of the party of Welsh Guardsmen on board the "Sir Galahad" to get ashore before they were attacked and offered assistance to this end. That officer, incidentally, refused the request and the Sir Galahad was later attacked with great loss of life.
Those, then, are the credentials of the two men who have collaborated in the writing of this book. It is an important historic document.
The Captain of any ship is "Master" of that ship. He also commands all the ship's boats and is ultimately responsible for ensuring the safe embarkation and disembarkation of all on board. From ships lifeboats (even life-rafts) to assault craft, considerable training and expertise is required in getting passengers safely away and safely ashore. Never more so than when under fire from a belligerent enemy.
In early 1982, a hastily assembled Royal Navy Task Force was steaming towards the Falkland Islands which had been invaded by a foreign force. The British troops on board the various ships were tried and tested veterans of Northern Ireland but had no experience of what was to come. Worse still, apart from the Commandos, most had little or not experience in going to war by sea.
The responsibility for putting them safely ashore rested with their Royal Navy `chauffeurs' and that responsibility came down to Michael Clapp. In this book he reveals - with considerable honesty, the full story of the events that led to the resultant victory on land. In so doing he had to adopt old, forgotten methods in a bid to find common ground for all concerned. It upset some - but then nobody likes change foisted upon them, especially senior officers. Point is, it worked!
The reasons why San Carlos Water was chosen is fully explained and, with hindsight, is probably the one single factor - more than any other, that led to the eventual victory.
I can identify with a no-nonsense, straight-talking officer who cares not what feathers he may ruffle when given an important task. It says much for his style and the decisions he took that nobody - senior officer or below, has ever challenged his honesty or the importance of this book.
For those with an interest in the Falklands war of 1982, this is essential reading.
(Retired British army major)
The authors come across as fundamentally decent human beings doing a difficult job in difficult circumstances. Throughout the book there is a feeling of honesty and that they are not re-writing history. Much has been made of what the book reveals about relations between the task group commanders and in particularly between Clapp and Thompson on the one hand and Sandy Woodward on the other. This book must be read in conjunction with the second or third edition of Sandy Woodward's own memoirs (also essential reading) to get a more rounded picture of this issue. I do not question the integrity of Clapp or Southby-Tailyour however there was another perspective and it must be remembered that Woodward himself was faced with an extremely challenging role and inadequate resources and that communications were nothing like as good in 1982 as in our own era. In the second edition of his book Woodward did recognise that communications had clearly not been as good as he considered at the time and did examine this from another perspective. Given the demands of the conflict and the resources made available it would be surprising if there had not been some tension and misunderstanding between the task group commanders and ultimately Woodward, Clapp and Thompson all served their country admirably and deserve the gratitude of their country.
Some have criticised the book for the detail and technical nature of the sections on amphibious warfare yet for me this is exactly why the book is so important and valuable. The book is almost like an instruction manual for the use of any officers following in the authors foot steps and provides answers to many questions as to why the campaign was fought as it was. Whilst some of it may seem to be minutiae of no interest, it is in this minutiae that answers to many of the bigger questions can be found. At the time there was much discussion over why the landings took place in San Carlos, this book provides a detailed explanation of why San Carlos was chosen and presents the case for San Carlos and why the alternatives were not suitable.
The book gives a detailed account of the sorry serious of mistakes that resulted in the losses at Fitzroy/Port Pleasant. Throughout the conflict Clapp had to live with the knowledge that his ships were vulnerable to air attack, he must have realised some of those under his command would not go home, it is a responsibility that I do not envy. Whilst the criticisms of 5 Brigade may seem heavy the account offered here is consistent with others and it is generally recognised that 5 Brigade made serious mistakes after their arrival in the Falklands.
The book is well written in an engaging style. Overall this is a superb book, essential reading for anybody with an interest not just in the Falklands Conflict but naval history in general whilst for anybody with an interest in amphibious operations it is a must have book. Very highly recommended indeed, 5*.
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