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Down South: A Falklands War Diary Hardcover – 16 Feb 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (16 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670921459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670921454
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.5 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 475,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A truly gripping historical document (Niall Ferguson )

A steady stream of participants' diaries has appeared. The best I have seen so far is Down South (Max Hastings Sunday Times )

Excellent. A fascinating war diary (Sir John Nott Daily Telegraph )

It 'checks out' to an extraordinary level of detail - but it's the 'feel', the 'atmosphere', the sense of the personalities and the politics - the behaviours - which makes it really real and come alive (Kevin White (Weapons Engineering Section Officer In Hms Antrim) )

A vividly written, thought-provoking and engaging contemporaneous account (Sue Corbett The Times )

A gripping account of heroism - and chaos - in the South Atlantic (Mail on Sunday )

A graphic description of just how they pulled off a real-life Mission Impossible (John Ingham, Defence Editor Daily Express )

Vivid and insightful (Tim Newark Financial Times )

About the Author

After university, Chris Parry joined the Royal Navy as a Seaman Officer in 1972 and then became an Observer in the Fleet Air Arm in 1979. He was mentioned in despatches for his part in some of the actions described in this book. As well as several operational tours and Ministry of Defence appointments, he commanded HMS Gloucester, HMS Fearless and the UK's Amphibious Task Group. On promotion to Rear Admiral in 2005, he became the MOD's Director of Developments, Concepts and Doctrine. He was appointed a CBE in 2004. Now retired from the armed forces, he heads a company which specializes in geo-strategic forecasting.


Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
".. impossible .. the Navy do not know the word .."
- General Carton de Wiart VC, Norway, 1940

1n 1982 Rear Admiral Chris Parry was the Observer of Humphrey, HMS Antrim's Wessex helicopter. In that capacity he became the only Fleet Air Arm Observer to incapacitate an enemy submarine since 1945, and he helped first insert and then rescue the SAS from a misguided attempt to enter South Georgia via the Fortuna Glacier, and experienced many other helicopter operations well beyond the safety parameters of normal peacetime practice. Every night he wrote, for himself, a detailed account of his and his ship's activities and his thoughts regarding them; for, as a graduate historian, he recognised that all other accounts would be informed by hindsight and rationalisation; his would be unvarnished actuality. He demonstrates this at the end where, the war over, he has to correct the ship's Report of Proceedings where some matters have been incorrectly recorded and some remembered `with advantages' as Shakespeare says.

In 2009 while sorting out for a house move the author rediscovered in a forgotten trunk this loose-leaf diary of the Falklands War, which is now presented to the general reader. We are assured that it is unedited except for the deletion of some items that would cause distress. Given the tart nature of some of his immediate (and apparently justifiable) comments on such targets as John Nott (I never have understood why he was knighted, that seemed to me to be on a par with Caligula making his horse a consul), Admiral Woodward, HMS Endurance and her captain, Cindy Buxton and her father, and unsurprisingly the BBC World Service, one can only regret losing what has been excised.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an astonishing day by day account of the Falklands conflict kept by a young officer in the Fleet Air Arm, highly educated, well trained and sailing to test his vocation in one of the most hostile environments on earth. As he nears the South Atlantic you can feel the tension rising and he soon gets the chance to prove his mettle, dropping SAS troopers on a glacier in an Arctic gale and having to return, three times, 24 hours later in a terrifying blizzard which had just downed two accompanying aircraft, to rescue them. The book catches the uncertainty, the camaraderie, the fear and the courage to overcome it that make war compulsive reading. Chris Parry reflects on friendship, loss, honour and patriotism. Though a junior officer he was never frightened to offer an opinion and the fact that his opinion more often than not turned out to be right explains why he now writes as a Rear Admiral. This is a moving and inspiring book which shows that the call to arms can speak to the highest and best in human nature.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I served in HMS Antrim with Chris Parry during the conflict, and am very impressed with his diary. Chris was an inspiration to all of us at the time, and I am not surprised that he went on to reach flag rank. So much nonsense has been written, especially about the South Georgia operation, and I am so glad that the record has been put straight particularly concerning the contribution made by HMS Endurance on the cripping of the Argentinian submarine Sante Fe. I did wonder whether the book would appeal to people without a naval background, but my non-military brother-in-law enjoyed reading it, though he found the constant acronyms a bit tiresome. There is a comprehensive glossary, though. A thoroughly good read, and a bargain at 12 quid.
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Format: Hardcover
Chris Parry's Down South offers an exceptional insight into the workings of the mind of a bright young officer, eager to discover his true potential in exceptional circumstances, during a historic moment in time. Parry's writing style is very engaging and fluid, the prose descriptive, and the diary's narrative is peppered all the way through with amusing anecdotes, poetry, quotes and prayers. I particularly enjoyed the stories about the people Parry was sharing his life with at the time - his respect, fondness and admiration for them is evident - as well as his reflections on what should be learned from the Falklands War experience.
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I served on HMS Antrim during the South Atlantic campaign and kept my watches on the flight deck as one of the SMAC 19/233 helo handlers (many ex-RNers will have had the cold, wet pleasure, I'm sure) appointed from the ship's company as distinct from the flight itself, so I spent the time in close proximity to Parry. I can certainly vouch for the accuracy of the book as regards the events, the "feel" of the ship and the high morale that was maintained on board during the period. Obviously (as with all historical events), my view of how certain things panned out differs but that's neither here nor there.

Interestingly, a friend of mine was looking for more insight into Antrim's campaign when Parry's book was (somewhat fortuitously) published. I purchased copies for both of us and read the whole thing over a weekend, accompanied occasionally by a rather splendid Dalwhinnie 15 year old malt (I rarely drink rum these days!)and a very good read it proved to be.

He captured succinctly the view of Antrim's ships company regarding the Army second wave that arrived on the QE2, it was quickly apparant that they had been very isolated on their trip south and appeared to be quite taken aback by the battle damage the ship had received. His point that they viewed themselves initially as garrison troops was also accurate (although to be fair, this changed rapidly on arrival in the FI, vis the performance of the Scots Guards on Tumbledown).

My only minor quibble with the book is the point that (Captain) Brian Young comes across as an, at times, slightly querulous character in need of Parry's advice, this is very much at odds with the view of majority of those who knew him during the campaign or after his RN service.
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