The Parachute Regiment played an integral part in the re-taking of the Falkland Islands. The Parachute Regiment fought decisive battles at Goose Green, Teal Inlet and Mount Longdon and by the end of the campaign the regiment had won two Victoria Crosses.
All land forces were grouped in 3 Commando Brigade. 3 Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, was the Spearhead Battalion attached to 3 Commando. 3 Para left the UK for the Falklands on April 9th, just seven days after the Argentine invasion. ‘SS Canberra’ was to be the home for 3 Para until they arrived at the Falklands and could make land. 2 Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, left for the Falklands on April 26th on ‘MV Norland’.
3 Commando Brigade landed at Ajax Bay on the night of May 21st/22nd. 2 Para established itself on Sussex Mountain thus protecting the south of the bridgehead. 3 Para landed near San Carlos Bay. Here they had a brief fire-fight with about 40 Argentine soldiers before establishing themselves. While they were dug in, supplies were unloaded. Both 2 and 3 Para had to contend with daily air attacks by the Argentines.
On May 26th, 2 Para was ordered to move south and to engage the Argentine Strategic Reserve and airfield on the Darwin/Goose Green peninsula. 2 Para attacked in the early hours of May 28th. They were assisted by naval and artillery gunfire but sea mist made any support from the Sea Harriers and helicopters very difficult. As a result, 2 Para had to engage in an infantry assault against an Argentine force that was heavily dug in. Numerous Argentine machine gun placements were well positioned and defended. 2 Para’s commander, ‘H’ Jones was killed when he led an attack against one of these machine gun posts. Jones was later awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his leadership and bravery. On May 29th, the Argentines surrendered to 2 Para. They captured over 1,250 prisoners and had killed about 50 Argentinean soldiers – not the 256 that was, as a figure, given to the media.
On May 27th, 3 Para set out to capture Teal Inlet; a task achieved by May 29th. In the final move to Port Stanley 3 Para was ordered to attack Mount Longdon. The attack started on the night of June 11th. The target was well defended but 3 Para succeeded in taking Mount Longdon by next morning. In the attack, Sergeant Ian Mackay was killed while attacking an Argentine position that had been well dug-in. Mackay was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery. Despite taking Mount Longdon, 3 Para had to hold their position for another 48 hours despite intense Argentine artillery bombardment. In total, 3 Para lost 22 men killed in the attack on Mount Longdon.
While 3 Para was holding Mount Longdon, 2 Para was ordered to attack Wireless Ridge on June 13th. Aided by mortar fire from 3 Para, Wireless Ridge was quickly taken. After Wireless Ridge, Argentine resistance collapsed and the move to Port Stanley became swift. Men from 2 and 3 Para’s were the first to enter Port Stanley.
During the Falklands campaign, 2 and 3 Para lost 40 men killed and 93 injured. Both battalions were awarded 68 gallantry medals including two Victoria Crosses.