Dear readers, I thought that I should let you know that the first draft of my new book “The First Casualty – The Untold Story of the Falklands War” is finally complete and as of this morning is now with the publishers and the outstanding team at Navy Books. I think that it is, in a way, prophetic. It was my wonderful Mum who told me to follow my dreams and that I should be a writer of military history and it is to her that I owe the amazing hobby that I now call a job. She would have been 59 today.
It has been an incredible experience so far. Working with the amazing guys of Royal Marine Naval Party 8901 – the unsung heroes of the ‘Rorke’s Drift of the South Atlantic’, the battle for Stanley and the defence of the Falkland Islands on April 2nd 1982 – and also, I should say, with their erstwhile enemies, the Argentine veterans of the Commandos Anfibios, BIM2 and Buzos Tacticos. Thirty-four years after their epic fight, they are all now men with a shared history. There are no enemies any more.
This was a book which I was told could not be done. Stephen Ambrose, author of Pegasus Bridge, Band of Brothers and many other epic ‘first-person’ narrative histories was quoted at me often. He had ‘fumbled the ball’ on Pegasus Bridge, his first book, and had to go back to check and re-check everything and write the book again. He was better prepared for Band of Brothers. I was told that this task, covering the action not just from one side but from BOTH was simply impossible. I am happy to say that ‘they’ were wrong.
This is, without a doubt, my favourite book – either that I have written or even read. It is an outstanding story of men, nice guys, funny, witty, the kind of guys we would call our friends or see so much of in ourselves, suddenly hurled into an action in which there was no way out but certain death. Defending not just some old colonial outpost, but friends, family, homes and of course each other, these supermen fought, against all hope, and showed the world what Royal Marines can really do. By a miracle, they survived. They had fought one of the most epic last-stands since Rorke’s Drift 103 years before and they had survived. It was a miracle…a 7.62mm self-loading rifle miracle with guts, bravery and skill to back it up.
When these men came home, they wondered what sort of reception they would have. Would they be heroes? Would people still talk of their outstanding defence centuries from now as they did with Rorke’s Drift and the Alamo? Certainly they deserved it. Yet there was nothing. Their story had been wiped clean and swept away for political convenience. For years after, in books which were written about the Falklands War, they warranted barely a page and two at best – and all telling the same story of a ‘token and nominal defence’. When a film was finally made about them ten years later, it was inaccurate and only played up to the now-accepted story. The men called it ‘rubbish’, ‘crap’, ‘an embarrassment.’ Some people laughed at them. Others thought they had simply either not done their jobs or – and who could blame them? – had been overwhelmed and saved their own skins.
Now, for the first time, their story is being told. It is the story of an epic and gallant defence told not just by the men themselves, but by their opponents and the people of Stanley whom they fought like lions to protect. It is a story which is found nowhere else in the history books or on the internet. A story, backed by painstaking research, which proves for the first time that “The Rorke’s Drift of the South Atlantic” really did happen and that these heroes were sacrificed for political reasons. Their story hushed, perhaps to re-emerge when the secret files were opened in 2072 after they were all long gone.
It is a story of bravery, of heroism, of intrigue and espionage and of a cover-up which is stranger even than fiction, laid bare for the first time which proves ultimately that the first casualty in war is the truth.
NOTE: “The First Casualty – The untold Story of the Falklands War” by Ricky D Phillips will be available by November 2016 published by Navy Books. Stay tuned for updates!