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Reasons in Writing: A Commando's View of the Falkland's War.

Many men and their skills saved the Falklands in 1982. Some have been acknowledged. One who should be is the author of this book. In 1977, Royal Marine Commando Ewen Tailyour was ordered to the Falklands with a ridiculously small detachment of 44 men to restructure defense proceedings and to act as a 'trip wire' to buy time if invasion occurred. Privately, he undertook a detailed and unique charting of the Islands (for which he was elected yachtsman of the year) without which the very complicated amphibian landings would have been impossible.

Tailyour calls this mission his love story with the Islands he grew to understand so well. But the more he learned the more horrified he grew at the shifty attitudes of the Foreign Office, all too ready to let the Islands go to Argentina if they could be shuffled off quietly. Despite Lord Shackleton's Report in 1976, showing that the Islands could maintain independence with a few more yards of airstrip, the Foreign Office pleaded poverty, nicely overlooking the fact that far from being a burden the Islands had more than pulled their weight on the economic front.

There had been Argentinian landings in 1964 and 66, and after the Southern Thule incursion of 1976 invasion remained a real far for the Islanders. And a real fear to Ewen Tailyour, pulled out in 1979 for an appointment at Greenwich Staff College, where he continued to preach the danger and value of the Falklands, not only from Argentina but from a then envisaged Soviet stranglehold on South America and the Cape route; also the economic and strategic value of Antarctica.

He at least, was not surprised when the call came on April 2nd, 1982. 'Reasons in Writing', is a military requirement that those involved in an enterprise explain their actions. This book is an attempt to clarify the very complicated logistics of amphibious landing and the human conflicts too. Commandoes are of necessity somewhat maverick and were not encouraged by the disciplinarians of the senior services. In particular there were clashes with Admiral Woodward who seemed to find the Commando Brigade 'rather an embuggerance', messing up his blockade plans.

In his final reflections Tailyour regrets the personal alienations which may have hindered victory and regrets even more he did not convince Staff College in 1979 that the Islands were worth bothering about. Like Rex Hunt, he concluded that politicians and the FCO were the biggest threat to the defense of the Falklands. He hopes that the large tri-service base now established should keep the Islands safe in their role as guardian to the southern entrance to the Pacific. But the political sword still hangs over the gains from that Austral autumn. And the ghost of the Malvinas (oddly named from the French settlers from St. Malo, once a British possession) has not left the South Atlantic.
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Author:Mortimer, Molly
Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 1993
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