Commando Medics in the Falklands War by Malcolm Hazell Fleet Air Arm Royal Navy

Commando Medics in the Falkland War by Malcolm Hazell

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This is a unique account of the Falkland War, told by former Commando Medic, Malcolm Hazell, who led a team of 39 men, initially at Ajax Bay, and subsequently at Teal Inlet where they were alongside members of the Special Boat Service (SBS) and the Commandos specialist Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre (M&AW Cadre).

Detailed accounts are given of the facilities the medical team provided at both locations, and the largely untold military role Teal Inlet played in defeating the Argentine Forces. Above all this is a graphic account of the war, and its many battles, including Naval gunfire support provided by destroyers and frigates, and the damage and losses resulting both ashore and afloat. Having written the account, shocking anomalies regarding fatalities from both sides of the conflict are uncovered and remain unresolved.

The pivotal role played by the Commando Helicopter Pilots of 845 and 846 Naval Air Squadrons and 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron is fully emphasised, and the author is clear that the remarkable success his men enjoyed in saving so many critically injured lives from both sides of the war, was in no small measure also due to the heroic endeavour of these pilots, often flying in the most appalling weather conditions and visibility, to evacuate the wounded.

Malcolm Hazell's medical team played a full part in the reception and treatment of around two thirds of all the casualties treated ashore, ably supported at Ajax Bay by both Royal Navy and Parachute surgical teams; but they subsequently had to negotiate very hard to secure any surgical support at Teal Inlet, and in the end gained the vital support of a single Parachute surgical team, comprised of just one surgeon and a handful of other medics to manage an operating table. When weather conditions deteriorated as the war reached its climax, the team at Teal Inlet were the sole receiving medical facility, placing an unimaginable strain on the facility, much of which was under-canvas. If this was not enough, Argentine and British fatalities were also being flown back to the facility - something that has proven highly controversial and contentious as the author has sought to clarify anomalies he identified in 2020, only to be met with denials and silence.

Also told in some detail is the conversion of the British Merchant liner Uganda, into a Hospital Ship. Complete with a helicopter flight deck, the conversion remarkably took just a few days to complete at Gibraltar, and the author explains the crucial role this ship and its Royal Navy medical staff played in receiving and treating casualties from the medical facilities ashore, and their subsequent evacuation out of the war zone to Montevideo, utilising Royal Navy survey ships, re-rolled as ambulance vessels.

This is not just a medics story however, and the reader is given a full understanding of the tactical situation throughout the account, on a day by day, blow by blow basis - how each piece of turf had to be proven to be free of the invading Argentine forces, or recaptured, and herein the book gives a detailed description of the extensive mine threat that confronted the British Forces ashore. Commando Medics in the Falkland War provides a complete insight into almost every aspect of this brutal war.


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