Born in 1953 in Wortley, Yorkshire, Sergeant Ian McKay was one of the men in 3 Para The Parachute Regiment, which was given order to attack Mount Longdon during the Falklands conflict. He was killed in the battle.
A member of 4 Platoon B Company 3 Para The Parachute Regiment, Sergeant Ian McKay was born on 7th May 1953 in Wortley, Yorkshire. During the Falklands War, McKay was part of the unit tasked with launching an attack on Mount Longdon, which took place between 11th and 12th June 1982. When 3 Para began to close in on the slopes of Mount Longdon, they found it extremely hard going and knew that there were many well-placed Argentine machine gun banks. Indeed, so spot on was the Argentine machine gun fire that the advances was forced to be halted on more than one occasion.
During a time that the planned advance had had to be stopped, McKay led a number of men from 3 Para on a charge of an Argentine machine gun post that was blamed for causing many issues to the advancing British men on Longdon’s slopes. While this charge proved ultimately successful in that it achieved its aim, McKay was a casualty of the move and his body was found by other members of the 3 Para unit. Following his death on 12th June 1982, McKay was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross as a result of his bravery in leading the charge and ultimately losing his life as he strove to advance the fight.
McKay’s citations read:
“During the night of 11/12 June 1982, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment mounted a silent night attack on an enemy battalion position on Mount Longdon, an important objective in the battle for Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. Sergeant McKay was platoon sergeant of 4 Platoon, B Company, which after the initial objective had been secured, was ordered to clear the northern side of the long east/west ridge feature, held by the enemy in depth, with strong mutually supporting positions.
By now the enemy were fully alert, and resisting fiercely. As 4 Platoon’s advance continued it came under increasingly heavy fire from a number of well-sited enemy machine gun positions on the ridge, and received casualties. Realizing that no further advance was possible, the platoon commander ordered the platoon to move from its exposed position to seek shelter among the rocks of the ridge itself. Here it met up with part of 5 Platoon.
The enemy fire was still both heavy and accurate, and the position of the platoons was becoming increasingly hazardous. Taking Sergeant McKay, a corporal and a few others, and covered by supporting machine gun fire, the platoon commander moved forward to reconnoitre the enemy positions but was hit by a bullet in the leg, and command devolved upon Sergeant McKay.
It was clear that instant action was needed if the advance was not to falter and increasing casualties to ensue. Sergeant McKay decided to convert this reconnaissance into an attack in order to eliminate the enemy positions. He was in no doubt of the strength and deployment of the enemy as he undertook this attack. He issued orders, and taking three men with him, broke cover and charged the enemy position.
The assault was met by a hail of fire. The corporal was seriously wounded, a private killed and another wounded. Despite these losses, Sergeant McKay, with complete disregard for his own safety, continued to charge the enemy position alone. On reaching it he dispatched the enemy with grenades, thereby relieving the position of beleaguered 4 and 5 Platoons, who were now able to re-deploy with relative safety. Sergeant McKay, however, was killed at the moment of victory, his body falling on the bunker.
Without doubt Sergeant McKay’s action retrieved a most dangerous situation and was instrumental in ensuring the success of the attack. His was a coolly calculated act, the dangers of which must have been only too apparent to him beforehand. Undeterred he performed with outstanding selflessness, perseverance and courage. With a complete disregard for his own safety, he displayed courage and leadership of the highest order, and was an inspiration to all those around him.”
See also: The Causes of the Falklands War of 1982
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