Memories of Goose Green

Memories of Goose Green

One of the corporals who fought at Goose Green during the Falklands War, John Geddes, described the part played in the battle by Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Jones, who was given the Victorian Cross after being killed in action.

Army corporal John Geddes has recalled memories of the Battle of Goose Green during the Falklands War and of the part played by Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert Jones, known as H. Jones, who was killed in the conflict. Geddes was employed in Patrols Platoon, assisting 2 Para as they moved towards Goose Green following their landing at San Carlos Bay. While Geddes was extremely complimentary about Jones, describing him as “a cracking bloke, the best boss I ever had in the army”, he queried his posthumous receipt of the Victoria Cross.  Jones was awarded the medal as recognition for his role as commanding officer of 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment during Goose Green. Geddes, however, feels that Jones failed in a number of ways during the battle, including striving for glory for 2 Para as a unit, something which may have altered his decisions.

Before the Falklands War began, the 2 Para unit had been based in Kenya on a training exercise. While there, Patrols Platoon men had effectively shot Jones as he had moved too far to the front of the fighting.

Another reason listed by Geddes was that Jones’ plan of attack was far too convoluted and was quickly proven to be unworkable as he was denied support from the helicopter and Harrier side due to thick coastal fog. These issues, said Geddes, were not caused directly by Jones but were linked to the lack of flexibility in his battle plans. “There was a message from the boss whose tendency to micro-manage had burst to the fore and got worse as the battle went on,” said Geddes.

Jones appeared unable to delegate the decision making to those he should – namely men on the ground. An example of this, given by Geddes, was that of Major Phil Neame, who thought he had located a safe beach route by which the unit could get behind Argentine positions but was refused permission by Jones to use it.

Geddes also referenced an incident relating to A Company, which was being led by Major Dair Farrar-Hockley. A Company had confirmed it wished to move quickly towards Darwin Ridge, proceeding stealthily under the cover of darkness. However, Jones refused to allow them to proceed until he had reached their position and could assess their plan. This lost hour ensured A Company was exposed to greater risk as they then had to move in the breaking dawn.

Jones is also said to have rejected a suggestion by Support Platoon’s Captain Peter Ketley that Milan anti-tank missiles should be utilised in the conflict against Argentine trenches. Rather, Jones planned to use them further down the line in the fight against armoured vehicles.

In terms of positioning, Geddes felt that Jones should have been located close to the back of the battle in order that he would gain a better overall picture of the conflict. This, Geddes believed, would have allowed Jones to plan accordingly.

Although his command team – and his bodyguard - was unaware of his plan, Jones called for a heavy machine gun to take position up a gorse gully. The message “Sunray is down” over the radio meant that Jones had been hit.

Geddes was not intending to be critical of Jones, however he believes that he should have stepped back from battle in order to better assess what it really took to win the conflict. The death of the overall battalion commander was a major blow and, overall, says Geddes, what Jones did was “lionhearted but ill-conceived and futile.”

See also: Battle of Goose Green

MLA Citation/Reference

"Memories of Goose Green". 2023. Web.