Wednesday 24 January 2018

2018 - A good man never dies: Dr Rick Jolly

              A GOOD MAN NEVER DIES

                                 Eduardo C. Gerding  

                             Surgeon Captain Rick Jolly (1946-2018)

                                      A good man never dies--
                                      In worthy deed and prayer
                                     And helpful hands, and honest  eyes,
                                     If smiles or tears be there:
                                    Who lives for you and me--
                                    Lives for the world he tries
                                   To help--he lives eternally.
                                   A good man never dies.
                                         James Whitcomb Riley(1849-1916)

Richard Tadeusz Jolly was on October 29th, 1946 in Hong Kong and brought up in Singapore. The son of a Polish prisoner-of-war held by the Japanese for five years, he was educated at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire. 4
Stonyhurst College is a coeducational Roman Catholic independent school, adhering to the Jesuit tradition. The college was founded in 1593 by Father Robert Persons SJ at St Omer,at a time when penal laws prohibited Catholic education in England. After moving to Bruges in 1762 and Liège in 1773, the college moved to Stonyhurst in 1794. 7

                                                                    Stonyhurst College 


Jolly studied medicine at St Bartholomew’s Hospital qualifying as a doctor in 1969. 4

St Bartholomew's Hospital, also known simply as Barts and later more formally as The Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew, is a hospital located at Smithfield in the City of London and founded in 1123.
In 1970 Dr Jolly married to nurse Susie Matthews .4,6
The couple’s only child, James, died in 1989 aged 17 from a hereditary disease. “James died at home in our arms. Susie and I had been there for his entry into the world and it was a fierce privilege to see him out — but also a Garden of Gethsemane that still brings grey, empty and aching days,” he said later. “I was fulfilled by war, and, despite the sadness, by the experience of James’s death. I’ve looked inside myself and I’m at peace now. I’m not looking any more.” 4

Rick Jolly joins the Royal Marines

Jolly entered on a five-year short commission as a Surgeon Lieutenant, then, in 1972, completed the arduous commando course — reputed to be the toughest in the world — earning himself the coveted green beret. Despite this he refused to carry a gun during the Falklands conflict, explaining that he was there to save lives not take them.
His first postings included being medical officer to 42 Commando RM in Belfast. He also served with the Fleet Air Arm and as medical officer at Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth. He briefly left the service in the late 1970s but was recalled to command the Royal Marines Medical Squadron in 1980. 4

Dr Jolly: The man

Jolly was a strapping man, brave, personable and eloquent. He liked spicy curry and a gin and tonic. By always putting his men before all else, he invariably garnered their loyalty. But it was the attributes of kindness and thoughtfulness that defined his life and ensured his successful leadership at Ajax Bay. 4
He had a fine sense of humor:  In Chap 47 Instructions for Medical officers:If arduous duty had been undertaken such as recovery of survivors or bodies by a seabot crew, and where the CO and medical officer concurred, two thirds of a gill of comercial spirit could be issued at public expense to each of those personnel involved. The rules said nothing about the CO and medical officer being the same person! 5
He still recalled how Dr. Peter Mayner the Canberra ship´s surgeon rescued  him with an injection for sea sickness. And also how was he ready to die for Surgeon Captain (Frank)Roger Wilkes who apologized for the bad things he said on Jolly´s arrival and offered a sparkling gin and tonic in each hand. 5

The beginning 5

In his book Doctor for Friend and Foe, Jolly describes how his Falklands campaign began  just before 5 in the morning in April 2nd. He was called by Lieutenant Colonel Ivar Hellberg the Commanding Officer(CO)of the Commando Logistic Regiment,Royal Marines. He would remember as well the cheerful can do attitude by Caoptain Chs Kirton,the Mobilization Stores Officer at Ludgershall. Dr Jolly was never carried out by the stereotype imposed on Argentines and described then by a history graduate. Instead he did some reasearch in which he found that there was no predisposing  ill will towars Great Britain amongst masses in Argentina and, what´s more ,in Buenos Aires he found there were even public buildings that bore the stamp of British arquitechture and design. He rembered as well the advise of Marine Garcia who was raised in South America telling: ¨these guys will not negotiate from what they perceive is a position of strength¨.
It was of an utmost importance for him to train his men in gunshot wounds through colourslides. A process which was called The Doc Jolly´s Horror Show.
Dr Jolly was kind but firm as he had to deal with old prejudices betwen red and green berrets. Anyone who wouldn´t stick to his orders would be sacked. We now had just one purpose in life to ensure that they did not die of their wounds
Things were not easy as he had to face as well the action of an unco-operative senior colleague who confused seniority(a quality base don time in Rank)and command (A specific set of powers and responsabilities vested or delegated by Her Majesty´s authority in an individual)
Dr Jolly described his first war casualty as an idle idiot of a fire sentry in Europic Ferry who had been playing with a grenade detonator.    Out of boredom he removed the firing pin, then tried to replace it. 
The explosión blews everal fingers off and also drove metal fragments into his face and chest

Medical observations 5

To his amazement he found that the concept of delayed primary suture was not know among the medical and nursing staff of the Uganda but the same mistake was observed among Argentine patients treated by their own doctors.
His group was critisised for not observing and recording core temperatura,blood pressure, pulse rate and haemoglobin levels in each of the wounded men at Ajax Bay. One editor even used this fact as justifiction for rejecting their results for publication. Jolly said: If only those self appointed experts could have been transported from their ivory towers straight to the bloody realitis of Teal Inlet, Fitzroy and Ajax Bay

HMS Ardent (May 21st, 1982)

The HMS Ardent suffered three attack waves. The third on May 21 at 15.01hs by six A-4Q Skyhawks of the EA33.
Surgeon Commander Rick Jolly watched as the Royal Navy Type 21 Frigate was engulfed by fire. He was hovering near by in a Wessex helicopter hunting for casualties to take back to the Task Force hospital ship SS Canberra. 4
Despite wearing neither a proper life jacket nor an immersion suit, Jolly insisted on being winched down to pluck two men who had escaped from HMS Ardent from the freezing South Atlantic waters. 4
HMS Ardent medical officer Surgeon Lieutenant Simon Ridout was missing presumed dead . 5
La HMS Ardent  burned all night and finally sunk at 04.30 on May 21.

Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Jones (May 28th, 1982)

Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Jones, VCOBE (14 May 1940 – 28 May 1982), known as H. Jones, was a British Army officer and posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC).  He was awarded the VC after being killed in action during the Battle of Goose Green for his actions as commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, Parachute Regiment. It was Jolly who closed the eyes of Colonel “H” Jones VC, the commander of 2 Para. 4

The Red and Green Life Machine field hospital

Ajax Bay is a settlement on East Falkland. It is on the north west coast, on the shore of San Carlos Water, a few miles from Port San Carlos. It was mainly a refrigeration plant, and was developed by the Colonial Development Corporation in the 1950s, which was also responsible for developing Port Albemarle. Many of the pre-fabricated houses were moved to Stanley. During the conflict, the first British bridgehead was established on San Carlos Water. Ajax Bay was one of three landing points, and codenamed "Red Beach" as part of Operation Sutton
The facilities at Ajax Bay were set up in a disused mutton factory (which had been empty for 30 years) . This last was situated next to an ammunition dump, as those were the only roofed buildings available of any size fit for purpose. 2
The red was for the maroon berets of the airborne community and green for those of the commando brigade.4
As the nearby ammunition dump was a legitimate target, the British land commander, then Brigadier Julian Thompson, ordered that no red cross be painted on the hospital’s tin roof, in line with the Geneva Convention.

Three days after it opened, an Argentine Skyhawk jet hit the former refrigeration unit with two bombs, which sat unexploded in the rafters as bullets were removed from patients below. 4
Over the coming weeks of the Falklands conflict, Jolly  the senior medical officer of 3 Commando Brigade RM  and his 120-strong team treated more than 1,000 injured soldiers, sailors and airmen.(Humane) losing just three patients, according to a government-commissioned history of the conflict. 6 . Only three of the 580 British soldiers and marines wounded in action were to die of their wounds and none while under the care of Dr Jolly. 2
Casualties from the battles at Goose Green, Mount Harriet and Mount Longdon, as well as 120 men from the crippled RFA Sir Galahad, were all dealt with successfully in these basic conditions.
The Falklands war veteran Simon Weston said: “Without his organisational skills, the surgeons and medics would never have functioned. I can only thank him for saving my life and many others.”2
‘Humanity after victory,’ was Lord Nelson’s prayer before Trafalgar and that’s what we had,” he said of the Falklands field hospital. 4

The treatment of Argentine casualties

With his team Dr Jolly operated more tan 300 casualties of which 78 were Argentine soldiers. 10
 We looked after the Argentinians like our own. Our ships even took them home before us: a first in the history of war.  4
 “Many of the Argentine conscripts were very frightened and suspicious when they came to us,5
People assume you’ve got to hate your enemy but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he told Britain’s Sunday Mirror in 2012. “The only people who know what you’re going through are the people on the other side. 6
When I have been asked what I would have done if I had to choose between who to treat first — an Argentine or a Brit — my reply has always been I would have treated whoever was in most urgent need of attention.As far as I am concerned you have to be able to look into your soul and like what you find there. 4

Dr. Jolly´s first Argentine casualty

His first Argentine casualty was a young pilot of a Skyhawk A4C, Lieutenant Ricardo ¨Tom¨ Lucero (C-319), shot down by a missile Rapier . Lucero was badly injured when he ejected into the water. The Royal Marines raced to get him, dragged him into a boat and took him back to HMS Intrepid (the same ship he attacked) and then to Ajax Bay. Jolly said : It made me feel sick to think that Royal had been pointing a rifle at the chap instead of helping him. Lucero´s  left kneecap was about four inches away from its customary position.
Jolly welcomed him. “I said, ‘Here you are among friends’ . . . He looked at me and you could see he didn’t really believe it and thought I was going to set him up for a little torture perhaps.”
Instead Jolly ensured that a message reached Lucero’s wife, Marta, informing her that he was alive and had been taken prisoner. Lucero credited the British with saving his life.
Lucero died on March 3, 2010 in a plane crash while fumigating a soy field in the  Sacanta area at about 125 Km south of the province of Cordoba. 4,5,9

Personal considerations 5

Dr Jolly said: It suddenly struck me, with total clarity that I was watching history in the making, as well as the phenomenon of history repeating itself.
I picked myself up off the floor sat on the canvas seating, and brerathed a huge sigh of pride and relief, realising that I had now done at least one genuinely useful thing in my life. As a team and against the odds we had saved another human being from death!

Dr. Jolly leaves the Royal Navy

Jolly left the Royal Navy in 1996 when he helped to found the South Atlantic Medal Association — he was its first chairman — and led a group of 250 Task Force veterans on a visit to the Falklands to mark the 20th anniversary of the conflict. He also raised money for the cause by delivering talks around the country.4


Jolly’s books included The Red and Green Life Machine: A Diary of the Falklands Field Hospital (1984) which sold 40,000 copies, Jackspeak: a Guide to British Naval Slang and Usage(2011), which is still in print and explains such terms as “scab-lifter” (doctor), “a drop of roughers” (heavy seas) and “bum nuts” (eggs).(Humane and)and Doctor for friend and foe (2012).


Jolly was awarded an OBE in the 1983 South Atlantic Honours List and was later promoted to the rank of Surgeon Captain. Sixteen years later, he visited Argentina with the Prince of Wales and was presented with the Orden de Mayo in gratitude. The Orden de Mayo is given to "The virtue, the merits of the people who promote the special recognition of the Nation and of humanity, as well as to reward eminent services by those to the Nation.". Dr Jolly was the only one awarded by both countries. We are the people who understand how nasty and miserable war is.” 2
Given that this was a foreign decoration, Jolly was required to write to the Queen to request her permission to wear the medal with his other awards. She assured him that he should wear it on all occasions”.4

  Surgeon Captain Rick Jolly with his medals from Argentina and Britain, 1999 –Credit: Sam Morgan Moore.- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2018/01/14/surgeon-captain-rick-jolly-naval-surgeon-falklands-war-obituary/  8


Dr Jolly died from complications arising out of long-term ill health, on January 13, 2018, aged 71 at his home in Torpoint, Cornwall 2,4 . His death was reported by British news organizations, including the Times and Telegraph newspapers, which did not give a precise cause. 1,6

Regarding death, Gabriel Rockhill  professor of philosophy at Villanova University and founding director of the Atelier de Théorie Critique at the Sorbonne in Paris stated : There is, as well, a psychosocial dimension that survives our biological withdrawal, which is visible in the impact that we have had — for better or worse — on all of the people around us. In living, we trace a wake in the world. This could be very well applied to Dr.Jolly´s kind soul. 3


  1. Boyle, Darren-Falklands war hero surgeon who was honoured by both British and Argentine authorities has died aged 71-DailyMail-14 January 2018.
  2. Dodd, Vikram- Falklands hero surgeon Rick Jolly dies aged 71-The Guardian- Sun 14 Jan 2018 .
  3. Rockhill, Gabriel-Why we never die-The Stone-Aug 29, 2016 https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/29/opinion/why-we-never-die.html
  4. Humane and courageous naval officer decorated by Britain and Argentina after the Falklands conflict for saving the wounded of both nations-The Times-January 15 2018.
  5. Jolly,Rick-Doctor for friend and foe-A Conway Book.2012
  6. Smith, Harrison-Rick Jolly, British navy surgeon who treated both sides in Falklands war, dies at 71-The Washington Post-January 16, 2018
  7. Stonyhust Home- https://www.stonyhurst.ac.uk/
  8. Surgeon Captain Rick Jolly, naval surgeon during Falklands war-Obituary-The Telegraph-14 January 20
  9. Un héroe de Malvinas murió en un accidente en Cordoba-Clarín-Marzo 5, 2010-
  10. Un médico en pos de la reconciliación-La Nación, 9 de marzo de 1999.