Monday 18 January 2021

2021 The Canberra Postcard


The Canberra postcard


                                        Forestal Engineer Germán Andrés STOESSEL


This story is not actually a story, even less a fiction. It is a report rescued from oblivion, which in this case does not begin on April 2 but on May 28 (or also May 31) and for many, June 14, 1982 as well.

It is a tale, which although began as one,it became more tan that as a resultof a network of events and gestures.

This story is an ongoing development, new testimonies are incorporated and honestly, I don't know how many parts will it have but here we go.


Part 1- Brian, drummer and Royal Marine


When British Brian Short enlisted, his passion for percussion led him to join the Royal Marines Band Service or Commando Forces Band, as it was known. He never thought that his passion for music (along with a family past linked to the RM) would lead him to participate in a war. A war that would occur far from his base in Plymouth, on islands that many did not know even how to locate on the map: The Malvinas Islands.

The entire Commando Forces Band was notified of their deployment to the South Atlantic, with a new war role: to integrate the Royal Navy Medical Squad.

They left on April 9, in a recently requisitioned liner: the SS Canberra.

These new functions, represented more than anything an adventure, since many of them, considered that the matter would not pass to greater and would be solved soon.


They were wrong.

Jazz band formed in the SS Canberra, during the South Atlantic trip.

Martin Dale, George Tate, Bruno Brown and Brian Short (on drums). Approximate date: Between April 15 and May 20, 1982. (Kindly submitted by Brian Short)

Westland Wessex helicopter loading gear onto the helipad built over the pool of SS Canberra

Part 2-The war is real.

The SS Canberra, was a passenger cruiser (powered by steam turbines, hence the SS, Steam Ship) that was requisitioned by the British forces and recommissioned (with its civilian crew on board) to transport troops to the South Atlantic. The order came when she was in the Mediterranean and should head to Southampton for her new mission.

After 17,000 km of navigation, the musical routines, exercises and preparations stopped. They had reached the Malvinas. The SS Canberra was part of the naval force that landed in San Carlos on May 21.

During the following days, the musicians would lower supplies and receive wounded. Now, as part of the Medical Squad, they were under the command of Surgeon Commander Dr. Rick Jolly, who moved part of the SS Canberra facility to the makeshift hospital in Ajax Bay.


These musicians transformed into assistance personnel now had to receive the Marine Corps with whom they shared the journey. The war was real and very close. They were able to witness the recklessness of the Argentine pilots in their air attacks and also see frigates sinking nearby. After the landing on May 21, a series of well-known events in the history of the Malvinas War would take place: the confrontation at height 234, the advance of British paratroopers and combat over Darwin / Goose Green..

Once the surrender had taken place,many of those wounded combatants (Argentines, from Regiments 25 and 12, GAA4, RI 8),  would be treated by Surgeon Captain Rick Jolly, and later sent to SS Canberra.

The same thing would happen days later, on May 31st, when in Top Malo House special forces face off: our soldiers from a section of Commando Company 602, facing British soldiers from the Mountain and Arctic Warfare.

The wounded were transferred to the Hospital in Ajax Bay, and henceforth to SS Canberra.

Brian's role now was no longer to play music, now he had to receive and guard the enemy. The enemy were our soldiers, and many of them were badly wounded.

It's weird, or hard to understand, but those enemies were fighting and dying just hours before and now, they shared a place on a passenger cruise ship, where the British healed and guarded our own.

Route covered by the British Task Force: Portsmouth - Ascension Island – Malvinas Islands. Approximately 17000 km of navigation.

Corporal Brian Short, guarding wounded prisoners. (Image credits: Brian Short)

Wounded Argentines, in the SS Canberra.

From left to right: Lt. Humberto Martínez, 1st Lieutenant Luis Brun, 1st Sergeant Humberto Medina. Members of the section of Captain Vercesi, from Commando Company  602 who fought at Top Malo House. They are attended by Dr. Mayner. Image of the first days of June.(kindly submitted by Luis Brun, author unknown)

Part 3. Heading to Puerto Madryn: with scars in his body and wounds in his soul


On June 10-11 the final attacks of the British forces began, on the defensive fence surrounding Puerto Argentino. On these dates and until June 14, the fighting occurred at Mount Harriet, Williams, Two Sisters, Tumbledown, Longdon, Sapper Hill, and Wireless Ridge. After bloody fighting, everything would end with the Argentine surrender on June 14.Later, the prisoners would meet at the BAM Malvinas area (the airport).

The SS Canberra's capacity was 3,351 passengers, and after that date it had 4,144 Argentine prisoners on board, in addition to its civilian crew and British military personnel.

The interior of the cruise ship went from having two restaurants and several dance floors, to having rooms with beds and two surgical teams, where 84 operations were carried out (on wounded soldiers from both sides). Dr. Peter Mayner and his team took part in those surgeries.

Due to the fighting, part of the blood bank reserves had to be brought ashore by the Surgical Field Team, in order to supply the lack of blood in SS Canberra. The Argentine prisoners of war offered themselves as blood donors.

Meanwhile, Brian and his band would alternate musical routines with the prison guard duties and this would lead him to exchange words with some soldiers who spoke English, with others who asked for cigarettes, and even those who would talk about their places of origin and their families.                                

On Saturday, June 19, the captain of the SS Canberra, D.J. Scott Mason (*), spotted the Patagonian coasts, hoisting  the Argentine flag finally docked at the Admiral Storni dock, Puerto Madryn, in Chubut province. (**)

There was only one more thing left: before stepping down the dock, Brian would ask a group of prisoners he guarded to sign a memento of their war time. He took a Menu and more than 20 Argentine soldiers willingly signed the paper: the Canberra postcard.

Our soldiers, step down with scars in their bodies and wounds in their souls. It would take 38 years to hear from them again.


(*) Dennis John Scott Mason, Captain of the SS Canberra during the 1982 conflict. P&O Cruise Line. Martin Reed,  Merchant Marine Captain, Chief Officer of the SS Canberra during 1982.

(**) On June 19, one of the most moving episodes took place, when the inhabitants of Puerto Madryn gathered to receive our soldiers, bringing them bread and flags.


On June 19, 1982, Corporal Brian Short asked the soldiers for their signature in a paper he kept as a souvenir. There were the names of more than 20 soldiers, whose names remained more than 38 years. (Kindly submitted by Brian Short).

On the right lower corner we may read: For an English friend. I hope the war won´t be a cause of grudge among us and on the left upper corner: Thanks for making us feel well.


Puerto Madryn from the deck of the SS Canberra. June 19, 1982. (image credit to whom it may concern)

The SS Canberra approaching Puerto Madryn, escorted by the Type 42 Destroyer ARA Santisima Trinidad. June 19, 1982. (image credit to whom it may concern)


Part 4- This is the story of Ariel, a soldier from Mar del Plata.

Ariel Darío Tascón was a conscript soldier, from the 601 Air Defense Artillery Group who integrated the 1st Section of the Firing Battery “A”, which operated an Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon with a Skyguard fire control unit. They were under the command of Artillery Lieutenant Alejandro Dachary. During the afternoon of June 2, they took up a new position, clinging to the cold, damp peat outside of Puerto Argentino.

At dawn on June 3, a British Avro Vulcan bomber that had departed from Ascension Island, was already flying over a low, closed sky over Puerto Argentino  equipped with anti-radar Shrike missiles. The bomber picked up the weak signal from Lt.'s Dachary Skyguard director. They were in the crosshairs.

That morning, Ariel Tascon was on duty and was relieved at 6:17 by Private Silva. A plane was heard behind a closed sky (out of artillery range) and at 6:20 a.m. there was a thunderous impact of a missile in the place that Ariel had occupied until minutes ago.

The strike killed Lt. Alejandro Dachary, 1st Sergeant Rene P. Blanco, and soldiers Oscar Daniel Diarte and Jorge Alberto Llamas.

In the days that ensued, the crew was to be reorganized .The Oerlikon 35mm twin tube continued to operate, but manually.

As the days went by, many soldiers were really complicated by exposure to the island environment: continuous cold and humidity, which for many led to standing in the trench. And Ariel Tascon was one of them.On the final day, June 14, he would find himself dragging his bleeding left foot.

On June 16, he was transferred to SS Canberra, in a jeep along with other wounded. Dr. Mayner was commissioned to begin the treatment of Ariel´s  left foot

Skyguard Shooting Director and his crew. From the left: Sgt. Micheli, Private Jorge Llamas, Lieutenant Dachary, Sgt. Rene P. Blanco (on the stairs), and behind him,  soldier Oscar Diarte. (image credits to whom it may concern)

Oerlikon 35 mm twin tube gun. 1st Section Shot Battery "B", GADA 601, located northeast of Sapper Hill. (image credits to whom it may concern)

Part 5. They say that time heals wounds.

When I found Brian Short's postcard, the next step was to look for him! Brian was surprised that someone from Argentina contacted him.

The first War Veteran I looked for was Ariel Tascón, for the forcefulness and clarity of his message: For an English friend: that the war may have not been the cause of any grudges between us" (Ariel J. Tascón, June 19,1982)

“I am fascinated to hear that someone on the Argentine side has seen the postcard that he signed so many years ago, and I would be grateful to be able to contact him, wrote Brian.

In his days aboard the SS Canberra, Ariel was surprised by the cordiality and respectful treatment, the humane treatment without rancor, on the part of the medical and civilian personnel, as well as the treatment of the armed musicians (the Royal Marines).

For this reason, that June 19, 1982, before disembarking in Puerto Madryn, Ariel took a postcard and a pen, and asked the Royal Marines to sign it as a souvenir. They all signed. He did the same as Brian Short.

Amazing isn't it?

Later, Ariel was transferred to the Campo de Mayo Military Hospital, where he was admitted and the healing continued. Skin grafts were performed, until his foot was recovered. He was lucky and had good medical care.

They say time heals wounds. Ariel was able to travel with his family to the Malvinas Islands in 2018, visit his position, and walk the graves of his companions (in Darwin).

A month ago, he was able to thank as well to  Dr. Mayner for the cures and care. Yes, we could find the doctor too.


Brian Short's postcard, signed by Ariel Tascon. 19-6-82. (Kindly submitted by Brian Short)

Clinical admission file, prepared by medical personnel of the SS Canberra, of the Argentine soldier Ariel Tascon. 19-6-82. (Kindly submitted by Ariel Tascon)

Words are unnecessary

War Veteran Ariel Tascon, in the Malvinas Islands Islands with his children.(Kindly submitted by Ariel Tascon)

Part 6. Jorge Marchesini, from Saavedra to Goose Green


"I was born a soldier, at my hometown in the Barrio de Saavedra in the Federal Capital, I armed battles with my plastic soldiers, even had artillery, a cannon with a spring that allowed me to throw pieces of paper as ammunition. Unthinkable that in the future a battle was going to become true ”.

Jorge joined the General Arenales 12th Infantry Regiment, as part of the Mercedes Task Force, whose mission was to defend Darwin Goose Green and provide defense to the Condor Air Base located in the same area.

On the morning of May 28, the British sustained their attack on Darwin, so a section of the Comando y Servicios company of RI 12 organized as infantry were involved in that area. On that cold morning, a Pucará from the Malvinas Military Air Base unloaded its rockets targeting the British infantrymen of the 2nd Parachute Regiment.

Come on fuck! Long live the Homeland! Long live the infantrymen of RI12, the brave pilot who passed low over their heads.

But, in the following minutes, the area would be hit by enemy mortars and artillery fire, and a rain of shrapnel and splinters hit the RI12 fighters. On that cold morning of May 28th everything was smoke, confusion and blood

1st Corporal Jorge Marchesini, an ammunition supplier, was hit by a splinter in his left arm which caused a deep wound and intense bleeding. He tried to withdraw, but then  a comrade helped him by holding his right arm and loading him into an ambulance which took him to the infirmary in Darwin.

During the early morning of May 29, despite the enormous effort and sacrifice made, there was a  cease-fire and surrender of the Green Goose garrison. The wounded were transferred by Sea King helicopters to the British beachhead in the San Carlos Strait.On the way down, Jorge watched from above the smoking British frigates, hit by an Argentine air attack.


Once lowered and placed on a stretcher, a British nurse asked Jorge if he was allergic to penicillin, to which Jorge said “No”, so he received a shot of antibiotic. Somewhat calmer, he was transferred to the SS Canberra along with other wounded, Argentine and British.

At the SS Canberra, Jorge underwent surgery on his arm, and he remembered the nurses´faces : “I remember their masks when entering the operating room; they looked at me with angry faces. I think the surgeon noticed my nervousness before being anesthetized as he hold my hand and told me to be calm accompanying his words with the gesture of thumbs up. It was Dr. Peter Mayner.

Today, in the inexorable distance of time, Jorge is not sure of faces or names, but in several telephone communications, he shared with me isolated details and fully detailed memories, in which smoke seemed to be smelled or detonations heard. Jorge would be the first to mention a man and a woman, a married couple:

“After the surgery, I had contact with two extraordinarily kind souls, which I am fully sure, marked my recovery both physically and mentally, the Taylor marriage: Frank and Anna.They made us feel that war there no longer existed, they took care of us as if we were his children, even teaching us to be thankful ”.

Company Services RI12. (Image credits: Malvinas War Images)

Part 7. Shearing shed: Top Malo House

The war continued, and wounded from both sides were continually arriving to the SS Canberra. After the battles on May 28 in Goose Green and Darwin, a skirmish known as Top Malo House took place in a house -a shearing shed post- north of Soledad Island, between special troops of the 2nd Section of the 1st Assault Section Argentine Special Forces from 602 Commando commanded by Captain Vercesi- and the British Mountain and Arctic Warfare.

The Argentine wounded from that bloody and intense combat (Lt. 1st H. Losito, Lt. Luis Brun, Lt. Humberto Martínez and 1st Sergeant Humberto Medina) were transferred to the British field hospital in Ajax Bay. Later, they were also transferred to the SS Canberra.

One of those wounded commandos, Lt. Luis Brun signed the Canberra postcard, and I decided to call him. His account of his combat simply makes the hair stand on end:


“With Lt. Espinosa we were at the top of the house, Espinosa saw the English coming, raised the alarm and opened fire. Espinosa drew enemy fire, and received a direct hit from a rocket launcher, which disintegrated him. The explosion sent me off to the side. I was wounded in the leg and in the back. At the end of the fight, we were evacuated by helicopter to Ajax Bay. On that flight, my head was resting on the body of Sergeant Sbert, who had died fighting. Upon arriving at the Field Hospital, I was operated on by Dr. Rick Jolly, a true professional. "

As in previous cases, I am surprised by the predisposition of this soldier.Crisp and clear memories of a past chaos, which is never forgotten.

Averaging the talk, from his passage through the SS Canberra he rescued the following:

“In a bed close to mine, there was a very badly injured boy. He had survived an explosion, had a badly injured hand and a leg amputated from high up (*). Every day, a woman and her husband looked after him: they cleaned his hands, cleaned his place, talked to him and brought food ”.

Luis Brun did not remember the names, but he was referring to class 63 soldier Raúl Américo Vallejos, and the Taylors.

At Top Malo House, on May 31, 1982, lost their lives in combat: Lt. Ernesto Emilio Espinosa and Sgt. 1 ° Mateo Antonio Sbert. Both received posthumously the decoration "The Argentine Nation for Heroic Valor in Combat" for the following cause: "Voluntarily protect the retreat of their comrades when they were part of an advanced exploration patrol and, in the face of an attack notoriously superior in troops and personnel, to fight until achieving, thanks to the sacrifice of his life, the fulfillment of his mission ”.

Whoever was the Chief of that Commando Section, Captain José Vercesi, highlights: "Once the combat was over, the enemy maintained a correct treatment, giving special attention and first aid to the wounded." (**)


 And he added: “After the combat, Sergeant 1st Pedroso introduced  himself as a nurse. He did not have the necessary elements to perform as such, but using the English material he collaborated efficiently with his own wounded. "

Those were the men from 2nd Section of the 1st Assault Section Argentine Special Forces from 602 Commando, at Top Malo House.

As in previous cases, I was surprised by the predisposition of this soldier. Crisp and clear memories of a past chaos, which is never forgotten.

(*) Raúl Américo Vallejos was seriously wounded (along with others), in a controversial event: once Goose Green combat was over, and they were already prisoners, they were forced to transfer ammunition and explosives, which exploded. Such activity is prohibited under the Geneva Convention. In that event, soldiers Martín Flores, Rafael Barrios and José Ferraú lost their lives.

(**) Wounded from the 2nd Section of the Commandos 602:

-1st Lt. Brun: Deep cut in the forehead by splinter, contusions from a 5 m fall, temporary blindness, back wound by Gr 40 mm rifle, gunshot wound to the calf.

-Lt. Martínez: gunshot wound to the foot.

-1st Sar Helguero: gunshot wound to the chest and shards of rifle grenade.

-1st Lt. Losito: 40 mm deep splinter wound, gunshot wound to the right thigh, gunshot wound to the stomach.

- 1st Sarg Medina: deep wound in the left leg by a 40 mm grenade.

- Corporals Valdivieso and Delgadillo: minor injuries to the lower limbs.



1st Lt. Luis Brun, wounded being evacuated by British personnel. May 31, 1982. (Image credit: BBC documentary)

Some members of the 2nd Section of the Commandos 602, after the fight at Top Malo House, already prisoners. May 31, 1982. (Image credits: Malvinas Operation)

Another angle from the previous image. Some members of the 2nd Section Company Commando  602, after the fight at Top Malo House, already prisoners. May 31, 1982. (Image credits: Malvinas Operation)

Lt.Humberto Martínez, 1st Lt. Luis Brun, 1st Sgt Humberto Medina (in the background), being attended by Dr. Peter Mayner, aboard the SS Canberra. (image credits to whom it may concern).

The shearing shed at Top Malo creek. (Image credits to whom it may concern.)

The shearing shed at Top Malo creek, still smoking. That place is the war grave of Lt. Espinosa. His remains are mixed with the terrain. (Image credits to whom it may concern.)

Top Malo House, today. (Image credits: Malvinas Operation)


Part 8-Who were the Taylors?

When I spoke with Veteran Jorge Marchesini - and as the memories loomed - he clearly said:

"After the surgery, I had contact with two extraordinarily kind souls, which I am sure, marked my physical and mental recovery, the Taylor marriage: Frank and Anna."

Later, Veteran Luis Brun -in his time- would bring a similar memory:

“In a bed close to mine, there was a very badly injured boy. He had survived an explosion, his hand was badly injured, and his leg had been amputated from high up. Every day, a woman and her husband looked after him: they cleaned his hands, cleaned his place, talked to him and brought food ”.


That boy , Brun was referring to, was soldier Raúl Américo Vallejos, a low-profile Chaco Veteran, but with a very good and generous memory. He shared his experiences, and said clearly:

“Frank and Ana helped me a lot in Canberra: they took care of me, calmed me down, cleaned my wounds and tried to talk to me. After the war, we wrote to each other, but we lost contact. "

These recurring stories led me to look for: the Taylor couple and Dr. Peter Mayner. Fortunately (and faster than I thought) I was able to find part of the SS Canberra crew, who, along with Corporal Brian Short, went to the Malvinas Islands as part of Operation Corporate in 1982. They were the link with Dr. Mayner and the Taylors.

Frank and Anna, are an older couple, and were part of the civil crew of the SS Canberra. They are still together, and they were surprised to learn that those young wounded, our soldiers, still remember them.

War veteran Luis Brun was able to write to Dr. Mayner, and receive a warm response from him: "It is an honor that you write to me." Dr. Mayner at 81, clearly remembers those patients aboard the SS Canberra. Today he is retired, as he suffers from Parkinson's disease.

War veteran Jorge Marchesini, for his part, kept a letter from the Taylor family, since they had promised to write to him which they had done. Unfortunately, he lost it in 1984 and with it, the address. But now, 38 years after being injured and returning to the mainland, he received correspondence from the Taylors: a photo aboard the SS Canberra.


From left to right: Second Lieutenant Duran, Lt. Humberto Martínez, 1st Corporal Jorge Marchesini, Corporal Darío Hernández. Image taken by Frank Taylor, and sent to the VGM Jorge Marchesini, 38 years later.


 Part 9. That's me!

When War Veteran Jorge Marchesini received an email from Frank Taylor, he was surprised to see a photo that he did not remember. Then, he recognized himself and sent it to me (*).

I asked the board from “Operation Malvinas” to publish the photograph to get any clue about those Malvinas fighters. To my surprise, a message appeared, almost immediately:

"That's me!"

The message was from War Veteran Darío Hernández, who for years looked for a photo - with no luck - until that afternoon.


War Veteran Darío Hernández went back in time and told me that being 17 years old he participated in this noble achievement as an aspiring Corporal of Intendance, graduating early from the General Lemos NCO School. He arrived to the Malvinas Islands on April 25, joining the ranks of the 12th Infantry Regiment, as Corporal of the Command and Services Company (under the orders of Sub-Lieutenant Ernesto O. Peluffo).

Cover me!

On May 28, 1982, British paratroopers advanced slowly towards Darwin, engaging the infantrymen of the 12th Infantry Regiment.

During a pause in combat, the young corporal Darío Hernández heard cries for help from a wounded soldier. In this collision of infantry and subsequent withdrawal, not all could be protected. The area of ​​Darwin and Goose Green has no rocks, it is an undulating and beautiful pasture that, on this occasion, was the scene of the action of brave warriors.

Corporal Hernández decided to abandon his position in the fox pit, to come to their aid and told his soldiers: "Cover me!"

The combat resumed, finding Corporal Hernández in the open, at which point he was hit by mortar fire as he was within reach of the British paratroopers.

He fell injured on his legs by splinters. Dazed and bleeding, he tried to locate himself and find a soldier for whom he came out of his well. But, his screams had already stopped, he laid with his eyes open,on that beautiful pasture.

He tried to get up and return to his position. The British slowly consolidated their advance in tough daytime engagements against the Argentine infantrymen of the 12th, 8th and 25th regiments.

Once the Darwin / Green Goose fell, they were taken prisoner and led away. Corporal Hernández fainted due to the loss of blood and remained one night in the open (**).

The next day, British "fresh troops" arrived and helicopter the wounded to Ajax Bay, where was operated by Surgeon Captain Rick Jolly and his team. On June 4, he was transferred to SS Canberra, where he was checked again, and faced with an infection, he underwent surgery again.

From his time at the SS Canberra, today War Veteran Darío Hernández recalled that the treatment was humanitarian, and in his words: excellent, and opposed to the bad treatment he received when he was taken prisoner: I do not hold a grudge or hate them. I would have treated them the same ”.

At 38 years old, he especially remembers two people: Frank and Anna Taylor, who cared for him, cured him and even gave him a cane to walk.

             "The courage of a man is not measured by age"

(*) In that photo, you can identify War Veteran Leonardo Duran (then Second Lieutenant of RI 12).There were two other people left that we could not identify.

Comparing photos and consulting War Veteran José Vercesi (then Captain in Company Commando  602), a name emerges: War Veteran Humbero Martínez. When this last saw the image, surprised and somewhat stunned, said: “Yes, it's me”.

(**) On the night of May 28 to 29, several wounded spent the night lying in the meadow. Among them, the same Chief of the Company Commando and Services, Sub-Lieutenant Ernesto O. Peluffo, who suffered a deep wound in his head as well as  splinters in his leg.

Corporal (EC) Darío Hernández aboard the SS Canberra, along with three other Malvinas fighters. The cane seen in his left hand, was a gift from the Taylor family. (Photo taken by Frank Taylor)

Wounded in both legs, and submitted to surgery twice, War Veteran Darío Hernández still has the cane that helped him to walk in those days of June 1982. (Kindly submitted by War Veteran Darío Hernández)

On May 29, 1982, near Darwin's hill and watched by British paratroopers, you can see Sub-Lieutenant (EC) Ernesto Orlando Peluffo, lying on the ground, with his head bandaged, after fighting and spending the night there.  In this same place was also the Corporal (EC) Darío Hernández. (Image credits to whom it may concern)

Corporal (EC) Darío Hernández received from the Taylor family, not only a cane, but also a pencil and paper. There he wrote his first memoirs of war, which more than thirty years later, would inspire his book "Malvinas, Scars of the body, Wounds of the Soul". (Page 59, mentions Frank and Anna)

Part 10. The perspective that time gives


After the fighting in Darwin and Goose Green, and after spending the night in the open, the Argentine prisoners were confined in the shearing sheds of that small town.

In the presence of a large amount of ammunition and explosives, in the vicinity of that shed - which represented a risk - the British ordered Argentine prisoners of war to gather them and transfer them to another place. This task was entrusted to Second Lieutenant Leonardo Durán (*), who, given the very high risk involved, immediately tried to make the superior who entrusted it, Major A. Frontera (2nd Chief of RI 12) to withdraw:

"Look, Durán, if we don't, they'll take us out of the shed and some of our men may die from the cold."

It was thus that on June 1, 1982, Second Lieutenant Duran, with no other options, organized a group of soldiers and began with the transfer of those boxes of explosives, always with British surveillance at a safe distance. After some trips, Durán observed how the soldiers he led carried one box on top of another, and then the inevitable happened.

The shearing shed was shaken, and inside it our soldiers fell to the ground, fearing an air attack. Outside, the situation was chaotic, tragic: smoke, screams and blood. Durán flew through the air and fell. Stunned, he got up as best he could and approached the shearing shed, where he fell again and was helped by his own companions.

The explosion left three soldiers dead: Rafael Barrios, Víctor Rodríguez and José Ramón Ferrau (who was shot dead by a British while he was burning in flames), and several wounded of varying degrees, including Second Lieutenant Leonardo Durán himself and the soldiers Raúl Vallejos -who lost a leg, Ricardo Pinatti, Ángel Urban, Ricardo Jakuisuk, Gerardo Fernández, Luis Spinberger, Hugo Duarte, Francisco Ocampo and Martín Flores (**).

After the explosion, he was evacuated in a Chinook helicopter to the British field hospital in Ajax Bay, where he was received and treated by Surgeon Captain Rick Jolly, and it was he who detailed his medical situation (bursting of eardrums) and the state of health of the other soldiers injured in the explosion, being surprised by the irregularity of the event. He was then transferred to the SS Canberra in a Sea King.

In the SS Canberra he was part of a group of four officers (along with Lt. H. Martínez, 1st Lt. H. Losito, 1st Lt. L. Brun).He recalls in detail that the treatment was certainly harsh since the beginning. Rigorous, but correct and respectful.

“Treatment was relatively relaxed, after the surrender on june 14. There was the anecdote of the ship's commander informing us, in an impeccable white uniform, the end of the war. Obviously we were all aware of the meaning that surrender entails. A group of officers were invited to tour the deck of the ship, something unthinkable in the previous hours, where not only the position of the ship was hidden from us, but also the possibility of knowing the daylight hours. " .


Durán clearly remembered that he chose not to familiarize himself with the crew, as he was a POW.

On the SS Canberra postcard, his signature appears there only by  courtesy but without additions. He considered that with the perspective given by time, it is possible to start a conversation and reflect on the historical events in which he was a direct participant.

And so he did. After 38 years, Leonardo Durán wrote to Brian Short, and together, they mull on the historical events of those involved in the Malvinas Islands.

I´m thankful to to War Veteran Leonardo Duran.


(*) Leonardo Durán, marched to Malvinas with the 12th Infantry Regiment "General Arenales". His military rank was that of Second Lieutenant of Infantry and his combat role was that of chief of the Second Section of Shooters of Company "C", deployed around Goose Green.


(**) This unfortunate event was recorded in an act, prepared by the RI12 officers, describing the event, the fatalities, injuries and British participants.

From left to right: Second Lieutenant Ricardo Frías, Lieutenant Carlos Marturet, Second Lieutenant L. Durán. (Kindly submitted by War VeteranL. Duran)


An explosión in a shearing shed: Article from Soldados Magazine, March 2018 edition. In this article, you can see Surgeon Captain Jolly, and War Veteran Leonardo Durán, on the occasion of his visit to our country in 1999 when he was decorated with the Order of May. That meeting allowed to remove various feelings, and to be grateful for the attention received. (Kindly submitted by War Veteran Leonardo Durán)


Goose Green, Malvinas Islands. Current view of the shearing sheds where our soldiers were, held prisoners. Own image, taken in March 2018.


Part 11. Doctor for friend and foe


Throughout this compilation of testimonies, memories and experiences of the Malvinas achievement, many names emerged, but also of men, defined by their convictions and attitudes.

It is undeniable that one of those men was Dr. Rick Jolly.

Many of our wounded soldiers were cared for by him and then transferred to SS Canberra.

In Malvinas, he served as Officer Commanding Medical Squadron of the Commando Logistic Regiment Royal Marines and set up a field hospital in Ajax Bay, occupying and adapting an old sheep refrigerator from the 1950s.He himself baptized it "The Red and Green Life Machine" (after the color of the paratroopers 'and Royal Marines' berets), and he himself painted the access sign.


During the following weeks, Surgeon Captain Rick Jolly and his team of approximately 120 members treated more than 1,000 wounded soldiers, sailors and airmen from the waters of San Carlos, Goose Green, Mount Harriet, Mont Longdon, Sapper Hill. and from the Sir Galahad.

Of that number of wounded, 78 were Argentine soldiers.

And the first Argentine to be treated by Surgeon Captain Jolly was Lieutenant Ricardo “Tom” Lucero, pilot of an A4C Skyhawk, being Dr. Jolly responsible for sending Lucero's wife -Marta Castillo- a message. : that her husband was in good condition. (*).

As I write this short story, I remember a communication with War Veteran Luis Brun, who related the following:

After the combat at Top Malo House, I was taken by helicopter to Ajax Bay where I met Dr. Rick Jolly. He operated on me while there were two bombs from our Air Force, embedded in the ceiling, which had not exploded "

Rick Jolly was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1983, and later, in 1999,when  he visited Argentina with the Prince of Wales received the Order of May in gratitude. The Order of May is granted exclusively to foreign civil and military citizens who have distinguished themselves by their services and personal works and deserve the gratitude of the Nation.

In this way, Dr. Rick Jolly was the only one to be awarded by both countries.

On the occasion of that visit, he was able to meet with some of those soldiers who passed through the field hospital in Ajax Bay, War Veteran Brigadier Tomba,War Veteran Colonel H. Losito,War Veterans Luis Brun and Leonardo Durán. This meeting 17 years after a war that had them confronted, served to review together the events in which both lost comrades, but in which the lives of many depended - God willing - on the ability and determination of that good man.

Finally, on January 13, 2018, at the age of 71, Dr. Jolly passed away, due to cardiovascular complications, at his home in Torpoint, England.

People assume that you have to hate your enemy, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The only people who know what you're going through are the people on the other side. (Surgeon Captain Rick Jolly, 2012)



Surgeon Captain Rick Jolly, painting himself on the Ajax Bay Field Hospital. "Welcome to the red and green life machine." (Image credits to whom it may concern)


Surgeon Captain Rick Jolly in surgery (right), in Ajax Bay, 1982.

(image credits to whom it may concern)

Surgeon Captain Rick Jolly (right), at the entrance to the Ajax Bay Field Hospital. (image credits to whom it may concern)


Surgeon Capt Rick Jolly's book cover: "Doctor for friend and foe". Conway Maritime Press; Edition: Reprint (April 2, 2012)

Part 12-These are the Taylors

When I was writing Part 8 of this story, I asked myself, Who were the Taylors?

He had gotten this far, with several Veterans' matching descriptions of a marriage and their behavior.

Luis Brun described the care and dedication of Frank and Anna in cleaning wounds, in bringing food, in providing containment.

They did it with Jorge Marchesini and Darío Hernández, who were wounded, but they did it especially with Raúl Américo Vallejos, who had lost his left leg, in addition to suffering other injuries as a result of a brutal explosion.

Well, while writing this story, I got a response from Frank and Anna:

“That day (06/19/82) is etched in our memory, the day we said goodbye to our brave boys. We always think about them and wonder what their life will be like now. If you can find Raúl Américo Vallejos, send him our greetings "


The memories of Raúl Vallejos and the Taylor family are lived. Frank says clearly that he remembers everything, like yesterday, and adds that Vallejos was cared for by two young soldiers, Omar Leyria, and Ricardo Pinatti.


"Pinatti took care of his friend Vallejos, and we called Leyria Rocky, because of his great bandage on his hand."

"That June 19, my last memory of Leyria, was going down to the dock, his smile and his greeting, I yelled at him and he turned around, smiling, always smiling"

“That day when they left Canberra we wept to see them off, we are proud to call them our friends. The boys we met were a credit to Argentina, they have to know ”.


In Memory of War Veteran Omar Leyria, 1963-2011


Frank and Anna Taylor, part of the crew of the SS Canberra in 1982. (Kindly submitted by Frank Taylor)


Reverse of the photo. Signatures of Argentine soldiers in gratitude to Frank and Anna Taylor. Written by Ricardo Pinatti and Raúl Vallejos. (Kindly submitred by Frank Taylor). Catholics in the world are above human miseries. When I was thirsty you gave me to drink, when you gave me to eat... What is necessary and authentic for eternity. United in Jesus Christ.

Reverse of the photo. The signature of Omar Leyria "Rocky" is appreciated.

(Kindly submitted by Frank Taylor)

A newspaper from 1982. In the foreground, soldier Raúl Américo Vallejo. (Kindly submitted by  Marcelo Raúl Arce Bukeman)


War Veteran Raúl Américo Vallejo today. (KIndly submitted by  Marcelo Raúl Arce Bukeman)


 Part 13. Puerto Madryn, the landing. Final words


Many were the sensations experienced when starting the search for the names involved in this "Postcard" (*).

Being able to find those Veterans and their stories has meant opening a door that I did not imagine opening, but through which I have been allowed to pass.

It has meant opening a door to memory, to evoke the companion who did not return, to remember the enemy who died, but it has also meant rescuing those hands that healed, those hands that helped, (whether Argentine or British) and those many hands that shared a piece of bread, as the people of Puerto Madryn did, that June 19, 1982, when they spontaneously went out to receive their soldiers, our soldiers.


On the other hand, I can't help but wonder: What prompted Corporal Brian Short to ask those guys he guarded for a signature? Was it the personal memory of having participated in a war and living to tell about it?

From his testimony, I especially recall the following:


"My father was also called Brian Short, and he was also a Royal Marine, but I could not meet him, he was killed before my birth, in the Suez crisis (Egypt)"

"Honor and friends are great feelings, which I found in those Argentines with whom I have contacted again".

 What did our soldiers feel? They had been enemies in the Malvinas Islands a few weeks ago, and now they were passengers / prisoners, sharing the ship with those enemies, back on the mainland. Well, some samples of those feelings were written on that postcard, with twenty-three signatures (**), twenty-three stories of Argentine soldiers, NCOs and officers.

All with different formations, with particular and indelible points of view and feelings, but with something in common: having risked their lives for their companions, for their comrades and for the Homeland.


Thanks to all of them


German Stoessel.


For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me to drink,  I was a stranger and you invited me in (Matthew 23:25)


The mural in Puerto Madryn, on the Admiral Storni pier. It is 35 mt x 4 mt and was carried out by Martín Cofré, Tomás Gimbernat, Jorge Vásquez and Claudio Segundo. It was inaugurated on June 19, 2019 and portrays the arrival of the Malvinas soldiers. In this image, you can see the SS Canberra. (Kindly submitted by War Veteran VGM Guillermo Huircapan)


Cover of the British newspaper The Guardian, June 21, 1982. At the bottom of the stairs, Corporal Brian Short (head uncovered and also General Garay, receiving the soldiers (holding out their hands). (Kindly submitted by Brian Short)

The same instant of the previous image on the cover of The Guardian. (Image credits to whom it may concern)



The town of Puerto Madryn, receiving its soldiers. (Kindly submitted by Mabel Outeda)


(*) Postcard, which was nothing more than a menú


 (**) Menu signatories:


• “Alberto Briamonte BETO 82- Conscript

• “José Gonzalez”

• “Norberto Horacio”

• “Mario Jauco”

• “Juan Humberto Diaz” Conscript

• “Rogelio Pellegrini” Conscript.

• “Mario Fabián Solís” Conscript.

• “Alberto González, Sarg Ay”, Assistant Sargeant

• “Pedro Leiva”, Conscript

• “Francisco Campos”, Conscript.

• “Heberkon, Norberto Rubén, Conscripto.

• “Horacio Losito”, 1st Lt.

• “Luis Brun”,1st Lt.

• “Humberto Martinez”, Lt.

• “Ariel Tascon”, Conscript

• “Leonardo Duran”, Sublieutenant

• “Hugo R. Melgarejo”, Conscript

• “John” Juan Carlos Garabedian, Conscript

• “Ángel Gutierrez”, Conscript

• “Claudio de Arce”, Conscript.

• “Corporal Hernández”. Corporal




• Cesar Carpo (for your patience and view points)

• Lt.Colonel War Veteran José Vercesi

• War Veteran Luis Brun

• War Veteran Humberto Martínez

• War VeteranAriel Tascon

• War Veteran Jorge Marchesini

• War Veteran Darío Hernández

• War Veteran Leonardo Duran

• War Veteran Ángel Gutierres

• War Veteran Claudio De Arce

• Puerto Madryn War Veteran Center.

• War Veteran Guillermo Huircapan

• War Veteran Daniel Belmanr

• Peter Steele, SS Canberra crew

• Brian Short, Royal Marines Band.

• Frank and Anna Taylor, SS Canberra crew.

• Martin Reed, Captain SS Canberra, P&O

• Peter Mayner, Surgeon SS Canberra, P&O



Bibliography and electronic search


- Bishop, Patrick (The Observer) ; Witherow, John (The Times)-La Guerra de

  Invierno- Ed. Claridad, 1985


-Blank, Laurie R,  Gregory P. Nune- International Law and Armed Conflict.  

 Fundamental Principles and contemporary challenges in the law of war-

 Second edition, 2019. Wolters Kluwer (pág. 273)



- Caggese, José. Malvinas, el libro de la buena memoria. Editorial Fundación de la Justicia Social, 2008.


 -Gerding, Eduardo César-Un Hombre bueno nunca muere: Richard Jolly.   

  Boletín del Centro Naval 849, Sept/Dic 2018.



  and in The Nottingham-Malvinas Group: A good man never dies.



















Falklands Combat Medics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ettWJKRBc54






What did our soldiers feel? They had been enemies in the Malvinas Islands

a few weeks ago, and now they were passengers / prisoners, sharing the ship with those enemies, back on the mainland. Well, some samples of those feelings were written on that postcard, with twenty-three signatures (**), twenty-three stories of Argentine soldiers, NCOs and officers.

All with different formations, with particular and indelible points of view and feelings, but with something in common: having risked their lives for their companions, for their comrades and for the Homeland.


Thanks to all of them



German Stoessel.


For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. (Matthew 25:35)

Author's references:


Germán András Stoessel was born on November 8, 1974 in Cutral Co, Province of Neuquén. In 1982, he was in Comodoro Rivadavia attending elementary school and receiving soldiers at his home.

He graduated as a Forest Engineer and toured the Malvinas Islands in bycicle (2018).

Photograph from Weekend magazine: Malvinas en bicicleta: por la tierra de los héroes-https://weekend.perfil.com/noticias/bike-2/guerra-islas-malvinas-bicicleta-heroes.phtml.