Monday, 1 July 2013
A very dirty war: British soldiers shot dead by enemy troops waving the white flag
In this brutally candid series, ex-Para Tony Banks tells of his emotional journey from battlefield atrocities to forgiveness and redemption.
The Falklands War was short, sharp and very nasty. The fighting I experienced as a young soldier in the Parachute Regiment was, at times like something out of World War I. We fought at close quarters, clearing trenches of Argentinian troops with bayonets and grenades.
I saw close friends killed and mutilated, crying for their mothers as the life ebbed from them. I witnessed wounded and badly burned men writhing, screaming in agony.
But I was a Para — a tough guy in one of the toughest units in the British Army — and all that death and destruction did not bother me. Or so I thought.
I was just 20 years old when I went as part of the Task Force sent to recapture those wind-swept islands in the South Atlantic in 1982. I was full of life and fighting spirit and ready to do a job I loved.I came home little more than two months later hard and cynical, tormented by harrowing memories.
Back in my home town of Dundee, I spent long nights with only a bottle of whisky for company, drinking myself into a haze to evade the nightmares. I became angry, moody and difficult, and my marriage disintegrated as a result.
One day my mother sat me down and spelled it out to me. I had no heart any more, she said. I’d left it 8,000 miles away on the Falklands.
Pulling myself together and dealing with the past took years — but eventually, as I’ll describe in this series, I turned by life around, became a successful businessman and even appeared on TV’s Secret Millionaire.
For a long time, I doubted whether the sacrifice of my friends’ lives and the trauma inflicted on those of us who survived had really been worth it. But I came to see the value of what we achieved and be proud of it.
Two hundred and fifty eight British servicemen paid with their lives for the recapture of the islands, and a further 775 were wounded. Many of the rest of us paid with our peace of mind. Read more HERE