Monday, 18 June 2012

June 1982. Looting but in a minefield??

So another post war activity was looting.  It sounds a lot worse that it was, basically people wanted some souvenirs.  Mind you it got silly at times with people trying to smuggle weapons.  I ended up with a soldiers helmet that finished its days painted Lynx blue as a plant pot on my desk and an ash tray made out of the base of a 105 mm shell.  Sometimes it got out of hand and divers had to recover the rather nice new trail motorbikes that some of the Paras decided to drive into the sea for a laugh.  Mind you probably the best loot were the two brand new Augusta 109 helicopters that were liberated and ended up being taken on our military register for the SAS.  One of them even led the return fly past to Yeovilton when some of the support helicopters returned home.  Not that anyone was actually qualified to fly them..........

Anyway Bob and I decide to pop up to Pebble Island one day.  The grass airfield there had been the subject of an SAS raid during the war.  It was the only real airfield on the Island away from Stanley although only Pucaras and some small Turbo Mentor observation aircraft could use it.  So it was decided to take it out and a good job was done.  It helped that a colleague of mine's wife was born there and he went on the raid to give local knowledge.  It was a total success and all the aircraft were destroyed.  Ahah so a good place to get some loot.  We land on one of the grass runways and Bob jumped out and went over to one of the wrecked Pucaras where there seem to be a couple of soldiers doing something.  Apparently the conversation went something like this:

Bob:  I say, are you chaps looting?
Soldier:  No Sir we're Royal Engineers.
Bob: Well I am any idea which wrecks have any good stuff left in them?
Soldier:  No Sir and we are actually defusing all the booby traps in them and by the way your helicopter has landed in a minefield.

All I knew was that Bob stayed put and started making odd hand gestures at me.  I eventually got the message and flashed up and flew around to where he directed me to land.  He then told me what was up.
What had happened was that after the raid the Argies had wired up all the wrecks with explosives and put mines in the runway.  They were all connected up to go off on the touch of a button and we never found out if the mines were enabled as pressure sensitive as well.  Could have ended badly but we thought it quite amusing at the time!

The booby trapped Pucara that the engineers were working on.

Looking up the grass runway with more wrecks in the distance

More wrecks off to the right

1 comment:

  1. That is so funny but was probably not so funny 30 years ago.