On June 11, 1982, the battle for Mount Longdon took place in the Malvinas, where the British attacked the forces stationed there in a very hard battle that is remembered as one of the episodes that marked the end of the war and that at the same time proved the resistance of the troops that defended Argentine sovereignty.
Company “B” of the 7th Infantry Regiment, under the charge of Second Lieutenant Juan Domingo Baldini, reinforced with the First Section of the 10th Engineers Company and a machine gun section of the Marine Corps, had been located on the northwest ridge of the island mountain. . The order was to defend Puerto Argentino.
there it was conscript soldier Carlos Amatowho operated the radar to detect the arrival of the British: “We saw the English with binoculars, from Mount Logndon to Mount Kent,” he recalled about the start of the battle that was 40 years old this Saturday.
Already on June 8, the Argentines had detected the approach of English infantry forces, which they attacked with mortars and artillery. Over the next three days all hell broke loose over Mount Longdon, which was constantly bombed by British planes flying over the area.
“On June 10, Baldini brought us together and told us that the attack was imminent”, revived Amato in dialogue with Télam. At 8:30 p.m. on June 11, enemy artillery fire intensified and telephone lines were cut.
Amato was together with his companion in the front line, for which he was the first to fall in front of the English infantry at 11 p.m. “At night we were attacked, according to British numbers, 750 people. They passed us over, clearly”Amato described.
For this reason, the war veteran recalled that the only thing he managed to do was “put on the helmet” and assured that at that moment “he lost faith”.
“They, when they cut off the bombardment, go in to destroy everything, the others quickly withdrew, but we didn’t do it because we were in front of everything.”
Around midnight, the subsector chief ordered the team of Engineers to launch an attack where Baldini’s First Section was surrounded, in order to recover positions or facilitate the withdrawal of those troops. The engineers engaged the British, but the force of this attack was eventually halted as new English troops pressed on the flanks.
The counter attack
In these circumstances, the Chief of Regiment 7 was asked to send troops to undertake a new counterattack on the enemy. In the early hours of June 12, the First Section of Company C of Regiment 7, led by Lieutenant Raúl Castañeda, arrived at Monte Longdon.
“We were approximately 2 kilometers from the Mount and we saw that a very violent combat was taking place. You could see flares, explosions, screams, and it was impressive,” he recalled now retired Colonel Raúl Castañeda in statements for Télam.
Castañeda along with his men marched towards the front of the conflict to reinforce the Argentine defense and arrived at the foot of Mount Longdon, where there were still Argentine troops resisting.
“It was around 1 in the morning, between the noise, the fog, the dust and the smoke, you could hardly see anything. A non-commissioned officer came up to where I was and gave me a hug because he couldn’t believe that a section was approaching to support him in combat”, he reconstructed.
There, then Lieutenant Castañeda was ordered to carry out a counterattack to envelop the British besieging the Engineer Section and what was left of Second Lieutenant Baldini’s First Section.
“One by one, we entered those alleys well glued to the stones. We advanced very slowly, because the machine gun shots passed very close by and the illumination of the projectiles could be seen,” Castañeda said.
For veteran Gustavo Luzardowho was a conscript soldier in Company C, the promotion was “a hell of bullets” and he recalled that he thought “I don’t even go crazy there”, but it happened. An English machine gun prevented the advance towards the top and it is there when Corporal Manuel Medina tries to fire a 90-millimeter cannon at the British.
“(Medina) stopped and just when he was about to fire an English shot, it hit him in the hand. He crouched down and quickly covered himself with a handkerchief, later I found out that one finger had been left dangling and he had hit another, he was very wounded and still bandages himself and decides to continue,” Castañeda said of his comrade-in-arms’ action. For this action Medina was decorated with three medals for courage.
Thanks to the 90-millimeter cannon shot, they were able to complete the advance and finally confront the English who had taken the summit of the mountain.
“Don’t ask me if I felt pain, I imagine so. But If he hadn’t put that machine gun out of action, he would have claimed more of our casualties. I managed to do it because I knew the kind of teammates I had by my side and that gives you the strength to continue,” Medina himself told Télam.
Castañeda explained that when they arrived at the scene there were only one soldier and one officer from the Marine Infantry plus a non-commissioned officer from his Regiment, who were still fighting the advancing English. “Those who were ahead were all wounded, taken prisoner or dead”he detailed.
Castañeda and his section had to drag themselves to avoid being detected by the enemy: “During that drag we found everything: smoke, fire, ammunition boxes, blankets and of course, dead, both ours and the English.”
“We put a tourniquet on a wounded soldier and I naively thought that doctors and nurses were going to come to treat him. They didn’t come, not because they didn’t want to come, but because they couldn’t get there,” Luzardo said.
C Company reached within 50 meters of the top of Mount Longdon and engaged the English coming down the slope. “We collided with them, the confrontation was very close, There were casualties on both sides. That’s where my classmates died, one of them had gone to the same school,” Luzardo said.
For the colonel, the British had considered that all the Argentine troops had withdrawn. “But no, my whole section was there in line, waiting for them, and they were coming towards us.”
The confrontation lasted several hours, in which the Argentines were running out of ammunition.
“We were so close that I remember that we insulted them in Spanish, and they insulted us in English.” By 5 am on the 12th, Company C had no more ammunition and no reinforcements were on the way.
Castañeda recalled seeing two of his soldiers putting on their bayonet sabersrefusing to give up, ready to fight hand-to-hand when ammunition ran out.
By this time, the Argentines had many wounded and casualties and were attacked from the north, northwest, west, and southwest.
“My well partner, Falcón, at one point comes out into the open and started shooting, and we told him to cover himself and he didn’t hit us and he dies after throwing two chargers, in an act of courage,” Luzardo said.
“The withdrawal was very sad, seeing so many deaths we did not want to leave. Everyone said to continue, there was not a single person who said no and we were 18 years oldLuzardo said.
Eventually the Argentines withdrew and reached the foot of Mount Longdon, closely followed by the British. Of the 300 troops engaged in this combat, only 90 of them were able to withdraw to the Falkland capital.
“That fight was crazy because of the amount of gunshots and explosions, the machine gun bursts, the tracer bullets, the bombs, the mortars, the flares and the rockets. Having people advance under those kinds of conditions is something that is written with capital letter”, Medina valued about the performance of the Argentine troops in the bloodiest battle of the war.
And he remarked that for veterans Mount Longdon is “a permanent memory”.
“For me June 11 is like a second birthday, I was born again,” said the conscript Amato, who after being a prisoner of the English returned to the Argentine mainland on the ship Canberra.
“The second lieutenant (Baldini) passed away, we buried him in a common grave that we dug on English orders”, he remembered about the officer who was in command. Baldini was 24 years old.
In a train of confessions, Medina confided that this 2022, four decades into the conflict, “changed” the way he saw the war and regretted that they had to “pass 40 years” for this to happen.
A similar feeling went through ex-conscript soldier Luzardo this year: “There is a mixture of feelings, many of my companions died fighting, it is a feeling of duality. On the one hand it makes me very sad, and on the other hand I say ‘what first class people, right?'”, he commented without saying much plus.
Asked about his three decorations, the veteran replied that they should have received medals “all those who fought, all those who were forgotten”.