“The fear is there – it is always present” – dad tells the reality of the fight for your country

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Manny Manfred was 30 years old, married with a young son and living in Warminster when the phone rang and the reminder password came up. At the time, he was a sergeant in “A” Company, 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment.

Immediately he packed his bags and headed for the barracks in Tidworth, Hampshire, where his unit was based. Within 72 hours the unit had moved to Southampton to board a P&O cruise ship to set sail south to play their part in the Falklands War.

Lasting 74 days, the conflict was the first military action since World War II that used all elements of the armed forces. It tragically claimed the lives of 255 British servicemen.

As a platoon sergeant with 3 PARA, Manny was at the center of the conflict and draws on his first-hand experiences to bring his presentation of Falkland to the public since 1986. His largest audience to date was 700 school children in Brecon during Armed Forces Week. and his furthest was on a cruise ship which had just left the Falkland Islands. HM Tower of London before a formal dinner in such splendid surroundings is Manny’s most memorable.

Manny said: “This year is the 40th anniversary and there are some very poignant lessons that are still valuable to today’s generation of soldiers. It is the physical challenges that require our soldiers to be hardy and well trained and the ability to project force a distance in difficult weather conditions. Most importantly, this anniversary provides an opportunity for veterans to come together and relive shared experiences.”

A line of British soldiers in camouflage uniforms advancing during the Falklands War

One of his earliest memories was of walking up the gangway on a commandeered luxury cruiser – while potted plants and deckchairs that had been used by holidaymakers a few days earlier were removed to another gangway. Military bands paraded along the quay and there was an unreal sense of occasion.

He said: “Well, it was a bit of a Rolls Royce. Some people go on planes, some people go on military ships but we had a luxury cruise liner which was commandeered from the trade.

“Three main units and attached weapons were to travel on the SS Canberra, over 2,000 army, navy and Royal Marines. Ammunition and other supplies were loaded onto the ship before we left.”

Belonging to a regiment with parachute in the title, one would assume that your expected entry to a battlefield would be through the air. But Manny and his companions found themselves on the Canberra near Ascension Island, practicing a new skill – beach landings from landing craft, before their assault on the Falklands.

“It was really strange for the first time in my career to undertake beach landings using assault craft that we had seen in movies for many, many years. In fact, I had felt like it was the Battle of Normandy in WWII. again.

“I find the lessons that come from the Falklands are mostly about the men themselves and the need for well-trained, hardy individuals. People often ask me, weren’t you scared? Well… you go through a thorough and rigorous training and the fear is there; it is always there.

“When you’re in a situation like that, it’s how you deal with that fear and how you control it and how it affects your subordinates – those in your platoon. We move forward and the training begins and you just do the work. It’s a common phrase, but it was so important to get the job done, to conquer the elements, to defeat the enemy and to achieve our goals.”

As an RFCA member for Wales, Manny thinks it’s important that people who have experiences relevant to today’s generation use them wherever possible. After 20 years of fighting in desert-like conditions, the Army is still transitioning its training to fight in a more conventional environment. To quote a Brecon instructor – “bringing the mindset out of the desert and back into the trees. Manny’s experiences are invaluable in achieving this”.

Manny, who is an RFCA member for Wales, estimates that between 12,000 and 15,000 people have heard his presentation, which he gives around 12 times a year. He regularly gives presentations to regular and reserve personnel at Brecon Infantry Battle School.

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