Key battles at Top Malo and Mount Kent

When instructors and students of the Royal Marines' Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre stormed an Argentine outpost, it was a lesson in fighting skills that those who witnesed it would never forget.

Having ordered his men to fix bayonets, Captain Rod Boswell fired a green flare – the signal for supporting troops to unleash a volley of six anti-tank rockets at the remote shepherd's house.

A sentry foolish enough to peer from an upstairs window was shot by a marine corporal armed with a sniper rifle and moments later the building burst into flames.

As Boswell and his assault team charged forwards, two more 66mm rockets smashed into the house and the Argentinian special forces who had been holed up there fled to a stream 50 yards away.

In the fierce firefight that followed, one of the defenders was killed by grenades and the commander was wounded four times before they threw down their weapons and surrendered.

The battle of Top Malo House, a few miles from Teal Inlet, on May 31 cost the lives of five members of Argentina's 602 Commando Company. The 12 survivors, seven of them wounded, were taken prisoner.

Just three Royals were injured, a testament to the professionalism and skill of Britain's cold weather combat specialists. Unknown to the elite troops, however, the 45-minute fight had been watched by Argentinian soldiers manning observation posts on Malo Hill and Mount Simon. So awestruck were they by the textbook assault, that 14 of them left their positions and walked down to surrender.

The Argentinian commandos had been using Top Malo House and other outposts to report on and harry the advance towards Mount Kent, the first of several peaks guarding the approach to Port Stanley.

The job of seizing the 1,300ft mountain – little more than a hill, really – fell to the Royal Marines of 42 Commando, who would be flown in by helicopters.

The SAS was told to locate and secure a suitable landing zone below the summit, but the lack of choppers, coupled with blizzard conditions, meant it took five nights to airlift in the 50 special forces men.

Top brass 8,000 miles away in Northwood, impatient for victories, questioned the need to use up valuable time on reconnaissance. But it was just as well the commanders on the ground dug their heels in, because when the SAS did go in they quickly realised that strong enemy patrols were operating in the area.

Major General Julian Thompson, who commanded 3 Commando Brigade, wrote later that without the friendly special forces' presence around the landing zone, the Argentine patrols 'would have had a

turkey shoot on the vulnerable helicopters and the troops as they jumped out, temporarily disorientated in the darkness; the operation would have been a disaster.'

When the 42 Cdo flew in on the night of May 30/31 they found the SAS engaged in a skirmish.

Happily, though, the summit was clear of enemy.