Nick Vaux

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Taking Mount Kent

After the landings Brigadier Julian Thompson again put Vaux and his Commando back in reserve.

As the rest of 3 Commando Brigade moved out of the beachhead the SAS reported that Mount Kent was only lightly held by the Argentineans.

Brigadier Thompson tasked 42 Commando with taking Mount Kent, bringing the Commando from a supporting role to a fighting one.

42 Commando being transported to shore in a Landing Craft Vehicle (LCV) from HMS Fearless. Training on Ascension Island from S.S Canberra for the Falklands War 1982.
42 Commando being transported to shore in a Landing Craft Vehicle (LCV) from HMS Fearless, Ascension Island. (RMM)

As Commanding Officer, or CO, Vaux ran the Unit's operations from Tac HQ (Tactical Headquarters). From there Vaux co-ordinated two major actions in the Falklands Campaign - the taking of Mount Kent and the attack on Mount Harriet.

Taking Mount Kent was crucial. It would gain the high ground so that British Forces could coordinate attacks on the mountain ranges still held by the Argentineans. These attacks left the Argentineans demoralised and led to their surrender.

But the operation for Mount Kent almost did not happen. Transport to their positions relied on helicopters and the operation was delayed, modified and nearly cancelled several times due to adverse flying conditions and the over commitment of the helicopters elsewhere during the war.

To make matters worse the Argentineans attacked the SAS cleared landing zone shortly after 42's first 'K' company landed, delaying the rest of the unit's movement and denying the availability of the helicopters.

The pilots could only provide one more trip rather than the two they needed. 'L' Company stayed at Commando HQ whilst the rest of the unit travelled to the landing zone.

Lt Col Nick Vaux (centre) with his 'Four Two' Commando. Falklands War , 1982.
Lt Col Nick Vaux (centre) with his 'Four Two' Commando. Falklands War, 1982 (RMM)

The troops had to cram into the helicopters without seats or seat belts, on top of missiles, bombs, grenades and ammunition. 42 sacrificed rations in order to take spare batteries, whilst surveillance devices replaced fuel.

The rest of the unit landed to find that the SAS had not scouted the mountain and 42's 'K' Company had already moved off with their SAS guides.

Taking Mount Kent, however, was a relatively easy operation. The Argentineans had hastily redeployed to defend against British attack at Goose Green so when 'K' Company reached the summit they found abandoned weapons rather than troops.

The problem, was no longer the enemy, but the weather. The Company had to hold their position in wet, windy and freezing conditions without tents or sleeping bags.


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