DERBY, United Kingdom (AFP) – British soldier Gordon Hoggan still has horrifying nightmares about killing an Argentinian marine with his bayonet during the Falklands War. But he hopes to find peace by discovering the man’s identity and giving his family back his helmet.
In a fierce and bloody seven-hour battle before dawn on June 14, 1982, the Scots Guards took Mount Tumbledown, the final hill before the Falklands’ capital Stanley, which was liberated by British troops later that day.
Hoggan was in the thick of the assault when he saw the Argentinian soldier.
“I killed him with a bayonet. There were two of them in a cave. We sneaked up to the cave, and when we went into the cave it sort of alerted them and they jumped up and I fired my rifle,” Hoggan told AFP.
“I got a stoppage and I didn’t have time to take the magazine off and clear it, so I lunged forward with my bayonet, stabbed him in the neck and he never had a chance to fire.
“It was him or me.” Hoggan recalls the seven hours of fighting that took place on Tumbledown from 1am, in driving snow and temperatures of minus 16 degrees Celsius (three degrees Fahrenheit).
“They were more and better equipped than us, because they had been there for about six weeks before we arrived,” said Hoggan. “They had dug in. They had proper trenches and bunkers so they were well hidden. We had to root them out between the rocks.
“It was freezing cold. And it was hand-to-hand combat.” The frostbite cost him the feeling in several fingers.
From Kirkcaldy, north of Edinburgh, Hoggan is now 55, divorced and with two daughters. He lives in Derby, central England, in a house found for him by a charity.