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Simon Bolivar

My Falklands Story Part 9B: Seaview Ward

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Quote Originally Posted by Simon Bolivar View Post
Part 9B: Working on Seaview Ward.<o></o>
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We had a couple of very vocal Para’s who lay in bed bitching about everyone & everything. One of them I particularly disliked after he first threatened an Argentine conscript & said he was going to get him one night & cut his throat. I had to reassure the conscript this Para couldn’t get out of bed if he wanted too with his injuries & pointed out to the Para that the conscript was mobile & if scared enough might decide to attack was the best form of defence! I was in the habit of asking a Ghurkha in bed next to this Para if he needed pain relief. He would never ask for it as it was seen as a sign of weakness, he would just look at me & I would give him the jab. When the Sister asked, did he say he needed it? I would say, he’s been shot six times, of course he said he needed it.

This poor unfortunate was practically suicidal. He felt he had left down his regiment & the Queen by being injured before the battle & being medivaced firstly to the Red & Green Life Machine, where they had to operate immediately to save his life & then transferred to us. I was there when he arrived & an escort told us his story. He had been preparing to yomp & do battle, to earn his spurs as it were, when a Sergeant of the Signals regiment was supposedly cleaning his SMG & managed to loose off half a dozen rounds into the Ghurkha, hitting his back & leg. How this could have happened I can not imagine as you have to remove the mag to clear the weapon; whether there was something more to it we never knew but the sergeant was sent back to the UK for his own protection, presumably to a board of inquiry & courts martial.

Friendly fire incidents are always shocking & tragic, as this one was. I often wondered what happened to him & how he survived afterwards. Hopefully he would have got some compensation from the Falklands fund, as I would be surprised if he was able to continue his service & therefore wouldn’t have got his pension that would have supported him, & his whole family. So I am asking the Ghurkha if he wanted his pain meds & the same Para pipes up, ‘he don’t F know anything about F pain, I know about F pain, ask me’.

This Para went on to run a service charity & has been duly honoured for his work over the last 30yrs & has helped many come to terms with their injuries. He obviously came to terms with his badly injured legs & still uses crutches today. We saw people at their worst & some at their best. You can see this on a normal nursing ward in the UK, every day of the week but the more extreme circumstances, the more extreme the responses tend to be. And one things for sure you never know how you’d be reacting in their place. You have good days & bad days & someone might just meet you on the bad days & make a judgement about you based on that experience, the next day you might have been helping out someone worse off & sharing their load.

Although we were short of medium analgesia, the one comfort the Para’s & Marines both needed was their berets. When a child goes to theatre, a nurse will place a teddy on their trolley as they go down to reassure them & perhaps distract them. A 15 stone bootneck asks for his beret; the Green Beret that he sweat & bled for, so long & so hard at Lympstone. The beret of the brotherhood of the Royal Marines; the brothers he was willing to die for & the brothers who gathered him up & carried him safely back. Although I never desired the Green Beret, once you get to know some of them in such a situation, then you have to respect them & what their beret symbolises.

So having learnt this little trick we tried it out with the Argentine wounded. It didn’t work with the conscripts, I guess because their uniform meant virtual imprisonment to them & they hadn’t earnt it in the same way but had it thrust upon them. The Argentine special forces however, did appreciate the touch & one had a Green Beret, if a little lurid for Anglo Saxon tastes. He spoke no English & was very tense as we prepared to take him away. I took his beret from his bag & slipped it under his pillow. He smiled & went off at least appearing to be a braver man.


On reading the memories of our patients, I had to smile when one of them mentioned seeing the Life of Brian in the cinema onboard & how it had cheered him up & how the catch phrases from the film had been going on in his head for the remainder of his stay onboard.

I had seen this film onboard too. I hadn’t seen it before & in fact had avoided it as I didn’t think I would appreciate it after reading the reviews. I thought it would be too close to the religious bone for me. However there was no other entertainment & we all sat there & watched it & the tears of laughter started to roll. I don’t think if I had seen this in Gosport before sailing I would have appreciated it, although I do enjoy JC & the other Pythons. But in this situation, in this absurdity; Python seemed to be the saner world.

Next morning I am delivery a wash bowl to a Para & singing down the ward, ‘Always look on the bright side of life…’ a little flat perhaps but with gusto. The Bootnecks just watched me without particular comment; just another mad ‘Doc’ but for some reason it really wound the Para’s up. Then I tripped accidently at the foot of a bed & spilled the whole bowl of warm water onto the occupant. There was a moment of silence & then house came down! I tried to apologise but he wasn’t having it. Luckily (or not) it wasn’t the Para mentioned above, as no one would have believed that it had been an accident. I threw him his towel, looked into his contorted tomato face & said, ‘Crucifixion? Crucifixion is too good for the likes of you’ and scarpered.

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