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Someone You Should Know - Captain Gavin John Hamilton, MC

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At the request of Tiny who served with this fallen hero, today we pay tribute to a brave leader of the SAS...Captain Gavin John Hamilton who is someone that you should know.

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The Captain entered service an infantry officer in Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own Yorkshire Regiment).    He served in CyprusBelize and South Armagh in Northern Ireland before passing selection and assignment to the SAS in 1981.  After 5 months in the SAS, in recognition for his professionalism, he was given command of 19 (Mountain) Troop, D Squadron, 22 Special Air Service (SAS).  They soon headed to the Falklands to defend/take back the islands from the invading Argentinians.

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In the Spring of 1982, Captain Hamilton led his troop into the raid on Pebble Island which resulted in the destruction of eleven grounded FMA IA 58 Pucará and T-34 Mentor enemy aircraft.

Having survived two helicopter crashes in appalling weather conditions on the Fortuna Glacier in South Georgia during Operation Paraquet, two days later Captain Hamilton led the advance elements of the forces which captured the main Argentine positions in Grytviken. This action resulted in the total surrender of all enemy forces in South Georgia.

FalklandswarfortunaglacierHelo crash on Fortuna Glacier.  Source:  https://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/armycampaigns/southamerica/falklands/falklandswarfortunaglacier.htm

On June 5th, 1982, five Four man SAS patrols were inserted onto West Falkland to observe and report the movements of the two large Argentine garrisons on West Falkland. Because he had proved himself to be a excellent SAS officer during Operation Paraquat and the raid on Pebble Island, Captain Hamilton commanded one of these patrols behind enemy lines.

On the 10th of June, Hamilton and his four man patrol were using a well established OP near Port Howard when they were surrounded and out numbered by Argentine forces from the 1st Section 601 Combat Aviation Battalion. Two SAS men managed to get away but Hamilton and his signaler, Sergeant Fosenka, were pinned down. Hamilton was hit in the back by enemy fire and told Fosenka to get out while he covered him. "You carry on, I'll cover your back."

Moments later Hamilton was killed.  He was 29 years old.

Sergeant Fosenka was later captured when he ran out of ammunition. Fosenka was not badly treated by the Argentines and Hamilton was buried with full military honors by the Argentines. The senior Argentine officer praised the heroism of the SAS officer.

Hamilton was posthumously awarded the Military Cross. Some think he should have been given a VC. But because no British Officer was present during this action (apart from Hamilton himself ) no VC was awarded...

The Military Cross citation reads:

Captain Gavin John Hamilton, The Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own Yorkshire Regiment) 

Between 19th April and 10th June, when he was killed in action, Captain Hamilton and his SAS Troop were responsible for some of the most successful SAS operations carried out in the campaign in the South Atlantic. 

Having survived two helicopter crashes in appalling weather conditions on the Fortuna Glacier in South Georgia, two days later Captain Hamilton let the advance elements of the forces which captured the main enemy positions in Grytviken. This action resulted in the total surrender of all enemy forces in South Georgia. 

Ten days later, Captain Hamilton led his Troop on the successful and brilliantly executed raid on Pebble Island in the Falklands Islands when eleven enemy aircraft were destroyed on the ground. Acting quickly and decisively and with great courage and coolness, he personally supervised the destruction of seven of the aircraft. 

Later, even though his Troop had lost half of its strength in a helicopter crash the previous day, Captain Hamilton led the remainder of his men on a highly successful diversionary raid on Darwin in order to cover the main amphibious landings on East Falkland. That he was able to do this after such losses is an immense testimony to his resilience and leadership qualities. 

Next, Captain Hamilton deployed with his Squadron to a position 40 miles behind the enemy lines overlooking the main enemy defensive positions in Port Stanley. Again, his leadership and courage proved to be instrumental over the next seven days of continuous operations in seizing this vital ground from which the attack on Port Stanley was ultimately launched. On 27th May he identified an enemy probe into the Squadron position and in the ensuing battle captured a prisoner of war. The next night, he and his Troop successfully held off another enemy attack and by doing so enabled 42 Commando to fly in as planned to re-inforce the position - an important step in the repossession of the Falklands. On the following day he ambushed another enemy patrol wounding three and capturing all five members of the patrol. 

On 5th June, he was deployed in command of a four man observation patrol into a hazardous position again behind enemy lines on West Falkland to carry out observation of enemy activities in Port Howard. He managed to establish himself in a position only 2500m from the enemy, from where he sent detailed and accurate reports on the enemy. 

Shortly after dawn on 10th June he realised that he and his radio operator had been surrounded in a forward position. Although heavily outnumbered, and with no reinforcements available, he gave the order to engage the enemy, telling his signaller that they should both attempt to fight their way out of the encirclement. Since the withdrawal route was completely exposed to enemy observation and fire, he initiated the fire fight in order to allow his signaller to move first. After the resulting exchange of fire he was wounded in the back, and it became clear to his signaller that Captain Hamilton was only able to move with difficulty. Nevertheless, he told his signaller that he would continue to hold off the enemy whilst the signaller made good his escape, and then he proceeded to give further covering fire. Shortly after that he was killed. Captain Hamilton displayed outstanding determination and an extraordinary will to continue the fight in spite of being confronted by hopeless odds and being wounded. He furthermore showed supreme courage and sense of duty by his conscious decision to sacrifice himself on behalf of his signaller. 

His final, brave and unselfish act will be an inspiration to all who follow in the SAS.

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One last piece, in 2009, three soldiers from the Green Howards took this plaque and placed it on Packes Ridge where Hamilton died.  They wanted to honor Captain Hamilton before the 2 Yorks headed off to Afghanistan.

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