I’m sitting in my garden in beautiful sunshine enjoying a nice cold beer and my mind drifts back 38 years to the day. At this time in 1982 we were at war with Argentina and engaged in the liberation of the Falkland Islands, following the illegal invasion by Argentinian forces. The Battle of Goose Green was raging and a young Royal Signals Officer, Lieutenant James (Jim) Barry, who had been seconded to 2nd Parachute Regiment (2 Para), had gone forward under a white flag to discuss the enemy’s surrender at the Argentine Commander’s request. On completion of the initial negotiation, Jim and two of his comrades headed back to their own lines, still under a white flag of truce. Unfortunately, the fog of war and poor Argentinian communications combined and a machine gun position on an opposite flank opened fire, killing Jim and his colleagues; he was 24 years old.
Having served with and been very close to Jim, I was absolutely gutted. We had often spoken about our wish to serve together again, later in our careers, with grand plans to build a dynasty in one of our high profile Regiments in the future. That future died with Jim, but thank god I got the chance to build a career, and whilst there was no happy ending for our pre-planned partnership, I thought about him often across the years. He was a fine young officer, a true gentleman and someone that would have had a truly outstanding career. I know that he will always be remembered by the colleagues he left behind, that’s the nature of our bond as military. However, sitting here in my early sixties, I often consider just how awful war is, and genuinely hope nobody believes there is any glamour attached to it. Death is an inevitable consequence of war and all soldiers understand and accept that, but the loss of men like Jim never leaves you and the what if’s can never be answered. RIP Jim, I’ll see you upstairs.