Authors: Roy Robson,Garry Robson
Blood on the Streets
Garry and Roy Robson
London Large: Blood on the Streets
Copyright © 2015 by Garry and Roy Robson.
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Cover Designed by CM Olavarria Front Cover Photograph by James Harrison Back Cover Photograph by Grace Seaton This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
businesses, organisations, places and events are either the product of the
authors’ imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely co-incidental.
Although every precaution has been taken in the
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from the use of this information contained herein.
Goose Green, Falkland
The decisions Harry made
within the next few seconds would stay with him for the rest of his life - or
result in his immediate death. And he knew it. His brain cells fired
faster than the guns that cracked and exploded around him with ever-increasing
intensity. Clearly, rapidly he assessed and reassessed the options, his
alertness born from the survival instinct that burned deep within him.
It was dark, wet and cold
enough to freeze the bollocks off a brass monkey. As the biting wind slashed at
Harry’s face bullets zipped and zinged all around him like millions of angry
wasps on a murder hunt. The soldiers of 2 Para had scarcely slept for six
nights and had walked for 24 hours without rest before being plunged headlong
into the offensive. They were knackered even before the battle started.
Mortar shells were exploding
in every part of the compass; the saturated peat was muffling the sounds of
detonating grenades and the air carried news of more casualties as the cries
and screams of wounded soldiers drifted across the barren landscape. Dying
soldiers disappeared like ghosts in the night as they sank into the peat,
returning unceremoniously to the dust and ashes from whence they had come.
Harry had been in some tight
spots before but this was a whole new ball game.
He found himself cut off from
the rest of the men of 2 Para, in a cudweed-filled gully at the foot of Darwin
Hill, with just himself and Private Rifleman Ronnie Ruddock in attendance. They
had followed their impetuous commanding officer on a crazy, suicidal charge,
and in the ensuing chaos had found themselves isolated from the rest of their
unit. Harry liked his commander. He was a brave, decisive leader who liked to
mix it with his men in the heat of battle. He now lay dead fifty yards in front
of them. Harry and Ronnie had watched in horror as fragments from a mortar
shell crashed into him and ripped his torso into crimson pieces.
‘Down Ronnie’, Harry had
commanded in an instant. Luckily, if being stranded in the midst of a well
dug-in and murderous enemy can be considered lucky, they had halted their
charge before they had been spotted.
From the briefings the
soldiers had received before the battle a couple of things were absolutely,
blatantly clear. The enemy had more troops and firepower than intelligence had
estimated; reconnaissance had missed a string of entrenched mortar positions to
the west of their current position and Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force were not
going to show up and provide air cover. Basically 2 Para were outnumbered,
outgunned and on their own.
Harry assessed the options
one last time. Option one - fall back. They would be picked off like pheasants
on a country shoot.
, he thought. Option two – stay put and
await reinforcements. He knew that was unlikely. He could see a group of 2 Para
moving stealthily up from the south but to call out to them would reveal their
position. They knew nothing of the mortar positions hidden in the curvature of
the landscape, and would soon become sitting ducks. Option 3 – return fire from
current position. The mortar positions were too well dug-in; opening fire and
staying put would invite a barrage of mortar. This option was as good as
A couple of zillion minor
variations flooded his mind before Harry settled on a plan of action. Option
four it was then - full frontal assault.
Harry’s mind was still
buzzing like wildfire as the next steps crystallised. If he was going to get
out of this mess alive he needed to do three things. Galvanize Ronnie into
action, take control of the nearest mortar position and provide cover for the
rest of the unit from it, so they could break through enemy lines and take this
He turned to Ronnie, who was
quivering with cold, fear and exhaustion in equal measure. The starless sky was
casket black as a scar of dim moonlight broke through and exposed Ronnie’s
desperate features. He looked wasted, capable of doing nothing more than
curling up in a ball and dreaming of home. Harry looked deep into those
piercing blue eyes that had always made Ronnie such a hit with the ladies,
searching to see what was left of the man, examining, probing.
Harry and Ronnie went back a
long way. A strong and enduring friendship forged in the mean streets of
Bermondsey in south east London - where they had come of age fighting in gangs
and standing toe to toe with football firms from all over the country. Harry
searched for a memory Ronnie could cling to and recalled the Battle of Stamford
February 1977. The time when the two of them had stood
side by side in the Shed, the part of Stamford Bridge stadium made famous as
the haunt of Chelsea’s notorious football hooligans of the 1970s.
Harry, Ronnie and a small
band of brothers had taken their life into their hands and, outnumbered 100 to
1, infiltrated that part of the stadium where Chelsea’s top boys congregated.
That was when Harry first saw Ronnie in action, and understood he was a force
to be reckoned with. He’d watched as Ronnie, at the tender age of 15,
surrounded by a sea of rabid, lager-fuelled nutters, stood tall as the punches
rained down on him like a blizzard of arrows pouring out of the grey, dank
Harry, of course, had jumped
into the fray to help him out. They fought like Lions but were well and truly
battered. But the glory! For the glory it was a price worth paying. The story
became legendary in their patch. When recounting it Harry loved to tell the
part where Ronnie, battered and bruised, never went down, and never submitted
to the relentless force of superior numbers. Ronnie loved to tell the part
where Harry had dived in to help him out. They loved to big each other up.
Harry looked at Ronnie,
fatigued and shell shocked beside him in the gully. Despite the cold he was
sweating like a stray cat lost in London’s Chinatown. But the eyes told him all
he needed to know. Ronnie was down, but he still had plenty of bottle left.
Harry made his play.
‘Ronnie’ he screamed, ‘how
the fuck you feeling mate?’
Ronnie summoned the strength
‘Shitting my fucking self.
Looks to me like we’re fucking finished this time H.’
‘Right my son, liven yourself
right up, now. Here’s what’s going to happen; we’re both getting out of here
alive. Remember Stamford Bridge, hundred to one? You didn’t bottle it then and
you are not going to bottle it now. More importantly my life is in your fucking
hands, so buck your fucking ideas up, sharpish.’
Harry was using every
possible angle his racing brain could come up with. He knew he was Ronnie’s
hero, and that it was him Ronnie had just followed on this crazy, suicidal
charge, not the Lieutenant. An appeal to their friendship was his best bet.
‘The odds are in our favour.
There are only four of them in the nearest bunker. Two to one against. We can
piss over odds like that. And remember when we signed up, what did we fucking
say? If we ever see action we won’t fight because it’s a job, we’ll fight for
the fucking glory, just like we’ve always done.’
Not exactly a Churchillian
rhetorical flourish, Harry would later reflect, but it did the job. Ronnie
started to sort himself out.
‘What’s the plan then H?’
‘I don’t think those boys
know where we are - it’s too dark and foggy. They’re training their guns the
other side of the ridge. The mortar position is 150 yards away. We burst out of
the gully, reach the bunker and then bob’s your fucking uncle, we have it large
with ‘em. It’s them or us.’
Not much of a fucking plan
, thought Ronnie.
‘There’s a group of 2 Para
coming in from the south’, continued Harry. ‘They’ll see us, see we have them
covered. They’ll push on and take the hill, save our fucking bacon and win the
battle. This is it Ronnie, do or fucking die my son.’
‘How the fuck do you know
they’ll follow us’, said Ronnie. Harry had no real idea how option four was
going to pan out.
‘Because lions eat hamsters,
soppy bollocks’, he said.
H was hard-core, thought
Ronnie, full on and as gutsy as they come. If anyone had the qualities, the
character, the sheer will to live needed to get out of a situation as hopeless
as this it was him. Harry had calculated correctly. Ronnie would follow him
‘Remember Stamford Bridge’,
The boys burst out of the
gully. The bitter wind pierced their bodies as their destiny stared them full
on in the face. In search of life they went hunting for death.
The friends hit the
peat faster than Usain Bolt out of the blocks, as mortar fire thundered in
their ears. Thirty yards out they saw the scattered arms and legs of their
lieutenant. At forty yards out a stray bullet ricocheted off the butt of
Ronnie’s rifle. Ronnie’s guts churned. Inside he was a mess, but intuitively he
stayed close to Harry, the only hope he had. Harry, however, was in another
place, his senses quickened, his alertness heightened. He was buzzing. He was
After seventy yards the
bunker came into clearer view. They moved with speed and stealth and remained
unseen, unheard, unknown.
Need to drop at least one of the bastards before
we make it to the bunker
, thought Harry. Not yet, not yet.
After a hundred yards Harry
raised his rifle, with his heart pounding faster than an exocet missile honing
in on its target. Fighting off the dull, aching pain in his legs he took aim at
the gunner sitting astride the 120mm mortar, and let off two rounds. The first
bullet bounced off the deadly rocket launcher.
. The second hit the
mortar operative in the windpipe. He gargled, fell back, and gasped for the
intake of air his bursting lungs would never again experience.
The gunner’s mate and the two
riflemen bunkered in their foxhole dived for cover as the two angels of death
charged relentlessly onward. Ronnie and Harry didn’t know it but their luck was
in. The bunker boys were conscripts, newly trained and poorly led. Fatally,
they hesitated. At a hundred and ten yards out the spooked soldiers had fumbled
their rifles into the shooting position. In total they managed to let off just
three rounds between them. Two went wide and as the third grazed Harry’s
earlobe he knew they would make the bunker.
At another time, in another
age, Harry would have the deepest sympathy for them. But not here, not now. Harry
was choosing to live.
The cacophony of fire from
the raging battlefield meant Ronnie and Harry could barely hear each other. But
barely was enough.
‘Go left’, barked Harry.
The friends launched
themselves into the trench with speed and ruthlessness; professional training
and instinct took over.
Ronnie thrust his bayonet
towards the head of the gunner’s mate, who parried and fell back, knocking his
head on the mortar, dropping his guard as the pain kicked in. Ronnie seized on
the opening. His bayonet pierced the throat of his enemy. A poppy-red deluge
sprayed from the wound and Ronnie smelled and tasted the blood of another human
being, as his demented face was bathed in a fountain of crimson.
He turned, spitting red and
gasping for air. The second of the three soldiers already lay dead. Harry was
merciless as he repeatedly smashed the butt of his rifle into the crushed face
of the third. As the soldier fell to the dirt, grasping his shattered features,
Ronnie completed the rout with a bullet through his midriff. The action was
over in less than ten seconds.