|01-28-2007, 03:44 PM||#1 (permalink)|
AKA: Chief Muppet
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Great Britain
Terry Peck: Falklands policeman who helped British troops
Falklands policeman whose local knowledge helped British troops to expel Argentine forces in 1982 died December 30, 2006.
Terry Peck was a Falkland Islands legislator, a chief of police and a youth leader. He won fame in the 1982 Falklands conflict by taking up arms and fighting in the front line against the Argentine invaders at Mount Longdon, one of the fiercest battles of the campaign.
His bravery earned him an honour and a rare accolade from the British Parachute Regiment — its coveted red beret with winged cap badge. Peck wore it with pride, and it was buried with him.
Terry Peck had a reputation of being a restless man of action and resourcefulness, never more so than during the invasion and ten-week occupation by 10,000 Argentine troops and airmen. He spied on them, gathering useful military information, then became a valuable guide and frontline citizen soldier attached to the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment, with the codename Rubber Duck.
Terence John Peck was born in Stanley in 1938, a descendant of emigrants from Norfolk and Ireland. As a proudly patriotic islander, he had always vehemently opposed Argentina’s campaign claiming sovereignty over the Falklands.
He was educated at Stanley and worked in the islands in a meat-freezing plant before joining the police force, attending Bramshill Police College in Hampshire, before returning to the islands and becoming Chief Constable.
After his term of police service was over he was elected a councillor in the Falklands legislature only six months before the invasion. On the day the Argentinians landed he rejoined the police force as an emergency special constable. But he was always thinking about how the enemy might best be undermined.
Pretending to be an itinerant plumber, he wandered around Stanley with a long piece of drainpipe concealing a camera with a telephoto lens. With this he took pictures of vital targets such as anti-aircraft gun emplacements. These he later smuggled out for the benefit of British task force gunners and the RAF.
The Argentine authorities at first contemplated reappointing him Chief Constable until he aroused the suspicions of a notorious anti-British intelligence officer, Major Patricio Dowling, who decided to arrest him.
Warned by a fellow islander, he armed himself with an automatic weapon, ammunition and grenades, and hurriedly left Stanley, three weeks after the invasion, on a borrowed motorcycle. With a forged identity card and name, he spent several weeks living rough in the cold, damp, peaty countryside in the dead of winter, keeping one step ahead of Argentine patrols and making only sporadic visits to friendly farms. At one of them, as he scrubbed off encrusted mud in a much-needed bath, the farmer threw him the child’s rubber duck which was the inspiration for his code-name.
After the British landings at San Carlos, he made contact with the advance paratroop patrols, guiding them through the difficult boggy and mountainous terrain in wintry weather. Paratroop commanders had unstinting praise for his vital role and unrivalled local knowledge. He provided intelligence on enemy positions and possible minefields.
When the paratroops were faced with the daunting assault on a large Argentine force dug in on Mount Longdon on the approach to Stanley, Peck made the suggestion that they exploit local farmers’ driving skills with tractors and four-wheel drive vehicles over rough terrain to transport troops, ammunition and equipment to the battle’s start line and to evacuate the wounded.
Peck and a fellow islander, Vernon Steen, an aircraft engineer and a member of the volunteer Falkland Islands Defence Force, advanced all the way with the troops to fight in one of the bloodiest battles of the campaign. Peck later described the scene: “The shooting was ferocious amid the noise of shouting and screaming. The smell, the carnage, were unreal. There were bodies everywhere.”
One of those bodies near the summit was that of Sergeant Ian McKay, awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Peck was appointed MBE and Steen was awarded the British Empire Medal.
At the age of 44 Peck, a short, wiry, energetic man, bore this exhausting experience as ably as most of the combatants less than half his age on either side. But he later suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Typically, he used his personal awareness of the anguish this causes to help fellow sufferers. He devoted much of his energies to the South Atlantic Medal Association (SAMA), formed to provide care and support for British Falklands veterans. As SAMA’s Falklands representative he was due to play an important role in the 25th anniversary commemoration events this year.
His son, James, is a painter whose works on the theme of the war poignantly express the suffering and desolation of the individual soldiers, particularly the Argentine conscripts.
Terry Peck was an outspoken member of the Legislative Council, the Falkland Islands parliament, from 1981 to 1984 and from 1989 to 1993. He was committed to a number of local causes, particularly the need for local workers to have equal opportunities with overseas contractors for employment in postwar aid projects. He also did much to promote the welfare of young people as manager of the YMCA.
As Chief of Police of a force made up of about eight members, when there was no organised social welfare system in the Falklands, he did much of what would now be considered social work, and was awarded the Colonial Police Medal (CPM).
As a sergeant in the voluntary Falkland Islands Defence Force, he was involved in 1966 in a clash with a number of extremist nationalist Argentinians known as the Condor Group. These had hijacked a civil airliner and recklessly landed it on Stanley’s grass racecourse before planting the Argentine flag there.
Islanders led by Peck, hurrying to help what they thought were passengers in an emergency landing, were taken hostage by the armed Condor guerrillas. With characteristic resourcefulness, Peck escaped from his captors and walked away, hidden beneath the cassock of the local priest who had been attempting to negotiate. The guerrilla group surrendered but went back to Argentina in triumph. It was an incident soon followed by sovereignty talks, initiated by the Harold Wilson Government, which continued, on and off, until the Argentine invasion.
Terry Peck is survived by his wife, Eleanor, by two sons and two daughters from a previous marriage, and by two stepdaughters.
Terry Peck, MBE, CPM, Falkland Islands police chief and legislator, was born on August 2, 1938. He died of cancer on December 30, 2006, aged 68
|06-12-2009, 01:17 AM||#3 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2009
Re: Terry Peck: Falklands policeman who helped British troops
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