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Friday, November 10th 2006, 8:32pm

Secret Paraguay Mission

Extract from ‘Bullets for Money: The Story of a Mercenary’ by Colonel Faulkner, Sword and Rifle Publishing 1974

Having been briefed in Bahia Blanca in a grotty hotel room by an unknown government official the contracts were signed with Senor Gurrero. We then set about the final planning and getting the team together in a remote training camp in Patagonia. My good friend Colonel Robert Janders who had untold experience in these sort of operations was there with me. While I worked for the biggest pay cheque he always worked for the good guys, whatever the pay. My other very good friend Lieutenant Shaun Fynn who had been employed as a crook in Britain had recently fallen upon hard times would be invaluable on the operation and was a first class pilot. The fourth officer had trouble at the border and was late in joining the team. A friend of Shaun’s Lieutenant Coetze was a former South African officer with bush experience. The men, many of whom I knew were all British and among the best fighting men in the world. All had experience in the trenches of the Middle East during the war and all had at least three mercenary operations under their belts. R.S.M Sandy Young was another friend and he had the unenviable task of training these men within a month. By the end we had forty-two men left. We were codenamed the Wild Geese by the Argentinean government.

We received orders to move out on the 18th [August] by train to Corrientes. The Army laid on a special train for us and we arrived in the middle of the night after a day and a half’s travel. We were fully equipped in this little dirt town with the latest weapons available to us. We all had Mauser rifles or American Thompson sub-machine guns and heavier firepower was provided by new license made Czech LMGs and the trusty Vickers HMGs. We were trucked along the rough road out of town to a small airstrip, on which there were three new silver unmarked Ju-52 aircraft. The crews were Argentine pilots but they did not speak to us. We emplaned one officer to each plane and we checked our parachute equipment.

At 02:00 on the 21st we took-off for Paraguay and arrived over the drop-zone just before dawn. We descended from 15,000 feet and dropped without incident. The planes would return in three hours time to pick us up. We split into our two groups. I would lead the assault on the prison where Luis Contreras was being held while Lieu. Fynn led the assault on the nearby airport and to hold it for our save return.

We had a three mile hike to the prison and we arrived just at sun up. Lieutenant Coetze had volunteered to deal with the three sentry towers. He had ordered from Durban a crossbow, Shaun had commented in camp “who do you think you are? William Tell!” This crossbow was special, at less than 1000 yards the quarrel would go straight through a man and the arrow was tipped with cyanide, the hardwood quarrel splinters inside the man and the cyanide takes effect in less than a second. There would be no sound. It was fitted with a telescopic sight for accuracy. The first man was awake but he noticed nothing and died in a heartbeat. The other two sentries were asleep and knew nothing, the last fell off the tower and we all held our breath but no-one came out. We swept into the camp; Cpl Jembia dealt with another guard with his knife. We entered the guardroom. The enemy just stood there shocked, I had the officer searched first but another man was found to have the cell keys. I went to the cells with Coetze and the M.O. Whittaker. Meanwhile Janders with two other men were inside the barracks with cyanide gas canisters. 110 men died and never lifted a finger, the Argentine officials were concerned about this part of the operation but we assured them that if we were to get out alive it had to be done. No one woke up and everything went according to plan. Just as we entered Contreras’s cell block we heard firing in the guardroom, they wanted to be heroes but all fell in a hail of Tommy gun bullets. I killed the guard in the cell with my trusty Browning pistol and we had Contreras free.

As we left the prison Fynn began his assault on the airfield. It consisted of one hangar, a small control tower and a single-storey brick terminal and canteen. Sandy led the men to the canteen, a grenade and a hail of bullets killed the soldiers having their breakfast. Shaun shot the air force officer as he left the tower. The other man inside surrendered. We soon arrived on two trucks from the prison and we had achieved everything to schedule and the plane was due in fifteen minutes. As I entered the tower Shaun was in contact with the Junkers, callsign ‘Tinman’. Here things began to go wrong. Delayed by poor weather the three Junkers would be late. Worse a patrol near the jail discovered our raid and reinforcements were already beginning to arrive in the area. Coetze commanded the rear guard; our Medical Officer Whittaker was the first to discover the troops. Sat on the ground for a rest he heard rustling in the undergrowth behind him. He began firing his Thompson into the undergrowth, “get your asses out of here, Whitty’s holdin’ the fort” he shouted before he ran out of ammo. He got out his jungle knife and charged the enemy. Lieu. Coetze was next to die as he covered Contreras’s body with his own as bullets whistled around from the west. The tower was hit by machine gun fire and the radio destroyed. Cpl. Tosh and four others took the heavy guns and set up a defensive position.

Among the few civilians captured was an Irish Catholic missionary, Father O’Duggan. He saw Contreras, “my god so it’s true, I respect this man but you with your guns make me feel dead inside. If you start a civil war you’ll be responsible for the deaths of thousands, they have nothing to fight with, there’ll be killing the likes you’ve never seen, and you’ll all die, we all will. So I’m against you, God’s against you and…” I cut him off, shouting something like, “for God’s sake man shut up, we need to get this man out of here.” As I said this the trucks exploded under fire, Fynn had gone to set up the Vickers by the runway to cover the Junkers as they came in. Sandy chucked a grenade into some fuel drums; this improvised wall of fire held the enemy back and brought us more time.

Tosh and his men had done good work and the enemy had been halted, as they regrouped in the jungle we could hear the Junkers coming in. The first one landed with door gunners firing into the bush either side of the runway, the pilot pulled up close to us and I ordered Fynn to get Contreras on the plane, as they ran towards the plane he was hit but was pulled into the plane. Fynn fell off as the plane taxied away and took off. The second came in low and fast and he turned into the wind and I ordered the men to get aboard leaving the officers and the few men in the rearguard for the third plane. As it taxied to takeoff a machine gun from our rear hit the port wing, the engine caught fire and the pilot ordered the troops to abandon the aircraft as the fuselage was hit. The pilot refused to leave and he spotted a platoon of Paraguayan soldiers trying to block the runway ahead so he pushed the throttles to full and the plane spun to port straight into the soldiers and exploded. None of the enemy survived. The third Junkers landed and was hit but we got aboard, the pilot was killed and Shaun took control as we took off. My good friend Robert was firing the Vickers and ran after the plane, I saw Sandy cut down and Robert was hit in the legs as he reached the door. I tried to pull him in but he fell and he begged me to kill him before the Paraguayans could capture and torture him. I had no other choice but to spare him a horrible fate. As we took off Shaun was hit in the left leg but he continued to pull up. We had made it. I joined Shaun in the cockpit in a daze, my head spinning with wild thoughts, “Shaun I’ve killed Robert.” He got my mind off the subject pointing to the holed fuel tanks and the threat of fighters.

About thirty minutes later we could make out four fighters chasing us coming out of the sun, “Well I guess this is the end of the line,” Shaun muttered as he banked the plane. Then we found six black monoplane fighters above us attacking the Paraguayan fighters. “Thank god for the Argentine Air Force,” I said but the co-pilot corrected me, “those are not ours Colonel.” As they pulled alongside we could make out dragon insignia down the fuselage and as the pilots waved good luck to us we could not see their faces. At least two fighters were downed by these experienced fliers. They peeled off as we entered Argentine airspace and very low on fuel we diverted to a mining airstrip and got down just as the fuel ran out. Shaun collapsed and I felt exhausted.

We got Luis Contreras out safely but we had lost twenty-nine men, only thirteen of us made it back and some of my dearest friends had died. The civil war began soon after and Father O’Duggan was tortured and executed by the Paraguayan army who suspected he belonged to the ‘Brotherhood of Santa Maria’. And poor Robert never knew the outcome of the struggle, he died trying to help the world become a better place but can progress ever be won by guns?

HoOmAn

Keeper of the Sacred Block Coefficient

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2

Saturday, November 11th 2006, 12:02pm

A bloody damn massacre - but an interesting read.

3

Saturday, November 11th 2006, 12:15pm

Particularily interesting when you use the future article aproach as well.

4

Saturday, November 11th 2006, 9:08pm

Nice to know what my ex-pats are doing...

5

Saturday, November 11th 2006, 10:14pm

Ahh, "The Wild Geese" - Revisited!!!!