with Terry Lightfoot in the Falkland Islands
In April, 1982, Argentina invaded the British dependent Falklands islands in the South Atlantic. Argentina maintains that the islands are Argentinian, and the Argentine government claimed its military action as the reclamation of its own territory. The British government regarded the action as an invasion of a territory that had been a Crown colony since 1841. The UK sent a task force to retake the Islands and after ten weeks of engagements, a ceasefire was declared on 14 June and the commander of the Argentine garrison in Stanley, Brigade General Mario Menéndez, surrendered to Major General Jeremy Moore. (You can read more about the conflict here).
Two years later, UK troops were still stationed on the Falkland Islands and Terry Lightfoot’s band went there as part of a Combined Services Entertainment (CSE) show. Ian Hunter-Randall kept a log of the trip, and his wife Jane has kindly let us share extracts from Ian’s diary entries here.
On arrival, the band were given various documents including one that read: ‘During the Falkland’s islands conflict considerable quantities of ammunition were used, consequently a large amount of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) was left on the battlefield....there are some items in a very sensitive and dangerous state. SOME WILL DETONATE WHEN TOUCHED. ..... REMEMBER. If planning a walk into the hills in a group you must always carry a Minefield Situation Map. Individuals are NOT permitted to walk into the hills alone’.
The Lightfoot Band for the trip were Terry Lightfoot (clarinet, saxophone, vocals); Ian Hunter-Randall (trumpet, vocals); Phil Rhodes (trombone, arranger); Mike Godwin (bass guitar); Max Brittain (guitar) and Keith Hall (drums). Also along as part of the show were: Terry Greene (comedian) and Nick and Marie (singing duo).
The company set off on the 19th March. The following is taken from Ian Hunter-Randall’s diary (we have added some pictures):
To begin, I will quote from the information sheet we all got from the CSE office, well in advance of our departure: “.....The wind is ever present throughout the year. The capital, Port Stanley, is unsophisticated and the pace of life, even after the hostilities, is slow. The outlying settlements are even less sophisticated .... The Falklands trip is the grubbiest you are ever likely to go on, so there is no point in taking expensive to wear ...” The briefing finishes with the chilling phrase: “To sum up, if you have any doubts about your capability to do the trip – don’t go.”
[The company leave on the 20th March for a stop-over at the Ascension islands, continuing on the 21st]
At 6.00 am we board the chamber of horrors (a Hercules propeller-driven freight plane) in considerable heat, even though it is still dark. No words can adequately convey this airborne claustrophobia. The aircraft is divided down its middle by an iron framework partition and on each side of this, sit two rows of lost souls, facing each other so close that knees fit together like a zip-fastener. After half an hour of sweating discomfort, we are informed that there is a mechanical fault and a spare part will have to be ‘cannibalised’ from one of two other Hercules standing on the tarmac. The following thirteen and a half hours is a mixture of back-ache, standing up to try to get rid of it, and brief dozes, usually interrupted by a large boot coming in contact with some part of my anatomy, as its owner climbs over me and everyone else to get to one of three containers of lemon squash, or the toilet. At long last we touch down after a very buffeted descent. It is now 8.30 pm, local time. We remember how to walk, and step out into a howling gale that all but lifts us off our feet.
Thursday, 22nd: Thankfully today is off, the only one we are to get. My room mates, Terry and Mike, still manage to get up for breakfast.
Friday, 23rd: Now it really begins in earnest. Two shows a day, up to and including next Thursday. A nine o’clock departure to get to the helicopter pad. Our first destination is Mount Kent. The idea is to land on top of the mountain, but the weather, which was indifferent at the start of the day, suddenly worsens, and the alternative measure of landing two thirds of the way up the mountain is adopted. On previous CSE tours we haven’t had to carry our own gear to any great extent. Out of the damp fog two trucks appear, one for gear, and the other for us. We are hurled about in near darkness, amongst luggage and musical instruments. The ascent felt like an hour, but in fact has only taken 20 minutes. In bitterly cold, driving rain, we trudge endlessly over wooden planks laid on the mud, until we reach the porta-mess, where we are to perform. Not for the first time since becoming a professional musician, I am struck by the incongruous, even surreal aspect of the situation; dressed up in band uniform, on top of a mountain, in ever-worsening weather, in the middle of the day, on the other side of the world!
[The performance is well received, but the company is unable to get to the second show because of the bad weather. They travel back to Port Stanley by Land Rover].
Saturday, 24th: The destination is Byron Heights (yes, another mountain). Byron Heights could not be less romantic than it sounds. The whole place is nothing but a quagmire. The conditions are so dire, that only a shortened version of the show can go on. Here we are playing in sweaters, jeans and mud-proof footwear, to an audience of damp, decidedly dispirited troops. On to Camp Orford. This is far more civilised. The camp is leased to the RAF by a land-owner. The show goes well, despite competition from hundreds of noisy sheep.
[Weather conditions again stop the company from going on to Mount Alice and they press on to the next venue, Fox Bay].
The accommodation at Fox Bay is much more spacious than we have had up to now, but very dirty. We learn that live mines are still being washed up ashore, even two years after the war. I forego the stroll I was contemplating. Max, however takes his binoculars and goes bird-watching. Phil and Gordon also venture out to try some fishing. At any minute I am half-expecting an explosion. When the performance is over, I meet my first Falklanders, or ‘Kelpers’, as they like to be known. They have come from outlying settlements to see the rare live entertainment. The accent is curious – a mixture of west country and New Zealand.
Monday, 26th: There are another two shows today, this time on board H.M.S. Fort Austin, anchored in San Carlos Water. The shows are to be in the helicopter hangar, and the navy have made a good job of turning it into a place of entertainment. The stage is obviously makeshift, but certainly doesn’t feel like it. The first show takes place within an hour of boarding, with half the audience conveniently seated and the rest festooned on anything that provides a perch (girders, hoists, spare propellers – some men are a good 50 feet above deck level).
Tuesday, 27th: Thankfully, we are being flown straight on to our next venue, Port San Carlos. After the show, an expatriate Scot, who has been on the Islands for 20 years, engages us in conversation. There is nowhere in the world he would sooner be. He, in common with most Islanders we have talked to, found the sudden presence, two years ago, of Argentinian Forces, barely believable. It became all too believable as he and his family were rounded up at gunpoint. We scramble to get ourselves organised for the next leg – Kelly’s Garden.
Showtime. The format, now it has all fallen into place, follows this pattern: Terry (Greene) opens with about 10 minutes of warm-up gags and impressions, then introduces Nick and Marie. Marie, ever the true Liverpudlian, provides the ‘chat’ and Nick looks after the musical department. Terry Greene returns and does his main spot, the highlight of which for me is an hilarious send-up of Demis Roussos. Having familiarised ourselves with the last five minutes of Terry’s act, we discreetly slide on stage. Terry announces us and we present our offering for the next 45 mins. Our final number brings back on stage the whole company.
Wednesday, 28th: The Sergeant-Major who last night appeared to be a nice guy, this morning turns out to be a sadist. Twice, starting at 7.30, he rips the bedclothes off me and bellows military wake-up type phrases in my ear. I suppose he would love to have us in his control for six months, to ‘whip us into shape.’ Without warning our helicopter arrives. At 11.30, we are inside this monster (a Chinook). Strapped in, deafened and staring at the ground far below through an open trap-door, we pass the ¾ hour journey back to the outskirts of Stanley. The next 4 shows are to be in the biggest of the 3 Coastels [fortifications to provide protection against military attack at or near a coastline], and the performances take place in a vast gymnasium where everything from rifle shooting, through to rugby and cricket are catered for. On the second show, the island Governor, Sir Rex Hunt, together with his wife are in the audience. It is likely we will be invited to tea after the very last show.
Thursday, 29th: The two shows go down well, but as with yesterday, the vast hall is far from full at each performance. It would surely have been better to have one show per night and fill the place up each time. In the forces the ranks are not supposed to ‘mingle’ too much. I find it quite ridiculous.
Friday, 30th: The last show! Our one concert is in the community centre, which serves at different times as school, church, pub, and now concert hall. As we change in the school room, amidst exercise books and children’s paintings, we are struck yet again, of the unreal aspect of it all. We are to put on a show to an audience of evenly split servicemen and local people whose life-style will be affected not one jot by our presence.
[The company travels home to the UK on Saturday, 31st March arriving at Brize Norton airfield on 1st April].
After a painless check-out, the ‘show’ splits up and goes its different ways. Even if the separate components never work together again, we are all united in an extraordinary shared experience. It has been an unforgettable 13 days, which I feel grateful for having been offered. After all we have seen and done, the final lingering impression that remains in my mind is a melancholy one. There are still, we learnt, many unaccounted for Argentinian bodies, yet to be interred, in the more inaccessible parts of the islands.
UK Trumpeter Ian Hunter-Randall was born in Clapham, London on the 3rd January 1938. Shortly afterwards his family moved to Surrey and Ian went to Sutton High School, but it was not there that his interest in jazz grew, he would excel at English, Swimming and Art and when he left school, go on to an art school in London to study Art and Design.
It was the mid-1950s and the Trad. Jazz revival had begun. Ian already had a guitar but when his friends bought a clarinet and a trombone, he bought his first trumpet in London’s Charing Cross Road for 15 shillings (75 p in today’s money). They practised and played in street fairs, and in the late 1950s, Ian joined Preston Scott’s Jazz Band
The Barton brothers, Ken and Len lived in Acton and both led jazz bands. Ian joined Ken’s Oriole Jazz Band in 1959, the year he first met his future wife, actress and model Jane Bough, who was in cabaret when their paths crossed. By now, Ian was working as a graphic artist in Soho.
In 1962, Ian moved from one Barton’s band to the other, joining Len Barton’s Alexander’s Jazzmen. The band was popular and had regular gigs, to the point where Ian was turning up for work in Soho rather the worse for wear after continuing late nights. He decided to put the music first and turn professional. Alexander’s Jazzmen became the first Trad. Jazz band to win the cup in the Melody Maker magazine poll. The cup is now on display at the Jazz Centre UK in Southend.
The Terry Lightfoot Band in 1972
L-R: Ian Hunter-Randall, Ian Castle, Terry Lightfoot, Paddy Lightfoot,Pete Scivington and Mickey Cooke.
The photograph waso taken at the London Weekend television studios where the band was doing a T V show - you can just see the LW logo.