Awards and Achievements
Awards and Achievements
Geoff ‘ Dixie’ Dean
Peter ‘Pierre’ Naya
Richard Stephen Le Page (Ricky)
Phil ‘Skippy’ Bridges
Commander Med BAOR
Commissioned From The Ranks
Frank ‘Lex’ Barker, Charles ‘Chas’ DeBuse, Peter Coombe,
Howard ‘Fred Newbound, Jim Kerr, Mike ‘Fritz’ Sterba,
Ken Hannah, Tony Henderson, Pete Starling, Paul Aston,
Simon Nixon, Tony Samra, Dean Newman, Phil ‘Skippy’ Bridges,
Billy Balchin, John Welsby, Howard Winder, Mik Henry (RNZAMC)
Tom Grant, Tom Beckett, Steve Truscott, Donnie Harris
Order of St John
Military Medal Citations
Cpl GF Dean
On the 4th April 1965 Corporal Dean was a member of a platoon whose strength was only 15 men, when it was surprised and attacked by a party of Indonesians whose strength was estimated to be 150. The situation was tactically unfavourable and Corporal Deans prompt, cool and skilful handling of his L.M.G. helped to disorganise the enemy and enable his platoon to extricate itself from a very difficult position. He personally killed two Indonesians in this engagement and certainly inflicted other casualties, and the bodies and weapons from the dead Indonesians were recovered. Corporal Dean’s courage and offensive spirit have been a fine example to the rest of his platoon.
Sgt Peter Hurcliche Rene Naya
On 8th June 1982, whilst at anchor in Fitzroy sound, East Falklands, RFA Sir Galahad was bombed and set on fire by enemy aircraft. Embarked troops included two companies of infantry and the main body of 16 Field Ambulance men and equipment. At the time of the attack, most of the troops were positioned in the tank deck where substantial quantities of ammunition soon began to explode as the fire worked through the ship. Over the course of two hours, 135 casualties, the majority with burns, were evacuated to the ADS of the field ambulance already ashore at Fitzroy Settlement. Sgt Naya was standing in the tank deck when he was thrown against a bulk head by the first explosion and partially stunned. The lights went out and the tank deck began to fill with dense black smoke. A second explosion killed two men behind him, set his large pack alight and scorched the back of his head. Shrugging of the burning material he managed to lead a third soldier by the hand up two flights of stairs to daylight. There he paused to cut of burning clothing of other soldiers with his scissors before mounting a third flight to the upper deck. He then helped to carry a man who had lost a leg up to the forecastle, having dressed the stump and set up an intravenous infusion. He treated many more casualties including another amputee, and set up several more infusions until, with all casualties evacuated he left the ship on the last helicopter later to be evacuated as a casualty himself. After three days only, he returned to duty in the Advanced Surgical Centre of the field ambulance where he worked steadfastly through the most intense period of military activity and the passage of many battle casualties. Sgt Naya, being a casualty himself, was well aware of the dangers he faced by remaining on the stricken vessel and yet, with no thought for his own safety, devoted himself to the care of his injured comrades until such care was no longer required. Sgt Nayas conduct showed immense personal courage, courage deserving of formal recognition. He acted in the highest tradition of the Royal Army Medical Corps.
The following is an extract from the book ‘Medic’. OTT Reunited thank the authors John Nichol and Tony Rennell for allowing the use of this extract:
Sergeant Peter ‘Pierre’ Naya of the RAMC was down in Galahad’s hold, also preparing for the long and slow process disembarking, when the planes struck and a massive orange erupted around him. A twenty-year army veteran, he had experienced anything like this. ‘It burnt blokes, it killed blokes. Everywhere there was the screaming of men in agony, pain, shock. fear, panic. His own backpack was in flames and burning the back of his head. ‘I couldn’t see a thing; all I could smell was burning metal and flesh and acrid smoke. The heat was scorching my lungs….. Those who could were groping their way upwards, towards daylight at the top of the stairs. Naya grabbed an injured guardsman by the belt and yanked him up, rung by rung. ‘He was in agony, but I knew I had to get him up on deck. He kept screaming, “Mind my leg!”, but I could see he’d already lost it.’ Out on deck, he put his arm round the soldier and half carried him away from the smoke, the injured man trailing a line of blood as the shattered stump dragged across the deck. Everywhere Naya turned, there were terrible sights. Where lads had grabbed hold of red-hot handrails, the skin of their palms had peeled off like kid gloves and bunched in folds over their fingers. Areas of the body exposed at the moment of the flash suffered most – the face, neck, ears, hair and hands. ‘Some were completely burnt from the neck up – no hair, no eyebrows, skins black and swollen. Many would carry the scars all their life.’ But those covered up weren’t unaffected either. Terrible burns were caused by the plastic all-weather clothing many of them were wearing to keep out the cold and wet of the Falklands. They literally fried as the fabric caught light, melted and stuck to their skin. ‘It was pitiful to watch men running and rolling around and trying to tear off their clothes, in such pain, such terrible pain.’
Naya’s every instinct shrieked at him to get off the Galahad, but his sudden thought was that he could be the only trained medic left on the scene. All the doctors had gone ashore before the attack. He looked around and couldn’t see any other medics at work. He couldn’t just run. Lives depended on him. ‘So I got stuck in with what medical kit I had to hand – a single pair of scissors! Everything else had gone, blown to pieces.’ Down on his knees on the blistering-hot deck, the flames just feet away and explosion after explosion still rocking the air, he started to cut away at the badly burnt clothes of a casualty. Others were drawn towards him. ‘I became a focus for people. They knew someone was there to help.’ NCOs were beginning to get a grip on the situation, calming the distressed and organizing lines of injured men for him to see. Naya needed splints for broken limbs and smashed his boot down on a wooden pallet lying on deck to make some. Guardsmen who had managed to avoid injury pitched in with the dressings an; intravenous drips from their own packs. ‘Everyone rallied round He issued orders – ‘Grab this, do that.’ A drip in here, a splint on there. Do what you can then move to the next one. As he went from casualty to casualty, he didn’t even have time to look up. “I remember trying to put a figure-of-eight bandage round some poor bugger’s legs and a field dressing over a fellow’s stumps. I used some webbing straps as a tourniquet and a bayonet to tighter it. Then I looked up at the poor devil and saw his face was swollen to twice its size, like a pumpkin, and was completely black with the flash burn.’ He worked at a frantic pace, utterly absorbed in what he was doing. ‘It was decisions, decisions. Could I leave this one? What were the chances of saving that one? Who’s next for the helicopterHow much time have I got?’ Over everything hung the fear of another attack from the air or the ship blowing up beneath him. Evacuating everyone was urgent. A navy ‘three-ringer’ – a commander – offered his services to the sergeant, and together they tried to strap a lad who’d lost a leg into a harness dangling from a helicopter. It wouldn’t work, so they lashed him to a pallet and wrapped theharness round that, but when the helicopter began to lift him he rolled off in agony. They got him up and away in the end, but Naya could never quite recall precisely how….. On the blazing hulk of the Galahad, Naya had been working flat out and was thankfully now tending to the last few survivors. One of the last to get away was a young soldier in great pain from his burns. The medic could do nothing for him but resort to the traditional soldier’s standby in an emergency. ‘I lit a cigarette and put it in his mouth.’ A grin of pleasure creased across the youngster’s bewildered, exhausted face. ‘He stood holding his blacken and bleeding hands in the air and puffing merrily away.’
Naya, who was awarded a Military Medal for his devotion to duty at the risk of his own life, reserved his greatest praise for the helicopter pilots who kept on coming to haul away the wounded ‘They performed miracles. They were unbelievably brave. They saved over three hundred lives that day.’ Finally, after he’d been kneeling on that deck for more than an hour, it was his time to get away. Everyone else had gone, but so had all the life boats ‘ For the first time, I looked over the side of the ship and, for the first time, I saw how far we were from the land. It would be a long swim. I’d survived the fire and now it looked as if I was going to drown. I knew I’d last no more than five minutes in the ice water. If I jump, I’ve had it, I thought.’ But if he stayed on board he was going to be a dead man anyway. There were more explosions from the decks below. Bullets from the ammunition stores – were whizzing around, and he had no helmet – it had been lost in the original blast – to protect him. He began to remove his boots and take a chance, a slim one, in the water.
Suddenly a naval officer came out of the smoke and gesticulated to me. A chopper was coming. I have never been more grateful to see a pilot in my life, and as I was pulled on board I put the sign of the cross on his visor. He just smiled – he was so young. As we veered away from the ship I began to tremble and shake like a leaf. I’d survived, I’d got my hands, my legs, and I was in one piece. I was almost the last one off the Galahad. When I got ashore, the first person I saw was our RSM. I was so pleased I gave him a hug and a kiss, and all the other boys too. He shouted something at me but I could barely make it out. I didn’t realise until then that I’d gone deaf out there.
Meanwhile, the magnitude of all that had happened was forcing its way into the consciousness of Sergeant Naya – and leaving him troubled. His exhaustion was overwhelming, and he certainly deserved the sleep of the righteous as he lay down in his billet in an empty Falkland islander’s house at Fitzroy. He, of all people, had absolutely nothing to reproach himself for. His conduct had been exemplary. But this did not stop his mind racing, refusing him the rest he so desperately needed. ‘What had happened? What had gone wrong? How were my mates, some of whom I still hadn’t seen and didn’t know if they were alive or dead? Did I do enough?’ It was hard getting the sense of death out of his system. In the twilight the next evening, he stood on the cliffs above Bluff Cove and stared, mesmerized, at the eerie red glow coming from what remained of the Galahad. Tears rolled down his face. ‘She burnt there for days. We all expected her to go up in one almighty explosion, break in half and sink, but she never did.’ The entire bridge had caved in and the topside was black and charred, except in patches where the paint had peeled off and the metal underneath was shining in the last rays of the sun. Naya was overwhelmed with sadness. Pride in what he had done that day would come later. He wasn’t a hero, he maintained. ‘I just did my job. Yes, I could certainly have got off the Galahad straight away, but it never crossed my mind to do so. These men were my mates, my family. They were hurting and looking to me as a medic for help. I did it without thinking.’
His thoughts now turned to his real family, his wife and four children back home in Britain. The attack on the Galahad and the number of dead and wounded would probably be front-page news already. He wanted to reassure them that he was OK, but there would be no means to do so for a while. ‘It wasn’t until we got to Stanley that I was able to sneak off to the Cable and Wireless office and send a telegram. Just a few words, “I’m safe and well -Love, P.” It cost me every penny I had, but it was worth it.’
Who else could comprehend the scenes on the blazing Sir Galahad that were burned into the retinas of RAMC sergeant Peter Naya, the last medic off the scorching hulk of the landing ship in Bluff Cove? He could never forget the pain he witnessed that day. The memories still catch him unawares, especially at night, and ‘a thousand emotions rage through me. But I bottle it up. Many others who were there do the same. We can’t really describe what we went through, not even to our wives. There are certain things I will never talk about’.