Not Mentioned in Despatches: The History and Mythology of the Battle of Goose Green

By Spencer Fitz-Gibbon

A controversial, detailed examination of the decisive events of the Falklands war, providing an important reassessment of the Battle of Goose Green.

ISBN: 9780718830168


Although much has been written about the battle of Goose Green during the Falklands War, never before have its events been dissected so thoroughly and objectively, nor illuminated so clearly in the terms of current debate in NATO armies on tactical command systems as in this book.

The British success at Goose Green was described by the then-Chief of the General Staff as ‘a feat of arms and gallantry probably unsurpassed in the glorious history of the British army’; how true a picture is given by such descriptions, both official and unofficial? Using factual analysis and in-depth interviews with participants, the author demonstrates that the battle in fact highlighted serious flaws in the British army’s command culture.

His knowledge of recent attempts to reform the army’s command system, and of the ongoing tactics debate, allows Fitz-Gibbon to elucidate the two basic models of command system identifiable in the Falklands war. ‘Restrictive control’, traditionally preferred in the British army and still the accepted doctrine in 1982, holds that military action can be planned in detail in advance and expected to run according to plan as long as subordinates merely obey their orders. ‘Directive command’, on the contrary, recognises that the chaos of battle cannot be controlled without overwhelming material superiority, and therefore seeks to establish a more flexible system within the framework of an overall plan. Applying this distinction to Goose Green, Fitz-Gibbon shows that the British achieved much greater success when departing from the army’s usual methodology – after the death of H. Jones – than when adhering to the practices taught at officer training establishments.

The worrying conclusion drawn from this assessment is that inaccurate reporting, and the unquestioning glorification of its performance, have hindered the army’s efforts at modernising its command system, with serious consequences in past wars, and for future conflicts.

This very readable book offers fascinating insights into how history is written and how armies often fail to learn from their experiences.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 240

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Spencer Fitz-Gibbon, has a PhD in Military Studies. He spent nine years in the Territorial Army including five years as an officer in 4th (Volunteer) Battalion The Parachute Regiment.


List of Maps and Sketches

Part One: Preliminaries to Battle
I. Numbers: The Genesis of a Legend
II. Colonel Jones’ Plans and Orders

Part Two: The Battle
III. Initial Moves
IV. ‘A’ Company Assault Burntside House
V. ‘B’ Company Assault Burntside Hill
VI. ‘D’ Company’s Advance
VII. ‘A’ Company Advance Across Coronation Point
VIII. ‘A’ Company Approach Darwin
IX. ‘B’ Company Approach Boca Hill
X. The Darwin Hill Problem
XI. The Bigger Picture
X. The Darwin Hill Problem
XI. The Bigger Picture
XII. The Assault at Darwin Hill
XIII. The Collapse of the Darwin Hill Position
XIV. The Creation of a Schwerpunkt
XV. The Exploitation of Success
XVI. The Exploitation from Boca Hill
XVII. The Fighting Near Goose Green
XVIII. ‘B’ Company Approach Goose Green

Part Three: Conclusions
XIX. Events and Non-Events Leading to the Argentinian Surrender
XX. How the Battle was Lost and Won



Endorsements and Reviews

As a service to history, this is commendable
Major Ali Ahmed, in USI Journal

His argument that Col. Jones leaned too heavily towards restrictive control is convincing … a remarkably outspoken book.

Controversial and readable, explains clearly the two contradictory systems of tactical command under consideration at Goose Green. This is a fascinating book which looks at a very recent piece of our history from a new and disturbing angle.
Forces News

Exhaustive research … A masterly study of this confused action.
Eastern Daily Pres