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Penal Company on the Falklands (Hardback)

A Memoir of the Parachute Regiment at War 1982

Regimental History Modern Warfare Falklands 20th Century Military

By Philip Neame, Foreword by Lt Gen Sir Cedric Delves
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 200
Illustrations: 20 mono
ISBN: 9781399070713
Published: 1st April 2022
Expected Re-release Date: 30th July 2022


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On 1 April 1982 the Argentinian junta invaded the Falkland Islands, while the 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment was on leave. Recalled to barracks, it joined the hastily assembled task force to recover the Islands. No parachutes – instead a journey of 8000 miles on a North Sea ferry to deliver the battalion into battle. Philip Neame commanded D Company, one of the battalion’s three 100-strong rifle companies, and in this compelling book he tells their story.

2 PARA was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel ‘H’ Jones, who was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross at the Battle of Goose Green. After winning the first major land battle on the Falklands, 2 PARA were the only battalion to fight two, going on to fight at Wireless Ridge, the final gateway to Port Stanley. D Company played the decisive role, but, in the closing moments, suffered a deadly artillery barrage – from their own guns.

D Company was the Cinderella of 2 PARA, at the back for everything: on training, always in reserve; in barracks, the parking lot for those who proved too troublesome for A and B. It was nicknamed ‘Penal Company’.

This searingly honest but humorous account explores the realities of war – the tightrope between success and disaster, comedy and tragedy; the strength of companionship and the solitude of fear.

Above all, it is a tribute to a band of brothers who, taking their nickname as a badge of honour, fought, cursed and laughed together, to win through on those ‘ringing plains of windy Troy.’

Out of the very many books written about war and warfare only a notable few stand with real credibility, and truly take the reader into the mind and environment of the writer. Penal Company is one such. It deserves to be ranked as a classic of its type. On reading this you are taken into the confines of D Company 2 PARA, its character, its professionalism and the exceptional leadership of its commander.

David Cooper, Chaplain of 2 PARA 1980 - 84

Frank and gripping, but also moving and reflective, Philip Neame’s memoir is an insight into the realities of intense combat and its aftermath. Above all, it is fitting testimony to the spirit of the young recruits of the Parachute Regiment, and of the
company he commanded during the Falklands war.

Professor Helen Parr, author of Our Boys – The Story of a Paratrooper (Allen Lane 2018)

By far the best book I have read about the true realities of combat during the Falkland Island War. Self deprecating, thoughtful and funny, it is impossible toput down ‘Penal Company’ whilst
reading Philip Neame’s gripping account of D
Company’s battles of Goose Green and Wireless Ridge. At a time, when so much emphasis is being placed on high technology to win wars, Philip Neame clearly demonstrates that it is actually the fighting spirit and humour of the soldier that
succeeds when all else fails.

General Sir Michael Rose KCB, CBE, DSO, QGM

Beyond the subject, which is very interesting, it's one of the best I have read in a very long time. Not only the combat description, but also the doubts and challenges mentioned, the assessments of battles and leaders, the personal impressions and the final chapter are worthy of the (or at least, humbly, my) highest praise. All this, with a great narrative rhythm.

Javier Veramendi, editor of the Desperta Ferro Journal

An enjoyable book, well written that found me engrossed and living the story.

4.5 stars out of 5

Read the full review here

ARRSE (Army Rumour Service)

Competition as featured in

The Guernsey Press and Star

As featured in: 'Words of War'

The Guernsey Press and Star

“One of the finest Falklands accounts, written by a man who was in the heart of the action. Phil Neame brings alive both the grit of the men at the sharp end, and the decision making of their commanders.”

Dan Snow, Popular Historian and Television Presenter

About Philip Neame

Philip Neame served for six years in the RAF Regiment and twenty years in the Parachute Regiment. In 1982 he was commanding D Company, a rifle company in 2 PARA, under Lieutenant Colonel ‘H’ Jones who won the VC at Goose Green during the Falklands War. Phil led his company through a number of engagements against Argentinian forces and was Mentioned in Dispatches. He left the army as a lieutenant colonel in 1994 and went into business. Before leaving, he established the Ulysses Trust, which provides financial support to encourage members of the Volunteer Reserve and Cadet Forces to undertake expeditions. He is now deputy chairman of the Trust, and spends much of his time helping to run and raise money for it. His lifelong passion has been mountaineering and he has taken part in several expeditions to the Himalayas, including Mount Everest. His honeymoon was an expedition to China in 1981, shortly before the Falklands War.

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