One man's war in pictures

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ON THE long journey to the Falkland Islands by sea, Lieutenant Malcolm Duck was instructed to write a letter. It would be mailed to his family, in case he did not return. As the 21-year-old sat on board the RFA Resource writing to his father, he remembers being struck by the seriousness of what they were doing.

Duck is now a celebrated Edinburgh restaurateur, the proprietor of Duck's at Le Marche Noir. But he hasn't forgotten the morning in 1982 when he was on leave in Marseilles and received a message recalling him to join the task force heading for the Falklands.

A few days later, he sailed from Rosyth with the rest of Zulu company, part of the Arbroath-based 45 Commando. A keen amateur photographer, he took slides along the way, giving an insider's view of the conflict.

"I think you should record things and I love photography. Although I didn't take it into battle because I had a job to do and it wasn't taking pictures."

His photographs show warships - and commandeered cruise ships such as The Canberra - anchored off Ascension Island while supplies were redistributed. "The ships were loaded where they were and sent straight there, but there's no sense in having all the helicopters on one ship and all the food on another - one goes down and you lose the lot."

The Marines went ashore in late May at Ajax Bay on San Carlos Water, soon to be known as "Bomb Alley", and dug themselves in. In the famous "yomp" across the Falklands, under constant threat of enemy fire, they dug in every time they stopped. "That way if anyone comes along to bomb you, you can get your head out of the way," Duck says, matter-of-factly.

For the next four weeks, a succession of trenches were all they had for shelter. A photograph shows Duck with two fellow Marines in a trench, smoking and staring stiffly at the camera. Another shows Marine Pete Jenkins, wrapped up against the Falklands cold, reading a letter from home.

45 Commando's key role in the war was to be at the Battle of Two Sisters. The X-Ray and Yankee companies were to capture the right of the two peaks, Zulu the left, in a pincer movement. On the night of 11 June 1982, they were fighting uphill, under heavy fire, on savagely rocky terrain.

"In conventional warfare, when a guy goes down, you have to leave them and go on. It's hard to leave them, hard to make the men leave them. Our section had a mortar go off in the middle of it, we lost a guy, Gordon MacPherson from Oban, and a couple of guys were injured. We bivvied that night at the place where he was killed and in the morning you could see a poncho there with his blood on it. That makes you think."

A photograph taken in the pale morning light shows the spot, ponchos scattered on the ground. Others show columns of men with loaded packs trekking away from the hills.

"The next day was a beautiful sunny day. I remember making a billy can of coffee and sitting looking across the Falklands; it was a real juxtaposition with what we'd just been doing. You don't know if you're going to be around the next day. It's quite exhilarating, it teaches you about enjoying life."

A picture, taken as the sun set that evening, shows Marine Chris Scrivener, sitting smoking, wearing an Argentinean helmet. "We were larking about. He was an exceptional soldier, he got a mention in dispatches for what he did at Two Sisters. I was given orders to bring the casualties back and he was the guy I sent to do that. I remember seeing him running down the hill dodging bullets, and he said: 'Boss, you should try this. It is good for practising your rugby sidestepping.' Marines are very special people. They're not verbose, they get on and do the job, they are very much a team. Once you've been in the Royal Marines, it never leaves you. I'm just a Royal Marine with a restaurant."