James M. pulling MY landrover out of HIS bog-in near Hell's Kitchen below Sussex
Mountains on 22nd January 1984. Nearly a woka-woka job
(a chinook lift at £8,000/hour 1983 prices)
The countryside is called the "camp" from the argentine word "campo". In the summer the peat surface is dry and crumbly, alright to drive landrovers on provided you don't break the grass surface. During eight months of autumn, winter and spring it is impassable, too soft, the river fords too full and streams everywhere.
There were no roads outside Stanley and the track from Stanley to Goose Green was either just tyre marks in the grass or a deeply rutted track with muddy pools and ridges that rubbed the underside of the landrover. We made our own tracks to all parts of the site and up from East Cove where the ships were moored.
We all got bogged-in frequently. I started keeping a bog-in ratings list, but it was never published because I was always waiting for worse bog-ins, then the summer was over and I was nearing my six-monthly leave. On one occasion, when I caught Dave O and LR4 bogged in near Sand Pond and said "I've seen you", he said "That's all I need - the bloody scorer".
LMA guys Eric & Don C bogged in overnight on the hill beyond Fitzroy bridge
on 8th April 1984. Frank S, George L and Wickham got them out.
Eric was visiting his wife who worked in Stanley.
LMA weren't supposed to leave the site but PSA and consultants were above the law.
The chart ratings were to reflect the degree of severity. A bog-in while out on your own which you extricated yourself from without help barely counted, but if you were transporting a director and got badly bogged down in front of lots of people and needed a big excavator to pull you out, then that rated highly.
The ratings were:- front or rear wheels in: 1 to 3 points; both axles in: 3 to 6; 1 landrover to pull out: 1 to 3; 2 landrovers to pull out: 3 to 6; larger vehicle to pull out: 7 to 9.
Type of bog: minor skid: 1; peat: 2; stream or ditch: 3; river: 4; off bridge: 5; salt water estuary (subject to tidal flooding): 6.
The following all 1 to 5 points: distance away from home, night time/outside working hours, number of persons inconvenienced, attitude of person bogged-in (grumpy, couldn't care less, stupid, etc.), humorous situation, audience numbers, damage to vehicle, mention in signal, time to extricate, type of vehicle eg landrover to CAT D9.
Another reason for not broadcasting it may have been because I gave myself the equal highest rating on one occasion. It was excusable because Stirling M had got stuck and we couldn't pull him out backwards. I negotiated two difficult areas to get round to his front end to pull him out but got badly bogged myself about fifty yards from him and two landrovers wouldn't move me. After some digging and putting psp behind wheels Jim L decided on a "snatch" and yanked the tow wire so hard it broke off the towing eye. I thought I was getting quite good at driving on the "camp", I did a lot which meant I had a greater chance of getting bogged and inevitably got over-confident.
I only rated the following ones at the time:
CAT 769 (Long Pond 26/01/84): 47
Wickham (Sussex Mountains 10/03/84): 47
James M (below Sussex Mountains 22/01/84): 46
Wickham (Sussex Mountains 11/03/84): 44
Dave O (San Carlos 01/01/84): 35
Frank S (Burntside House 13/02/84): 34
CAT D225 (Secondary runway trial pit 09 02 84): 31
Ron S (Champina Pond): 31
Frank S (Swan Inlet 08/01/84): 25
Jim L (San Carlos 01/01/84): 20
Jim L (runway): 19
Alan W (San Carlos 22/01/84): 19
Dave O (Sand Pond 18/01/84): 18
Jim L (Mt Pleasant House 03/01/84): 17
The following scores are recent assessments:
Stirling M (Sussex Mountains 10/03/84): 38
LMA (beyond Fitzroy bridge 18/03/84): 33
Matt G (Hell's Kitchen 06/01/85): 31
Wickham (Sussex Mountains 06/01/85): 28
Ray K (Fitzroy track 26/08/84): 24
Wickham (track from Burntside House 25/12/84): 23
Martin R (Swan Inlet 22/01/84): 25
Mark T (track from Burntside House 06/01/85): 16
Most of our trips seemed to be at breakneck speed, only stopping when someone got stuck. I'm surprised we didn't lose a landrover. LMA (the contractors) did. Someone got in too deep somewhere near Bluff Cove and got water into the air intake and piston chambers. Jim L's usual mode of driving was with one hand on the wheel and a can of red or blue or cider in the other, laughing all the time.
Frank S borrowed my landrover once for a trip to Stanley in September 1984 and turned it upside down in a ditch. The only damage was a slightly cracked windscreen and an ill-fitting door. He said the steering got stuck! No one believed him but there may have been a grain of truth. A message was scrawled on the side in the mud "THIS WAY UP".
Landrovers used to get bent track rods very easily by plunging down onto tussocks of grass or ridges between deep ruts. Leyland fixed a small piece of steel channel above the rod which it slid from side to side in, but it may have caused the rod to get stiff suddenly on Frank's occasion. We know that he was on the only short stretch of gravel track on the whole island past Elephant Canyon for the last bit into Stanley and was going too fast to the mess bar or pub.
The trip to Stanley before we built the gravel track was about 35 miles but took two and a half hours by Bert F the local driver who never seemed to get bogged. Most of us took three to four hours in high summer, but quite often five hours or more. The longest trip I heard of was nine hours (discounting the LMA trip shown in the photo which was about twenty hours) when Frank S went to fetch John G and got bogged on the way back. They started at 1 pm and got to site at 10 pm. This was on 17 September 1984, late winter, even though the new road to Stanley had been built for the last seven miles or so from Fitzroy to the site.
We always travelled much too heavy. Out landrovers were bigger than those used by the islanders and we filled them with camping gear, de-bogging tools, hawsers, beer, loads of food and often four people. In the early days when there weren't many of us we used to have two per landrover, but after a few months Maurice C said we should pack more in. The 1984/85 season was after a wetter winter and the tracks had been ruined by the first summer's driving so there were more bog-ins.
The Fitzroy farm manager Ron Binney had a light old landrover, but the farm workers used small motorbikes (this was before the age of quad bikes). Heavy goods were transported by the small ship St Brandon as all settlements were near the coast. An Islander plane was also available which landed on grass strips after the pilot had radioed for any sheep to be cleared.