THE HALL OF HONOURS
The South Atlantic Medal to Guardsman Mark Gibby
© Hendrik Meersschaert, 2007 - 2017
This page was created with the kind collaboration of Katie Gibby and Stuart Jenkins
Oftentimes one sees veterans on parades with various well-deserved medals on their chests, senior officers bedecked with ribbons, heads of governments and states with numerous orders on their jackets attending an official function ...
One not so lavishly decorated was Guardsman Mark Gibby, 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards : just the one medal ...
THE GUARDSMAN :
Mark was born on 15 April 1960 in Llwyncelin Porth in Wales as the eldest son of Margaret and Fred Gibby.
He was a lively mischievous and happy little boy and spent the years of his childhood and youth living in Pontygwaith in the Rhondda Valley
He went to Pontygwaith infants and later junior School. Finishing his time at Hendrefadog senior and later Maerdy Comprehensive. During this time he joined the local Cub and Scout pack. This he loved and always carried many fond memories of this time with the Scouts. He was a keen self defence student and practiced the sport of Judo. A keen and accomplished horseman, Mark loved horses ... at some point, there was talk of Mark transferring to the Household Cavalry.
Mark left school in 1976 and went as with most young men of to work in the collieries of the Rhondda. He loved his clothes and dressed
according to the fashion of the time as of course any stylish young man about town would. Mischievous and with a fun sense of humour one never knew what he was going to do next. Though he liked working in the Pits, he wanted to experience a little bit more of life...
Mark’s younger brother Nicholas had been in the Army for about 2 years and was doing very well and that, together with Mark’s sense of adventure, a strong desire to do something else, a load of ex soldier stories and a need to do the right thing clinched the deal. He joined the army in late 1980 and was serving in a mortar team in the Support Company, 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards when the Falklands War started.
In the meantime Mark had met his fiancé and future wife Teresa and they where married in August 1981 at St Anne’s Church in Ynyshir. Mark was now a married man and a fully fledged member of the Welsh Guards. He was stationed at Pirbright in Surrey. Mark and Teresa settled down to the life of a service family. Mark was away a lot on public duties with his unit which where to include lining the route for the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana 1981. He also went to Kenya for 6 weeks with the Welsh Guards.
On 2 April 1982 Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands and on 12 May Mark, married to Teresa less than a year earlier and with his baby girl Katie only 4 months old, sailed with his unit on board the QE2. Teresa, Katie and his sister Kathryn went to Southampton see him off.
Having transferred on board LSL Sir Galahad, from which the Welsh Guards were preparing to go ashore and join the land war, he was killed in action when that ship was hit by Argentinian bombs and set ablaze on 8 June 1982 near Fitzroy, Falkland Islands. The destruction of the Sir Galahad by Argentine Skyhawk jets came just six days before the Argentine surrender. The bombing accounted for almost one fifth of all British fatalities during the conflict. On that sunny day in June 48 brave men died, 32 of them from the Welsh Guards. When that day ended and the roll was called, Mark did not answer.
He now rests with his brave comrades on Sir Galahad, now a War Grave somewhere in the waters off the Falkland Islands, a 22-year old soldier that died doing his duty - May he rest in peace ! He is remembered by his family and friends ... Each year, on Remembrance Day, Katie, wearing her father's medal, her son Connor (whose middle name is Mark in honour of his grandfather), as well as his good friend Stuart travel down to the Cenotaph in Ynishir to lay a wreath. They afterwards go to St Anne's Church for the service of Rememberance and, at the memorial for Mark there, light a candle each. A fitting tribute to a brave young man that was.
THE BATTLE :
From : BATTLE ATLAS of the FALKLANDS WAR 1982 - by Land, Sea and Air by Gordon Smith
The decision was now taken to use the LSL's to continue 5th Infantry's move forward. "Sir Tristram" reached Fitzroy on Monday 7th to start unloading ammo, and in San Carlos Water, "Sir Galahad" took on board the rest of the 1st Welsh from "Fearless" before sailing around Lafonia to arrive on Tuesday morning (8th). By now, only one LCU and a Mexeflote were left to complete offloading "Sir Tristram", and although by early afternoon, Rapier SAM's and 16 Field Ambulance had gone ashore from "Sir Galahad", plans to move the Guards to Bluff Cove to join the rest of the battalion had come to nothing. Worse still, the LSL's had been reported by enemy observers, and around 2.00 pm, five Skyhawk's of Grupo 5 and five Daggers of Grupo 6 were coming in over the Falklands.
First to be attacked by the Daggers, but in Falkland Sound was frigate "Plymouth" on her way to bombard an Argentine position on West Falkland. Hit by cannon fire and four UXB's, one of which detonated a depth charge, she was only slightly damaged. Shortly after, the Skyhawks reached Fitzroy. Three of them put two or more bombs into the crowded "SIR GALAHAD", and the other two hit "Sir Tristram" with two UXB's killing two crewmen. The ships caught fire and were soon abandoned, but by then the results for "Sir Galahad" were catastrophic with a total of 48 killed - five RFA crewmen, 32 Welsh Guards and eleven other Army personnel, with many more badly burned and wounded. "Sir Tristram" was later returned to the UK for repairs, but the burnt-out "Sir Galahad" was scuttled at sea as a war grave on the 25th June.
1st Battalion, Welsh Guards killed in action that day and remembered on the Bluff Cove Memorial were :
Lance Corporal Anthony Burke
Lance Sergeant Jim R. Carlyle
Guardsman Ian A. Dale
Guardsman Michael J. Dunphy
Guardsman Peter Edwards
Sergeant Clifford Elley
Guardsman Mark Gibby
Guardsman Glenn C. Grace
Guardsman Paul Green
Guardsman Gareth M. Griffiths
Guardsman Denis N. Hughes
Guardsman Gareth Hughes
Guardsman Brian Jasper
Guardsman Anthony Keeble
Lance Sergeant Kevin Keoghane
Guardsman Michael J. Marks
Guardsman Christopher Mordecai
Lance Corporal Stephen J. Newbury
Guardsman Gareth D. Nicholson
Guardsman Colin C. Parsons
Guardsman Eirwyn J. Phillips
Guardsman Gareth W. Poole
Guardsman Nigel A. Rowberry
Lance Corporal Philip A. Sweet
Guardsman Glyn K. Thomas
Lance Corporal Nicholas D. M. Thomas
Guardsman Raymond G. Thomas
Guardsman Andrew Walker
Lance Corporal Christopher F. Ward
Guardsman James F. Weaver
Sergeant Malcolm Wigley
Guardsman David R. Williams
THE MEDAL :
The cupro-nickel swivelling medal to commemorate the operations in the South Atlantic for the liberation of South Georgia and the Falkland Islands following the Argentinian invasion was awarded to all who had served at least one full day in the Falklands or South Georgia or 30 days in the operational zone including Ascension Island. Qualification under the first condition included the award of a rosette on the medal's ribbon.
The obverse shows the crowned head of Queen Elizabeth II, facing right - on the reverse is the arms of the Falkland Islands over a laurel wreath and with "SOUTH ATLANTIC MEDAL" inscribed along the top edge.
In all nearly 30,000 medals were awarded, of which 255 posthumously to military personnel.