Sergeant Ian McKay VC - 3rd Bn, The Parachute Regiment


For the award of the Victoria Cross.

[ London Gazette, 11 October 1982 ]. Mount Longdon, Falkland Islands, 11 - 12 June 1982, Sergeant Ian John McKay, 3rd Bn, The Parachute Regiment

During the night of 11th / 12th June 1982, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment mounted a silent night attack on an enemy battalion position on Mount Longdon, an important objective in the battle for Port Stanley, in the Falkland Islands. Sergeant McKay was platoon sergeant of 4 Platoon, B Company, which, after the initial objective had been secured, was ordered to clear the Northern side of the long East / West ridge feature, held by the enemy in depth, with strong, mutually-supporting positions. By now the enemy were fully alert, and resisting fiercely. As 4 Platoon's advance continued it came under increasingly heavy fire from a number of well-sited enemy machine gun positions on the ridge, and received casualties.

Realising that no further advance was possible the Platoon Commander ordered the Platoon to move from its exposed position to seek shelter among the rocks of the ridge itself. Here it met up with part of 5 Platoon. The enemy fire was still both heavy and accurate and the position of the platoons was becoming increasingly hazardous. Taking Sergeant McKay, a Corporal and a few others, and covered by supporting machine gun fire, the Platoon Commander moved forward to reconnoitre the enemy positions but was hit by a bullet in the leg and command devolved upon Sergeant McKay. It was clear that instant action was needed if the advance was not to falter and increasing casualties to ensue.

Sergeant McKay decided to convert this reconnaissance into an attack in order to eliminate the enemy positions. He was in no doubt of the strength and deployment of the enemy as he undertook this attack. He issued orders and taking three men with him broke cover and charged the enemy position. The assault was met by a hail of fire. The Corporal was seriously wounded, a Private killed and another wounded. Despite these losses Sergeant McKay, with complete disregard for his own safety, continued to charge the enemy position alone. On reaching it he despatched the enemy with grenades, thereby relieving the position of beleaguered 4 and 5 Platoons, who were now able to redeploy with relative safety. Sergeant McKay, however, was killed at the moment of victory, his body falling on the bunker.

Without doubt Sergeant McKay's action retrieved a most dangerous situation and was instrumental in ensuring the success of the attack. His was a coolly calculated act, the dangers of which must have been too apparent to him beforehand. Undeterred he performed with outstanding selflessness, perseverance and courage. With a complete disregard for his own safety, he displayed courage and leadership of the highest order, and was an inspiration to all those around him.

The Victoria Cross award to Sergeant Ian McKay was 'Very Strongly Recommended' by Land Deputy Commander-in-Chief Fleet and 'Recommended' by the Task Force Commander.

The Committee records:

The recommendation was given joint priority with that for Lieutenand Colonel Jones and in the Committee Chairman's view it was a very clear-cut case of outstanding leadership, bravery and example shown by a Non-Commissioned Officer in a desperate situation, although all those who formed the group he led were either killed or wounded. The citation is corroborated by his Platoon Commandeer and two other wounded members the Platoon.

The Committee concluded Sergeant McKay was deserving of the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross, the alternative award being the Distinguished Conduct Medal ( DCM ) ( posthumous ). The Victoria Cross was subsequently awarded, the announcement appearing in the Supplement to the London Gazette dated 8 October 1982.


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Iain Stewart, 9 July 2018