This page is dedicated to the memory of:
Ian John McKay, VC
3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment
Aldershot News report, Friday June 19th, 1998, Report: Larry Signy – Picture: Mike Hawley
A grief almost too much to bear
13th June 1998,
It was a moment of pride mingled with intense grief.
Loved ones of the two men who were awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for their bravery in the Falklands came together on Sunday.
Kenneth and Freda McKay, the parents of Sgt Ian McKay, and Sara Jones, widow of Col H Jones, stood side by side at the new Aldershot memorial to the soldiers who died in the Falklands war 16 years ago.
For Mr and Mrs McKay, it was also an occasion to grieve for their two other sons, who both died after being born with an incurable disease.
After laying a wreath on Sunday, Mr McKay wept as he said: “Once we had three sons. Now we have none. It’s almost more than we can bear.”
Sgt McKay is buried in the Aldershot Military Cemetery where the new memorial was officially dedicated in front of his grave.
Mr and Mrs McKay joined Mrs Jones to draw back a Parachute Regiment flag revealing the black stone memorial made of South African granite.
The memorial lists the names of all 49 airborne soldiers killed in the South Atlantic. Some are buried in Aldershot, the rest still lie in the Falklands.
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
HONOURS AND AWARDS
MONDAY, 11th OCTOBER 1982
The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to approve the Posthumous award of the VICTORIA CROSS to the undermentioned in recognition of valour during the operations in the South Atlantic:
24210031 Sergeant Ian John McKay, 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 initial objectives 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 his 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 with 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.