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Born in Bootle, Merseyside, where he still lives, James O'Connell enlisted in the Parachute Regiment in 1979. In April 1982, after a posting in Cold War Germany and a tour of Northern Ireland, the call came to take part in the British Task Force to re-capture the Falklands. During the attack on Mount Longdon, James was shot in the face. A bullet passed through his nose, destroying his right eye, cheekbone and front teeth. Though he survived, five years of reconstructive surgery followed, and James left the army in 1985 as a result of his injuries. Following the conflict, transition to civilian life was a difficult and James suffered from what was likely undiagnosed PTSD. He eventually married his long-term girlfriend Maureen, who he met in 1981, and they have two sons. Since 2014, James has helped with the campaign to get a posthumous gallantry medal for Cpl Stewart McLaughlin and was instrumental in getting a memorial erected on Mount Longdon on the exact location where Sgt Ian McKay was killed winning a posthumous Victoria Cross, and he has travelled to the Falklands several times in order to write this book.
James (Scouse) O’Connell was a 22-year old Private in the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment when, along with his fellow soldiers, he was deployed to the Falklands to engage the Argentinian invaders. Three days in June describes the last few days of the war when 3 Para fought the battle of Mount Longdon. By the time the battle was over, 23 of their number were dead and 48, wounded. Sergeant Ian McKay was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery. James O’Connell was left with life-changing injuries, the result of a bullet that entered his face through his nose and removed his cheek-bone and right eye. Candid, gritty and, at times, gruesome, this is a warts ‘n’ all account by the young men who were there, and told in their words. This makes the book all the more readable as it’s the perceptions, the humour, the fears, the honesty and the sheer heroism of these men that shines through. From the moment I opened the first page of the hardback, I suspected I was going to be in for a treat. The book looks and feels of very high quality and the content certainly delivered. A book for anyone with even the remotest interest in military history, this is a book to savour, enjoy and then have pride of place on any bookshelf.