WAR hero Mick Southall fought in one of the fiercest battles of the Falklands campaign yet the MOD says his service as a 17-year-old won’t count towards his pension.
Sergeant Mick Southall of Melbourne Road, Blacon, is fighting to overturn pension rules which meant he was not treated as a fully-fledged soldier until he turned 18.
Mr Southall, 45, who retired from the Army last year after 28 years, says the money he is asking for amounts to ‘pennies’.
He explained: “It’s just another example of the way soldiers are forgotten when they leave. It’s a matter of principle. It’s nothing to do with the money. I’m not materialistic.
“It’s just the fact that they are in effect saying I never fought in a war – it doesn’t count as military service.”
Back in 1982, Mr Southall was a private with 3 Para fighting against the Argentinians in the battle of Mount Longdon which claimed many lives on both sides.
The rifleman was involved in the action which saw Sergeant Ian McKay win a posthumous Victoria Cross for charging an Argentinian position only to be killed as he captured it. He himself has been awarded six medals and served in Northern Ireland and Cyprus.
“I’m trying to build up a momentum to get support and take on the government. The MOD has said ‘No’. I just want to rattle them a bit,” said Mr Southall, who lost three friends under the age of 18 in the battle of Mt Longdon.
Mr Southall, who appeared on the front of The Chronicle during his home-coming, explained that a lawyer friend is investigating the case, including whether it was illegal to send 17-year-olds off to war.
Married to Helen, the former soldier is now working as a First Aider and lorry driver but bears the scars of his former career – he is deaf in his right ear, has a metal hip and has had treatment for psychological problems.
The MOD says the pension rules changed in 2005 to allow early service to count but this and previous Governments had agreed that making the changes retrospective for all those affected cannot be afforded.
Chester MP Christine Russell is in correspondence with Veterans minister Kevin Jones about the case and says Mr Southall has ‘a very strong argument’.