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The Falklands War diary, 25 years later.

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  • rod and serpent

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  • Test Pilot
    Great Reading, All These Posts! Well Done To All.

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  • Goldie fish
    Week seven
    10th May(mon)
    HMS Sheffield sunk at 53°S, 57°W
    Departures: HMS Bristol(Type 82), RFA Olna, HMS Active, Avenger(Type 21), HMS Andromeda, Minerva, Penelope(Leander), RFA Endagine(With 4 Wessex Helis
    HMS Alacrity enters Falkland Sound from the south.As submarine "San Luis" made her last reported and equally unsuccessful attack on ships of the Task Force and "Sheffield" finally sank, "Glasgow" (Sea Dart) and "Brilliant" (Sea Wolf) took over as type 42/22 combination from "Coventry" and "Broadsword" and continued their radar picket and bombardment duties off Stanley. That night as "Arrow" moved to the north end of Falkland Sound, sister ship "Alacrity" prepared to sail right through from the south for the first time to flush out any supply ships. As she passed up the Sound, "Alacrity" detected a small ship apparently heading for Port Howard, and using her single 4.5 inch, illuminated with star shell. Refusing to stop, the target was engaged in the only surface action of the war and after a number of hits, exploded and sank with heavy casualties. Reportedly there were only two survivors from what turned out to be the naval transport "ISLA DE LOS ESTADOS" carrying fuel and military supplies. "Alacrity" carried on through to meet "Arrow", and on Tuesday morning, both ships headed back to the carriers. Later that day, "Yarmouth" also returned from her attempts to tow "Sheffield" out of the TEZ.

    11th May(tues)
    Departures: Lycaon,
    Arriving in Falklands theater: Hospital Ships Uganda,
    HMS Alacrity sinks Isla de los Estadosoff Swan Island.
    A raid was mounted by D Sqdn SAS on the airstrip and facilities at Pebble Island,especially to destroy the ground attack Pucaras based there. First of all men of the Squadron's Boat Troop were put ashore over The night to reconnoitre the area

    12th May(wed)
    Departures: HMS Cardiff(Type 42), Queen Elizabeth 2(with 5 brigade)
    Arrivals(Ascension):RFA Tidespring (with POWs from South Georgia), HMS Antelope,
    HMS Glasgow damaged off Stanley.
    Argentine Aircraft lost: Skykawksoff Stanley, Skyhawks at Goose Green.
    With "Glasgow" and "Brilliant" still off Stanley, eight A-4B Skyhawks of Grupo 5 were sent in to attack the bombarding ships. The first flight came in low, and as "Brilliant" fired her Sea Wolf automatically for the first time in anger, two aircraft exploded in the air, a third crashed in to the sea trying to escape and the fourth dropped its bomb without hitting, and got away [a16, a17, a18]. The second flight of four came in some minutes later, but for technical reasons Sea Wolf could not fire, and this time "Glasgow" was hit by a bomb which went in one side and out the other without exploding or causing any casualties. Although the damage was not severe, she had to withdraw to the CVBG for repairs that took a number of days and eventually became the first British warship to return home. Meanwhile as these Skyhawks returned home, they passed too close to Goose Green and "Glasgow's" attacker was shot down by Argentine AA
    British Aircraft lost east of Falklands: Sea King.
    Although bad weather had restricted fixed wing flying earlier in the week, by Wednesday 12th it had improved sufficiently for high level bombing attacks to be made on Stanley, the same day a No.826 ASW Sea King from "Hermes" ditched near the CVBG with engine failure [b7]. The crew were saved.

    13th May(thurs)
    Arriving in Falklands Theater: RFA Regent,HMS Valiant,

    14th may(fri)
    Departures: HMS Exeter(to replace Sheffield), Atlantic Causeway(with 20 Wessex from 847Sqn and 8 Sea Kings from 825sqn),RFA Fort Grange.
    Arrivals in Falklands Theater: HMS Hecla.
    To TRALA(Tug, Repair and Logistic Area ) Salvageman, Stena Seaspread

    "Hermes" and escort "Broadsword" together with "Glamorgan" in the fire support role left the CVBG, and passing to the north, approached Pebble Island by night. As "Glamorgan" closed in to gunfire range, "Hermes" flew off the 48 SAS attackers and NGFO team in her No.846 Sea Kings to be guided in at midnight by the awaiting patrol.

    15th May(sat)
    RFA Tidespring(With 2 Replacement Wessex), HMS Antelope depart Ascension.
    in a record-breaking flight of 19 hours and 8,300 miles, an RAF Nimrod crewed by 201 Sqdn reconnoitred the Argentine coast for any warships that might threaten the approaching Task Force,
    After a forced march to the airstrip, the attack went ahead led by Captain Hamilton, and all the aircraft there put out of action or destroyed by prepared charges. A fuel depot, ammo dump and radar installation were also destroyed. All this time "Glamorgan" provided gunfire support, and as the raiders withdrew, a brief Argentine counter-attack was halted when the officer in charge was shot. With two men slightly wounded the SAS were safely picked up again by the helicopters. The raid was a complete success and the Argentines not only lost six Pucaras of Grupo 3 [a20-25], four T-34C Mentors [a26-29] of CANA 4 Esc and one Coast Guard Skyvan [a30], but also the use of the airstrip at a crucial time. Now into Saturday morning, the warships returned to the CVBG, but "Glamorgan" soon moved on to other duties.
    Argentinian Aircraft lost at Pebble Island: Pucaras, Mentors, Skyvan.

    On Saturday night "Brilliant's" Lynx failed in an attack on the transport "Bahia Buen Suceso" in Fox Bay East, but "Hermes" aircraft more than made up for this next day.

    16th May(sun)
    Departures:Wimpey Seahorse, Balder London.
    Arrivals back in UK: RFA Brambleleaf(for repairs),British Tamar(to Gibraltar) to reload.
    3 Cdo Brigade Join LSL Group.
    Black Buck 3 Cancelled.
    Argentine Cargo ship Rio Carcarana attached and beached at Port King.In the middle of Sunday 16th, two No.800 Sea Harriers bombed and strafed the blockade running cargo ship "Rio Carcarana" (8,500 grt) at anchor off Port King and although there were no casualties, she caught fire, was beached and abandoned, finally to be destroyed by "Antelope's" Lynx a week later. Another two aircraft caught the "Bahia Buen Suceso" still at Fox Bay East alongside the jetty and raked her with cannon fire. Bombs were not used because of the ship's proximity to the settlement, but the damage was enough to deny her use by the Argentines, and she stayed there until after the war.
    Following the Pebble Island raid, HMS Glamorgan took on the job of convincing the Argentines that any landings would take place on East Falkland, south of the capital. For a number of nights, she bombarded Stanley and moved down the coast as far as Choiseul Sound carrying out a variety of deception activities. Other SBS and SAS operations were no doubt taking place all this time, and over Sunday night "Alacrity" sailed through Falkland Sound again and landed an SBS/NGFO team by Gemini near Sussex Mountains which overlooks the landing beaches around San Carlos Water.
    Argentinian Transport Bahia Buen Suceso damaged at Fox Bay East.

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  • thebig C
    "See you on the beach"

    On the 13th of May, this day 25 years ago….

    Brigadier Julian Thompson stood up to address his commando, battalion and other unit commanders at a formal Orders Group. Thompson was commander of 3 Royal Marine Commando Brigade, but for this mission his brigade had been substantially augmented by the addition of 2 and 3 Para and many other specialist units, including two troops of the Blues and Royals. There were sixty officers from the Navy, Army and Marines present in the wardroom of the 12,000 ton LPD HMS Fearless, at sea about 900 miles from Port Stanley. The plans for an amphibious assault ‘to repossess’ the Falklands had been discussed with commanders prior to this meeting, but the formal order to carry out the assault had only been received from Fleet Headqaurters at Northwood the previous day.

    Initial presentations at the O Group covered the latest intelligence about the Argentinians and a summary of British Naval and Naval Air Forces that would support the assault. Thompson then set out the mission, which was “to conduct a silent night landing by landing craft so that by first light the Brigade would have secured the high ground overlooking Port San Carlos, San Carlos Settlement and Ajax Bay…. In phase one 40 Commando and 45 Commando were to land simultaneously… In phase two, 2 Para and 3 Para were to land…. Phase three, starting at first light, was to see the first use of helicopters to move the Rapiers (SAMs) and guns (105mm) ashore…” (from ‘No Picnic’, by Juian Thompson)

    Detailed staff presentations followed, covering everything from the Naval Gunfire Support plan to the complex logistics involved. The date and time of the landing would follow by signal later. Thompson spoke again briefly to conclude the meeting, and then said he would take any questions. There were none. The COs headed to Fearless’s flight deck and the helicopters that would take them back to their various ships. “See you on the beach”.

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  • hptmurphy
    Damn I've seen one of those 'tank ' things before..wonder where?

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  • Goldie fish
    Week six
    3rd May(mon)
    Departures: HMS Valiant, Courageous, Ambuscade,
    as patrol vessel "Alferez Sobral" searched for the crew of the downed Canberra to the north of the Falklands, she was detected by a 826Sqn Sea King. Fired on, the helicopter called for help and from a range of eight miles, HMS Coventry's Lynx fired two of the new Sea Skua missiles, followed shortly by two more from HMS Glasgow's Lynx. Badly damaged and with eight crew dead, the "Sobral" was escorted into Puerto Deseado two days later, but the Canberra's crew was never found.
    9 Harrier GR3 arrive in ascension after 9 hour flight from RAF Wittering.
    Argentine patrol ship Alferez Sobral damaged 70 miles north of East Falkland island
    Argentine aircraft lost near Stanley - Aermacchi MB-339A crashed in bad weather near the airfield killing the pilot

    4th May(tues)
    Departures: Alvega, Eburna
    Black Buck 2. A second raid on Stanley Airfield, however none of the bombs impacted the Runway on this occasion.

    destroyer "Sheffield" was hit by an air-launched Exocet SHEFFIELD hit at 52°45'S, 57°25'W.By late Tuesday morning (4th) the CVBG was 70 miles to the south east of Stanley. Aware of the Exocet threat, frigates "Brilliant" and "Broadsword" with their point defence Sea Wolf stayed in close to the carriers. Near them was a screen of three RFA's, further out a second one of "Glamorgan" and three more frigates, and then twenty miles ahead, the three type 42's including "Sheffield" with their high altitude Sea Darts. Finally towards the Falklands, Sea Harriers of No.801 flew CAP and at this time investigated a number of possible air contacts. efore then a CANA Neptune had picked up the ships by radar and two Super Etendards of 2 Esc took off from Rio Grande each armed with an Exocet AM.39. Refuelled by a Grupo 1 Hercules, they flew in at low altitude, popped-up for a radar check and released the missiles from 20 to 30 miles. One of the Exocet may just have missed "Yarmouth", but the other slammed with hardly any warning into "Sheffield" soon after 11.00 am. Hitting amidships, the warhead did not explode, but the impact and unused fuel started uncontrollable fires. Badly damaged and with little power, frigate "Arrow" soon came alongside to assist and "Yarmouth" stood by. Captain Salt's crew fought gallantly to save their ship, but with 20 men dead, the order to abandon was given that afternoon. With the wounded already on board "Hermes", "Arrow" took off most of the 260 survivors and "Sheffield" drifted for four days until "Yarmouth" was ordered to pull her clear of the TEZ.The survivors later returned to Ascension on tanker "British Esk".
    Argentine aircraft lost near Stanley - PNA Skyvan at the airfield was badly damaged in another bombardment by HMS Glamorgan, HMS Alacrity and HMS Arrow.
    British Aircraft lost at Goose Green: Sea Harrier. Three 800Sqn Sea Harriers from "Hermes" attacked Goose Green airstrip with CBU's and retard bombs. Little damage was done, but one aircraft was hit by Skyguard-directed 35mm Oerlikon fire and crashed killing the pilot
    Most of the TF.79 ships were returning to port by Tuesday and "25° de Mayo" disembarked her aircraft. Although submarine "San Luis" stayed out a few more days, the rest of the Navy kept well clear of the British nuclear subs. However to the south of the Falklands a number of ships joined in the search for "Belgrano's" survivors with most of them returning on Wednesday.

    5th May(wed)
    HMS Intrepid and Atlantic Conveyer arrive in ascension. Conveyer takes on board 6 GR3 and 8 sea Harrier

    6th May(thurs)
    Canberra and Elk Departed Ascension with 40 and 42 Cdo RM and 3 Para, with Sea King HC4s deployed aboard.
    British aircraft lost at 53°S, 57°W - Sea Harriers. Two 801Sqn Sea Harriers on CAP were sent to check a radar contact and just disappeared without trace after presumably colliding in the poor visibility

    7th May(fri)

    Arriving in Ascension: Europic Ferry, Norland(with 2 Para). Departed same day with amphibous Group.
    TEZ - extended to within 12 miles of Argentine coast

    8th May(sat)
    Departures: Saxonia
    With the Task Force back on the offensive, frigate "Alacrity" bombarded the Stanley area as "Brilliant" and her Lynx entered the north end of Falkland Sound to intercept any supply ships. Meanwhile "Coventry" and "Broadsword" had moved closer to Stanley with the unenviable job of tempting out Argentine aircraft.

    9th May(sun)
    Departures: Baltic Ferry, Nordic Ferry(with 5 Brigade)
    RFA "Blue Rover" to Cumberland Bay to take up her duties as station tanker.
    Argentine intelligence trawler Narwhal damaged 60 miles SE of Stanley and later sank.Two 800Sqn aircraft left "Hermes" to bomb Stanley. Stopped by cloud cover, they detected intelligence trawler "Narwal" on the way back and were given permission to attack by control ship "Coventry". Strafing failed to stop her and the high-altitude fuzed bombs were dropped, one of which hit without exploding. With the trawler at a standstill, 820Sqn and 846Sqn Sea Kings flew an SBS party some 150 miles to capture her, but before arriving, two more 800sqn Sea Harriers attacked and further damaged "NARWAL" with cannon fire. The SBS boarding went ahead, but next day she sank in tow with one crewman dead.
    Argentine aircraft lost off South Jason Island - Skyhawks.HMS Coventry fired three Sea Darts at distant aircraft, including a Hercules on a supply run to Stanley, and apparently missed. However around this time, two Grupo 4 Skyhawks were lost. They may have been hit by the Sea Darts or alternatively crashed in low visibility on their way to attack the two ships. Whatever the case, one of them was later found on South Jason Island. Then in the afternoon, as an Army Puma headed out over Choiseul Sound to search for "Narwal", another Sea Dart fired at extreme range brought her down with the loss of all on board
    Last edited by Goldie fish; 14 May 2007, 00:24.

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  • thebig C
    HMS Sheffield

    Following the sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano on the 2nd of May 1982 - sunk by two torpedoes fired by the British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror, causing the deaths of 323 of her crew in an attack that had been personally approved by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher - two days later on the 4th of May, the British destroyer HMS Sheffield was hit by an Exocet missile fired by an Argentinian Super Etendard. The warhead failed to explode but the missile’s propellant started a fire, which could not be controlled. The ship burned to the waterline and was scuttled a few days later. Twenty sailors were killed in this attack.

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  • thebig C
    Argentine AML-90s

    Pictured in the the Falklands in 1982..... Look familiar?

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  • thebig C
    loft bombing

    There was some loft bombing by Harriers later in the campaign.

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  • ZULU
    Hi Gttc,

    Sorry, mis-read the posts. Thought the Vulcan came in low and hard before pulling up and releasing on the way to 10,000ft. Remember a friend saying that the loop radius was around 8000ft.

    Long day.

    Last edited by ZULU; 2 May 2007, 04:59.

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  • GoneToTheCanner
    Hi Zulu
    It wasn't.Lofting requires the releasing aircraft to bomb as it climbs, so that the bombs prescribe a ballistic arc to the impact point, the release aircraft then either continuing in a loop or a steep turn to run out. The Vulcan bombed from straight and level.

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  • ZULU
    The Vulcan came in at 300 feet to avoid radar detection and then climbed rapidly to release twenty-one 1,000lb bombs from 10,000 feet while the aircraft was still two miles out from the coast
    Loft bombing technique. Classy. Never knew the Vulcan would be up for it.

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  • Goldie fish
    Week Five

    26th April(Mon)
    Departures from UK:
    HMS Onyx, HMS Intrepid(saved from disposal), Norland(with 2 Para), RFA Sir Bedivere, RFA Bayleaf, British Avon.
    Arriving at Ascension: RFA Tidepool(also saved from disposal to Chile, was on delivery voyage when she was "borrowed" back.

    ARA General Belgrano, Survivor of Pearl Harbour as USS Phoenix, put to sea from Ushuaia on Monday 26th April escorted by two Exocet-armed Sumner Class destroyers, ARA Hipolito Bouchard(Former USS Borie) and ARA Piedra Burno(formerly USS Collett)

    27th April(Tues)
    Departures from UK:
    Trawlers Cordella, Farnella, Junella, Northella, Pict as 11th Mine Countermeasures squadron.

    28th April(wed)
    General Belgrano ordered to patrol south of the shallow Burdwood Bank.

    29th April(Thurs)
    Departures from UK:
    HMS Leeds Castle, Cable ship Iris.
    2 Vulcan B2 bombers arrive in Ascension

    30th April(fri)
    TEZ came into force, and on Saturday 1st May, the Royal Navy sailed in to start the softening-up attacks designed to establish air and sea superiority.
    Leaving Ascension late on Friday with a second Vulcan and eleven Victor tankers, some of which refuelled each other, the first air-raid on Stanley was about to be made. 260000 gallons of fuel would be used in the mission, or 925 tons.The flight out would require 15 fuel transfers between the 13 aircraft on the bomb run of 3750 miles, and 18 transfers in total.

    Handley Page Victor K1

    Nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror, Commanded by Commander Wreford-Broen made first contact with General Belgrano at long range,

    1st May(sat)
    Departures from UK:
    HMS Dumbarton Castle, RMAS Goosander
    Black Buck 1.

    Avro Vulcan B1
    21x1,000lb bombs were dropped from 10,000 feet early that morning. Only one hit the runway, but the attack signalled the RAF's ability to strike in the South Atlantic and against mainland targets. The Vulcan returned safely from its nearly 16 hour, 8,000 mile round trip, and one of the Victor captains - Sqdn Ldr Tuxford, was decorated for his part in the operation.

    Arial Photo of Stanley Airfield after Black Buck 1.
    The Aircraft Carriers with 20 Sea Harriers between them prepared to go into action. Keeping to the east of the Falklands to reduce the chance of air attack and screened by their anti-submarine Sea King's HMS Invincible flew off Sea Harriers for combat air patrols as HMS Hermes aircraft followed up the Vulcan raid with ground strikes. Soon after 8.00 am, nine of them hit Stanley airfield, destroying installations and stores and damaging a civilian Islander and a wrecking Cessna(Property of Governer Hunt) aircraft with CBUs. The Cluster Bombs were 600lb units with 147 bomblets each . The other three went in at Goose Green, wrecking one Pucara and badly damaging two more. All Harriers returned safely to the carriers.
    All this time, type 22 HMS Brilliant and Rothesay class HMS Yarmouth with three ASW Sea Kings from HMS Hermes searched all day for the suspected Argentine submarine ARA San Luis, but failed to find her. Also detached were HMS Glamorgan, and type 21's HMS Alacrity and HMS Arrow for the first of many bombardments of the Stanley area. Alacrity's Lynx took off that afternoon to provide naval gunfire spotting, but stumbled on Argentine patrol craft "Islas Malvinas" sheltering near Kidney Island just to the north of Stanley. Going into attack with GPMG, she damaged the vessel, but was hit by the return fire, and HMS Arrow's Lynx later took over the spotting duties. Just before 5.00 pm, as the warships continued their bombardment, they were attacked without warning by three Grupo 6 Daggers, and all received minor damage from cannon fire or near misses.
    The Grupo 6 attack was part of Argentina's response that Saturday the 1st to what was believed to be a full scale landing. Sorties were launched from the mainland by Skyhawks, Canberras and Daggers, and with some Mirage flying cover, and also by Falklands-based aircraft. Around the time of this strike, four Argentine FAA aircraft were lost towards the north of the Falklands to Sea Harriers and their Sidewinders. HMS Glamorgan vectored two 801NAS aircraft to two Grupo 8 Mirage, one of which exploded over Pebble Island in the first air-to-air kill of the war, and the other, damaged by a missile and approaching Stanley was shot down by Argentine AA. Next, two Sea Harriers of No.800 NAS claimed the Squadron's first victim in combat by downing one of two Grupo 6 Daggers flying escort . Then further to the north, two more No.801 Harriers accounted for one of three Grupo 2 Canberras looking for British ships. The May issue of AFM has an article on this action, from the point of view of the Argentine Pilots.
    SBS and G Sqdn SAS now went ashore on the Falklands to check out landing sites and to target aircraft, troops and stores for naval bombardment and Harrier strikes. Some of the teams stayed in position, close to the Argentines and in bad weather for many days at a time. Areas of operation on East Falkland were believed to include Bluff Cove, Stanley, Berkeley Sound, Cow Bay, Port Salvador, San Carlos Water, Goose Green and Lafonia, and over on West Falkland, Pebble Island, Port Howard and Fox Bay.
    The first patrols started flying in Saturday night in "Hermes'" four remaining No.846 Sea King HC.4's, which equipped with PNG(NVG) for night flying, played such an important role over the next six weeks.

    2nd May(sun)
    8 Sea Harriers from 809 NAS arrive in Ascension, to Embark aboard Atlantic Conveyer.
    General Belgrano was torpedoed and sunk by the HMS Conqueror at 4.00 pm by two conventional Mark 8 torpedoes. She was soon abandoned, and went down with heavy casualties and her helicopter . A third torpedo hit ARA Hipolito Bouchard without exploding but possibly caused some damage, and HMS Conqueror was therefore presumably counter-attacked by Piedra Bueno, which later returned with other Argentine ships to search for the cruiser's survivors. Shortly after the sinking, the main units of the Argentine Navy returned to port or stayed in coastal waters for the rest of the war.

    RFA Tidespring and HMS Antrim departed South Georgia for Ascension carrying the Argentine POW's.
    two CANA Super Etendards flew from the mainland for an Exocet attack on the Task Force, but turned back with refuelling problems.

    ARA 25° de Mayo(Vientecinco de Mayo

    By early Sunday morning (the 2nd), carrier ARA 25° de Mayo(originally HMS Venerable, Built in Birkinhead by Cammel Laird, sold to Dutch Navy and served as Karel Doorman before being sold to Argentina in 1968) to the north was preparing to launch a Skyhawk attack which was aborted because of light winds, and that same day both escorting type 42's were involved in separate incidents. ARA Hercules readied but fails to fire a Sea Dart against an approaching No.801 Sea Harrier, and ARA Santisima Trinidad lost her Lynx in a flying accident . By then, submarine ARA San Luis may have carried out the first of a number of unsuccessful attacks before she returned to port around the end of the month.
    Last edited by Goldie fish; 1 May 2007, 22:35.

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  • thebig C
    first boots on the ground...

    British troops returned to the Falkland Islands on this day, the 1st of May, 25 years ago, although at the time, no-one knew about it. Brigadier Julian Thompson of the Royal Marines and Commodore Michael Clapp of the Royal Navy – respectively the Land Force and Amphibious Group Commanders – had to have intelligence on Argentine dispositions and strengths to plan the landing. Air photographs were not available so SAS and SBS men would have to carry out a ground reconnaissance and send back the necessary information.

    The seven four-man SAS patrols were given tasks related to the forthcoming land campaign, while the six SBS teams were tasked with reconnaissance of possible landing sites. The SBS men could not be landed by conventional submarine – a normal procedure – because the Navy had none in the area. There were nuclear submarines, but these were too big and drew too much water to approach the coast. The SAS proposed a HALO parachute insertion but this was rejected as too hazardous. The decision was to insert by helicopter at night.

    The SAS in the Falklands campaign were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Michael Rose, later to become well-known as General Sir Michael Rose, UNPROFOR Commander in Bosnia from 1994 to 1995. He had earlier been in charge of the operation to free the hostages of the Iranian Embassy Siege in 1980. He was a controversial figure, and his high-profile command style in Bosnia is sometimes compared unfavourably with that of his successor, General Sir Rupert Smith.

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  • thebig C
    The war begins...

    In the early hours of the morning, this day 25 years ago, a single RAF Vulcan bombed the airfield at Port Stanley. (Remember the Vulcan in Thunderball, the best of the James Bond films?) The flight to and from Ascension Island lasted sixteen hours and required a total of seventeen air-to-air refuelling operations from RAF Victor tankers. The Vulcan came in at 300 feet to avoid radar detection and then climbed rapidly to release twenty-one 1,000lb bombs from 10,000 feet while the aircraft was still two miles out from the coast. Only one hit the runway. (The RAF had been desperate to get in on the action in the Falklands, which was primarily a Royal Navy/Royal Marines affair. Their argument for using the obsolete Vulcan in this way was the deny the possible use of the airfield to Argentine fighters.)

    Later that morning, while HMS Invincible’s Sea Harriers provided combat air patrols (CAPs) over the task force, the twelve Harriers from HMS Hermes launched at first light from 70 miles out. Three attacked Goose Green, later the scene of 2 Para’s epic battle; four were tasked to hit Stanley’s radar and AA defences, while the remaining five headed for the airfield. The defences had been woken by the Vulcan attack earlier, so the Harriers were met with plenty of fire from the ground. One aircraft was hit, but all made it back to the carrier. (I remember the BBC TV News reporter on Hermes making the famous comment: “I'm not allowed to tell you how many aircraft were involved, but I counted them all out and I counted them all back again.”)

    Three ships were also detached from the task force to close the Falklands to shell Argentine positions around Stanley. It was 1.25 p.m. when the first counter-attack of the day appeared, four Mirages closing fast from the west. They came in so fast that the ships main armament did not have time to engage. HMS Arrow was hit by cannon fire and one seaman was injured; HMS Glamorgan had two 1,000lb bombs explode just off her stern, causing a small amount of damage underwater. Sea Harriers from the CAP shot down two of the Mirages and another was brought down by ground fire from their own forces on the island. Two Argentine Canberras were then detected at high level; one was shot down by a Harrier, prompting the other to turn back.

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