Ships Diary: 18.05.82 -> 21.05.82

Refuleling Lynx 342 (Malcolm Smith)


Mon 18/05/82 (Grahams Diary)

08.15
We are detaching roughly 160 miles to the East away from the islands to rendezvous with the Fearless group at 11.00 and then had a quiet day and night being well out of range of their fighter aircraft. All in all there were about 20 ships up with us all getting ready, if you looked at the radar it looked like the English Channel there were so many contacts.


Goalkeeping HMS Hermes (malcolm Smith)

Loading Chaff Hermes (Fred Ellot)

18/05/82 (Taff)

Went North with Hermes to meet up with Assault Group. Met Group at 1000 approx. and headed back south, had mail!!!!
Heard a buzz about the Landings, don't know what to believe but I'm sure as hell not overjoyed at the prospect of getting caught in San Carlos or getting out in one piece, but such is life.

Cross Decking Stores + Troops (Malcolm Smith)


19/05/82 (Bill)

Went to seen of helicopter crash 30 SAS blokes on board. We picked up 6 survivors (Hermes 9) Carried to sick bay warmed up in showers, some of them also crashed on South Georgia.


Tue 19/05/82 (Grahams Diary)

We were again up to the North East the Sea Kings from Hermes were transferring all the bootys and pongoes from Canberra to herself. An uneventful day until about 21.00. They were still transferring personnel then one of the large SeaKings carrying 30 men in all struck an albatross and ditched into the icy sea. An immediate search was coordinated using us and our sea boat and Gemini, Hermes and a number of other helicopters. Within the first fifteen minutes seven had been picked up by our sea boat I actually saw them come on board via the quarterdeck. Most of them were in deep shock and had hypothermia another 4 were recovered by helicopter. There are 20 missing presumed dead probably trapped inside when it sunk. It was a terrible feeling just looking out over the dark cold sea knowing there was someone dying out there and still we go forward into war it really does depress me.


A former SAS member has told for the first time of the night the regiment suffered its heaviest loss of life - during the Falklands War 25 years ago.

Twenty members of the elite unit were killed when their Sea King helicopter lost power and plunged into the freezing South Atlantic after a freak collision with an albatross.
Mick Williams, who is still haunted by the horrific events of May 19, 1982, told how the helicopter dropped from a low altitude and then filled with water as its windows smashed on impact with the sea.

In the ensuing chaos, most of the passengers drowned but the survivors fought each other as they tried to reach a tiny pocket of air - and then escape through one of the helicopter's hatches. It is that desperate scramble for life which has left Mick - just 21 at the time of the crash - riven with guilt that he survived while his colleagues, and friends, perished.
Mick, who suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and is a virtual recluse, said: "We were due to cross-deck from HMS Hermes to HMS Intrepid. I remember how still the water was before we took off and how many of us there were on the Sea King.
"I sat down, with my back to a porthole, but my arms were so tight against my sides I couldn't put my seatbelt on.
"The engine struggled with the additional weight - it seemed as likely to drill a hole in the ship as to take off. As we climbed, I became drowsy.
"I didn't hear the bird get sucked into the engine. Instead, I woke when the helicopter hit the water. The Sea King had already tilted on its side and I was at the bottom of a heap of bodies. I had been thrown backwards and swallowed mouthfuls of water.
"It was strangely calm and surreal in this cocoon of blackness and muffled sound. Then everyone's survival instinct kicked in. Men who had been SAS soldiers together for years fought each other, desperately trying to reach a tiny air pocket.
"Guys were standing on top of me, their boots digging into my chest. So I pulled them down, grappled with them, my best mates, guys I loved, we all wanted to live. If I had died maybe some of them would have lived.
"I think about little else. My life since the accident has been consumed by this dilemma of conscience.
"I don't know how I pulled myself out of the Sea King. My next memory is when I bobbed up on to the surface. My fingers, arms and legs were numb. I couldn't inflate my lifejacket. Then other people started appearing. Their cries for help echoed across the bay.
"We swam together and clung to each other. There was a group of about seven of us. We shouted out other people's names but there was no reply.
"I remember this guy next to me saying he wanted to sleep. He and I knew if he went to sleep he would never wake up."
Too numb to feel pain, Mick was unaware of his punctured lung and shattered ribs. Then the helicopter pilot swam over to him.
Mick, 46, who lives in Hereford where the SAS is based, said: "We screamed at the pilot to light his flare. He kept dropping it in the water because his fingers were so numb. Thank God it was on a piece of string. We cursed him again when he swam off. We didn't know he had seen a life raft and he left us to swim towards it.
"The guy next to me was now floating face down in the water. Knowing he was dead, I held on to his body to keep myself upright. I wish I could erase that memory but I know I never will."
After what seemed an eternity, a boat from HMS Brilliant arrived to haul Mick and the remaining survivors aboard.
Mick added: "The medics put me under a mountain of blankets and gave me morphine. I shouted people's names, guys who had gone down with the helicopter. Then I began to feel this overwhelming sense of guilt that I had survived and my best friends Mick and Paul had not. I did not feel I deserved to live.
"We all fought each other underwater but by living I condemned others to death. That is the way I still look at it, even now, 25 years on.
"Of my little group of five mates from G Troop, I was the only one who survived."
Mick was put on indefinite leave for six months immediately after the Falklands War. Flashbacks and nightmares were regular occurrences when he returned to operational duties.
He served in the SAS until 1988 and was diagnosed with PTSD two years later.
Mick, a married father of one who has spent periods of up to nine months in residential care, added: "PTSD is not the same as mental illness. It is a perfectly normal response to an abnormal, life-threatening incident.
"I have difficulty allowing people to get close to me because I always fear I will lose them."

 


19/05/82 (Taff)

Nothing much has happened, transferred 2,000 troops from Canbarra to Fearless and Intrepid. Skipper just been on broadcast we start to move in tomorrow and reach the Falklands tomorrow night. Start the Landing Friday at Dawn. The only thing that can stop it happening is the outcome of a Cabinet meeting at 1030 tomorrow, we will know by 1200 hrs one way or the other.
WATCH THIS SPACE
2149 Seaking Helo ditched, 18/20 men lost, we have picked up 8 all alive. All the men were SAS we had onboard for trip North from South Georgia. What a Waste of Life TRAGIC

An 846 Squadron RAF Sea King 4 transferring SAS troops from HMS Hermes to HMS Intrepid, ditched in the ocean after a birdstrike. Eight survivors, including the two pilots, were picked up but the aircraft had turned over and sunk immediately.

21 men did not survive including 19 members of the Special Forces, some of whom had taken part in the Pebble Island raid and the landings on South Georgia. The crash also claimed the life of the only RAF serviceman to be lost in the conflict who had been working in support of Special Forces operations.

ROLL OF HONOUR:

A/CPL Raymond Ernest ARMSTRONG

A/SGT John Leslie ARTHY

A/WO1 Malcolm ATKINSON

A/CPL William John BEGLEY

A/SGT Paul Alan BUNKER

A/CPL Robert Allan BURNS

SGT Philip Preston CURRASS QGM

A/SGT Sidney Albert Ivor DAVIDSON

WOll Lawrence GALLAGHER

A/SGT William Clark HATTON QGM

FLT LT Garth Walter HAWKINS

A/SGT William John HUGHES

A/SGT Philip JONES

L/CPL Paul Neville LIGHTFOOT

Cpl Michael David LOVE DSM

CPL Douglas Frank McCORMACK

A/CPL Michael Vincent McHUGH

A/CPL John NEWTON

A/WOll Patrick O'CONNOR

CPL Stephen John SYKES

CPL Edward Thomas WALPOLE
ROLL OF HONOUR:



Wed 20/05/82 (Grahams Diary)

One more day until the invasion we started moving west towards the islands early this morning. Our forward Sea Wolf was duff until this evening; I was beginning to get a bit worried about it. By 01.00 tomorrow we should have reached the inlet into the Sound, the stretch of water between the two islands. This is where the main landings are going to be. We are all prepared for the aircraft attacks tomorrow morning, before sun up when the first raids are due. There is a possibility the weather will be bad not helping the Argentine aircraft at all. Thinking of you all at this very tense time, I have a feeling we will do well I will write again when I get some time.


Wed 20/05/82 (Taff)

It appears that the Fwd Seawolf System is knackered so that's a great start to the Effin day. We have got ourselves a CONVOY (18 ships) Looks very impressive!!!!!!

20/05/82 (Laon)

The Day before D-Day (and Karen's B-Day)


Last night we got involved in a tragic rescue of SAS from a ditched Sea King helicopter. This crashed at about 80mph straight into the sea when approaching Intrepid. Colin Tozer saw a flare and we went towards it and then we found ourselves involved in the rescue. There were 30 men in the aircraft 27 being SAS - To cut a long (and it was a long search) story short we rescued 8 a Sea King winched up 1 medic (called Hulme!) and one dead man. The Pilot and observer suffered some facial injuries but their goon suits and life jacket kept them alive. The poor SAS were screaming with cold in the water and, after recovery, required long blanket rubbing and baths/showers to warm then up. One poor chap needed a Valium injection to calm him down as he was fighting us while on the sick bay table. As I write (8pm) we have just transferred them to the Canberra by Plymouths Wasp - To finish the "story", one chap rescued had been in the two helicopter crash on the Glacier at South Georgia and all 27 had been onboard us when we sailed from S.G. so we felt we knew them well.

If there can be a moral to the story it is that we feel "secure" and pretty comfortable in our super ship but the water and indeed the air outside is damned cold. I had never seen hypothermia before and I have now seen its dangers.

I now wear a vest and roll neck submarine sweater and woolly pully. Heaven forbid that I need them but I don't want to have to go looking for them.

And what of today - I got up at 5am v. angry with the Admiral keeping all his plans and defence units to himself including his CAP A/C. I drafted a signal for the Captain but naturally he did not sign it - but the point was made never-the-less.

What a tense day! Listening to the final political discussions and comments by both sides - with the thought that the Pope might not visit! I think we always knew it would come to this but hoped for bad weather because the Argentineans don't like low cloudburst and poor visibility. After several days where the sun has shone and the sea been calm, the wind whipped up, the barometer fell and scudding low cloud was everywhere. Hardly enough to make anyone relax, indeed there were a couple of "scares" when Mirage/Entendard A/C were supposedly airborne - I suspect however they were escorting transport aircraft taking materials etc into Stanley - certainly they did not bother us.

This "majestic" but lumbering amphibious group continues on its way. It is now nearly dark so we may well have completed phase I. Phase II will be the night approach to the anchorages in Falkland Island after which Broadsword will be left to the South and as to North as A/C defence for the morning. Phase III will start to his beaches with landing craft at 0630 accompanied with a severe (4 ships simultaneously) gunfire bombardment. Dawn is 1040 and the helicopter waves commence to hit their positions at 1130. This is about when we might expect the Argentineans from the mainland to attack us - so I'm just hoping and praying for a second day of low cloud / poor vis etc.

While all this is happening, all the drills etc we have been performing have been reduced by the forward system going U/S - It has been serviceable all this time and frankly we are pretty worked up to integrating both our systems to counter any attack. Ah well that's another 10 grey hairs (not to many black ones now!).

On Saturday 22nd we will have been off the Falklands for 3 weeks! Gosh it seems so much longer - and away from home for 10 weeks!


A Coy Cdo San Carlos air attack (Thanks to Russell Berriman)

21/05/82 (Bill)

Entered sound 1 o?clock this morning every star in sky visible 1100
Action stations clear day (dawn)

1253
Sky hawk attack coming possibly not worried just slightly apprehensive nothing happened so far to quiet if will pardon the cliché . On quarter about a mile offshore protecting landing force. It?s a bit like the NW of Scotland shore only a bit more barren

1256
Two packoras attacked ardent but disappeared

1315
sky hawks didn?t materialize 2 mirages closing

1329
everybody on deck 3 mirages coming in

1340
Antrim hit by bomb didn?t explode 3 casualties

1343
Antrim engaged sea slug

1424
4 aircraft coming in

1437
Broadsword hit aft after system out (8) casualties

1443
possible raid on us

1445
Two aircraft shot down

1501
Bomb hit Broadsword

1511
CAP shot down 2 planes

1525
were taking charge of CAPs Antrim to damaged to

1601
CAPs splashed two packoras

1713
air attack didn?t come

1728
2 waves of aircraft coming in 3-4 mins chaff fired

1732
Arganought hit amidships

1736
Broadsword hit 4 or 5 times
5 A4s attacked Arganought 4 attacked Broadsword

1748
Hit in ops room first aiders piped up there

A Coy Cdo San Carlos air attack (Thanks to Russell Berriman)

 

 



1750
fresh water bust pipe FWD more aircraft coming in whereas the bloody sea wolf I heard two bangs and then our machine gun fire stb side fwd large splinter hole Mirages (2) coming in seems chilled water pipe burst We?ve a casualty on the bridge wing as well. Well it looks as though were fucked to put it bluntly if the ops room is done for. Skips pipe we were hit by two shells one in the ops room one on the bridge somewhere 5 blokes hurt

1807
lynx going to pick up harrier pilot

1820
Ardent sinking It?s a bit tense I?ve still got a feeling were going to be hit again Been on quarterdeck on horizon Ardent on fire smoke pouring from her black oily Broadsword nearby

1845
just finished had dhoby Repaired HFW pipe fwd altogether hit by about 10 20mm canon shells EDC officers heads bathrooms a shambles Came in and shattered pebbledashed EDC wine store storeroom. Looks like we are going into it tomorrow we were just cannon fodder today Broadsword didn?t get hit by bombs just staffed Ardent hit 3 bombs 2 unexploded 1 exploded Ardent sunk Bad vibes for tomorrow just like this morning hope Im proved wrong

Skipper?s Pipe
Anyone wishing to shoot at the Argentineans draw a weapon from the small arms store

Qustion ? Why are there bullet holes in the mainmast
Answer Because potsy thought during the attack there were Argi planes roosting there

A Coy Cdo San Carlos air attack (Thanks to Russell Berriman)




Shell damage (Paul Yockley)

 


Flight Deck Action Stations 21st may (Malcolm Smith)

 

21/05/82 (Laon)

Lieutenant Commander L.S.G. Hulme, RN
HMS BRILLIANT

The Day before D-Day (and Karen's B-Day) Commenced Thursday 20 May


My Very Dearest Karen,

You see I have not forgotten your birthday! It gives me great sadness not to be able to simply have some words with you - there are some advantages to letters (in circumstances like this) but not many. I was wise to rush our mail across to Hermes when I did because there would not have been any other opportunity to have done so - Goodness knows when it will get away from the Force but now we are committed to an inshore role it will certainly be quicker than where we are.

Last night we got involved in a tragic rescue of SAS from a ditched Sea King helicopter. This crashed at about 80mph straight into the sea when approaching Intrepid. Colin Tozer saw a flare and we went towards it and then we found ourselves involved in the rescue. There were 30 men in the aircraft 27 being SAS - To cut a long (and it was a long search) story short we rescued 8 a Sea King winched up 1 medic (called Hulme!) and one dead man. The Pilot and observer suffered some facial injuries but their goon suits and life jacket kept them alive. The poor SAS were screaming with cold in the water and, after recovery, required long blanket rubbing and baths/showers to warm then up. One poor chap needed a Valium injection to calm him down as he was fighting us while on the sick bay table. As I write (8pm) we have just transferred them to the Canberra by Plymouths Wasp - To finish the "story", one chap rescued had been in the two helicopter crash on the Glacier at South Georgia and all 27 had been onboard us when we sailed from S.G. so we felt we knew them well.

If there can be a moral to the story it is that we feel "secure" and pretty comfortable in our super ship but the water and indeed the air outside is damned cold. I had never seen hypothermia before and I have now seen its dangers.

You will be pleased to know that I now wear a vest and roll neck submarine sweater and woolly pully. Heaven forbid that I need them but I don't want to have to go looking for them.

And what of today - I got up at 5am v. angry with the Admiral keeping all his plans and defence units to himself including his CAP A/C. I drafted the enclosed signal for the Captain but naturally he did not sign it - but the point was made never-the-less. What a tense day! Listening to the final political discussions and comments by both sides - with the thought that the Pope might not visit! I think we always knew it would come to this but hoped for bad weather because the Argentineans don't like low cloudburst and poor visibility. After several days where the sun has shone and the sea been calm, the wind whipped up, the barometer fell and scudding low cloud was everywhere. Hardly enough to make anyone relax, indeed there were a couple of "scares" when Mirage/Entendard A/C were supposedly airborne - I suspect however they were escorting transport aircraft taking materials etc into Stanley - certainly they did not bother us.

This "majestic" but lumbering amphibious group continues on its way. It is now nearly dark so we may well have completed phase I. Phase II will be the night approach to the anchorages in Falkland Island after which Broadsword will be left to the South and as to North as A/C defence for the morning. Phase III will start to his beaches with landing craft at 0630 accompanied with a severe (4 ships simultaneously) gunfire bombardment. Dawn is 1040 and the helicopter waves commence to hit their positions at 1130. This is about when we might expect the Argentineans from the mainland to attack us - so I'm just hoping and praying for a second day of low cloud / poor vis etc.

While all this is happening, all the drills etc we have been performing have been reduced by the forward system going U/S - It has been serviceable all this time and frankly we are pretty worked up to integrating both our systems to counter any attack. Ah well that's another 10 grey hairs (not to many black ones now!). Don't you worry about your Mallen streak!

I note that on Saturday 22nd we will have been off the Falklands for 3 weeks! Gosh it seems so much longer - and away from home for 10 weeks!

Ops room ventilation With thanks to Laon for photo


HMS Ardent 21st may (Malcolm Smith)

 

Fri 21/05/82 (Grahams Diary Extract)

08.30
Have mislaid my pen for the moment so pencil will have to do. Managed to get some sleep last night, not much but enough. The SAS and the SBS have been doing their work during the night causing general havoc Antrim and Ardent bombarded key points all night. Fearlessis in position also Intrepid and the LSLs are just starting to move in (Sir Lancelot etc ) Its going to be a good day weather wise, so much for the bad weather everybody?s pretty quiet not knowing wat ot expect. Worried is not the word at the moment Megga worried.

10.35
Still no sign of an air raid it should start getting light pretty soon. The rest of the LSL?s are moving into the bays and coves on the East side of the Falkland Sound, everything we have been told is going to plan.

11.34
Its just about light now still no reaction to us being here the rest of the troops land by helicopter soon I wouldn?t like to in there boots at the moment, mind you we have done our bit and seen our part of the action.

12.00
We have got a number of aircraft positioned around the force all in pairs, this is our first line of defense. Still nothing happening the landing should be well under way by now but we have not heard anything.

12.34
Ardents Lynx attacked a ostile merchantman in the South of the sound with Sea Skua missiles large amount of smoke. There is a lot of firing ashore from large guns Antrim Plymouth and Yarmouth are employed as Naval Gun support. Ardent down to the South at 12.49 was unsuccessfully attacked by two Pakorra aircraft but turned away. No damage

13.37
Antrim hit aft with bomb damage and fire unexploded bomb still on board. Arganout hit also, There are aircraft everywhere, they are mainly concentrating on the main body. The Stromness came under attack but did not have any damage Arganought was hit by a bomb and Broadsword was it by one rocket and has 8 casualties she was it around the Hanger area and her after Sea Wolf is now duff. There was no damage to the Assault or landing craft.

15.09
One hostile Packora aircraft as just been brought down. The wether is gradually getting worse hopefully in our favour.

16.45
There is a slight lull at the moment we are at the Northern end of the sound with Broadsword close to us, she might need some protection if her other other weapon system falls over. I managed to get a look out at the islands. Its flat on one side and mountainous on the other, it looks very barren. No more reports on the landing I think its going well.

17.52
Air raid is imminent Ardent is hit forward by bomb and one of our aircraft is brought down. Three aircraft attacked us. There was a large explosion on the other side of the ops room, a piece of metal shot passed my face and a piece of shrapnel landed on my jumper. There was smoke and screaming. One person has a suspected fractured skull and another got hit across the legs. The jimmy got hit in the arm another person got hit on the nose. When the small amount of smoke had cleared there was a pretty large hole in the ops room bulkhead emitting the sunlight. I have never shaken so much in all my life. Afterwards I was by a machine that gave off a large buzzing noise. It really made me jump again the old nerves were very jumpy. Our forward Sea Wolf and Exocet missiles have been damaged (the -------- System ) a lot of wires severed by shrapnel. There are peppered holes all along the Starboard side midships. At 18.10 Ardent and Arganought report, that they are badly damaged. Then another air raid came in at 18.16 and scored a direct hit on Ardent. The officer of the watch reports large amounts of black smoke coming from her and said she is sinking slowly by the stern. Yarmouth is then sent alongside the Ardent to take off survivors and Casualties off numbers not known yet. From then on we had a couple of false alarms and then thank god the night, my heart finally slowed down for a while. We got some food and we will hopefully get our heads down at 01.00 This is the longest day in my whole life, this is terrible. I heard the news just now and it is reported that 5 ships had been damaged 2 seriously they didn?t name them, you all must be terribly worried I remember what you have always told me mum, there is always someone worse off than yourself. We are expected to go in the same place tomorrow, later tonight we are taking some SBS around the other side of the island to insert them then coming back. We also should have a type 42 near us with longer range missiles that hopefully works. They have said that the Rapier missile system (land based ) has been set up ashore to help us tomorrow against aircraft I really am not looking forward to tomorrow I know you are all with me Gay Gay I love you I hope its not too bad for you my love UNTILL TOMORROW.

 

 

HMS Ardent 21st may (Malcolm Smith)


HMS Argonaught

 

21/05/82 (Taff)

A Black Tragic Day. 0400, NGS begins, SAS and SBS start their Operations shore side. All Assault Ships at anchor. Good buzz!!....... SAS hitting Goose Green and SBS hitting Port Darwin. Fwd Seawolf 85 % effective (what ever the hell that means???) We are going to need it whatever state it is in!
1100 hrs A/S. Air raids coming in, in waves, Argonaught hit, Antrim zapped Mirage? then got hit by bomb, Broadsword hit Aft Seawolf Tracker u/s. We are ordered North to direct CAP 4 Aircraft splashed.
1750 we are hit Fwd 21 cannon shells hit simultaneously Stab'd Side, Made a bit of a mess 4 lads hurt. Exocet knackered, Fwd Seawolf Tracker damaged. It appears Seawolf cannot operate in this position, can't pick up targets because we are so close to land. Ardent badly damaged, many dead, Ship Abandoned it's a burning wreck, Antrim, Argonaught, Broadsword and Brilliant all Damaged, 1 Harrier and 2 Helo's lost.
Argies lost 14 Aircraft and 3 Helo's (so I'm told). Landings went well for us, what a day! It will be worse tomorrow that's for sure


Fri 21/05/82 Extra Article

On the 21st of May of 1982 the British forces began to disembark on San Carlos bay, beginning the ground operations of the Malvinas/ Falklands war. The Argentine forces, as soon as they received the first intelligence reports about the landings, made plans to bomb the British. Despite the loss of twelve combat planes, the damage caused to the British ships was big, if we consider that the Argentine Air Force (FAA) and the Comando de Aviaciaval (COAN) used very old airplanes. On that day, the legend of the Bomb Alley began. This is the Argentine point of view of what happened on that day...

At 9:45 the first (indicative Ñandú) escadrille took off with Captain Carlos Rodhe, Lt. Pedro Bean and Captain Roberto Janett on three Daggers of Grupo 6 de Caza of the VI Brigada Aérea. They attacked three ships (HMS Argonaut, HMS Plymouth and HMS Broadsword) and damaged Broadsword, but Bean was killed. At the same time the Perro and León escadrilles took off, and managed to put out of combat the destroyer HMS Antrim. The following group was the Zorro escadrille, commanded by Captain Díaz, and they attacked HMS Brilliant:

"Close to the Gran Malvina (West Falkland) we descend to a very low altitude heading to San Carlos Strait. When we were preparing to initiate the attack we contacted the preceding escadrille and they informed us that there were a large number of ships in the channel, supporting the landings. The surprise of the air strike was total, the British supposed that the meteorological situation of the early morning would not change, affecting our capacity to bomb.

That's why at the beginning they didn't have air cover to defend their ships. When we arrived at San Carlos, flying at only a few meters off the surrounding elevations, the panorama seen exceeded our expectations. We could see clearly the defense devices of the Royal Navy? the warships covering the landing zone on a semi circle.

We headed, at maximum speed (about 550 knots) to one of the nearest frigates. The approach was made at very low altitude from the water and with the airplanes in line formation. From a distance of about 1000 meters we began to attack a Type 22 frigate, maybe the Brilliant, with cannon fire. The gun camera film registered this. On the film, impacts can be seen hitting the flotation line.

At the moment we were at the distance to drop the bombs there were failures on the launching system, maybe because of the intense cold or because of the conditions that the airplanes were exposed during the war.

The frigate couldn't respond to the attack, maybe because of the speed of it. She only tried to escape us at maximum speed an on the same course. We don't see any Sea Wolf or artillery and she had a helicopter on the flight deck. However, another ship that was on our right began an intense but ineffective artillery fire. When we pass over the frigate, parts of the structure hit our extra fuel tanks but without perforating them. Then we take evasive maneuvers to escape any missile launched by the ships.

The situation was difficult; the anti-aircraft defenses tried to set up walls of fire. Instead of hitting the planes by direct fire, they tried to shot down us by circumstantial hits. The spectacle was singular, water columns, missile contrails, anti-aircraft ammunition explosions, the lights of the tracer bullets on an unequalled dance. We ascend and headed to the mainland, where we arrived without problems. We were direct witnesses of a big combat deployment."

Click here to see the full article on the LAAHS site

 


 

Thanks to Julio César Aldeguer Bolarín for this extract giving the account of an air attack on the 21st

21 MAY
"Laucha" flight took off from San Julian Air Base about 13:45 hrs on 21 May and was composed as follows:
1st Lt Román, Major Puga and 1st Lt Callejo with the call sign "Laucha". This flight had prepared its penetration over West Falkland Island using a corredor over its center. The target was british shipping in the San Carlos area supporting the landings. Weather conditions over western island were not very good, there were cloudy skies over most of it with a low ceiling and rainshowers.
"Laucha" fromation arrived to the Sound waters after passing through cloud covered zones with very bad visibility. Now and at very low level the three Daggers were a few feet over the Falklands Sound Waters. In the distance appeared some dots, the pilots perceived the shapes of the British Ships. 1st Lt Román and Major Puga went for the nearest ship, while 1st Lt Callejo "Laucha 3" had chosen another one a little further away. He noticed a strange feeling of pleasure when pointing the nose of his aircraft to the target, while he accelerated his Atar 9C engine to the maximun afterburner power- it was the first time he faced a situation like this one-
His Dagger was flying like a bullet at nearly 1000 km/h and almost scrapping the waves, the distance to the RN warship started to diminish at a fast pace, suddenly some airburst started to explode around him. Something hit his windshield, producing a little crack beside the mounting, probably shrapnel.
Approximately at about 1km from the ship, 1st Lt Callejo started to fire his 30mm guns, this made him feel less impotent against the enemy barrage, at least he was replying.
Due to the distance, his shots were falling short, and could see perfectly the water splashes, a slight correction and the deadly hot steel path, started to hit the ship. RN gunners shots also fell short, the bursts fell in fron of the Dagger raising big columns of water which at times showered the aircraft.
Distance to the target was shortening inexorably, the young pilot noticed suddenly that his cannons were no firing any more, he had finished the ammunition.
Up to that time, he probably only received 4,5 in and 40mm antiaircraft fire, but now when closer, started to receive the attention of rapid fire 20mm cannons and 12,7 mm machine guns, the space around the aircraft started to fill with criss-crossing red tracers, and to the pilot seemed all would hit his aircraft, then passing besides.
The gunsight pipper was running over the water surface, and was only two or three seconds away from reaching the ship. The moment arrived and he dropped his bomb load, but due to the fact that his full attention was on avoiding the ship´s masts and antennae and returning to low altitude, he could not note the effect caused by the bombs. When he started to believe that the worst of the mission had passed, some splashes in the water around the Dagger made him think of the contrary, to his right several ships were practising target shooting against him! He made a hard left turn, as well as evasive action with shallow left and right turns and sudden changes of heading.After continuing his escape route at low levelduring some time in order to avoid the dangerous Sea Harriers CAPs, he climbed to 35000 ft to save precious fuel. Landing some time later in San Jualian, he was happy to know that No1 an No2 of his flight also had returned without harm.


This is the text that appeared in "Falklands, witness of battles" by Salvador Mafe, in 1985. Its based in a direct testimony from the pilot.
Although he didn´t identify the ship, I can sure that was Brilliant.