Info Mark Offord (Ginge) Ships position Early morning drop off SBS
Photo Malcolm Smith San Carlos Water
Action Stations going back into Sound Coventry Broadsword and us we are going into the anchorage the Canberra was in yesterday. They have set up Rapier missiles around the area mind you our Seawolf will be even more useless in there its nice being used for target practice
Photo Tony Smith San Carlos Water
22/05/82 (Grahams Diary Extract)
We have moved into the inlet called San Carlos water. This where most of the landing craft came in it?s quite sheltered and now has several Rapier land to air missiles on the headlands and hills overlooking the bay. We went to action stations at 11.30 and we had several false alarms in the morning and into the afternoon. It was only in the late afternoon around 17.00 that an air raid started coming in. This time none of them came really close thank god Again we were very pleased to see the dark. Around 20.00 we were told to go and search for a merchantman to the South of the island.
Photo Jed Stone San Carlos Water
Taken SBS in for raid, landed by boat went OK. Landing by Helo aborted at 0500.
0600 head back to same hole as yesterday, don’t know what will happen today? 1130 A/S closed up until 2100 hrs. Nothing happened thank God. Managed to get Seawolf back online, well in a way, it keeps dropping off line it doesn’t instill confidence in me. We may pull out to Seaspray for repairs soon, but then again maybe not????
Overall a quiet day. We had 13 Air Raids yesterday and managed to survive to talk about it. Take SBS on raid to try and take 300 ton Freighter, they run Ship aground and leg it, we head back to Main Group.
Flight Log 22/05/82
may 22nd was spent within the confines of San Carlos Water in defence of the landing force. There was , in comparison with the previous day , very little air activity. The biggest threat came just before dark when 21 A4 Skyhawks attempted to bomb ships within the bay- they released their bombs well clear of their targets and rapidly departed West. Despite much effort during the day ,the damage to the weapon systems caused by the previous day’s action was still a cause for concern. BRILLIANT was ordered to return to the TEZ that evening to effect repairs.
On departing the AOA, and having taken onboard a platoon of SBS troops, BRILLIANT and YARMOUTH was tasked to intercept the MV MONSUNNEN, underway from the Sound to Port Stanley. The MONSUNNEN , a small Falkland Island coastal freighter , was known to re-supply Stanley from stocks held in West Falkland. Lynx 341 (BRYANT/BUTLER) was launched at 0330 to search for and identify the vessel and hence enable the SBS to capture it. The aircraft came under heavy gunfire on approaching a surface contact but luckily escaped being hit. Armed with 2 Sea Skua and after being engaged the temptation to return fire with a missile was considerable, but resisted because of the possibility of Falkland Island civilians being aboard and the desirability of eventually returning MONSUNNEN to her former service. The vessel was eventually driven aground and abandoned after the two warships had pursued her into Lively Sound. 342 recovered at 0730 and BRILLIANT continued on her way to rejoin the CVBG.
Wickipedia Monsunnen Engagement
At 4:00 am GMT on 23 May ,Lynx helicopter from HMS Brilliant identified Monsunen while the latter was heading to the north, west of Lively Island. After a surrender order was radioed to the motorboat, another helicopter transporting Special Boat Service team tried to intercept her. The aircraft was greeted with heavy machine gun and small arms fire, so it was forced to abort the mission.
At the same time, the coastal ship’s radar detected the British squadron about eight miles to stern and approaching aggressively.
Almost immediately, Yarmouth began to fire her 4.5-inch Mk I – V naval gun” on the Argentine vessel, forcing her to manoeuvre in order to avoid the incoming rounds. When the distance fell to four nautical miles Captain Gopcevich, the Argentine commander, decided that the only way to deceive the British radar was to beach the boat on Seal Cove, a large inlet nearby.
Shortly after he succeeded in running aground his ship and ordering the crew to abandon her, the British shelling resumed. The fire was inaccurate and aimed at the general area of landing. In the process of evacuating the vessel, one of the ratings fell overboard and suffered some serious bruises, but he was successfully rescued by a young sailor. The crew members took refuge in an improvised inland shelter.
On May 23, at approximately 0230 AM, we were making a calm trip when the Commander of the ship, Lieutenant Jorge Gopcevich Canevari issued the yellow alert (helicopter attack), immediately asking who was there. in charge of the machine gun, for which I replied that I was in that position, the Commander immediately telling me that an enemy helicopter was approaching the ship.
The night was clear, you could see the silhouettes of the hills on the horizon, I took the MAG machine gun and ordered the 62nd class soldier Ramón Orlando Godoy, who was the ammunition supply auxiliary, to turn with me to my right when the helicopter appeared.
In the bow of the ship it was felt how far the enemy was approaching, once located and within range I proceeded to open fire observing how the tracing bullets were no longer visible inside the fuselage, then he made a turn looking for the coast, originating a glow in the sky that lit up the night.
Immediately, we were uncertain about what could happen, but moments later the response of the frigates that were inside the strait came, which opened fire with lighting flares to locate the position of the ship, continuing with cannon and missile fire. They did not hit the mark thanks to the bravery and courage of our Commander who, in a show of skill, zigzagged the ship to avoid becoming a target for the enemy’s naval artillery. Through a loud voice he communicated to us that we should prepare to disembark on the coast.
Under these circumstances I was in the bow of the ship with the 62nd class soldier Godoy and Lieutenant Lieutenant Héctor Lehman, the enemy’s fire was constant, the ship searching for the place to disembark until at a certain moment it was nailed with its prow on the coast, with rocky characteristics, then immediately throwing the life rafts into the sea to be able to disembark.
The soldier Godoy decides to launch himself from the top of the ship towards the rocks, hitting them with his life jacket and injuring himself in the leg, I threw myself into a raft that was in the stern falling into it, while the rest of the personnel hurried by the danger posed by the charge, he was trying to save his life under enemy fire.
Once on the raft, I hear someone from the ship ask: who was in the aft raft, I responded with my name and immediately I felt a person I helped to enter, recognizing Corporal Brunetti, fall on me.
From the coast they also loudly questioned who was in the stern raft, when they answered our names, they told us that the current was taking us out to sea, in danger of being caught by the rotation of the propeller of the ship that continued to turn. .
We then began to row with our hands, which were blue from the cold of the water; When we did not obtain results, we decided to throw ourselves into the sea and swim towards the coast, approximately forty meters away, which made us eternal because of the cold that we were beginning to have. When I got hold of a rock, I feel that someone was helping me to climb because I was slipping due to the moss that it presented.
Once reunited, I helped the soldier Godoy who was wounded, everyone quickly leaving the area under enemy fire, until we reached a place where we took cover. After a few minutes the enemy fire ceased, observing in the distance how the drifting rafts were machine gunned.
The enemy attack continued on the coast, due to the impossibility of locating the ship because it was stranded on the rocks, which prevented its location since they caused the rebound of the radar waves. We continued the march away from the coast.
The early morning of May 23 was very cold, reaching almost the limit of hypothermia because we were all wet. In order to keep warm we stayed together, as close to each other as possible.
At dawn, a group went to the ship to see if it was in the place and it was possible to recover it, another group carried out a reconnaissance of the surroundings. Upon arrival, we found the ship dislodging due to the rising tide.The Commander, along with Corporal Brunetti, Warrant Officer Cabana and class 62 conscript Bazan, climbed a rope that was tied to the ship in order to recover it, in the The attempt is caught in the rope, the NCO Cabana falling into the water being assisted by the conscript Bazan.
Corporal Brunetti managed to board, throwing a raft into the water with which transports were made from land to the ship to achieve its recovery. Unfortunately, a mooring line had been wound around the propeller, so it was not possible to continue the trip, and the Commander communicated by radio to request assistance. Late in the afternoon the ship Forrest arrived and towed us to Pradera del Ganso without seeing the enemy.
On May 25, Fatherland Day, at noon, a red alert (air attack) was issued, and they had to quickly occupy the positions on the ground, protected from the action of the Harriers. On the 27th, the English attack on Darwin – Pradera del Ganso began, overflowing the first defensive line, so the troops had to retreat, followed by heavy fighting by the bulk of the units stationed there, with bloody exchanges of artillery and heavy weapons until on May 29. The enemy had to retreat more than once to find himself in front of solid defenses in which the courage and courage of our troops reigned that did not give up before the invader.
But that spirit and courage of our combatants was not enough, in the early morning of the 29th there was a ceasefire, the troops themselves commented that a surrender was possible. I couldn’t believe it, but the bitterest moment of my life came, also ending my humble participation in the conflict. It was a painful but honorable situation since the Argentine troops did with what they had more than possible, fighting hard to the end. The dead and wounded attest to the harshness of Darwin’s combat – Pradera del Ganso
This short story written with great emotion and feeling is dedicated to all the comrades who gave their lives in defense of our sovereignty, especially those of the Navy who at all times made me feel like another sailor during the hard moments shared in the Monsunen, reciprocating them with this lifelong friendship.
Lieutenant of the Ship Jorge Gopcevich Canevari
Lieutenant of Corvette Vázquez Oscar Guillermo
Lieutenant of Corvette Hector Rodolfo Lehman
SSMN Cabana Lucas
SSMN Mamani Adolfo Blas
CPEN Gramajo Raúl
CPEN Pedraza Jose Antonio
CPMN Rivero Carlos Javier
CSMN Bruneti Carlos Alberto
CSMN Calizaya Zerpa Jesus
CC 62 Bazan Romualdo Ignacio
Cc62 Avila Jose Dulcillo
Sgt Inf EA (RI4) Marchetti Ruben Oscar
Sold C 62 EA (RI 4) Godoy Orlando Ramon
23/05/82 (Grahams Diary)
Early this morning us and Yarmouth tried to stop a small merchantman by firing across her bows, so that the SBS could then be taken by helicopter to overpower the crew. The small boat kept going and finally ran aground and the occupants ran off so we left it. We then returned to the main force who are a 100 miles off the island to carry out repairs. This has given us a chance to relax slightly, but we still had a suspected air raid come in this afternoon but nothing came of it. The electricians are working around the clock on our systems and everything is going well. We had a RAS this morning so I was able to some fresh air. I also took some photographs . The only thing that happened this evening is that one of our Sea Harriers blew up Quite near. We are searching for wreckage now until 04.00 Some more raids have taken place where we were yesterday and some ships have sustained major damage, but quite a umber of there aircraft have been brought down. HMS Antelope another type 21 has got a bomb embedded on board which they are trying to diffuse, and Broadsword had a bomb go off 50 yds from her .
HMS Antelope with unexploded bomb on board and mast removed by low flying aircraft.
23/05/82 (11am) – up at 0400 (Laon)
What happened on D-day (overleaf) and it went to plan with the exception that Broadward was to the North and we were to the south of the sound.
Your birthday/Fri 21st/D-day was the longest day of my life! I had ordered that we have the A/C control frequency readily available in the Ops room, more out of interest to know what was going on than anything else and ended up doing two days of fight control (Fri & Sat) when Antrim couldn’t cope. In addition to that signal, A/C under my control splashed 4 Mirage and damaged another 3 Sky Hawks and 1 Pucara. None of the A/C under my control were damaged by Enemy A/C but the no.2 to “Sharky Ward”, CO of 800 Sqdn Harriers – Invincible was hit by a ground based missile. He ejected safely but was captured by the Argis.
In short, in that one day we reduced by 25% the total number of serviceable Arg A/C! Quite a thought. However, it was not that easy. As you see from the signal we succeeded in our aim of defending the very vulnerable landing force but mainly by offering ourselves as the target!
The doubts about the forward system were shown to be correct and additionally, the extreme proximity of the land caused such difficulties that no engagements were made with the after system either (and this despite all the alternative drills we had been practising!). The damage to our force was: Antrim hit by bomb aft which luckily did not explode. Argonaut two bombs in board did not explode but required “careful” removal. Broadward cannon and machine gun fire into lynx helicopter, made holes in flight deck and damage in hanger. Aircrew hurt but no deaths. Ardent (the best of the T21! – by a long way) was hit by two bombs aft which did go off and after having a fireball explosion she burnt uncontrollably, the crew abandoned ship and she has now sunk. 20+ men died and a further 30 were injured. We were cannoned and machine gunned with hits in the CPO mess/offices heads and showers/Ops Room/sea wolf surveillance office/funnel 3″ ready use locker etc.
In the Ops room (while I was controlling 4 aircraft!) there was one hell of a bang. I was hit on the left-shoulder by a small piece of shrapnel. PO Desmond has a large piece concuss him by passing across his scalp and then breaking a hole the size of an old penny piece in a cabinet. There were some other injuries as well and all of those requiring further investigate were flown off to Canberra. I’m totally ok.
To give you a feel for the situation their Sky Hawks were hunting in 4’s and Mirages in 6’s! All low level and pretty frightening. I’m sure that the ships company were getting pretty fed up not being able to fire sea wolf.
When darkness finally came I was almost worn out but delighted to have escaped so lightly. That night however there was no rest because we were sent off to conduct an SBS insertion by ship and boat near to a suspected airstrip right in the west of the island. Saturday morning started with me going to bed at 5am and up at 8.30am missing breakfast – your chocolate came in v. handy! The problem with this portion food control and then “action” messing is that one can’t really afford to miss a meal! However, sometimes sleep becomes more important!
And so then Saturday (yesterday) – a quiet day but with a lot of CAP A/C to control. Broadsword with Coventry went to the west as advanced picket and this provided a 3 way platform across the Falklands with us in the sound and the carriers (yes you’ve guessed!) well to the East. I sometimes kept control of CAP and sometimes passed them to Coventry for control. This worked pretty well and certainly towards the end of the day, the fire control radar certainly caused a 6 Mirage raid to turn back. We never saw the 2 A/C Sky Hawk raid after its initial detection until it flew over head in poor visibility (where we had all hidden) in Grantham Sound.
Despite my closing two pairs of Harriers – one pair to the north and one pair to the south of the Falkland sound – I never held their Sky Hawks on radar but this was probably because we were in a bowl of hills. This did appear to be a token gesture by the Argis who are obviously under great pressure to maintain their pressure on us. We watch with “interest” to see if their navy will get involved noting that it was their naval CinC who started it all! I suspect the Air Force will be pretty sad with the navy soon and the army even madder once all our troops start moving – I note they supposedly have 4000 men ready to re-inforce the Falklands garrison but they have no way of getting them here!
I believe the Argentineans are currently sending the rest of their air force down to the southern airbases and presume this is to mount another massive air attack as they did on 21st.
A couple of other things happened yesterday. Firstly a CAP A/C under my control proceeding to station on south coast saw an Argentinean FPB which he and his chum then straffed and sunk. Last night between 3-6am we chased a Falkland fishing boat which had been commandeered by the Args. The Lynx came under heavy fire initially and wanted to put two sea skua missiles into it but was told not to as it belonged to an islander. Instead Yarmouth and Brilliant pursued it inshore above until it beached itself in a mass of weed (called Kelp). We fired 4.5 and 40/60 warning shots at it and I gave the boat instructions on VHF radio. After beaching we saw two “boats” come away from the fishing boat and then coming towards us. We sent a troop of SBS to deal with it and them but the boats turned out to be life rafts. These were empty and we sank them. We left the fishing boat aground, partly because of the kelp and partly because of it being a local’s boat. Also it was rather too close to dawn and we felt a little vulnerable on the south coast. We are now (as I write) back with the Carrier Group well out to sea – a lot of cable runs are around the ship to make up for that damaged. It is currently intended to go out of area to the east and get “patched up” and generally repaired in safety before being used again.
Having been away for a while and dashing about in the meantime we were down to 38% fuel but have just completed a RAS so now back to 100% fuel and aviation fuel.
This war is (really) and absurd war. It is likely that the casualties will be out of all proportion to the value of the islands. Brilliant will certainly never be “pretty” again. One listens to the claim and counter claims by the Press and the ridiculous things the Argentineans are saying…! The world service of the BBC/radio newsreel etc are very good particularly those at 1300/1500/1800 it rather sounds as if TV is its usual biased self.
I would like you to know that I have taken S-L’s cherry blossom as a “focus to life” or lucky charm. I “touch” it every day when I think we are going into action as a reminder of what I have back home. I remember you all with love and affection then, and it steels my resolve to return again.
I’m glad the Pope has decided to go to Britain after all – Him not doing so would have represented a coup for Argentina.
HNS Fearless and Yarmouth under attack San Carlos
Sir Bedivere San Carlos
HMS Antelope 24/05/82
Photo Steve Birch (Banzai) HMS Antelope
23 – 27th may Flight Log
A rather depressing period, with many fruitless hours spent ESM patrol whilst BRILLIANT maintained her goalkeeping role on HERMES; albeit with only very temporary cable runs to her weapon systems. 24 survivors were recovered from ATLANTIC CONVEYOR after the Exocet attack on 25 May. Eventually the expected order was received detaching the ship North to join STENNA SEASPREAD for more permanent repairs.
Although we went to Action Stations several times yesterday, and there is almost a desperation among the Argentineans to attack the landing force and the carrier group, the tension out here’s no where near the same as that ashore. In the AOA (Amphibious Operating Area) we were at action stations from 11am to 8pm everyday. That means everybody as their post all that time. This is very wearing on the nerves!
Last night, there was utter pandemonium in the carrier group when a massive explosion occurred close to the north. We suspected a tanker of having been torpedoed and ships were making emergency turns in all directions while the warships struggled to cross “towards the bearing “cross-cut” to investigate. To keep the story short, it turned out to be a Sea Harrier in recovery to Hermes after a night bombing raid. Seemingly a 1000lb bomb exploded underneath and the subsequent fireball lit up the night sky. As we were stationed in close company to Hermes it was not surprising that we were first on the scene. I’m not sure what we were expected to achieve, but we were ordered to stay to search the area (from 11.30pm) to 0400 and until wreckage was found – Not surprisingly no wreckage was found and we are now re joining the Carrier group.
I have included a signal from Broadsword attempting to realign the Admirals air defence policy and offer some air defence (in depth) to our ships in that anchorage. You will notice that many of my thoughts are expressed there. JC decided not to send any signal on his concerns and instead went to Broadsword to discuss my/our views. Broadsword herself delayed signalling for 2½ days but yesterday was undoubtedly too much even for “gentleman” Bill Canning. It appeared that Antelope had her main mast “knocked off” by one 1000lb bomb and another went into the ship but did not explode. I have (just 0800) been told that while attempting to defuse this it exploded and the ship is now sinking and there must be many casualties.
My anger with Woodward is that until pressed v. hard he has steadfast refused to put any air defence assets up threat preferring to keep them all with the carrier group for its defence. The carriers are kept at such a range that the CAP A/C have a long way to transmit before ever with the ships, cannot manage much up threat and have little fuel for actual combat while there.
It is my belief that the Replacement/Reinforcement group arrives today (Bristol etc etc) and I’m going to be v. interested to see if the Admiral tries to keep them as well.
Now MAIL that most important of subjects. It was the original intention that we should be sent out of the threat area to “get repaired” for later action. The Admiral has however (perhaps not surprisingly) decided that despite our having an unreliable computer system we are to stay to defend the Flagship! This means of course that for 50% of any day (at least) we cannot take the systems off line to let the WEs have them and so our repair will be delayed. We have a large number of emergency cable runs about now as a temporary patch to the problem and a lot of wiring will be required to get us top line.
Antrim who managed to get an unexploded bomb off her is going for repair and may take mail with her so I’m trying to get this letter finished and it off to her by then.
I received two letters form you yesterday. One dated the 22 April and one the 10 May! As I note all of your letters, that 5 to 9 inclusive are somewhere else. The problem of going/coming from the Main Group (which we have been doing all the time) is that we tend to miss store/mail etc. Our “missing” mail was sent into the AOA for us and is in the RFA Stromness!
Your letter of 22 Apr
I dare not hope for promotion, let alone at a fixed date because I (and you) know how heartbroken I would be if it then did not happen – I do know however that a cap is v. expensive! Perhaps you would let me repay you in some way? (of my choice!)
Your letter of 10 May
I think that with my replying to your letters, as I receive them that you will see I am getting your letters 0 which are a life line under these trying and frustrating circumstances. Mike Simmonds (wife Vivian) showed me pictures of his daughters – v. sweet but not as beautiful as mine! Mike has shown himself v. cool in a crisis and taking the whole thing very well. I have accused him of taking notes of how we are reacting to stress which he did not deny!
Poor Suzie – she is right of course – we should attack these Argentinean A/C on the ground. Politically, of course this is not acceptable. There was a clandestine raid by helicopter using SAS which failed to attack Rio Grande. You will have heard reports of a helicopter found burnt out on the mainland – neither “we” nor “they” are saying anything about it but we all know and perhaps more important it is causing them strain in the mainland to think we might try again.
I would like you to thank Helen for her card – it was nice of her to write. Please explain that I am only writing to you and why.
What else can I say? The Argis have suffered severe Air losses but we must do better and would if well commanded.
I think of you all and dream of being with you all again.
I remain – Yours forever.
All my Love, Laon
(A big hug and kiss for my girls from me please! xx)
Commenced 24 May 8am
This running note may be v. boring to read but most convenient to write as I can stop/start whenever I have a little spare time. I feel it is most important to record how things are/were! When this is read it will serve as a graphic account of the war in detail and hopefully its human angle. It is not my intention to write history, but it may well be important to reflect the poor quality of those in Senior Command.
The ineffectiveness/fickleness of the Sea Wolf missile and its restricted ability in confined waters are no joke. It is now a joke (but pretty poor one) that we are here to defend the Sea Wolf! I am now in no doubt that we were terribly lucky the other day for, after Sea Wolf failed to engage the A/C we opened up with 40/60 (short range gun) and machine gun.
We missed the A/C but hit the 1000lb bomb after it had been released. It exploded in the air and, apart from showering the ship in shrapnel, (some v. nasty indeed) failed to damage us – Had this hit us, I hesitate to even think what might have happened! – I wonder, should I tell of these things? But what merit if I did not? The important thing is that we scraped though and live to fight another day.
The person I was most concerned about was the Captain as he has this sublime belief that it will be alright on the day despite the fact that it is very wrong at the time. After the second day when I had to be v. pointed to get the ship stationed in a position of some geographic safety I told WEO v. firmly that he was to report the state of his weapons systems factually and not spiced with “rosy glow” (“We’ll probably have that fixed before the next air raid…”). I made it quite plain that he (WEO) would be responsible for keeping us in area and not fully able to defend ourselves.
With great reluctance the Captain then declared the full list of our re-wiring requirements and we were hauled off (albeit to defend the Carriers initially!) to work on the required repair in a less hostile environment. I can understand the Captain not wanting to leave the landing ships “defenceless” by us leaving but I told him that unless he could have a reasonable confidence in his weapons systems then we were simply offering ourselves as a target in lieu. As if to prove the point the system failed 3 times on the next raid while it was in progress!
It had certainly become a stupid situation when, during an air attack men armed themselves and went on upper desk to shoot at the A/C in preference to being down below, where they could only wait, not fire back and might well suffer shrapnel damage from the cone of the blast on detonation.
I hasten to say I do not feel in any way guilty or cowardly in recommending this – I do feel that the Group must complement each others systems and not have the first threat to the Argentinean Air force to be close range weapons systems – this to me is a singular admission of failure and total lack of grip of the Aim to provide adequate air defence to the Amphibious Forces. Coventry today by simply turning her fire control radar on the Mirage raids made them turn away and indeed go home for they do not have much fuel to manoeuvre so far from home.
Despite the appalling and unnecessary losses and damage to our frigates we have made a major inroad into the Argentinean Air force capability. They still have a lot of Skyhawk A/C and so there is certainly a need for us to do more yet but, with the logic of “taking the war to the Enemy” we can easily do this. It does require T42’s and the Cap A/C to be more up threat however.
There is one major advantage to the separation of Captain Black (Invincible) and the Admiral (Hermes) for they have to talk on covered voice communications and we can all “listen in”. Black is a most sensible man and I have agreed with everything he has said and proposed. In my view, it is a pity he is not commanding the forces here. One can certainly sense his frustration as he repeatedly tries to get his v. good ideas through to this “submarine idiot” whose prize remarks about, “Were learning all the time” is certainly getting though to me – He should already have known – I attribute the loss of Sheffield to him for stupid and unnecessary stationing and force positioning within known Etendard / Exocet range.
The frigate losses are also his by his paranoia of defending the Carriers with T42’s which should be up-threat defending the AOA! He really can’t have it both ways, he either keeps the Carriers well out of range or brings them closer to better use his A/C with good defence in depth by T42 escorts – he can’t (with conviction!?) be both out of range and keep all the T42’s!!
Glasgow has suffered poor mechanical problems and her Captain is obviously trying to get her home – in the short term he has been sent to one of the repair vessels and I can’t see them getting into the thick of the battle again.
t is amazing how the ships company bounce back but the tension is not far from their eyes. The difference in stress from being in the AOA to being with the carriers is immense. Enough of this gloom but I feel it important for my thoughts to be “on the record”.
One wonders when will all this end – The Admiral says we may need to maintain forces here for 3 years!
Having an exciting time wish you were here or rather wish I were there. Things have really hotted up now, us the Ardent Argonaut Broadsword antrim escorted the troop ships in. there were quite a few air attacks and we were strafed by a Mirage definitely bad news as since its chippy’s part of the ship so muggins here has spent the past few days blocking all the holes up. Mind you it does have its advantages one hole was in the officers wine store one piece of shrapnel pierced a bottle of liqueur (tasty stuff). The damage wasn’t too bad a few burst pipes and cables severed. Most of which has been repaired. Were now out with the carrier group to get our Sea wolf fixed, and also to protect the carriers since an air raid is expected.
I think I can do without this sort of excitement I would rather go trout fishing.
The foods getting a lot better, although some rather weird menus. Breakfast this morning consisted of tea roll bacon beans fish fingers and kippers and pineapple chunks. Pears yesterday. I could take quite a liking to this tinned fruit. They do it because during daylight hours we only have soup or pot mess. so that it can easily be stowed during an air attack. Last night was a bit tense, Action stations were piped around ten o’clock after an underwater explosion was heard plus a bang and a flash in the sky. It was thought that the Hermes had been hit by a torpedo. What actually happened was a harrier blew up with a full bomb load we don’t know the reason yet. It was a shame about the blokes on the SeaKing that all ditched we were on the upper deck looking for survivors and picked up seven. A couple of them had been in the heli that ditched on South Georgia, twice in one month poor devils.
I don’t think what we are doing is wrong in fact I believe its right. But when your oppo’s carried off in stretchers it make you think how stupid it is for 20,000 blokes to be sent off killing each other, not because they have any animosity towards each other but because in the infinite wisdom of a few government officials it would be politically advantageous. Mankind is sick. This time Britain is in the right and the job has to be done. In the past we haven’t had such a rosy hue, on some occasions. Sorry I’m speech writing again.
Having a sense of humour is a necessity in situations like these, you would crack up otherwise. It relieves the tension to laugh about something. Walking about with a sad head on will do no good. You get a bit hacked off sometimes but not for too long. It’s quite an experience and I’ll learn a lot about myself but it’s a helluva school to learn in. We have just heard the antelope sunk. An unexploded bomb was being diffused I don’t think there will have been many hurt; they have abandoned her except for the disposal experts. The only reason we were in the sound was to draw off the aeroplanes from the troops. Well it certainly worked, a dammed high cost, I know what its like to be canon fodder now.
Nearly 10.00 and still the chippy hasn’t called for me mail is going off at lunch time so maybe he too is writing a few maileys.
We pulled out and went back to carriers chased a motorboat first didn?t sink it because if hostages on board It beached itself in the kelp. They just finished putting Sea Wolf back in order they ?think?
Coventry hit in danger of sinking Broadsword hit aft Suicide alley we call the sound they deserve the fluffy teddy now
Broadsword still talking on the radio not a sound from Coventry Antelope sunk yesterday
Action Stations Super Entards came out from behind islands 2 exocet fired hit Atlantic Conveyor Sinking Spent the night up to about 2300 picking up survivors from a raft dead men floating in the water we picked up 24 out of the life raft —picked up 92 A lot of equipment gone down with that ship. The Coventry and Broadsword asked to be allowed out to 25 Miles because islands causing too much of an echo Admiral said no ?what cost? Is there a god not a chance. The flames of the ship burning can be seen 25 miles away A beautiful clear night the milky way in the sky the ship burning on the horizon so bloody futile Pacific sent out tonight rope caught prop tore it off. Boat was swamped it flooded the engine compartment. Starter done for possibly alternator .We took a bucketful of water out of the sump Ops room saw missiles launched from 26 miles away tracked them until they hit we were just 5000 yds to short to hit them. At least we know we can track them so there’s a good chance of hitting them if it works. Don’t know what’s happening tomorrow possibly taking Broadswords place (great) back to the shooting gallery
End of action stations,
Go to the upperdeck carrying an emergency light,
inky black night,
looming dark ship burning aft,
see the skipper one glance, understanding
Liferaft in the water scrambling net over the side.
beam the light onto orange plastic gently floating by, save him,
Another bad day for us all a very bad day it started off quiet enough, in the morning visibility was down to a matter of feet due to fog also into the late afternoon it was quiet .
Then came a signal heads up west, meaning we knew of aircraft taking off from Argentina on route to the islands and us. We had intelligence saying that they would try for the carriers as it was independence day back in Argentina. Broadsword and Coventry came under attack and brought down some aircraft been hit badly and was in danger of sinking or capsizing. There have been what we believe to be a lot of injuries and many are missing I only hope my friend Willie Preiestly has got out, alright.
Broadsword who had our helicopter on deck had a bomb smash through the helicopter trough part of the flight deck and out the ships side without exploding lucky none was injured. While the rescue attempt were being carried out on Coventry two low aircraft were spotted at about 26 miles away from the force. They released Exocet missiles at 23 miles All the ships fired Chaffe which is just bits of silver paper it worked for a second but the missiles locked on again straight into the stern of the Atlantic Conveyor. Our weapon systems locked onto both the missiles and tracked them all the way in but they were unable to engage them because they were out of range. She was on fire within minutes of being hit and it was getting dark we were told to get in as close as we could and pick up people in liferafts. We picked up a life raft with about 24 in while we were doing this about five floated past, they looked dead a couple had put there survival suits on wrong and were floating feet up. I think they were picked up by helicopter. It was a terrible feeling knowing it could have been you and so it goes on.
Quiet start again but we can’t relax, Antelope SUNK, San Carlos Waters took another battering, Covenrty SUNK, Broadsword damaged (no details)
1800 A/S, Atlantic Conveyor hit by Exocet, Ship has been abandoned, and it is on fire, no hope of saving her.
We had locked on to the Exocet and could have taken it out IF they had of come in range. IF ONLY WE COULD HAVE BEEN CLOSER, I don’t know what to say, FOUR WARSHIPS and the biggest Container Ship GONE and for what I keep asking myself and I’ve yet to find the answer. I can’t explain what I’m feeling at the moment. I can’t express the feeling in words except to say it hurts. I watched that Ship BURN and felt so bloody helpless what a SAD SAD DAY.
I can’t stop thinking ARE WE NEXT???? If not tomorrow WHEN??????
Photo’s www.hmsbroadsword.com HMS Coventry
Nothing much happened we went to an area about 200 miles from the island for some minor damage repairs. For a couple of days we had a bit of a rest and we saw some new films from the ship that was repairing us the Stenna Seaspread. We also got a whole lot of mail including a tape.
Photo Will Daley Stenna Seaspread
We picked up 23 survivors from the Atlantic Conveyor last night and others picked up about 100, there are approx 15 missing believed dead, seems she never sank and some gear was salvaged but that’s not confirmed. Broadsword is not too badly damaged and is back with the Main Force, bomb went through her flightdeck not exploding, no one was hurt. Coventry Sunk, approx 20 dead and 30 injured. My God it is costing us a lot of lives. Bristol Group joined us today, had mail, which cheered me up a little, felt really down, always on edge and it’s beginning to get to me. RAS’d Fuel at 2230.
Where do we go from here? We are losing a ship a day and another being damaged. Yesterday we lost Coventry and the Atlantic Conveyor.
Coventry was seemingly hit by a mass air raid in the “middle” by a bomb, which, I believe, made her quickly capsize. As I write, we have no idea of her casualties but suspect they were considerable. There was a cry for more A/C support from Broadsword which was supplied – but too late.
The Atlantic Conveyor attack was seen clearly in the Ops Room. The missiles were targeted on Ambuscade who fired chaff which appeared to distract the two missiles. These then progressed and their homing heads located the Atlantic Conveyor who was defenceless. I saw the attacking A/C who briefly appeared on radar at 26 miles and fired at 24 miles. Our displacement from Hermes (who we were defending) was just over 1 mile and from Atlantic Conveyor then 4.5 miles. This was not sufficient displacement for us not to think the missiles were coming for us.
The system appeared to work well. We produced auto tracks and were acquired on both systems. We saw both missiles on the after T.V. monitor. They were flying v. low, fast and across us and we saw them hit “Conveyor”. The fire rapidly went out of control and the crew abandoned ship into the life rafts. They were mostly wearing survival suits and in life rafts and we closed towards the area and alongside one life raft.
When we lowered the Pacific sea boat it was onto some dead bodies floating by! They looked so tragic, rather like “day-glow” dolls in their coloured suits and life jackets. Obviously, the cold water had been just too much. We rescued 24 and Alacrity 96 – Hermes 10 and so on. The final total and names are still being amassed.
On the sonar we could hear the explosions inside the ship and in the black of the night its sides melting with the heat into the sea. This ship had been about to go into the Amphibious Operating Area to load much needed stores, food, fuel, helicopters, bulldozers – A whole “tented City” for ground force Harrier operations etc – In short we could ill afford to have lost her in the shore battle for the Islands – let alone for the cost in lives involved.
Coventry had been operating with Broadsword north of Pebble Island – despite having stated that a T42 should operate no closer than 25 miles from land, Coventry was at 9 miles! On the second A/C attack, she passed across the Sea Wolf missile path and stopped Broadsword engaging! It’s all if this had happened or if that…. Yesterday the ifs went v. badly for us!
And what of today? We had the survivors of the Atlantic Conveyor on all day. They slept on camp beds in the wardroom last night – and were supposed to be flown of to British Tay this evening but a possible air raid developed and it all got cancelled, so they stay another night.
The nerves are pretty thin at the moment and to say I have black rings under my eyes would certainly be to understate the case! After the Exocet attack yesterday we are just a little rattled back here – it is a deadly missile and we have heard that Peru and Iraq (!) are selling them to Argentina – Also France is selling parts and South Africa some missiles.
There is a lot of money in war and a very useful test bed for new weapons systems. Its not too funny being on the end of them ‘though.
We were under surveillance from the Argentinean 707 and I must confess I insisted on our remaining at Action Stations until dark. This means that a lot of chaps miss a lot of sleep. If you are right, they all think “what a clever chap” if not they naturally grumble. After yesterdays attack however, there were not too many grumbles!
As I write I’m waiting (now 11.15pm) for another ship to finish a fuel replenishment before we commence – I expect to get to bed at about 2am – I might miss breakfast tomorrow and get up at 8!
Much more important, now that new ships have joined the group and Stromness rejoined after taking our mail to us in the AOA. I organized our helo to go to collect it all. It was in 4 different ships! Needless to say that the Harriers have done amazingly well but they are terribly limited in range and rather tie us to limited maneuverability and sea room. Also they can’t zoom about to react to a problem quickly or else they have no fuel when they get there. They are as good as the A/C control given to them and v. good once they get close – particularly at low level.
Mike Simmonds (our tame doctor) has settled in v. well. I’ve been using him as duty staff officer opposite Bob Davidson and so he had been v. aware of everything going on operationally which has pleased him.
The strain of Action Stations routine is mainly the lack of sleep and incredible heartbeat/dry mouth situation when one is under attack and anxious to do the right thing, not just for yourself but also for your shipmates.
Continued Thursday 27th: The RAS finished at 3am last night so I got up at 9.30 this morning – we have intelligence that the surface action group of the Arg Navy are to sail (perhaps this afternoon) to the Falklands. However, because of the of the damage done to our Exocet wiring we are not nominated as one of the pre-formed action groups against it. This was, I suppose, pretty inevitable, as the Args could hardly stay in “home waters” forever. Presumably they either thought their Air Force could win it alone or their aim was to weaken our surface forces before committal. Either way the removal of units from the AOA/Carrier Group is bound to weaken our overall defences…We’ll watch this space.
This war by press with arms dealers trying to come in with their latest weapons systems is pretty hard to take. It is a Politician’s war however and they need to maintain their poll ratings and popular support and, as a result our strengths, weakness and intentions together with options appear to be a discussion point for the Args to gain valuable information.
How does one feel? Somewhat impotent – waiting – hoping – praying. But even more of being just small pawns on the table of International politics and intrigue.
Once we have our reinforcement troops from QE2 it will be over for the Args and we are close (within 2 weeks certainly) of major last ditch finish from them. They obviously feel v. strongly about all this with a fierce national pride. Their Air Force has suffered badly and if we can damage their Navy then things may change quickly.
My mind’s at peace and my spirit is with you all. Despite the “principles” involved and my highly professional training I am revolted by this war. It’s tragic loss of life and how quickly it is lost – often not to the enemy at all but to the elements (the dark, the tiredness and the sea).
Going back to the main Taskforce this afternoon should get there by tomorrow morning. You heard that the Atlantic conveyor went down, we picked up 24 survivors and one of the 21’s picked up 92. Amazing some many survivors as two Exocet hit it. One guy we had on board was 20ft away from where it entered the hull it didn’t explode until later when the fire caused by the second blew it up. The boys in the op’s room tracked it all the way in; we were just five thousand yards short to take it out with Sea wolf. This repair ship we are by is a weird looking thing. Flat bottomed three screws and two bow thrusters. It can keep within five meters of a ship in a force 10. It looks hellish top heavy, the lads who came across said it wasn’t too bad at all stability wise.
28 – 29th May Flight Log
Repairs were completed in 36 Hours with all the ships holes being welded and a number of defects to the weapon systems rectified. The aircraft flew a number of surface search sorties to the NW after some intelligence suggested an Argentine navy ” Dirty Dash” towards the CVBG was possible. This did not materialise and the ship rejoined the CVBG overnight29/30 May
Spent last few days with Stena Seaspray, doing repairs and maintenance. Very quite, nice break, lots of hard work to do. Head South to Main Group some time today, R V with Force at midnight!! Good news concerning Troops ashore Darwin, Teal Bay, Douglas and Goose Green taken. Bad News 15 MEN lost doing it.
Made it back OK from San Carlos Waters, but have to go in again tonight with another 4 Merchant Ships, should be out again before daylight, very quiet day thankfully!!
Photo Simon Stearman Stenna Seaspread
31/05/82 (Letter Home – Bill Oddy)
Dear Mum and Dad
Received the parcels a couple of days ago ‘Thank you’ The books will definitely come in handy since I’ve been bunged back on DC Patrol for another three weeks. The fudge I guzzled all by myself, excellent stuff.
Quite a few things have been happening down here. You have of course heard the Coventry has sunk whilst in suicide alley at least that’s what we call it. The Atlantic Conveyor was just 5000 yds too far away for our Seawolf to hit the Exocet. We picked up 24 survivors out of a life raft and the Alacrity picked up 92, amazing since she took two Exocet. One didn’t explode until the fire got to it. These things aim for the largest mass so the both hit aft in the accommodation section. One guy we had onboard was just twenty feet away from where the missile came through the bulkhead. (The one that didn’t explode) We had to manouver the ship up to the life rafts since the pacific was swamped. The chippy and I spent half the night up there fixing the engine changing the oil in the sump, which was mixed with a bucket full of seawater. (Not the best of lubricants) The alternator and starter were also needed replacing.
The past couple of days we have been with the Stenna Seaspread that North Sea repair ship having all the holes welded up and the seawolf system rewired for the fwd system. It’s weird contraption 3 screws and 2 bow thrusters it can stay within 5 meters of a ship in a gale. Quite a handy gadget in weather like this.
The troops seem to be doing well ashore which is good news 1400 prisoners so far the quicker they get the job done the quicker we all go home or rather some of us anyway. It still seems likely we are going to be left. Whilst on chippy’s party I was back to my old hobby box making when I come home I’m going to splash out on some woodworking tools I might even get a band saw and a jigsaw is a definite must. If I can cut nearly straight lines with this roll then they should be straight as a die when you don’t have to worry about your own position as well as the wood to worry about.
Julie has got a job in London and should be moving there at the end of June also Fiona wrote and said she is moving to London as well as she has got a job in ST Georges Hospital.
Marks mother wrote to say good luck and tell me all the local gossip It seems Mark wishes he were down here I suppose I would in his shoes but the reality is slightly different. Catrina wrote too telling me her parents are splitting up, she’s been working in Bendalls and has just to her final interview to be trained as a buyer which is good news. Things must be pretty bad when you’re ex girlfriend writes to you; it was nice of her though.
Keep well and I hope business is thriving.