Buzz that Hermes lost helo last night.
Better get this posted then darling. I’m not sure what chance we’ll get for mail again after this, and I’m sorry this letter has been so short but I’ve a feeling this is going to be a long night for me.
24/04/82 (Grahams Diary)
We arrived in the area around the island earlier than expected and we did a RAS for more fuel very cold now but sea has calmed down considerably. We have been told there is a submarine in the area, so the atmosphere slightly edgy at the moment.
HMS Conqueror transferring SBS (IWM)
Submarine in area orders to sink us when we land or now. We can only passively hear sub when she charges her batteries at night. Not using active sonar so as to not draw attention to us.
Wessex found submarine inshore our helicopter going to sink it
Closed up at action stations Arg sub 16 miles south of Cumberland Bay running for it (on surface) attacked by Wessex slight damage our Lynx missed with a Mk46 torpedo SW122 12 c attack being
Carried out by Plymouths Lynx Two near misses with Mk 2 Depth charges (Wessex.) Plymouths Wasp hit finSub alongside King Edwards point jetty smoke billowing out Argentineans running about lads seem unconcerned that we are killing people . In mouth Of Cumberland Bay, Antrim and Plymouth 6 miles behind.
Argentineans mounting guns on headland Captain going over to Antrim to have discussions on whether to land Skipper pressing hard for it (6 Miles along coast) oil pouring out of sub.
Photo Tony Smith Santa Fae running for Grytvicken
25th April : OPERATION PARAQUAT
0830- Having R/V with the ANTRIM Group, one a/c launched to search North coast of South Georgia (possible FPB threat) .
0855– ANTRIM Wessex 3 sighted and attacked S/M SANTA FE with Depth Charge.
0905– BRILLIANT Lynx 341 (BRYANT/BUTLER) joined the Wessex and launched Mk 46 Torpedo attack against surfaced s/m (s/m Captain later disclosed hearing MK 46 circling below). S/m remained on the surface because of torpedo threat. Continued attacking with GPMG, and s/m returned machine -gun fire. Having reversed course to return to Grytviken Santa Fe abandoned the fin and continued navigation by periscope.
0930– Second Lynx 342 launched (CLARK/McKay) armed only with GPMG.
ENDURANCE Wasp achieved hit with AS12 on S/m fin. Both Lynx continued strafing as the S/m continued in towards Grytviken.
1015– Plymouths Wasp carried out AS12 attack with some success.
1100-Santa Fe alongside, damaged, oil escaping and smoking -appeared to be settling in the water as the crew escaped. 342 recovered for role change (to trooping), whilst 341 carried out search along the coast for possible FPB threat in very poor weather conditions. 342 re-launched to ANTRIM for assault briefing, and 341 recovered shortly afterwards at 1300
1430- 341 (BRYANT/BUTLER/EDWARDS )launched from BRILLIANT, 342 (CLARK/McKay) from ANTRIM. and joined ANTRIM Wessex 3 (STANLEY/PARRY) for assault on Grytviken. After being led in by the Wessex, the Lynx carried out a high speed troop landing of SAS and Royal Marines. Meanwhile ANTRIM and PLYMOUTH conducted heavy and effective NGS around the enemy positions.
1715– Declaration of surrender of Argentine Forces ashore in South Georgia. Both aircraft continued trooping and vertrep ashore until 1930.
2100– Lynx 342 (BRYANT BUTLER) launched to carry out surface search to seaward to counter possible surface threat. Found only icebergs in very poor visibility – after second low level probe on a high level iceberg conditions became to treacherous to continue, and the Lynx recovered at 2330.
Troops embarking into 342 from Antrims flightdeck
Photo Malcolm Smith Antrim and Plymouth Bombarding Argentine Positions 25/04/82
IWM HMS Antrim NGS
Photo IWM HMS Brilliant in the gun smoke
Photo Craig McDermott View from Endurance HMS Antrim NGS
Photo Kirk Antrim and Plymouth landing troops 25/04/82
We have now taken South Georgia a beautiful place high rugged mountain peaks with glaciers running off them into the sea. Massive albatrosses with 5 foot wingspans gliding effortlessly over the waves. The whaling station isn’t much to look at but a few buildings and a jetty with a tilting submarine by it. I’m writing a daily diary so that will explain exactly what’s happened as I’m not allowed to tell you yet. Tomorrow a hundred or so SAS blokes are coming on board to be carried to the Falklands about 20 in each mess (no more model building for me when I come off watch).There definitely a load of animals, wild eyed and intelligent too. It’s certainly going to be cramped.
I’ve taken some great photos I just hope they come out. We are not going to receive any mail until we reach the main task force. I think there are 13 mail bags waiting for us.
The casualties haven’t been bad here. One stoker (Argentinean) got killed by a booty and one got his leg blown off the former was a mistake which is sad. War is definitely a pointless exercise all be it necessary in these circumstances. I’ve a six hours on and six hours off life at the moment which isn’t so bad although I do lose track of whether its night or day and what day it is. I’ve been commissioned by the chief stoker to draw a picture of a yacht he won a race in he wants to pay me cash but I think I’ll get him to give me some black and white film instead and he’ll develop it as well.
Photo Mark HMS Antrim
Photo HMS Endurance
Photo Kirk HMS Antrim
Well the last two days have been pretty hectic and we have taken South Georgia. We were aware that there was a likely submarine threat in the area and joined this group late to supplement their helicopter and ASW assets. Antrim who was I/C is not impressive organizationally – we have been watching their signals for some time and that for this or that reason the landings could not go ahead.
We were not surprised to fine the submarine Sante Fe on the surface at first light yesterday or that she was off Cumberland Bay (or indeed that she was taking re-enforcements in). Antrim was all for holding off at the Torpedo Danger Range even after the submarine had been damaged but we charged in so Antrim and Plymouth followed (needless to say, that is not the way Antrim’s signals read!
Despite being hit by a depth charge, GPMG fire and 2 Wasp launched AS12 missiles the Sub. Co. took the submarine alongside. Amazingly Antrim wanted to delay again! John Coward went over and ‘excited’ them a little so shore bombardment was then conducted – followed by rapid troop re-enforcement
The Argentineans in Grytviken did give up pretty quickly (I think it was the naval gunfire which made their minds up for them) and the men on the ground took over. Antrim failed to get enough men in (despite having plenty) and so some 80 ended up guarding some 120+. Meanwhile Plymouth + Endurance went round to Leith and the Argentine Civilians surrendered immediately. The 16 Arg. Marines surrendered after the dawn landing the next day (today).
Today the Captain has been off the ship for most of the day. He was tasked with scuttling/destroying the submarine but found that, despite being in a fairly dangerous state, it had enough battery power to drive away from the Jetty and further up and away – so leaving the Jetty free. The Argentine CO + XO + Crew of 6/7 agreed to help and I saw the submarine moving up the bay with Captain John up on the fin.
Things went wrong however because of one trigger happy Marine! Basically, the submarine was listing to port and possibly going to turn over. The Crew were down below with the Royal Marines watching them v. carefully. On the fin (bridge) was JC “guarding” and the Arg. CO. As the submarine went ahead in the final stages of the manoeuvre the Arg. CO. called down the hatch into the dimly lit interior and one crew member started winding off on valves (presumably doing what he had been told). The Marine guarding him promptly shot him though the head (!) and then ran up the hatch still shooting his pistol shouting “It’s going to sink” – “Get me off”. Obviously off his rocker – all had gone so well. No dead – one Argentinean with leg shot off just above knee by an AS12 missile and a couple of “walking wounded”. Now, however, one of their Prisoners of War while helping us has been shot. It is most regrettable and has soured the whole campaign.
I think that perhaps the whole thing when viewed that these had been cooped up for 3 weeks when then knew they could win the war on their own and it was all we could do to stop them doing this when the Argentineans hoisted their white flag!
One of the chaps brought me back a harpoon end – God its heavy – I’m going to have it cleaned up and given to the mess. (I don’t know what I could do with it!)
It is now 9pm – we have been under surveillance by Argentinean A/C three times today and been to action stations at 5.30pm when one closed to 45 miles – we had every intention of engaging it had it come in range but perhaps fortunately it did not.
What now – well we will embark 83 SAS tonight and do a fuel replenishment prior to being invited to re join the main battle group for the Falklands phase. I hope it does not come to this but it is really so much bigger than this operation itself. It is really about the Free World and its defence…
Photo’s Duchy Cumberland Bay
Captain Coward , Argentine Captain Bicain
Now at action stations again, there surveillance aircraft closing from 75 miles Antrim has been given it for a Seaslug target . Earlier this morning the skip was driving the Arg sub or rather backed it out . It now looks like Tidespring is getting 130 booty’s . The Chief Stoker now selling Black and white film which he will process and print for £ 5 as he has a monopoly on film since he bought the whole of the NAFFIs stock soon after we left Gib he’s onto a good thing.
It seems the skipper asked the Arg sub to move his away from the jetty on the island so it would not sink .In the process of moving it the Arg first Liet thought the sub was sinking, so he shouted down to one of the crew to blow one of the tanks to keep her afloat . The booty who was guarding the crewman thought he was trying to sink her so he shot him dead
Fell Out from Action stations Its definite now we are getting SAS SBS on board although how many we don’t know yet they should be embarking tonight.
Photo Bill Stb Waist
26/4/82 Steve (Taff)
0530 The 16 Argies in Leith surrender. Skipper went ashore to move the Santa -Fe away from the jetty, it is badly damaged. HMS Conquror came in with stores for the troops. Continue airlift of stores, we can expect around 80 SAS onboard for trip to the Falklands. Antrim, Endurance and Tidespring heading North to Ascension with Prisoners, Brilliant and Plymouth head off to join Main Task Force.
Photo Chris Sherman Brilliant Cumberland Bay
IWM Argentine Surrender on board HMS Plymouth
Santa Fe before being moved away from Jetty
Photo Chris Sherman Chris and a gentleman from the SAS