Crossed The Bar
Falklands RN - KIA
Falklands War Day by Day Account
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The Falklands War
Retaking of South Georgia 11th to 26th April 1982
During this period as the Task Force heads South no activity reported on many of the days hence the gap in the dates below.
- The task group sailed from Ascension on 11 April, pausing to redistribute the SAS troops between ships on the 13 April. The final disposition was that M Company were on the tanker RFA Tidespring, 2 SBS, and the Mountain and Boat Troops SAS on the frigate, HMS Plymouth, with the rest of D Squadron on the destroyer HMS Antrim Finally, 6 SBS were embarked in the submarine HMS Conqueror. This group, known as CTG 317.9, was commanded by Captain Brian Young of Antrim
19th April -
HMS Conqueror reported on patrol in South Atlantic
- An RAF Victor from Ascension made the first radar reconnaissance flight off the coast.
arrived off South Georgia. Mountain Troop was put down safely on Fortuna Glacier at mid-day by the three Wessex available. Forced to camp overnight in blizzard conditions, attempts were made to pick up the men next morning, but as the helicopters flew up the glacier in atrocious weather, they had to return to refuel. Next time in, the men were lifted off, but in the blinding snow. Both of RFA Tidespring’s Wessex Helicopters crashed becoming the first British aircraft losses. Then HMS Antrim's, skilfully piloted by Lt Cmdr. Stanley first unloaded his passengers and eventually managed to rescue the stranded men in one over-loaded lift later that afternoon. To make up the losses, HMS Brilliant was detached from the Task Force with her two Lynx.
- Late in the night from HMS Antrim out in Stromness Bay, SAS Boat Troop headed in for Grass Island, but again with near fatal results. Five Gemini assault craft set out in the dark, but two broke down and were reported missing next morning. HMS Antrim's Wessex was once again to the rescue and soon found one of the crews, but the other was not located until after the surrender when their rescue beacon was activated. All this time the SBS were no more fortunate in their first attempts to approach Grytviken. Accounts somewhat differ, but apparently they landed at Hound Bay from HMS Endurance early in the morning, and made their way across Sorling Valley before trying to cross Cumberland Bay East by Gemini. Stopped by glacier ice, they laid up, were later picked up and reportedly landed at Moraine Fiord by Wasp. Tanker RFA Brambleleaf arrived and started to refuel RFA Tidespring.
23rd April -
Friday morning the SAS men were in position near Leith, Tanker RFA Brambleleaf arrived and started to refuel RFA Tidespring but in a sub alert she broke away damaging some of her gear.
24th April -
The transfer was completed and the tanker headed for England. Then the Task Group was warned that the Argentine Submarine Santa Fe (Lt Cmdr. Bicain) was on her way into Grytviken with men and supplies. Apart from HMS Endurance which stayed close to the coast amongst the ice, the ships headed away taking with them the main landing force of M Company and 42 Commando on RFA Tidespring. An Argentine 707 flew over HMS Endurance and the Task Force Ships HMS Antrim, HMS Plymouth and the newly arrived HMS Brilliant were ordered to close South Georgia to deal with the submarine threat leaving RFA Tidespring some 200 miles away in comparative safety. Armed with a variety of weapons, the ship's helicopters prepared to hunt down the submarine which got into Grytviken that evening.
25th April -
As Argentine Submarine Santa Fe headed out on the surface, she was spotted off Cumberland Bay by Lt Cmdr. Stanley's Wessex. Near-missed by two Mk.11 depth charges and with some damage, the submarine limped back towards Grytviken. As she did, one of HMS Brilliant's Lynx attacked with a Mk.46 torpedo, the two HMS Endurance Wasps (Flight Commander, Lt Cmdr. Ellerbeck) fired AS.12 missiles hitting her fin. HMS Plymouth's Wasp fired another AS.12 and both of HMS Brilliant's Wasps strafed with machine guns. The warships meanwhile headed for the action at high speed. Although the attacks only slightly damaged the Argentine Submarine Santa Fe and wounded one crewman, by noon she was abandoned alongside the jetty at King Edward Point. Later, on being moved to Grytviken, one of Argentine Submarine Santa Fe crew was shot and killed in the mistaken belief he was trying to scuttle the boat.
With the submarine's return and the potential defenders now numbering some 140, the decision was made to land whatever force could be mustered under covering naval gunfire and without waiting for the bulk of M Company to arrive on RFA Tidespring. Under the command of Major Sheriden RM, a company of 75 men was assembled from the SAS, SBS and other Royal Marines with Major Delves and Capt. Nunn RM as troop commanders. In the early afternoon from out in Cumberland Bay and under the control of a naval gunfire observer landed by HMS Endurance's Wasp, HMS Antrim and HMS Plymouth laid down a 4.5 inch barrage all around the Argentine positions at King Edward Point. Landed by HMS Antrim's Wessex and HMS Brilliant's two Lynx at Hestesletten, the first wave of the ad hoc force advanced through the whaling station at Grytviken and across an unsuspected minefield towards the BAS base. As they approached, white flags were hoisted and around 5 pm local time. The Argentines surrendered without a shot being fired. When contacted by radio, the small detachment of marines at Leith under the command of Lt Cmdr. Astiz refused to surrender.
26th April –
HMS Endurance and HMS Plymouth sailed along to Leith and the Marines gave in. TFA Tidespring now with nearly 150 Argentine POW's and the 40 civilian workers from Leith embarked, and escorted by "Antrim" did not head north for Ascension until Sunday 2nd. A disappointed M Company 42 Commando stayed on to garrison South Georgia, and HMS Endurance remained as guard ship.