Falklands War Day by Day Account

For further information visit Wikipedia or a more detailed account can be found at The Falklands War

Retaking of Falkland 1st May - 12th May 1982

May 1st - Saw the British try to provoke some kind of response. With some remarkable long range flying and major refuelling efforts, a Vulcan bomber dropped 21 1,000lb bombs in and around the airport at Port Stanley. This attack was then followed up by a dozen Harriers swooping in to hit radar and anti-aircraft defences at Port Stanley and Goose Green. Then, three ships were brought in close enough to bombard the coastline and Argentinian positions. It was at this point that the Argentinians finally took the bait. Four Mirage IIIs came swooping in to attack these British ships. However, another flight of Harriers was waiting to intercept any air assets. The Mirage IIIs did get to drop their bombs with minimal damage, but as they rose after the attack, the Harriers swooped down on them. On paper, the Mirages were far faster than the Harriers, but the manoueverability, pilot skill and the height advantage was more than enough to compensate.  Two Mirages were shot down immediately, a third was actually shot down by the Argentinians' own defences. A fourth plane, a Canberra, was shot down en route to the combat zone.
First blood had gone to the Royal Navy.  Argentine Cruiser General Belgrano is shadowed by British SSN HMS Conqueror.
May 2nd - Argentina's only cruiser, the General Belgrano, has been sunk by a British nuclear submarine in the South Atlantic.  It is the first serious attack on the Argentine navy by the British since the conflict over the disputed Falkland Islands began last month.  The second largest ship in the Argentine navy was struck by two Tigerfish torpedoes from HMS Conqueror. It is thought there were about 1,000 men on board.
British helicopters also sank a patrol boat and damaged another using Seaskua air-to-surface missiles.  Chances of anyone being found are limited with reports of 30-foot high waves and icy conditions.  The Belgrano, an old World War II ship, was reported to have been severely damaged this morning.  News that she had actually sunk came as the Defence Secretary, John Nott, was answering questions from journalists this afternoon.  The Belgrano was outside the 200-mile total exclusion zone at the time of the attack and Mr Nott was asked whether the bombing was therefore justified.  He replied: "The General Belgrano was a threat to our men and therefore it is quite correct that she was attacked by our submarines."  Mr Nott said the past week had been a successful one for British armed forces, but that the overriding aim was a peaceful and lasting settlement. 
May 4th - The first British Harrier to be shot down over Goose Green by Anti-aircraft fire. This was a blow, but not a totally unexpected one. However the attack on the fleet later that same day was to be far more shocking to the British. HMS Sheffield was to be struck by an exocet missile. HMS Sheffield was thought to be one of the more modern battleships in the Royal Navy and was supposed to be responsible for dealing with the threat of air and missile attacks. And yet, the speed with which it was attacked and sunk surprised everyone. It is believed that the explosives in the missile did not actually go off, but the speed that the it was travelling at and the fuel it was carrying was enough to cause severe damage on the ship. Furthermore, the plastic cabling, deep fat fryers, and other flammable equipment on board in order to make life easier for the crew all compounded to turn the ship into a burning hulk. This was to be the first Royal Naval ship to be sunk in battle since the Second World War.
Special Tribute to LRO(EW) Bernie Still and AB(EW) Stephen Hayes KIA on HMS Sheffield 04/05/1982. 
Over the six days from 4 May 1982, five inspections were made to see if any equipment was worth salvaging. Orders were issued to shore up the hole in HMS Sheffield's starboard side and tow the ship to South Georgia Before these orders were effected, the burnt-out hulk had already been taken in tow by the Rothesay-class frigate HMS Yarmouth. The high seas that the ship was towed through caused slow flooding through the hole in the ship's side. The ship sank at 53°04′S 56°56′W.  On 10th May 1982, the first Royal Navy vessel sunk in action since World War II. Twenty of her crew (mainly on duty in the galley area and in the computer room) died as a result of the attack. The wreck is a war grave and designated as a protected place under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.
May 6th - Two Harriers from HMS Invincible were lost when they collided with one another in poor weather. Both pilots were killed.  The next couple of days saw the Royal Navy reassert itself after the troubling few days. Sea Dart and Sea Wolf would prove that they could shoot down planes if they were picked up at the right height and with enough warning. In fact, it was found to be useful to join a Sea Dart armed ship with a Sea Wolf armed one as they compensated for the other's.
7th May - The difficulties of maintaining a total blockade are considerable. It is now known that one Argentinian resupply ship arrived in the Islands and the Argentinian Air Force managed to maintain a limited air bridge until shortly before the final surrender. Nevertheless, politically the establishment of the Total Exclusion Zone was consistent with the Government's efforts to ensure the peaceful withdrawal of the Argentinian forces, while militarily it inhibited the Argentinian ability to reinforce and resupply their forces and limited their movement. Additional measures were also considered appropriate. Accordingly, on 7 May the Government informed the Argentinian Government that any of their warships or military aircraft found more than 12 miles from their own coast would be treated as hostile and the appropriate action taken. This move was necessary because of the threat posed by their carrier-borne aircraft and the ease with which hostile forces could approach the Task Force.
12th May - RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 sets sail carrying 3,000 troops to the South Atlantic. She was refitted in Southampton in preparation for war service, including the installation of two helicopter pads, the transformation of public lounges into dormitories, the installation of fuel pipes that ran through the ship down to the engine room to allow for refueling at sea, and the covering of carpets with 2,000 sheets of hardboard. A quarter of the ship’s length was reinforced with steel plating, and an anti-magnetic coil was fitted to combat naval mines. Over 650 Cunard crew members volunteered for the voyage to look after the 3,000 members of the Fifth Infantry Brigade, which the ship transported to South Georgia. During the voyage the ship was blacked out and the radar switched off to avoid detection, steaming on without modern aids.