Falklands War Day by Day Account

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Retaking of Falkland 26th - 29thMay 1982

May 26th - British Paratroopers and Marines moved out of their beachhead at San Carlos Bay in an offensive against Argentine troops in the Falkland Islands. It appeared that the British troops had encountered some ground resistance that continued through the day. And a communique issued in Buenos Aires said the beachhead had been struck before dawn by bombers based on the Argentine mainland. Britain has said it landed 5,000 troops to establish the beachhead, and about 3,000 are believed to have been employed in today's offensive. The Paratroopers were heading south toward Darwin and Goose Green and had fought a battle against Argentine infantry. Another said the Paratroopers, together with Commandos of the Special Air Service, had seized the Goose Green airstrip. Defence Ministry officials said the marines were moving east, toward Stanley, the islands' main settlement. The British offensive was preceded by a heavy concentration of firepower. Harrier jets dropped cluster bombs on Argentine positions and strafed them with 30-millimeter cannon. They were supported by 105-millimeter howitzers and 81-millimeter mortars. May 28th - The battle which followed lasted throughout the day and night of the 28th. It was fought over very open ground, and against an enemy who withdrew slowly through fixed positions prepared in depth. Furthermore, the Argentines had significant artillery and anti-aircraft guns at their disposal. British support, on the other hand, was becoming problematical. The promised Harriers had been delayed due to fog and poor flying conditions and HMS Arrow was supposed to be providing support but her gun had jammed after firing its first shot. Worse was to occur when the BBC broadcast British intentions of attacking at Goose Green before the attack had even started. Despite all these comedies of error, the Paras launched their attack against the much larger defending force.
When the Argentine defences appeared to hold up the Paras attack Lt. Col. H. Jones, CO of 2 Para, helped assault the position with his HQ unit but was hit and later died of his wounds. He would later receive the Victoria Cross for his bravery. The paras were finding that they had to improvise their tactics by using mortars to soften up the Argentines before assaulting them and by using Anti-Tank missiles as portable artillery to take out strong points in the trenches. More artillery had to be brought in to help maintain the attack. Darwin was taken by mid-morning on the 28th. Goose Green airfield was in British hands by the afternoon, but the majority of the Argentine force were still functioning and following orders. The final surrender of Argentines at Goose Green was achieved through a remarkable piece of diplomacy by Manor Chris Keeble acting CO after the death of 'H' Hones, and the Spanish-speaking Captain Rod Bell RM. Keeble sent two captured Argentine NCOs forward under a flag of truce with an appeal to Air Commodoro Wilson Pedrozo, the enemy commander, that as a Catholic he should spare the lives of his men. Additionally Keeble wished to secure the liberation of the Falkland Islanders kept in poor conditions in a hut nearby. Pedrozo made it clear that wished to have an opportunity to have a full parade and to be allowed to address his men formally. During this parade he praised his men for their bravery before ordering them to lay down their arms and surrender. The paras were amazed to see just how many Argentines surrendered. It was only now that they discovered that they had fought and won a battle at odds of two to one against. To the relief of the Falkland Islanders kept cooped up in terrible conditions, they were freed and welcomed their liberators. The casualty figures showed how the training and motivation of 2 Para had paid off: they had lost 13 killed and 34 wounded, against 250 enemy dead and missing and about 150 wounded. This was despite the fact that they were attacking a numerically larger force with significantly more equipment and assets at their disposal. The government was happy to have received their 'good news story' and the remaining Argentinian defending forces came to realise what they were up against.
29th May - The final surrender of Argentines at Goose Green was achieved through a remarkable piece of diplomacy by Major Chris Keeble, acting CO after the death of 'H' Hones, and the Spanish-speaking Captain Rod Bell RM. Keeble sent two captured Argentine NCOs forward under a flag of truce with an appeal to Air Commodoro Wilson Pedrozo, the enemy commander, that as a Catholic he should spare the lives of his men. Additionally Keeble wished to secure the liberation of the Falkland Islanders kept in poor conditions in a hut nearby. Pedrozo made it clear that wished to have an opportunity to have a full parade and to be allowed to address his men formally. During this parade he praised his men for their bravery before ordering them to lay down their arms and surrender. The paras were amazed to see just how many Argentines surrendered. It was only now that they discovered that they had fought and won a battle at odds of two to one against. To the relief of the Falkland Islanders kept cooped up in terrible conditions, they were freed and welcomed their liberators. The casualty figures showed how the training and motivation of 2 Para had paid off: they had lost 13 killed and 34 wounded, against 250 enemy dead and missing and about 150 wounded. This was despite the fact that they were attacking a numerically larger force with significantly more equipment and assets at their disposal. The government was happy to have received their 'good news story' and the remaining Argentinian defending forces came to realise what they were up against.