Falklands War Day by Day Account

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Retaking of Falkland 30th May 1982

30th May - The first engagement during the Assault of Mount Kent occurred during the night of 29–30 May 1982 when Captain Andres Ferrero's 3rd Assault Section from 602 Commando Company ran into a British patrol from D Squadron 22nd Special Air Service on the slopes of Mount Kent. The British took control of the situation, but at the cost of two wounded SAS troopers.
Throughout the day the Royal Air Force Harriers were active over Mount Kent. One of them, Harrier XZ963, flown by Squadron Leader Jerry Pook in responding to a call for help from D Squadron, attacked Mount Kent's eastern lower slopes, and that led to its loss through small-arms fire. Pook was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The radio operator in Captain Tomas Fernandez's 2nd Assault Section, First Sergeant Alfredo Flores sent out the following radio message from the slopes of Bluff Cove Peak at about 5 PM on 30 May: "We are in trouble" and then forty minutes later: "There are English all around us... you had better hurry up"  First Lieutenant Márquez and Sergeant Blas from the 2nd Assault Section, had at around 11 am local time on 30 May, shown great personal courage and leadership in the patrol battle that took place on Bluff Cove Peak and were posthumously awarded the Argentine Nation Valor in Combat Medal. The Argentine Commandos under Captain Fernandez had literally stumbled on a camp occupied by 15 SAS troopers. On Mount Simon, Captain Jose Arnobio Verseci's 1st Assault Section, listening to Captain Fernandez's patrol attempts to escape the British encirclement, decided to abandon the feature and attempt to link up with the 601st Combat Engineer Battalion forces guarding Fitzroy.
The Argentine Navy used their last AM39 Exocet missile attempting to attack HMS Invincible. There are Argentine claims that the missile struck; however, the British have denied this, some citing that HMS Avenger shot it down. When HMS Invincible returned to the UK after the war, she showed no signs of missile damage.
31 May, the Mountain & Artic Warfare Cadre of 3 Commando Brigade defeated Argentine Special Forces at the skirmish at Top Malo House. A 13-strong Argentine Army Commando detachment (Captain José Vercesi's 1st Assault Section, 602nd Commando Company) found itself trapped in a small shepherd's house at Top Malo. The Argentine commandos fired from windows and doorways and then took refuge 200 metres away from the burning house, in a stream bed.  Completely surrounded, they fought 19 Mountain & Artic Warfare Cadre marines under Captain Rod Boswell for 45 minutes until, with their ammunition almost exhausted, they elected to surrender.  Three Cadre members were badly wounded. On the Argentine side, there were two dead, including Lieutenant Ernesto Espinoza and Sergeant Mateo Sbert (who were posthumously decorated for their bravery). Only five Argentines were left unscathed. As the British mopped up Top Malo House, Lieutenant Fraser Haddow's M&AWC patrol came down from Malo Hill, brandishing a large Union Flag. One wounded Argentine soldier, Lieutenant Horacio Losito, commented that their escape route would have taken them through Haddow's position.  601st Commando tried to move forward to rescue 602nd Commando Company on Estancia Mountain. Spotted by 42 Commando, they were engaged with L16 81mm mortars and forced to withdraw to Two Sisters Mountain. The leader of 602nd Commando Company on Estancia Mountain realised his position had become untenable and after conferring with fellow officers ordered a withdrawal.
The Argentine operation also saw the extensive use of helicopter support to position and extract patrols; the 601st Combat Aviation Battalion also suffered casualties. At about 11:00 am an Aérospatiale SA 330 Puma helicopter was brought down by a shoulder-launched FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missile (SAM) fired by the SAS in the vicinity of Mount Kent. Six Argentine National Gendarmerie Special Forces were killed and eight more wounded in the crash.
As Brigadier Thompson commented, "It was fortunate that I had ignored the views expressed by Northwood HQ that reconnaissance of Mount Kent before insertion of 42 Commando was superfluous. Had D Squadron not been there, the Argentine Special Forces would have caught the Commando before de-planning and, in the darkness and confusion on a strange landing zone, inflicted heavy casualties on men and helicopters.”