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WEEK NINE (part), Falkland Area Operations, 24th-26th MAY 1982

"Atlantic Conveyor" as she was

on to 38. 2 Para Battle for Goose Green


Summary of Main Events

CV Hermes, Invincible; DD Bristol, Glamorgan, Cardiff, Exeter, Glasgow; FR Brilliant, Broadsword, Active, Alacrity, Ambuscade, Avenger, Arrow, Andromeda, Argonaut (UXB damage), Minerva, Penelope, Plymouth, Yarmouth; Assault ships Fearless, Intrepid; RFA's Fort Austin, Olmeda, Olna, Regent, Resource, Tidepool; LSL's Sir Bedivere, Sir Galahad, (UXB damage), Sir Geraint, Sir Lancelot (UXB damage), Sir Percivale, Sir Tristram; Transports Elk, Europic Ferry
plus submarine force, hospital ships in RCB, repair ship and tugs in TRALA, and some tankers
(Sheffield, Ardent, Antelope, Coventry and Atlantic Conveyor lost so far)


3 Cdo Bde HQ and 40 Cdo at San Carlos
3 Para west and north of Port San Carlos; 42 Cdo returning to Port San Carlos from Cerro Montevideo;
45 Cdo at Ajax Bay
M&AW Cadre on Bull Hill and Evelyn Hill

1. SBS to Port Salvador
2. D Sqdn SAS recon patrol to Mt Kent


3. Argentine aircraft lost just north of Pebble Island - [a50,a51,a52] Daggers (24th)
4. LSL's Sir Galahad and Sir Lancelot damaged in San Carlos Water (24th)
5. Argentine aircraft lost in King George Bay, West Falkland - [a53] Skyhawk (24th)
6. Argentine aircraft lost just north of Pebble Island - [a54] Skyhawk (25th)
7. Argentine aircraft lost over San Carlos Water - [a55] Skyhawk (25th)
8. Argentine aircraft lost north east of Pebble Island - [a56] Skyhawk (25th)
9. Broadsword damaged, COVENTRY sunk and Lynx helicopter [b16] lost 10 miles north of Pebble Island (25th)
10. ATLANTIC CONVEYOR sunk 90 miles north east of Stanley; aircraft lost - [b17-22] Wessex, [b23-25] Chinooks, [b26] Lynx (25th)
11. DD Antrim, RFA Stromness, Transports Canberra, Norland to South Georgia

3 CDO BDE MOVEMENTS (continued)
2 Para moved from Sussex Mountains half way to Camilla Creek House (26th)
on their way to Darwin
13. L Coy 42 Cdo helicoptered from Port San Carlos to Sussex Mountains (26th)


As plans for the Darwin raid went ahead, Brigadier Thompson prepared to move towards Stanley. D Sqdn SAS and then 42 Cdo were to fly to Mount Kent, and when "Atlantic Conveyor" arrived with her Chinooks, more of 3 Cdo Bde would be flown forward. A start was made when an SBS team went ashore in Port Salvador to check Teal Inlet and a D Sqdn patrol landed on Mount Kent, but the weather closed in stopping the rest of D Sqdn joining them. Also 2 Para's artillery could not be flown in, so the raid on Darwin was cancelled. Then on Tuesday 25th, "Atlantic Conveyor" was lost and the planning had to start all over again. By then the battle for control of the air had almost been won, but the losses on both sides were heavy. In this, "Broadsword" and "Coventry" in their missile trap and radar picket role off Pebble Island played a major part.

Monday 24th saw four more Argentine aircraft destroyed. That morning, four Grupo 6 Daggers came in low over Pebble Island, but under "Broadsword's" direction, two No.800 Sea Harriers brought three of them down with Sidewinders [a50, a51, a52]. As this happened, more Daggers and Grupo 4 and 5 Skyhawks reached the anchorage from the south. LSL's "Sir Galahad" and "Sir Lancelot" each received a UXB and "Sir Bedivere" was slightly damaged by a glancing hit, all believed to be from Skyhawks of Grupo 4. The three aircraft in this flight were damaged by the fierce AA, including claims by both "Fearless" and "Argonaut" Sea Cats, and on the way home, one crashed into King George Bay off West Falkland [a53]. Some of the crew of both LSL's were evacuated, but the bombs were later defused, although "Sir Lancelot" was not fully operational again for a long time.

Tuesday the 25th May was Argentine National Day and the first target for Grupo 5 Skyhawks that morning was the two missile trap ships, but "Coventry's" Sea Dart brought one of them down at long range north of Pebble Island and the sortie was abandoned [a54]. Then at midday four Grupo 4 aircraft reached San Carlos Water. One was blasted out of the sky by small arms fire and missiles (the claims included "Yarmouth's" Sea Cat), although the pilot ejected safely [a55], and as the three survivors escaped, a second aircraft was destroyed to the north east of Pebble Island by another Sea Dart from "Coventry" [a56]. In the afternoon, the tables were turned, first of all by four Skyhawks of Grupo 5 which reached "Coventry" and "Broadsword". As the first pair approached, the CAP Sea Harriers were warned off, but "Broadsword's" Sea Wolf system broke contact and she was hit by a bomb which bounced up through her stern and out again badly damaging the Lynx on the way. The second pair now went for "Coventry", and just as "Broadsword" prepared to fire Sea Wolf again, the type 42 got in the way and contact was broken for a second time. With little to stop them, the Skyhawks put three bombs into "Coventry" at 3.20 pm. Within half an hour she had capsized and been abandoned with 19 men killed and 25 wounded. The survivors were picked up by "Broadsword" and helicopters from San Carlos and she shortly sank with her Lynx [b16]. Of the three type 42's that first sailed south, two were now at the bottom and the third damaged and soon to return.

As "Coventry" went down, and quite separate from the Skyhawk sorties, two Super Etendards of CANA 2 Esc approached the CVBG from the north after refuelling on the way by Hercules tanker. In their path and close together were the two carriers and transport "Atlantic Conveyor" at this time some 90 miles north east of Stanley and heading in for San Carlos Water. Just after 4.30 pm, they launched two Exocets from a range of 30 miles, and in spite of attempts to decoy the missiles away by chaff fired by the warships including "Ambuscade", one of them hit "Atlantic Conveyor" and set her ablaze uncontrollably. Little is known of the fate of the second Exocet. "Alacrity" and "Brilliant" closed in to help, but the order was soon given to abandon ship, and by the time the survivors were picked up, a total of twelve men had died including Capt North. Fortunately the Harriers had been flown off before the attack, but all the helicopters apart from an airborne Chinook and thousands of tons of stores including ammunition, Harrier spares and tents, had to be left on the burning ship. Tug "Irishman" went to her aid and on Thursday took the burnt out hulk in tow, but "Atlantic Conveyor" soon sank taking with her six Wessex [b17-22], three Chinooks [b23-25] and a spare Lynx [b26].

Still on Tuesday 25th as "Canberra" and "Norland" made their way to South Georgia, the two remaining merchantmen in the TEZ continued to support the landings. "Europic Ferry" with her 2 Para stores sailed in to complete unloading, while "Elk" prepared to follow her with more vehicles and ammo. Meanwhile to the north, nuclear sub "Conqueror" on patrol had an aerial wrapped around her propeller, and on Tuesday in bad weather and under threat of aircraft attack, PO Libby dived to remove it.

With "Atlantic Conveyor's" loss, and with four Sea Kings already used for night missions and one for Rapier support, Brigadier Thompson had only six more plus five Wessex to move his troops towards Stanley. When his staff met on Wednesday morning (26th), and with new orders from Northwood, fresh plans were made. Goose Green was to be taken and held by 2 Para, and much of the rest of the Brigade would have to walk! Late that day, Lt Col Jones led 2 Para south on the path to Darwin, and on Thursday, 45 Cdo and 3 Para started their move overland to Teal Inlet while 42 Cdo waited a later move to Mount Kent. Still on Wednesday, L Coy 42 Cdo flew from Port San Carlos to Sussex Mountains to relieve 2 Para.

British Gallantry Awards included:

  HMS Conqueror
PO (Sonar) G J R Libby (DSM)

HMS Coventry - helicopter rescue
CPO Aircrewman M J Tupper (DSM), No.846 NAS

RFA Sir Galahad - bomb disposal
Lt N A Bruen (DSC) RN, CO Fleet Clearance Diving Team 3
Chief Eng Offr C K A Adams (QGM) RFA, also assisted with Sir Lancelot UXB


RFA Sir Lancelot - bomb disposal
CPO (Diver) G M Trotter (DSM), Fleet Clearance Diving Team 3

Merchantman Atlantic Conveyor
Capt I H North (post DSC) MN
and rescue work
Flt Sgt B W Jopling (QGM), 18 Sqdn RAF
Third Eng B R Williams (QGM), MN

Two Exocets after a trial submarine-launch. They
shortly assume a sea-skimming mode up to target impact
  The burnt-out hulk of "Atlantic Conveyor" as a tug
(believed to be "Irishman") prepares to take her in tow.

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