Surrender - In just eight days, the war was
brought to a close and the Argentines surrendered their
forces on West and East Falkland. But before they did,
the FAA, in one last major effort damaged frigate
"Plymouth", sank one of "Fearless'"
LCU's, mortally damaged LSL "Sir Galahad"
inflicting heavy casualties on the 1st Welsh Guards, and
nearly put paid to "Sir Tristram". Apart from
the later hit on destroyer "Glamorgan" by a
land-based Exocet, these were virtually the last losses
in ships or aircraft.
But before the war was won, the Argentine
troops defending Stanley in the mountains to the west had
to be defeated by Marines, Paras and Guardsmen in combat
- often man against man, using rifle and bayonet, machine
gun and grenade, supported by mortar and artillery, in
the dark, in often atrocious weather and over rough,
rocky well-defended terrain. Over the night of Friday 11th, the outer ring of defended
heights would be taken:
Longdon by 3 Para, Two Sisters by 45 Cdo, and Mount Harriet by 42 Cdo.
Two nights later, over Sunday 13th, the next line would fall:
Ridge to 2 Para so soon after Goose Green, and Tumbledown
Mountain to the 2nd Scots
And meanwhile the 1/7th Gurkha Rifles stood by ready to attack Mount William, and a depleted 1st Welsh Guards, reinforced by 40 Cdo, prepared to occupy Sapper Hill. In the event, the surviving
Argentine troops streamed back to Stanley where they still outnumbered the
British attackers, but throughout Monday 14th, a surrender was negotiated, timed
to take place from 9 pm local time. But still more ships,
aircraft and supplies were needed.
Departures from Monday 7th June - During the
week, four merchantmen headed south. On Tuesday from Plymouth,
"Astronomer" set out as a helicopter carrier
and repair ship with a variety of helicopters and
additionally equipped with 2x20mm Oerlikons, chaff
launchers and a Unifoxer acoustic torpedo decoy. Leaving
the same day was ammo ship "Laertes", and two days later tanker "G A Walker".
Refrigerated stores ship "Avelona Star" sailed
at this time from Portsmouth loaded with food. Then on Sunday, cargo vessel "St
Helena" sailed from Portland after working up as a
minesweeper support ship. Armed with 4x20mm Oerlikons,
she accompanied Hunt class mine countermeasures vessels
"Brecon" and "Ledbury", the first
Navy minesweepers to leave for the Falklands. Next day, the reloaded tanker "British
Avon" sailed from Portland for a second voyage
Meanwhile more ships
arrived back in the UK. By far the most publicised
was on Friday
11th when "Queen
Elizabeth 2" sailed into Southampton with the
survivors from "Ardent", "Antelope"
and "Coventry" to be met by Royal Yacht
"Britannia" carrying Queen Elizabeth, the Queen
Mother. Nuclear submarine "Splendid" got in to
Devonport the next day.
By then tanker "British Esk" was back to
reload, and as the surrender took place, "British
Tay" approached British shores.
- There was no let up at this one and only advanced base
(other than South Georgia), especially on the part of the
RAF. On Tuesday 8th, the last two Harrier GR.3's flew direct to
"Hermes", and on Friday, "Black Buck 7" was launched - the last Vulcan
raid on Stanley and again using conventional bombs. The
aircraft returned safely next day. Also returning, but to
the UK was destroyer "Glasgow" which passed
through the area early in the week, followed by frigates
"Alacrity" and "Argonaut" around the
time of the surrender.
South Atlantic - Tuesday 8th saw the only non-belligerent
casualty when two Grupo 2 Canberras mistakenly bombed the
American-registered tanker "Hercules" then on
passage to the north east of the TEZ. On putting into Rio
de Janeiro, a UXB was found that was too dangerous to
disarm, and the ship had to be scuttled off Brazil in
late July. Fortunately the FAA's attempts to hit the
British lines of communications were unsuccessful as
later in the week, tankers "British Test" and
"British Trent" sailed north for Ascension
carrying the survivors from "Sir Galahad" and
"Sir Tristram" respectively.
In the Falkland's area
itself, the hard-worked transport "Norland"
headed out of San Carlos Water on Monday 7th with a thousand Argentine POW's
bound for Montevideo, and got in over the weekend.
Aircraft and helicopter carrier "Contender
Bezant" reached the TEZ on Thursday with her Navy Sea King, Marine
Gazelles, and RAF Chinooks and four GR.3's too late to
join in the fighting although the helicopters were needed
to help in the clearing-up. Over the weekend, transport
"Tor Caledonia" reached the TRALA to start
offloading stores and just after the surrender, transport
"St Edmund" reached the CVBG. On the same day, Tuesday 15th, nuclear sub "Conqueror"
left for the UK after her active eight weeks of patrols
in the South Atlantic, while frigate "Yarmouth"
and RFA "Olmeda" headed in the opposite
direction, first for South Georgia on their way to
re-occupy Southern Thule. Well before then, on Monday 7th, the first RFA south, "Fort
Austin" was returning north for Devonport and
- This almost Antarctic island, still garrisoned by M Coy
42 Cdo and attended by "Endurance", saw more
comings and goings. "Wimpey Seahorse" arrived
to lay out moorings at various anchorages, RFA
"Regent" got in from the TEZ to replenish from
refigerated stores ships "Saxonia" and the
newly arrived "Geestport", and at the time of
the surrender, "Scottish Eagle" was heading
there as base storage tanker. Well before then, RMAS tug
"Typhoon" had left for the TRALA, as had ammo
ship "Lycaon", and over the weekend,
"Saxonia" sailed for the UK to reload after her
three weeks at South Georgia.