When the Argentinians decided to invade and occupy the Falkland Islands it was the wrong idea because it’s the wrong country to start on. It was time to put it right.
First of all the Royal Navy would sail down with troops to kick the shit out of them and take back the Islands. Before the Royal Marines and the Paras kicked arse we had some work to do.
The task force had to recce the area before the first shots could be fired. Knowledge is power therefore intelligence is vital. Squadron Leader John Elliott was flying a Victor conducting reconnaissance around South Georgia. They are fuckoff big refuelling strategic bombers. Check them out.
Elliott had flown over 7,000 miles and for almost 15 hours. They found nothing that suggested that the Argies had any ships or submarines in the area.
Getting Troops Closer to Land
The bosses wanted to land some troops early on in the timeline to conduct recces and report back. Pilots continually tried to get SBS/SAS and Royal Marines on to land but were flying in and then out before they could land due to bad weather.
On the 24th April, HMS Brilliant turned up. This was like the hoofing kid on the estate turning up to help when the rival gang were on top. HMS Brilliant was a frigate with guided-missiles and Lynx Helicopters on board. The power was stacking up in our favour now.
Intelligence came in that the Argentine Submarine Santa Fe might be trying to enter Grytviken harbour the next day (25th April). The Task Group commander ordered a few ships down south to re-join Endurance off the coast of South Georgia while there were plenty of helicopters remaining and at first light a search began to hunt for Santa Fe.
Ian Stanley (the pilot who attempted, and succeeded to drop off and pick up the troops in the awful weather) took his Wessex and turned off the radar to avoid detection. The pilot then headed towards Grytviken being stealthy. He could hide in the clouds that were overcast at 400 feet. Visibility was as low as half a mile meaning he could strike when required.
Lieutenant Chris Parry was the observer. He searched with his radar and made a contact a few miles from the coast. They headed towards it right away. When they were three-quarters of a mile away they spotted a submarine on the surface.
It’s a Submarine!
Parry said in his book, Down South:
‘It’s a submarine,’ said our pilot, Lieutenant Commander Ian Stanley. ‘You’re joking,’ I said.
I quickly worked out the ballistic calculations for the movement of the submarine. He was heading 310 degrees northwest at eight knots. Talk about making it easy for us: we could just fly along the submarine’s track – and, when we were above, release. I fused both the depth charges.
Their Wessex was heading along the route of Santa Fe at just over 100 miles an hour before they closed in to attack.
What a moment. It is every Observer’s dream to have a real live submarine caught in the trap with two depth charges ready to go! I thought about the men we might be about to kill, but Ian started calling down the range.
As Ian called: ‘On top, now, now, now,’ I saw the fin of a submarine pass under the aircraft through the gap around the sonar housing and I released both charges.
Ian flipped the cab around violently to starboard to see the results. As we turned, the whole of the aft section of the submarine disappeared and two large explosions detonated either side of it. Plumes of water shot up.
They thought Santa Fe was starting to dive when they dropped the depth charges on it. There’s a fucking jackpot right in your mouth, maybe the enemy would learn from this.
Anybody Else Want a Go?
It wasn’t over yet though and Parry wanted to ensure it was out of action due to the risk of it coming back to attack.
I asked Plymouth to launch her Wasp helicopter armed with AS-12 missiles, since the submarine still posed a threat.
The low cloud was lifting, as if a curtain was being raised on a stage, to reveal a stunning backdrop of peaks and glaciers. Antrim and the frigates Brilliant and Plymouth were closing at high-speed from the northeast.
Plymouth’s Wasp fired an AS-12, which hit the submarine aft on the casing, causing a number of plates to fly off. The submarine was also attacked by Wasps from Endurance. We returned to Antrim, REFUELED, and relaunched with one depth charge to witness the final stages of the submarine flopping alongside the British Antarctic Survey jetty and the Grytviken whaling settlement on South Georgia.
The battered Santa Fe was out of the war after which the crew ran ashore. They wanted to get away from the stricken submarine. Game over for you sunshine, maybe don’t fuck with the British next time.
More Offensive Action
They put it well in Air War South Atlantic:
Now the attacking force had revealed itself, all pretence of stealth was abandoned and Antrim and Plymouth opened up a powerful bombardment just clear of the Argentine positions around the harbour to serve as a demonstration of force…
Meanwhile the Wessex and two Lynx began ferrying ashore the small available force of soldiers and marines. By late afternoon British troops were closing on the enemy positions when, suddenly, white flags began to appear.
The men conducted these actions successfully and therefore nobody was killed. The attack seriously injured one sailor from the Santa Fe. The next day a small Argentine garrison fifteen miles away also surrendered and South Georgia was back in British hands.
Here is a short video showing some of the air combat. I enjoyed it and they’re flying at crazy speeds.