Falkland War 1982
The Falkland Islands had been under British control since 1833, but Argentina had become increasingly anxious to acquire them. On 19 March 1982 a group of Argentine scrap metal merchants landed on South Georgia, and this was followed on 2 April by full invasion. The British government acted swiftly, assembling a task force consisting of 10, 000 troops and 44 warships. It was dispatched 8, 000 miles to the South Atlantic, using Ascension Island as a forward base.
British troops, under aerial attack, landed on the Falklands at San Carlos on 21 May. After fierce fighting the settlements at Darwin and Goose Green were retaken and on 14 June the Argentine garrisons surrendered. The war cost the lives of 236 British and 750 Argentine soldiers. It was the turning-point in the fortunes of the Thatcher Conservative government, but in Argentina, General Galtieri’s military junta fell from power a year later.
A wave skimming Sky Hawk about to deliver a direct hit on “Glasgow”.
Taken from the flight deck of HMS Brilliant.
This audio is on the day (May 12th) that we were attacked by four Sky Hawks. One managed to get through and drop his 1000lb bomb. It hit us on the starboard side, exiting port side. I am totally convinced that if it had gone off, I would not be hosting this web site now and possibly another Type 42 lost! The others being HMS Sheffield and HMS Coventry.
When we were bombed. During the playing of the tape* you will here a “thank you” to the skipper when he informs us that we are pulling away from the “gun line” to rejoin the rest of the Fleet. There was definitely a little twitching of the arse during this eventful time?
I went down to the Falklands as an atheist, I returned as a Christian, due to all the praying I done. “Andrex” also did it’s fair share to bring a little comfort?
To solve the welding problem of repairs, as it was at the waterline, the solution was to heel the ship over ten degrees by shifting fuel around the tanks and to steer the ship around in circles.
despite continual leaks, damaged equipment, and loss of control to the main engine, “Glasgow” returned to her air defence station within three days of being hit and stayed there until a relief ship arrived. On our trip home the engines and propellers had to be controlled manually and constant repairs were carried out.
The Supply Department done it’s bit, besides keeping the departments stocked up and the lads fed and paid, which reminds me…..The South Atlantic extra pay allowance was £4 per day but the powers to be decided that during this conflict they would REDUCE it to £1 a day…bloody marvellous go to war and you get paid less!!!!!
Getting back to my drift, the Supply Officer certainly done his bit, spending a lot of the time during action stations fully booted and spurred on the flight deck, probably with his life jacket blown up and wearing his survival suit. Not once did he visit his lads, battened down a few decks below, to see how they were getting on. For this lack of care he was much appreciated by your one and only Nobby G……. He wasn’t a bad chap actually, his only downfall with me was adding cherries and cocktail sticks – for the Wardroom – to an emergency stores top up signal after a day of bombing. This added request was promptly removed by the skipper ,when I, the rat, pointed it out to him when he was about to sign the signal for release. Gee Gee, will you ever forgive me?
Here is a little bit of audio of the Supply Officers contribution to the war. He assists the fuelling of a Sea King in flight from our flight deck.
The day we were bombed:
On the 12 May. a 42-22 combination of HMS Glasgow and Brilliant were now stationed off Stanley. HMS Glasgow shelled targets on the shore during the morning and eventually drew a strong response to the ship’s presence by the Argies ( Thankyou ……Admiral Woodward!)
No fewer than eight Skyhawk fighter-bombers were sent to attack the ships, the lead two pairs arriving just as the Sea Harrier Combat Air Patrol was in the process of handing over. The first four Skyhawks came in very low and fast, so the Sea Dart missiles did not acquire the targets until the range was too short for the missile systems.
HMS Brilliant fired its shorter ranged Sea Wolf missiles for the first time operationally, the first two missiles hit and destroyed the lead pair of Skyhawks. The third Skyhawk in the formation hit the debris of the first two in mid-air, causing it to crash as well. The forth Skyhawk released it’s 1000lb bomb, which hit the water, bounced, and shot over the top of Glasgows hangar!
The next wave of Skyhawks were acquired by the Sea Dart system but a malfunction occurred and again it did not fire.We opened up with our 4.5 gun, but after only eight rounds this decided to pack up as well. Brilliant was having her own problems, the Sea Wolf system on Brilliant failed to fire and all four of the attacking aircraft dropped their bombs.
Glasgow being attacked by Argentinian A4 with the bomb that hit us
Pic taken from HMS Brilliant
One bomb hit HMS Glasgow, but it passed straight through its engine room without hitting anything vital or exploding, so the damage was minimal. A third Argentine raid was detected, but by this time the Sea Harriers were back on station, and no attack developed.
The Skyhawk that had bombed Glasgow made the mistake of flying too close to Goose Green airfield on the way back to base, and was shot down by the anti-aircraft guns there, its pilot being killed.
My Action Station was down in the Naval Stores, a few decks down, securely battened down with little chance of escape. There is nothing worse than being at an Action Station where you can do absolutely nothing to participate in the action, only to sit there with your head up your arse waiting the inevitable! I am sure, that if the bomb that hit us had exploded, I would have known nothing about it, likewise a few of our good ‘ol engineers!
I was once a Gunner having changed branches to “Jack Dusty” in 1971, now that’s what I call “sods law”. On hindsight though, I doubt if my expertise as a six inch Gun loader, Bofor loader, Bofor Aimer, 20mm Oerlikon operator, or, as on my SDB (HMS Ickford) a “Rambo” Bren Gun man, would have been of any help in this age of missiles?
Nobby G taking a break between “Action Stations” with my anti flash, life jacket and survival suit, just in case!
The “monkey” on my shoulder is Pincher Martin RN Rtd! You hero!!!!!!!!
Note the lack of razor blades!
A few of the targeted “Argie” bombs did not explode in the earlier part of the campaign, due to, we are told, incorrect priming. When the BBC heard of this, they broadcast it to the world, so naturally, on hearing this the “Argies” corrected it. The broadcasting of this fact by this BIG MOUTHED Broadcasting Company, in my opinion, was the cause of deaths to many sailors and soldiers, later on in the conflict.
Luckily we had no BBC reporters aboard us, they obviously chose to be based within the moderately safe comfort of the Carriers, where they could send home reports for the BBC to broadcast and the “Argies” to assess.
I notice today that the BBC has not changed it’s tactics, still reporting things that could be helpful to terrorists! Quite recently informing us and them (terrorists) that they had got their bomb mixture wrong. Is there no stopping this unnecessary reporting? ” bugger me mate, that’s what we forgot, the two tablespoons of sugar”!
Many thanks to the lads on HMS Brilliant, who was riding “shotgun”, for downing the other attacking Sky Hawks on that day we were hit. If it wasn’t for their “Sea Wolf” missile system we may have met the same fate as the other two Type 42’s “Sheffield” and “Coventry”. Well done “Brilliant”…BRILLIANT!
HMS Brilliant rides “shot gun”
12 MAY 1982 – 14:00 hours:
Three formations of Argentine Aircraft arrive. HMS Brilliant (Type 22 frigate) and HMS Glasgow were attacked with bombs and 20MM Cannon, with near misses causing damage to the Glasgow. Air Force Grupo 5 lost 3 of 4 Skyhawks during the attack.
Flight Leader Primer Teniente Oscar Bustos (C-246) and Teniente Jorge Ibarlucea (C-208) were shot down by Seawolf Missles from HMS Brilliant, and Teniente Mario Nivoli (C-206) crashed into the sea evading a SAM. Only Teniente Alfreez Jorge Vazquez survived the mission and returned to base.
During the second wave of the attack, Argentine Air Force Grupo 5 A-4B Skyhawks again attacked HMS Glasgow and HMS Brilliant. Capitan Zelaya, Primer Teniente Fausto Gavazzi and Primer Teniente Alfreez Dellepiane attack the Glasgow and Teniente Juan Arraras attacks the Brilliant. HMS Brilliant is not hit when Arraras 500 lb bombs skip over Brilliant when they strike the water. Gavazzi dropped a bomb that struck Glasgow in the side at the water line. The bomb passed through Glasgow without exploding within the ship but left Glasgow with two large hull holes on the water line.
While egressing the area Gavazzi’s Skyhawk (C-248) was shot down by Argentine flak near Darwin, killing the pilot. The other returning aircraft experienced what was to be a common problem for returning Skyhawks in that their low level flying had caused salt spray to form a crust on the canopies causing difficult landing conditions.
Believing HMS Brilliant had been sunk, her name was painted below the canopy of C-239.
HMS Glasgow was the first ship to arrive in the “total exclusion zone” (May 1st) and the first ship to arrive back in the UK, (June 19th). Although damaged we did remain with the Fleet and released for the long slow haul home when our relief arrived on station. I believe it was HMS Exeter, who was promptly put on the “gun line”.
A lot of fuss was made of the departure of the “Carriers” from Pompey, little did the public know that a few ships and submarines had sailed from Gibraltar sometime earlier, for Ascension Island, where we were to wait until the rest of the Task Force caught up with us.
The ships happen to be in Gib for a “run ashore” after exercise “Spring Train”. The first we knew that someting was up was the total recall of all submariners, who were the first to head south. I think they polished of their pints before departing the bars in Engineer Lane!
Once the Task Force had stored up and generally organised itself we headed South.
On our way South, Admiral Woodward flew round the fleet giving his “pep” talk and asking if there were any questions. On Glasgow the question was put to him as to what we might be up against. To this he replied that the army was mostly conscripts and probably demoralised. The Navy probably wouldn’t put to sea and as for their Air Force, well ,they have a couple of missiles but mostly “iron bombs” not much threat there! NO NOT BLOODY MUCH, it was the “iron bombs” that nearly wiped us out. Why he should place a ship with one 4.5 inch gun a few miles off shore to do a bombardment, beats me.
So after leading us into war, sacrificing a few ships, together with a few more “cock ups” he returns to the UK and gets a Knighthood. He obviously played a lot of sport as well, or he wouldn’t have even been an Admiral!
I recently watched a program on TV concerning the war and Woodward was interviewed. One of his replies as to the losses, he said and I quote…”If they did’nt like it, they should’nt have joined”. This statement speaks for itself and shows what a total prat he was and is. Tell that Admiral, to families who lost a son/husband/father, due to some of YOUR cockups and incompetence. Sending in warships, to within a few miles off shore to do a bombardment with single 4.5 gun was a classic. At the same time saying that they were expendible. What were expendible the ships or the men, with you, probably both. Thank god we had some excellent skippers commanding these “expendible” ships and men, otherwise you would have had nothing left.
A knighthood! I think not. You should have been demoted and keel hauled!!!!!
With the help of the BBC and Admiral Woodward this war could have easily been lost.
I bet they weren’t smiling when it was on it’s way through?
Thanks to Pincher Martin for this pic, you hero!
Our Captain, Captain Hoddinott, can be said, was bloody great. Switched on, kept his cool and constantly kept us up to speed as to what was happening at all times. If he thought there was a possible attack coming in , then it was “Action Stations”. No hanging about to get a positive report.
On HMS Sheffields fateful day, we picked up the incoming raid. This was reported to Command who told us to “disregard, spurious”. We remained at Action Stations and again our radar picked up possible targets, again we were told to “disregard”. A few seconds later there was the sound of our “chaff” being launched, as we heeled over to starboard, arse end down, to get ourselves down wind. Shortly after this, poor old “Sheffield” was hit by an Exocet missile.
I am informed that on the fateful day, two Etendard’s were involved in the attack. One armed with Exocet. The one with Exocet remained at sea level at all times whilst the other, also coming in at sea level, would “pop” up to get a fix on the target ,then drop down again, to pass target details to the armed aircraft. Thus giving a false image to the fleets radar. Thankfully it didn’t fool our eagle eyed lads in “Glasgows” Ops Room. Well done you heros!
Launch of an Exocet
The radar-guided Exocet, a large missile that carried a 950-pound warhead, could be fired at nearly 25 NM. It would streak along just above the wave tops at almost Mach 1, and once it acquired its target, it was very difficult to shoot down. If it struck its target, the result was likely to be devastating.
It was an ideal standoff weapon, and its range allowed the strike aircraft to avoid closing with the enemy CAP (Combat Air Patrol).
The best defence against the Exocet was to create a strong radar return (by shooting large amounts of chaff [small metal strips] over the sea and away from the ships being attacked, on which the Exocet’s guidance system would detect and engage, missing the real target.
I think it was on the day that Sheffield was hit that we realised that this wasn’t a “turkey shoot”, this was the real thing. Happy smiling faces vanished and sadness appeared……..but moral could be felt throughout the ship, knowing we had a good skipper at the helm!
Fuelling astern from a civilian tanker on our way home
Like others, I lost a couple of mates during the conflict. I wonder today was it really worth it. Cos it bloody well was. We proved that we could kick arse at a distance of over 7000 miles to protect which which is rightfully ours and with no help from our so called allies. Hitler couldn’t do it at 20 miles, or whatever (Calais to Dover ).
If the Yanks want to know how to kick arse, then see us!
Well done all you “Falklands lads”
and RIP those we left behind.
Nearly thirty years later, you are remembered.
Nobby G. HMS Glasgow 1980-1982
RN 1957- 1984
“Nah! The Glasgow I commanded, definitely had two holes in the side”
Just a footnote from Nobby G……
When I arrived home I met an old mate of mine who was lucky enough to have missed the action “down south”. He said he had wished he had been down there. I promptly gave him a rollicking, telling him he should have contacted me, as he could have taken my place. I would have flown him down in my personal jet! Hero…not me, I joined the mob for the pension and to visit exotic ports and places, so here I am, with just 18 month to go before I am due to retire, fighting the “Argies”.
I am sure the Government was trying to get out of paying my pension by sending me “south” to my doom.
Aged 41, I do believe I was one of the oldest of Glasgow’s ships company. I certainly felt it went I got home!
Would I do it again, I think not, but if I had to, it would have to be with Captain Hoddinott at the helm, and a real Admiral in charge and the BBC put off the air!
“Glasgow” arrives home.
Saturday 19th June 1982
The following is from Lt Cdr John Saunders. DQHM Portsmouth:
“I was onboard HMS ANTRIM in 1982 and recall passing HMS GLASGOW when we were leaving Bomb Alley, the day after the main landings, having suffered damage from an unexploded 1,000lb Bomb.
You of course had already suffered the same fate and were being sent in to relieve us in Falkland Sound.
After the usual exchange of identities, a message from your Captain came across to us by flashing light which read: “Welcome to the Unexploded Bomb Club”.
Quick as a flash, our Captain responded by asking the Communicators to send back the response: “Thank you,……. but I did not apply to join!”
Thanks for that John…Typical British humour at it’s best, during a stressful time.
Pause for thought!……..
My first ship was HMS Leopard (brand new, 1st Commission, Type 41 Frigate) visited the Falklands on her in 1959. My last ship HMS Glasgow (brand new, Type 42 Destroyer) Battle of the Falklands 1982.. The real difference was that the first time we visited the Falklands and Argentina the second time the “Argies” visited us!
I must add though, that on my first visit the Argentinians made us most welcome and were very friendly. Nothing was too much for them and for that I thank them……
War is created by Governments and not the people.
Argentine Skyhawk Air Losses:
Argentine Air Force Skyhawk losses:
Grupo 4: 9 A-4C aircraft and 8 pilots
- C-301: Capitan José Daniel Vazquez (KIA) 30 MAY 1982
- C-303: Primer Teniente Jorge Ricardo Farias (KIA) 09 MAY 1982
- C-304: Mayor Jorge Osvaldo Garcia (KIA) 25 MAY 1982
- C-305: Primer Teniente Jorge Alberto Bono (KIA) 24 MAY 1982
- C-309: Primer Teniente Néstor Edgardo Lopez (KIA) 21 MAY 1982
- C-310: Capitan Omar Jesus Castillo (KIA) 30 MAy 1982
- C-313: Primer Teniente Jorge Eduardo Casco (KIA) 09 May 1982
- C-319: Teniente Lucero (Recovered) 25 MAY 1982
- C-325: Capitan Daniel Fernando Manzotti (KIA) 21 MAY 1982
Grupo 5: 10 aircraft and 9 pilots
- C-204: Capitan Danilo Rubén Bolzan (KIA) 08 JUN 1982
- C-206: Primer Teniente Mario Victor Nivoli (KIA) 12 MAY 1982
- C-208: Primer Teniente Jorge Rubén Ibarlucea (KIA) 12 MAY1982
- C-215: Teniente Velasco (Recovered) 27 MAY 1982
- C-226: Primer Teniente Juan José Arraras (KIA) 08 JUN 1982
- C-228: Teniente Alfredo Jorge Alberto Vazquez (KIA) 08 JUN 1982
- C-242: Capitan Luciano Gudagnini (KIA> 23 MAY 1982
- C-244: Mayor Hugo Angel Palaver (KIA) 25 MAY 1982
- C-246: Capitan Manuel Oscar Bustos (KIA) 12 MAY 1982
- C-248: Capitan Fausto Gavazzi (KIA> 12 MAY 1982 (bombed HMS Glasgow)
Argentine Navy Skyhawk losses:
Third Escuadrilla: 3 aircraft and 2 pilots
- 3-A-307 Capitan de Corbeta Philippi was recovered
- 3-A-312 Teniente de Navio Jose Cesar Arca was recovered
- 3-A-314 Teniente De Fragata Marquez KIA
If you wish to add your own comments regarding this article, please feel free to contact me I will publish all your comments and thoughts as I do realise everyone has the right to have his say.
Admiral Sir John Forster “Sandy” Woodward GBE, KCB (1 May 1932 – 4 August 2013)
Woodward was born on 1 May 1932, to a bank clerk. He was educated at Stubbington House School, preparatory school in Stubbington, Hampshire. He then went on to continue his education at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, Devon.
Having graduated from the Royal Naval College Dartmouth, Woodward joined the Royal Navy in 1946. He became a submariner in 1954. In 1960 he passed the Royal Navy’s rigorous Submarine Command Course known as The Perisher, and received his first command, the T Class submarine HMS Tireless. He then commanded HMS Grampus before becoming the second in command of the nuclear fleet submarine HMS Valiant. In 1967, he was promoted to Commander and became the Instructor (known as Teacher) of the The Perisher Course. He took command of HMS Warspite in December 1969. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1972. In 1974, he became Captain of Submarine Training and in 1976 he took command of HMS Sheffield.
He became Head of Naval Plans in the Ministry of Defence in 1978. In July 1981, he was promoted to Rear Admiral and appointed as Flag Officer First Flotilla.
Argentine Dictator General Galtieri
After only four months in office and with his popularity low, Galtieri’s forces invaded the lightly- defended British Falklands Islands in April,1982 and he declared the “Malvinas” a province of Argentina — as they had been according to Argentina from 1820 to 1833, before Britain re-gained control over them. Argentina with freshly-declared independence was claiming the islands by continuation of a Spanish claim. Britain, the United Nations, and many other countries around the world condemned the annexation (the US eventually joined the chorus after initially equivocating), yet in Argentina it was wildly popular.
The anti-junta demonstrations were replaced by patriotic demonstrations in support of Galtieri. In the morning of April 2, 1982, the first day of the invasion, a small group of people gathered in the historic Plaza de Mayo, across from the Casa Rosada, the government site. After a while Galtieri showed up on one of the balconies (not the same used by Perón but one located to the left of it) and raised his hands to cheer the small group of supporters. A few minutes later a siren was heard and many bystanders started to flee in panic, reminiscent of the tough repression that happened just a few days before in the same place, on March 30th.
Galtieri and many observers thought that, in the post World War II world, the armed forces of the United Kingdom no longer had the resources necessary to contest the invasion. However, after diplomatic pressure and negotiations led nowhere, the UK government, led by prime minister Margaret Thatcher, decided to re-take the islands and deployed naval task forces to do so. The Falklands War was over within two months. Superior training and technology, including some of the most advanced weapons systems to date, made up for the numerical and geographic advantages of Argentina.
Stanley was retaken by the British forces in June 1982 and within days General Galtieri was removed from power. He spent the next 18 months at a well-protected country retreat while democracy was restored to Argentina. Along with other members of the former junta, he was arrested in late 1983 and charged in a military court with human rights violations during the Dirty War, and with mismanagement of the Falklands war.
He was cleared of the civil rights charges in December 1985 but (together with the Air Force and Navy commanders-in-chief) found guilty of mishandling the war in May 1986 and sentenced to prison. All three appealed (this time in a civil court) while the prosecution appealed for heavier sentences.
In November 1988 the original sentences were confirmed and all three commanders were stripped of their rank. Galtieri served five years in prison before receiving President Carlos Menem’s pardon in 1991.
In July 2002 new civil charges were brought concerning the kidnapping and disappearance of 18 leftist sympathizers in the late 1970’s(while Galtieri was commander of the Second Army Corps), and the disappearance or death of three Spanish citizens at about the same time. Galtieri was placed under house-arrest. With his health declining, he was admitted to hospital in Buenos Aires to be treated for cancer of the pancreas, where he died of a heart attack at the age of 76.
Air Attack Video: