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My Falklands Diary

Note: Time Zone. All times are UK times (Zulu). The Falklands were 3 hours behind.  Noon in the UK would be 0900 in the Falklands. It was obviously decided, that to save any confusion, that Zulu time be used throughout the confrontation.

All the events, were as given to us, the ships company, over the ships Tannoy system by the Captain.

Saturday 1st May 1982
Day One
Time (Zulu).  0620.(0320 local time) Glasgow first into the Exclusion Zone
0720.  Vulcans reported to have bombed Falklands air strip. Good morning Dagoe!
1035.  Action stations. Two A/C at 100 miles.
1044.  A/c turning back to the west.
1125.  Fell out from action stations.
1135. Action stations. 2 Mirages and one Etendard at 100 miles, closing from the west.
1136. One Harrier returning with slight damage from raid on Falklands.
1137.  Mirages dropped their load and Etendard fired rockets/exocet at 100 miles when pounced on by CAP A/C.
1140. We launch Chaff. 4.5 fires it’s first round in anger!
1142.  Enemy A/C turning away to the west. Harriers returning from Falklands raid.
1148. Intelligence reports large number of A/C taking off from mainland Argentina. Estimate arrival time 40 minutes.  Glasgow first in line.
1150.  Harriers, all back safely from bomb raid and preparing for roll as CAP.
1244.  Torpedo reported astern of main body.
1245.  Torpedo astern of main body found to be HMS Yarmouth’s Unifoxer. Yarmouth politely told to recover Unifoxer…sigh of relief!
1247.  Air strike 200 miles to the west and closing.
1252.  A/C strike 180 miles to the SW of us.
1255.  Fired Chaff. One round.
1302.  A/C range 90 miles. 2 Mirage, 2 Etendard.
1303. 3” missile fired?
1305.  A/C backing off. Having launched Exocet at about 100 miles.
1311. Next air stike at 150 miles to the south of us and closing.
1317. HMS Alacrity in pursuit of possible submarine.
1318. Harriers at the raiders at a range of 120 miles.
1327.  Dog fight taking place at 116 miles. Two more Harriers waiting to join in.
1329.  Dagoes on the run, air raid warning yellow.
1332.  Relax at Action Stations.
1400.  Next raid coming in at 250 miles. On Anti Flash.
1401. We launch Chaff.
1406.  A/C at 160 miles, coming in from the South.
1417. A/C range 100 miles. Two Harrier interceptors in range.
1424.  Relax Anti Flash.
1445.  Relax at Action Stations. Reduce to state One Yankee.
1500. Action Stations.
1502. Raid coming in from the North West.
1511.  Range of A/C 100 miles.
1515. Raid coming in low and being covered by Sea Dart.
1519.  CAP missed incoming A/C therefore making an invitation to our Sea Dart.
1521.  Chaff fired.
1530.  Revert to NBCD state one condition Yankee.
1538.  Enemy A/C being intercepted by Harriers over Port Stanley.
1547.  Revert to NBCD state two condition Yankee.
1550. Fall out from Action Stations.
1945.  Action Stations. Large format of A/C coming in from the South.
1947.  HMS Glamorgan hit, one casualty on HMS Alacrity, no damage HMS Arrow.
1949.  Glamorgan reports another wave of A/C coming in, bogies low.
1956.  Fire in our after engine room.
1957.  No fire in after engine room.
1957.  Bogie low on Glamorgan reported as a interceptor Harrier returning. Alacrity claims one Mirage and a Harrier claims another.
2006.  Enemy A/C returning home.
2010.  3 Argentinian Canberras coming in low over the Falklands.
2017.  CAP engaging Canberras at low level.
2038.  Possible raid coming in from the West at low level.
2043.  One Canberra splashed by Harrier the others are heading our way. 40 miles to go.
2055.  Remaining Canberras on the run.
2056.  Relax at Action Stations.
2106.  Revert to NBCD Sate One condition Yankee.
2130.  Revert to NBCD state two. Fall out from Action Stations.
2130.  To mess for shower and dhoby, treble Scotch and game of cards. Won £6. Turned in at 0130.
Well…that was day one, what is day two gonna be like?

Quiet night.

Sunday 2 May 1982.
Day Two.

0800.  Turned to in the “bunker” (Main Naval Store)
1057.   Sunrise,( we are on Zulu time.UK time) we await possible air strike.
1230.  Sandwiches and soup for lunch, whilst closed up at action stations.
1730.  Still no sign if the Dagoes..they must still be at church!
2255.  HM  Submarine Conqueror torpedo’s the Argentinean cruiser General Belgrano with two “fish”.
2300.  Belgrano reported as severely damaged, believed sinking.
2355.  Glasgow and HMS Coventry’s Lynx, armed with sea Skua taken off to intercept 3 corvettes heading in our direction.
?          Lynx returned.. no action taken.

Monday 3rd May 1982.
Day Three.

0130.  Three Corvettes to North of Falklands.
0415.  Lynx scrambled to take out ship that has opened fire on a Sea King helo.
0455.  HMS Coventry’s Lynx fires two Sea Skua into unidentified target. Target blows up, sea a mass of flames. Target believe to be Argentinean tanker!
0455.  General Belgrano reported to be limping back to Argentina.
0500.  Glasgow’s Lynx fired on by burning tanker after going in to pick up survivors. Lynx fires two Sea Skua in reply. Two direct Skua hits.
0600.  Lynx returns, low on fuel.
0600 – 2050.  Quiet day.
2050.  News flash “General Belgrano” reported  sunk. Will this signal the end of the conflict or is it to be  retaliation?

Quiet night.

Tuesday 4th May 1982.
Day Four.
0800 zulu. Start of another day in the “Bunker”.
0845.  Code word “Tarzan” received, signifying successful Vulcan Bomber bomb raid on Falklands.
1400.  Action Stations. Two contacts reported coming in low. Chaff launched. CAP sent up to investigate.
1430.  Reports coming in of damage to HMS Sheffield.
1440.  HMS Yarmouth reports missile flying overhead.
1442.  Missile hits water half a mile astern of HMS Alacrity.
1445.  Periscope spotted. We fire torpedo decoy.
1450.  Loud explosion. Either our decoy hitting them or their torpedo hitting our decoy.
1500.  Quick sighting on surface….we find nothing.
1505.  HMS Sheffield reported to have been torpedoed.
1603.  Sheffield reported hit by Exocet and not torpedo. Other Exocet reported splashed astern of Alacrity.
1615.   Sheffield on fire.
1750.  Fire in Sheffield out of control, abandoning ship. Lifting survivors off by helo and HMS Arrow.
1751.  Relax Action Stations.
NOTE: between the hours of 1400 and 1800 there were contradicting reports flashing over the airways to exactly what was happening. The times and events are as the Captain reported over the ships intercom to the ships company during this period.
1845.  Action Stations. Radar contact NW of Falklands. Chaff fired.
1850.  Contact not positively identified.
1940.  Detached from main group to provide air cover for ships attending Sheffield.
2020.  In position, 10 miles from Sheffield and ships taking on survivors. 15 miles to NW wreckage spotted, believe to be the possible submarine contact from this morning. Buzz going around the ship that when this mornings contact was made Sheffield was told to disregard. We fired Chaff, she never and she was hit!

• HMS Glasgow, Sheffield’s sister ship, detected
Argentine jets inbound to fleet. Glasgow’s
electronic warfare support measures (ESM)
equipment detected the Exocet’s “seeker” radar,
which meant that an incoming missile or missiles
were headed for the ships.
• Glasgow radioed the news to the anti-air warfare
coordinator on board the carrier Invincible but,
unfortunately, the coordinator dismissed the report
as one of the many false missile attack alarms
received that same morning.

HMS Sheffield
• Meanwhile, Sheffield’s radar did not pick up either
the incoming planes or missiles because, at that
precise moment, her satellite communications
terminal was in use and that prevented the onboard
ESM equipment from operating. The satellite
communications link, therefore, proved
incompatible with the ship’s anti-missile radar,
although neither the Type 965 radar or the Sea
Dart missiles carried by Sheffield were really
designed to intercept low-flying cruise missiles.
• By the time Sheffield received Glasgow’s radioed
warnings, the missiles could literally be seen
heading towards the ship. A few seconds later, one
of the Exocets hit Sheffield directly amidships.

2026.  Large explosion from Sheffield. All survivors are off. Sheffield no doubt finished. Relax at Action Stations.
2027.  We are returning to main group.
2035.  Action Stations. A/C coming in from the West, low and in line with Sheffield. Chaff fired. A/C not in range, contact lost.
2040.  Another contact. Chaff launched.
2110.   Relax at Action Stations. Revert to NBCD State one condition Yankee.
2124.  Revert to NBCD State two condition Yankee. Starboard Watch defence, close up.
2125.  Fall out from Action Stations.
NOTE: Today was the most un nerving day of my life!
Fuelled overnight.
Quiet night.

Wednesday 5th May 1982.
Day Five.

0800 zulu. Turned to in the “Bunker”
Very quiet day. Sea calm, raining, visibility just about one mile.
These conditions have obviously grounded the Argie airforce.

Thursday 6th May 1982.
Day Six.

0800 zulu.  Turned to in the “Bunker”.
1235.  Action Stations. Surface contact to the SW. Two Harriers missing, possibly shot down!
1240.  Contact to the South was a Sea King. Harriers believed to have collided.
1250.  Fall out from Action Stations.
1805.  Action Stations. A/C contact to the west.
1840.  Fall out from Action Stations.
2258.  Action Stations. Unidetified A/C at 70 miles, could be leading/directing a raid.
2335.  Fell out from Action Stations.

Friday 7th May 1982. On this date, Twenty five years ago, I joined the Royal Navy.
Day 7.
1800. Action Stations. A/C approaching from the West. Reported to be Etendard and Mirage.
1918.  Fell out from Action Stations. A/C possibly escorting something into Port Stanley airfield, not yet confirmed.
Weather..heavy fog.

Saturday 8th May 1982.
Day 8.
1055.  Action Stations. Surface contact at 5 miles.
1057.  Opened fire with 4.5.
1115.   HMS Arrows Lynx sent to investigate. Contacts could have been Seagulls. Echo’s caused by adverse weather conditions!
1140.  Fell out from Action Stations.
1525.  Action Stations. A/C 150 mile SW. CAP interceptors investigating.
1610.  Fell out from Action Stations.
1850.  Action Stations. A/C coming in from West and SW, two groups!
1900.  CAP engaging Mirages.
1907.  Mirages at SW turning away.
1930.  Fell out from Action Stations.
1956.  Action Stations. A/C over Port Stanley.
2020.  Fell out from Action Stations.
Overnight “The Common” Argies camp , shelled by Alacrity (90 Shells). Glasgow and HMS Broadsword Lynx let off flares and generally machine gunned around. No retaliation as yet. SAS and SBS landed.

Sunday 9th May 1982.
Day Nine.

0800.  Argies report landings by British Forces have started. They have NOT!
1423.  Action Stations. A/C at 250 miles.
1455.  Fell out from Action Stations.
1840.  Sea King in trouble, fuel shortage, is to attempt landing on our flight deck. Sea King carrying wounded casualties during the capture of spy boat.
1855.  Sea King hovering above our flight deck, taking on fuel.
1900.  Sea King fuelling a success.
NOTE: HMS Sheffield reported as sunk whilst under tow.

Monday 10th May 1982.
Day 10.

All day HMS Glasgow & HMS Brilliant on the Gun Line….Oh shit!!! To bombard Argie positions from just a few miles off shore!
0530 Zulu. Action Stations.
0533.  Commenced NGS. 133 rounds of HE lobbed at the Argies. Good morning Dagoe!
0645.  Fell out from Action Stations.
1230.  Action Stations.
1245.  Commenced bombardment of radar installation, North of Stanley airfield.
1320.  Ceased bombardment.
1327.  Relax at Action Stations.
1337.  Fell out from Action Stations.
2315.  Start another bombardment. 36 shell only this time.
Alacrity sinks blockade running tanker.

Tuesday 11th May 1982.
Day Eleven.
AM.  Early morning RAS with RFA Resource. Top up Stores/Ammo/Victuals.
Quiet day.

Wednesday 12th May 1982.
Day Twelve.
1315.  Action Stations in preparation of bombardment.
1340.  Possible air raid building up in the West.
1410.  Nothing seen of possible raid, proceeding back on to the Gun Line to bombard military targets.
1434.  4.5 Opened fire, 5 rounds, spotters.
1439.  4.5 Opened fire, new target, five rounds, spotters.
1441.  Firing for effect. 9 rounds only.
1443.  10 rounds.
1445.  4 rounds.
1520.  Relax at Action Stations.
1525.  Stand to at Action Stations. Two tanks spotted inshore, altering course to engage.
1530.  Opened fire.
1536.  Relax at Action Stations.
1543.  Fell out from Action Stations. Hands to dinner!
1600.  Intelligence reports possible raid building up in the West. Harriers bombing Stanley airfield.
1635.  Action Stations.
1638.  Relax at Action Stations. A/C reported to be Harriers returning from bombing raid.
1641.  Stand to at Action Stations. Two A/C coming in…taking with Sea Dart.
1647.  Brilliant takes one with Sea Wolf.
1652.  Reports that Brilliant has shot down two A4’s. Two bombs miss us and hit the water about two hundred yards astern of us.
1658.  Report confirmed, two A/C shot down by Brilliant.
1659.  Relax at Action Stations.
1704.  Stand to at Action Stations. Raid coming 100 miles to the West.
1710.  Two A/C 30 miles away.
1712.  We are hit. Hole in the after AMR and after engine room, above the water line.
1714.  Flooding in after AMR and engine room.
1730.  Flooding under control.
1840.  A/C at 100 miles.
1909.  Harriers patrolling off coast, strike A/C believed to have turned back.
1910.  Relax Anti Flash.
1915.  Remaining at Action Stations..Relaxed. Steaming away from the coast at 20 knots. Distance from shore 30 miles.
Rejoining main force.
2100.  Starboard Watch to supper, Port Watch remain at Action Stations. Fresh water problem, no water to be used except for drinking.
2235.  Fell out from Action Stations.
Note: Today was the scariest of my life.

MANY thanks to HMS Brilliant for riding shotgun during our time of need.

12 MAY 1982 – 14:00 hours:
Three formations of Argentine Aircraft arrive. HMS Brilliant (Type 22 frigate) and HMS Glasgow (Type 42 Destroyer) 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 the 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 the 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.

Thanks to From Maximiliano Guillen for this piece.

13 May 1982.
Day Thirteen.

0200. Zulu. Came on Watch in the “Bunker”. Still flooding in AMR but under control.
0245.  Late snacks, Steaks, Cottage Pie etc. The good ‘ol chefs have done their bit. Engineers still grafting away. Boffins boarded from HMS Invincible to assess our  damage. It is reported that he couple of “chippies” from Invincible were landed by helo carrying a couple of tool bags and a couple of Damage Control plugs! They were totally unaware of the size of holes in ships side! The holes were blocked up with mattresses, deck plates and any other “come in handy’s”. Good job done by Damage Control Party’s and ME’s. Flooding at a minimum but water still pissing in. We are now 50 miles away from the Main Task Force with Brilliant still riding “shotgun”. Thank  the Lord that the Dagoes do not fly at night….or do they?

14 May 1982.
Day Fourteen.
All day repairs continue on damage to engine room. HMS Alacrity in attendance as Guardship. Still no fresh water, second day without a wash and dhoby!
It has been assessed that the bomb that hit us, was released 200 yards from the ship. Detonation failed due to the closeness and the arming vane being ripped off during entry. The vane of the bomb has been found in the bilge and is of British manufacture!

15 May 1982.
Day Fifteen.
During the early hours SAS & SBS landed on Pebble Island and destroyed 12 A/C on a runway that was being developed by the Argies.
Still carrying out repairs. Thankfully a very quiet day.

16 May 1982
Day Sixteen.

Signal sent to confirm that we are Operational again! Oh shit!

17 May 1982.
Day Seventeen.
1055. Zulu.  Action Stations.Possible A/C from the West.
1155.  Fall out from Action Stations.
1130.  Action Stations. Etendard radar detected.
1150.  Fall out from Action Stations.

18 May – 20 May 1982.
Days 18, 19 & 20.
Very quiet days. Preperation in force for landing of troops on to The Falklands.

21 May 1982.
Day Twenty One.

0630.  Landings started.
0700.  Reports coming in that there are so many prisoners that they do not know what to do with them!
Air attacks most of the day on our surface group protecting the landing area. Numerous A/C shot down. HM ships Antrim, Argonaut and Ardent have been hit.
1730.  Action Stations. Possible Etendard at 160 miles.
1805.  HMS Ardent reports a hit forward.
1935.  Fell out from Action Stations. Ardent sunk. Our Captain reports that 14 Argie A/C shot down, possibly 18! Unexploded bomb lodged in after heads of Antrim. Bomb passed through Argonaut.

22 May 1982.
Day Twenty Two.

1810.  Action Stations. Raid coming in from the west.
1820.  6 Mirages, 40 miles west of HMS Coventry.
1824.  Mirages turned and heading back West.
1827.  Second raid coming in at 100 miles West of Coventry.
1830.  Raid turned back.
1850.  Relax at Action Stations.
1930. Fell out from Action Stations.

23 May 1982.
Day Twenty Three.

1705.  Action Stations. A/C at 200 miles.
1715.  A/C heading for landing anchorage. HMS Antelope reported hit by bomb in the rigging.
1830.  Fell out from Action Stations. 9 A/C reported shot down over Falkland Sound.

24 May 1982.
Twenty Forth Day.
0200.  Reports coming in of explosion on HMS Antelope. Harrier explodes on take off. Antelope explosion believe to be unexploded bomb that was being defused by RE’s. Antelope sinks.
1130.  Glasgow told to detach to outside of TEZ to carry out repairs on remaining engine. We start to transfer stores and equipment to Task Force. Are we being prepared to go into Bomb Alley to replace ships lost? Bloody hope not!

7 A/C reported shot down today.

25 May 1982.
Day Tweny Five.
Continued transferring stores. HMS Coventry reported sunk!
1935 Action Stations. Air attack coming in on main force, 35 miles to the South of us. One A/C reported bought down by HMS Invincible?
2025.  Fell out from Action Stations. Atlantic Conveyor hit by Exocet.

Sadly the remaining pages of my diary were damaged due to mishap with a hot cup of “Rosie Lee” (Tea). Probably during the rush to take cover under the stores counter!

All times were when the skipper broadcast them to us over the ships main broadcast. Some events were as seen at the time. So much chat going on over the airways that confusion at times was the order of the day!


One Response to My Falklands Diary

  1. John Bond

    May 5, 2011 at 13:28

    I have a very similar diary.

    Jimmy Bond LWEM(R) 909 maintainer and day worker!

    Not much happened for us after the 25th.

    Tuesday May 25th

    May 25th Argentina’s national day. Once again we can expect them to liven things up for us.
    I’m beginning to think that we will never get out of here. We are still with the main force, transferring stores and exchanging our Lynx with the one from Ambuscade as theirs is not fitted for Sea Skua.
    Coventry reports splashing two A4’s with Sea Dart.
    19:30 The Captain speaks: The Coventry has been sunk near San Carlos – everyone is stunned, how many more?
    We start once more to head out east towards the tug and repair area.
    Action Stations Zippo One!
    Super Etendards amongst the main force. Invincible splashes one, Atlantic Conveyor is hit by two Exocet and is on fire.
    No further reports.
    After an agonising hour or so the all clear is given and we stand down.
    Wednesday May 26th
    We arrive at the TARA. We are still within range of A4’s so we are not out of it yet.
    We have assistance from the Stena Seaspread to get our secondary Tyne engines going otherwise it will be a long tow back to Portsmouth.
    Action Stations!
    The Argentine 707 is approaching so we go silent on all radars. They have been using it to give long range detection of ships coming from Ascension.
    It turns away.
    Thursday May 27th
    We filled this morning from an RFA and we are at last heading east away from the war zone. We will be out of range in about 36 hours when we will be able to drop out of Defence Watches and sleep as any normal human beings. I have almost forgotten what it is like.
    So 60 days out of Gibraltar and we are going home. A little bit later than planned but better late than never.
    Saturday June 19th

    HMS Glasgow arrived back in Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon, 83 days after sailing from Gibraltar for a ten day exercise.
    She was met by thousands of cheering people and families lined the quay in the dockyard.

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