04 May 1982: Argentines destroy HMS Sheffield. The British ship HMS Sheffield has been hit by an Argentine missile fired from a fighter bomber. It is not clear how many of the 268 crew have perished. The sinking has shocked the British nation and foiled any possible diplomatic solution to the current dispute over the Falkland Islands between Britain and Argentina. The ship caught fire when a French-made Exocet missile penetrated deep into HMS Sheffield’s control room. The blaze caused a poisonous smoke and most of the crew abandoned ship. A major rescue operation has been launched in the South Atlantic as relatives thousands of miles back in the UK wait for news of their loved ones. The 4,100-ton destroyer was struck as it carried out a scouting mission off the Falkland Islands, although its exact position is a secret. Announcing the news on television, the spokesman for the Ministry of Defence Secretary, Ian McDonald, said the ship was “in the course of its duty within the total exclusion zone around the Falkland Isles”. Two missiles were fired by a Super-Etendard fighter bomber. One missed but the other scored a direct hit and ignited a fire. The Exocet missile is designed to skim the sea to avoid radar detection. It has its own radar that guides it to its intended target.
The attack follows yesterday’s sinking of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano. An Argentine diplomat in the United States said the destruction of HMS Sheffield was “justified after the massacre that the English have done shelling our men and our ships”. (Source: BBC)
Falklands conflict this week 1982: 7-13 May
Photography is available from the Imperial War Museum website and
* Secretary General of UN, launches peace initiative.
* Norland – A Motor Ro-Ro Ferry (roll on, roll off), requisitioned in
April 1982 from P & O Ferries arrives at Ascension as main body of
Amphibious Task Group leave Ascension for the Falkland Islands.
* Extended total exclusion zone enforced.
* First long range air drops to Task Force in South Atlantic.
* Argentine ‘spy’ trawler Narwhal strafed by Sea Harriers, then
boarded and sunk by Royal Marines.
* Argentine helicopter shot down.
* HMS Coventry spots an Argentine C130 Hercules transport aircraft
escorted by two Skyhawks heading for Stanley Airfield. The ship fired
sea dart missiles at a range of 38 miles and shot down both Sky
Hawks. Later in the day she also shot down an Argentine Puma
* Sheffield sinks under tow on way back to the UK.
* Argentine supply ship Isla de Estados sunk by Alacrity in Falkland
* Argentine Puma shot down.
* QE2 sails from Southampton with 5 Infantry Brigade. Sir John Nott,
the then Defence Secretary said that his most poignant memory of the
crisis was talking to the dockyard workers at Portsmouth working flat
out to get the Task Force to sea having recently announced that he
was closing a major proportion of the dockyard resulting in many job
losses. He says: ‘These poor men had their redundancy notices about a week before the Falklands invasion and they worked day and night over that weekend to
get ships ready. Can you imagine what it was like knowing that they
were losing their jobs? ‘I talked to the dockyard workers and they knew I was responsible for putting them out of work. I always remember that they were restrained and polite and I thought it was wonderful that they didn’t take
advantage of the visit to abuse me. They put their shoulders to the
wheel, and that was my abiding memory.’
* HMS Glasgow was hit by Argentine Skyhawks off Port Stanley she was
struck by a 500lb bomb which passed through both sides of the hull
* 4 Argentine Skyhawks shot down.
* RAF Nimrod sights Argentine Boeing 707 spying.
* HM Hospital Ship Uganda receives first casualties.
The Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Service were the only female