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FALKLANDS 25TH ANNIVERSARY

14-15 May

* The HMS Hermes, HMS Glamorgan and HMS Broadsword set off towards
Pebble Island, the third largest offshore island in the Falklands and
temporary base for Argentine Pucaras and other small aircraft. Pebble Island is located in the northern part of the archipelago. Adjacent to Falkland Sound, it forms the eastern end of a chain of islands that runs the length of the north coast of West Falkland.
* Three Sea King helicopters carrying the Pebble Island raiding party were launched from HMS Hermes. 45 men from the SAS and one Royal Artillery forward observer landed on the south coast of the Island where they met up with the reconnaissance party reaching the airstrip by 07:00Z. Once in place the forward observer ordered HMS Glamorgan toilluminate the airstrip with a starshell for about five minutes. The attacking group made for the aircraft on the runway, as naval gunfire provided covering support. One enemy unit on the airfield opened fire but was soon silenced. All 11 aircraft were destroyed or put beyond use as was fuel and ammunition stored nearby. The raiding party retired to the landing point where they were picked up by four Royal Navy Sea Kings at about 09:30Z and flown back to HMS Hermes. The raid was a complete success, conducted during a howling gale and without casualties, which deprived the Argentine garrison of aircraft and undermined morale, by demonstrating the capacity of the Special Forces to mount operations on Islands against units that were detached from the main forces.
* Sea Harriers bombed Stanley airfield and associated military installations. All aircraft returned safely.
* British Ambassadors to USA and UN return to London for talks.
15 May
* A reconnaissance sortie photographed a supply ship alongside the jetty at Fox Bay. There was no time for an air attack before dark but HMS Brilliant was ordered to attack the ship, so long as it could confirm it was not a hospital ship. A Lynx helicopter was used to avoid heavy anti-aircraft fire, however, it could not confirm if the ship was a hospital ship and the mission was abandoned.
16 May
* Better weather enables Sea Harrier sortie which confirms that ship in Fox Bay is the merchant ship Buen Suceso not the hospital ship Buen Paraiso.
* Two Sea Harriers attack Buen Suceso using cannon only for fear that bombs would hit the adjacent civilian settlement. The ship received many hits and a fire broke out in the engine room; unable to be repaired she was put beyond use with no casualties on either side.
* British Ambassadors return to USA, peace negotiations continue.
17 May
* HMS Invincible and HMS Broadsword detach from the Task Force with a Sea King and an SAS team on board to take part in an attack on the Rio Grande airfield in Argentina. The plan was for the Sea King to drop the team as close as possible to Rio Grande where they would proceed to put aircraft on the ground beyond use. However, bad weather came in and the helicopter came down on the Chilean coast 10 miles from Punta Arenas and 50 miles from where it was supposed to be and the mission was aborted. The discovery of the burnt out Sea King some 18 km south of Punta Arenas attracted public attention. All the crew were eventually found safe and well on 25 May and were flown to Santiago for questioning.
19 May
* An 846 Squadron RAF Sea King 4 transferring SAS troops from HMS Hermes to HMS Intrepid, ditched in the ocean after a birdstrike. Eight survivors, including the two pilots, were picked up but the aircraft had turned over and sunk immediately.
21 men did not survive including 19 members of the Special Forces, some of whom had taken part in the Pebble Island raid and the landings on South Georgia. The crash also claimed the life of the only RAF serviceman to be lost in the conflict who had been working in support of Special Forces operations.
A MoD Spokesman for the Special Forces said: “This accident represented the single greatest loss of life for the Special Forces

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