Landing In San Carlos : Falkland Islands War : A Warrior’s Tale

Landing In San Carlos : Falkland Islands War : A Warrior’s Tale

Landing In San Carlos : Falkland Islands War : A Warrior’s Tale 39 years ago I was a very small part of the landing in San Carlos in the Falklands. 

There were 7 escorts in the Sound of which 6 were damaged and fortunately only one lost. But no hits on the landing force ships.

HMS ARGONAUT lost AB Boldy, a few weeks after his marriage, and S(M) Stuart killed on his 18th birthday. 

HMS Argonaut

After the first strafing attack I was the Flight Deck Officer controlling the Wasp landing to evacuate our wounded, when the Skyhawks hit with two more bombs. 

Argentina’s A-4 Skyhawks

All of the training is that you need approval to land a helicopter, but judging from the calls on the main tannoy to stop the engines, they appeared to be busy.

THE FALKLANDS CONFLICT, APRIL – JUNE 1982 (FKD 404) British soldiers disembark from a Westland Wessex HU.5 (XT450) of ‘C’ Flight 845 Naval Air Squadron at Port San Carlos. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

If the bridge has to resort to their 5th or 6th option for a communications link to the engine room all is not well, confirmed by a column of smoke from somewhere forrard.  

THE FALKLANDS CONFLICT, APRIL – JUNE 1982 (FKD 2744) 3 Battalion, Parachute Regiment disembark from a landing craft during the landings at San Carlos. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Unknown to me Peter Morgan was letting go the anchor to stop the ship, although the engines had actually been stopped. So I got on and conducted a successful CASEVAP. 

As the day wore on it became clear that the ship was losing power due to damaged boilers and contaminated fuel. 

As the emergency lanterns faded out to blackness you could hear the engineers trying to re-start the diesel generators with compressed air.

Each time the rattle of the turning engine failing to start faded away to silence emphasised the peculiar silence of the entire ship. 

The chefs had somehow produced a mountain of cheese ush (quiche in English) to sustain all.  Not a relaxed place to sleep, with more attacks expected the following day against a completely dead ship with no lights or power.

Fortunately HMS PLYMOUTH towed us into San Carlos, restarted the generators and fed us breakfast. 

HMS Plymouth

The Argentinians took the day off from attacks and we evolved to becoming the only Fighter Controller capable ship left in San Carlos. 

We left a week later after a fire, serious hull patching, and the removal of 2 UXBs.

arriving back in Devoport

Written by Nick Burton

Effective Director able to deliver in a changing and ambiguous matrix environment. Currently a Director of the  Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railway and volunteering at Bedford Hospital.
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