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  Battle Atlas of the Falklands War 1982



Tug "Salvageman" at Grytviken

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Summary of Main Events

Fleet transport “Bahia Buen Suceso” (3,100 ton, 1951);
(Capt C. Trombeta), icebreaker “Bahia Paraiso” ; (flagship - 9,600 tons, one Army Puma and one Alouette, 1978); frigate “Guerrico” (950 tons, Exocet, 1x100mm gun, 1978); approx 100 marines

Ice patrol vessel “Endurance” , (3,600 tons, two Wasps,
Capt N J Barker (CBE) RN), 22 Royal Marines

Pre-Invasion Events

1. 19th March - “Bahia Buen Suceso” at Leith

2. 24th - "Endurance" reached Grytviken

3. 25th - “Bahia Paraiso” off Leith

4. 31st - Royal Marines left at King Edward Point as “Endurance” headed for Stanley

5. 3rd April - “Guerrico” arrived with “Bahia Paraiso” in Battle for Grytviken

6. 3rd - “Endurance” returned later that day


Battle for Grytviken

1. Army Puma landed first Argentine Marines

2. On second flight from “Bahia Paraiso”, the Puma was hit and crashed across the Cove with the Marines on board

3. “Guerrico” sailed in to be hit by anti-armour weapons, and back out in the Bay opened fire

4. More Argentine Marines landed from the Alouette and headed through Grytviken for the British positions

Argentine Claim - Argentina had long claimed South Georgia not so much in its own right, but as a dependency of the Falklands. The opportunity to exercise this claim was provided by Argentine businessman Constantino Davidoff, who contracted with the Scottish company of Christian Salvesen to clear away scrap whaling material littering parts of the island. Having agreed arrangements with the British Embassy in Buenos Aires, Davidoff chartered the fleet transport "Bahia Buen Suceso" to carry him and his workmen to South Georgia, and although there is no conclusive evidence the Argentine Government had deliberately planned what followed, the ship's illegal entry led to invasion. She arrived at Leith on Friday 19th March and started operations without observing the usual formalities of reporting first to the island's Magistrate, the base commander of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) located at King Edward Point near Grytviken.

Incident - When a BAS team reached Leith that Friday 19th March to find "Bahia Buen Suceso" in the harbour and workmen ashore with the Argentine flag flying, the incident was reported to Governor Hunt in Stanley, 900 miles away, who gave orders to the Magistrate that the Argentines must obtain proper authorisation. This they refused to do. Meanwhile ice patrol ship "Endurance" sailed in to Stanley on passage back to Britain and at the end of what was supposed to be her last season in the Antarctic.

Negotiations - Two days later, early on Sunday 21st March and at the start of nearly two week's diplomatic efforts to resolve the incursion, "Endurance", on orders from Fleet HQ at Northwood near London sailed for South Georgia. In addition to her own thirteen Royal Marines she took on board nine more from the small Falkland's garrison of Naval Party 8901. That same day - the 21st, BAS men set up an observation post overlooking Leith and saw the Argentine transport sail away leaving behind some of the civilian workers. "Endurance" reached Grytviken on Wednesday 24th at the start of a week of coastal patrols and replaced the BAS men above Leith with Marines flown in by Wasp. As negotiations continued between London and Buenos Aires, "Endurance" took no steps to remove the scrap men, but the Argentines had already ordered icebreaker "Bahia Paraiso" to sail to protect them, and by Thursday 25th, she had arrived at Leith. Approximately one hundred Marines went ashore under the command of Lt Cdr of Marines Alfredo Astiz and the icebreaker used her Alouette helicopter to shadow "Endurance" for the next few days.

Defence and Invasion - Almost a week later on Wednesday 31st March and as the Falkland's invasion threatened, "Endurance" landed her heavily-armed Royal Marine detachment at King Edward Point to prepare defences, and then unnoticed by "Bahia Paraiso", slipped out of Cumberland Bay that evening and headed for Stanley. Two days later on news of Stanley's capture, "Endurance" reversed course, by which time frigate "Guerrico" had sailed from Argentina to join "Bahia Paraiso" as the hastily assembled TF 60. The other two frigates - "Drummond" and "Granville" - previously on their way to support "Bahia Paraiso" played no part in the events that followed.

Terrain typical of South Georgia. Tug "Salvageman" in
Grytviken later in the war (Courtesy - United Towing Ltd)

Battle for Grytviken, Saturday 3rd April - That morning "Guerrico" and the "Bahia Paraiso" under the command of Captain Trombeta and by now with many of the marines re-embarked from Leith, arrived off Grytviken. The Magistrate was called on to surrender by radio, but he passed authority for the island to Lt Mills, and at mid-day, with the Alouette going ahead to reconnoitre, "Guerrico" laying out in the Bay and the Puma about to land the first twenty troops near King Edward Point, battle commenced. As the troop-carrying Puma made her second trip in from "Bahia Paraiso" she was hit by small arms fire and badly damaged just off the Point with two Marines killed. Barely managing to lift off, she made it to the other side of King Edward Cove before crashing [first Argentine aircraft loss - a1]. The Alouette was also hit, but only lightly damaged and continued to bring in more Marines across from the base. Now "Guerrico" sailed in to support the landings and opened fire on the British positions, but it was her turn to be hit by hundreds of rounds of small arms fire as well as 66mm LAW and 84mm Carl Gustav anti-tank weapons before heading back out into the Bay.

Surrender - From there, she used her 100mm gun against Lt Mill's men as the Argentine Marines moved around the Cove, through the whaling station at Grytviken and closed in. Trapped, with one man wounded and having convincingly defended British sovereignty, he decided to surrender. All 22 Royal Marines as well as the 13 civilians at Grytviken were taken prisoner. "Endurance" arrived too late the same day to take part in the action, but from extreme range flew in a Wasp. Landing across Cumberland Bay from Grytviken, the crew could only observe the Argentines in possession of the scientific base. She stayed on station for two more days, before sailing north early on Monday 5th April to replenish and meet the first ships of the British Task Force. The Royal Marines returned in triumph to Britain on the 20th April by way of Montevideo, and just six days later, the Argentine forces at Grytviken and Leith were themselves in British hands.

British Gallantry Awards

RM Detachment HMS Endurance - Defence of Grytviken
Lt K P Mills (DSC) RM
Sgt P J Leach (DSM) RM


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revised 31/5/13