Part 7 22-23 May - Falklands Conflict Recollections 30 Years On By Veteran David Ramsden
11th June 2012
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Sat 22:Spent night and morning towing Argonaught to safe water. Ardent exploded previous night.                                                                     Action stations 1000, no air raids all day but stood too.Nearly got caught out in Falkland Sound by A4’s – felt very exposed.                   Orders to carry out sneaky on airfield.

The previous evening we had been tasked with going to the aid of HMS Argonaut who had dropped her anchor due to losing all power after being hit by bombs and rocket fire during an air raid earlier that day. We stood by, offering protection against further attacks until nightfall then attempted to tow her back to the relative safety of San Carlos Water. 

The night proved to be very long with problems occurring due to Argonaut’s total power failure. The tow was abandoned and Captain Pentreath decided the best and safest way to get her to safety was to lash her alongside and tow her in that way. Plymouth provided hot drinks and soup, as well as technical, assistance and electrical power to a very shocked but relieved ships company.

The rest of the day was spent at action stations, ready to repel any incoming air raids and that night we were tasked with putting a 5 man SBS team ashore to carry out some dastardly deed at an airfield on West Falkland, a round trip of some 250 miles at close to full speed in pitch black conditions with only intermittent radar sweeps and back in to San Carlos before dawn the next day.

Our night time activities were getting more and more surreal! 

Sun 23:Action stations 1030 – Day break. No sign of aircraft until 1730 – Good clear day – Argentinean Air Force Day.                                      Two separate A4 and Mirage III air raids.  MIII hit Antelope and crashed.  Antelope later exploded, we assisted, sorry sight.  8 aircraft shot down.

Sunday 23rd was Argentinean Air Force day, so we expected the worst, although the day was fairly quiet until 5.30pm when a series air raids shattered the peace!

A4 Skyhawks and Mirage III jets roared into San Carlos, at very low level, in separate attacks and as was becoming usual on these occasions anti-aircraft fire broke out from all quarters. 4.5” shells, Seacat and Sea Wolf Missiles, 20mm Oerlikon and small arms fire of all kinds met the speeding jets. 8 enemy aircraft in total were shot down during the air raids that evening but HMS Antelope was hit and an unexploded bomb lodged deep in one of her magazines which subsequently exploded as a bomb disposal team attempted to disarm it.

We were on our way out of san Carlos when Antelope exploded and a sailor ran into the bridge shouting that there had been an explosion some way behind us. Knowing what was happening in Antelope, we turned round and headed back towards her, I will never forget the sight, something like a massive firework going off, as when we were about 1000yds from Antelope, her Seacat magazine exploded and lit up the sky, silhouetting the ship in what was to be her final death throw, as the following morning, her back was broken and she lay on the bottom of San Carlos, only her bows and stern still visible.

We stood by and recovered her ships company by boats as they had all been gathered on the ships forecastle, the furthest point forward on the ship while the bomb disposal team went about their task. None of Antelopes Ships Company was lost in the incident but the Bomb Disposal Team were killed instantly.

Antelopes Captain was brought to our bridge where Captain Pentreath gave up his seat and hot tea appeared instantly; I remember him sitting in silence, sipping his tea and watching his ship burn.


Read Part One

Read Part Two

Read Part Three

Read Part Four

Read Part Five

Read Part Six

Read Part Eight

Read Part Nine

Read Part 10a

Read Part 10b

Read Part Eleven


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