Friday, February 17, 2017
On Fortuna Glacier
More fluff today I'm afraid. I'm really, really busy.
Back in 1982 General Leopoldo Galtieri and Almirante Jorge Anaya decided to throw a war. Everybody knows what happened; The Iron Lady sent the Royal Navy and a few good Paras to kick the Args the hell off British Soil.
Not so many people are familiar with the details of how this was accomplished.
On March 19 the Args took South Georgia -- not properly part of the Falklands but another "nearby" chunk of Britain, roughly 1,000 miles southeast of Port Stanley. On April 2 they took the Falklands proper.
On March 29 Britain began flowing forces south. At first it was just a couple of destroyers and a fleet replenishment ship to provide support. Within hours of the beginning of actual hostilities RN units exercising in the Med and eastern Atlantic headed south as well. On April 5 the RN's Harrier carriers Invincible and Hermes headed south with escorts. Most of these naval units met at Ascension Island before proceeding to the Falklands.
The first phase of evicting the Args was Operation Paraquet (quickly renamed Operation Paraquat by the Brit sailors), which was designed to recapture South Georgia. Task Group 317.9, consisting of the destroyer HMS Antrim, the frigate HMS Plymouth, and the replenishment oiler RFA Tidespring, were given the task. The landing forces assigned to Paraquat were 42 Commando, Royal Marines; D Squadron, SAS; and 2 Troop, SBS.
On 21 April three Wessex helicopters landed a recon force of SAS troopers on Fortuna Glacier at South Georgia. Then it all went to shit.
Here's a neat little episode of National Geographic's Helicopter Wars which tells part of the story. I can also recommend the book Down South: A Falklands War Diary, by Chris Parry.