NAVY NEWS, MAY 2007 25
Friday May 21 1982
Ardent. With cold precision, they Sound and around into San Carlos sea battles and land actions that
applied the coup de grâce. Water, for a transfer of the survivors preceded Trafalgar, or the six years
In the burning chaos that had to Canberra. of fighting that characterised World
once been an effective warship, As the exhausted and emotionally- War 2.
the casualty list rose to 22 killed or drained Ardents climbed up the
missing, with over 30 men injured. passenger brow of the ‘Great White
The Medical Officer was blown Whale’ and entered the ship, they
n this day, a handful of ships
and aircraft were stretched
taut into a thin grey line.
over the side like a limp rag doll as passed along lines of fully-armed
That defensive barrier denied
he attended one of the mortally- Royal Marines from 42 Commando
access by a well-handled and deter-
injured members of the flight deck RM, all bent over under their ber-
minedly hostile enemy air group to
party. He was then jerked out of gens and warloads of ammunition
a cluster of amphibious and logistic
unconsciousness by the frigid water and mortar bombs.
ships anchored behind.
of Falkland Sound, and somehow No lights showed, but Royal
The courage and steadfast-
managed, in an unprecedented feat applauded softly and patted their
ness displayed by every compo-
of determination and strength, to backs with whispered thanks as the
nent of that barrier made possible
get into the survival suit that he was Ardent survivors stumbled past in
the well-recognised land battles of
carrying on his belt. the semi-darkness.
Goose Green, Mount Longdon,
The Dayglo orange material of Canberra was then ordered to
Two Sisters, Mount Harriet,
this equipment was then detected sail, as quickly as possible, and just
Tumbledown and Wireless Ridge.
by Broadsword’s Lynx helicopter as soon as her medical teams and
crew – and the doctor was rescued. stores could be split up and dis-
When each anniversary of ‘D-
The author and his colleagues embarked to create a field hospital
Day 1982’ rolls by, there is not a
also became involved when they ashore.
single Royal Marines veteran who
managed to retrieve two more Back in Argentina, the repair
took part in the landings on the
Ardents from the sea. teams were working non-stop to
Falkland Islands who does not
One was badly injured. Both repair the battle-damaged aircraft
think back, with real gratitude and
men were part of the Aft Damage that had managed to make it back
admiration, for the actions of all
Control party and had been cut off to the mainland.
those brave Royal Navy sailors and
by fire, forcing them to abandon The many holes in the Daggers
Fleet Air Arm fighter pilots.
ship by jumping – quite literally – and Skyhawks bore mute testimony
For them, Friday May 21st 1982
from the frying pan into the freezer. to the intense curtains of machine
will always be marked in their hearts
With the water temperature at 2°C, gun and cannon fire that the upper
as ‘The Battle of Falkland Sound’.
the unorthodox rescue effort was deck gunners of the British ships had
■ About the author: Rick Jolly
totally exhausting. generated. Some of those fighter-
retired from the Royal Navy in
bombers had to be cannibalised for
1996 in the Honorary rank of
MS Ardent was avenged
less than a minute later,
spares, and never flew again.
Surgeon Captain. He was
when a pair of SHARs on
appointed OBE in the 1982 South
the southern CAP fell on the three
Argentine Navy A4s as they exited T
he entry for ‘May 21 1982’ in
The Royal Navy Day by Day
Atlantic Honours List, and later
has recently been changed,
received a similar award from
Falkland Sound at low level. in order to reflect the terrific fight
the Argentine Government for the
The leader was taken with a that took place in Falkland Sound
care of their injured as well.
Sidewinder fired by Lt Clive throughout a very long day.
The expanded and revised
Morrell. His second missile explod- It was actually a toe-to-toe slug-
The Red and Green Life Machine
ed beneath the leader’s wingman, ging match, a vicious fight that
will be republished in early May:
but so severely disabled the aircraft ensured the ultimate success of a
that it could not make the return complex amphibious assault. ■ About the artist: David Hardstaff
journey to the Argentine main- Remember, this was the very first is a 43-year-old former TA solder
land – and had to turn for Stanley time that any Naval formation had who now works for the Home
instead. The pilot ejected into the been attacked by a fast jet force. If Office, and is married with two
ned in HMS Brilliant, two CAP Sea Harriers of 801 Squadron from HMS
harbour there as his aircraft crashed those Royal Navy ships and SHARs teenage daughters. For the past
made their escape after finishing off HMS Ardent.
on the foreshore. had not fought so well and with 20 years he has painted a variety
achieved two AIM-9L Sidewinder ‘kills’, and his wingman, Flight Lt John
The second Sea Harrier then got such skill and determination, the of maritime and aviation subjects
ve a ‘guns kill’ on the third enemy jet with his Aden cannon.
behind the third A4 and, after trou- landing – and Operation Corporate in oils, and is entirely self-taught.
the ships, as they might have been Cdr Rod Fredricksen.
ble trying to arm his missiles, Flt itself – could so easily have failed. Thanks to his friendship with sev-
shot down. Instead, they tried to The CO of 801 Squadron, Lt
Lt John Leeming, on secondment Had this actually happened, it eral HMS Yarmouth veterans of
pick off the attacking Argentine air- Cdr Nigel Ward, then took out a
from the Royal Air Force, shot it is very likely that Her Majesty’s the conflict, he met Dr Rick Jolly
craft as they came into the ADZ, or Dagger with a missile, to add to the
down with his Aden cannons. Government would have fallen. in Nottingham and heard his talk
else take them as they exited after Pucara that he had shot down by
Daylight began to weaken. The In the oldest organised fighting about the 1982 events in the
dropping their bombs. cannon fire earlier in the day.
remaining Ardents climbed down service in the world, we have always South Atlantic and, in particular,
Intensive and realistic training Seconds later, and just to show
and across to Yarmouth as she posi- looked to the example of our forefa- the ‘Battle of Falkland Sound’.
has always been the hallmark of that his boss and the other senior
tioned her stern alongside the bows thers for continued inspiration. Rick then commissioned him
the Fleet Air Arm’s fast jet com- Fleet Air Arm aviators were not
of her stricken colleague – in which The manner in which they fought, to do a small series of ten can-
munity. Some of the more senior unique in any way, the splendid
the fires of Hell continued to burn. and the way in which their fighting vases relating to events on that
aviators who had flown Buccaneers Lt Steve Thomas achieved a ‘right
The author rejoined Yarmouth as spirit was created and maintained, day. These will shortly be made
or Phantoms in the past were also and left’ with his two Sidewinders,
the gallant old frigate sternboarded down the ages, is especially relevant available in a limited edition by
possessed of vast experience. downing the remaining Daggers of
away from the abandoned Type today. Our present times are much Maritime Prints and Originals:
The empty and undulating ter- ‘Raton’ flight while operating as Lt
21, and then steamed up Falkland more peaceful than the constant www.maritimeprints.com.
rain of the Falklands ‘campo’ was Cdr Ward’s wingman.
almost identical to the Scottish But there was further trouble
Highlands where they had learned in store.
their deadly skills. A trio of Fuerza Aerea A4s pen-
Those basic factors were under- etrated the defensive screen, only
pinned by the brilliantly versatile for two of them to waste their
Sea Harrier/Sidewinder AIM-9L bombs on the hulk of an abandoned
air-to-air missile combination that Argentine freighter. The third pilot
now justified the faith of all those made an accurate attacking run on
that had ever believed in the con- the lone HMS Ardent.
cept. This was followed, within
Aided by a steady stream of accu- the hour, by a well-coordinated
rate intercepts from Brilliant, the onslaught against the Type 21 by
air defence balance sheet gradually more Daggers, this time with two
began to look a lot more healthy for bombs scoring direct and devastat-
the British defenders. ing hits.
Two Argentine A4s inbound from Less than 30 minutes later,
the north fell victim to Lt Cdrs Mike another three Skyhawks, this time
Blissett and Neil Thomas. Another from the Argentine Naval Air
A4 was caught and destroyed by Lt Command, came on the burning
● (Right) ‘Time to Go, Amigo...’
Using his powerful pulse-Doppler radar to very best advantage, the
stand-in Fighter Controller in HMS Brilliant detected a pair of Pucara
twin-turboprop aircraft on an armed patrol, and steered a trio of 801
Sea Harriers on to these targets, which were flying at low level to the
south of Goose Green. One Pucara escaped down a side valley as the
two wingmen misjudged their approach speed, and overshot.
The leader, Lt Cdr Nigel Ward, put his Sea Harrier’s flaps and engine
nozzles down in order to stay right behind and above the Pucara
flown by Major Carlos Tomba. The gallant Argentine pilot stayed with
his aircraft as long as he could, while ‘Sharkey’ Ward damaged its
engines, wings, tail and fuselage with controlled bursts of 30mm can-
non fire, all the while avoiding the Pucara’s cockpit.
Finally, Major Tomba took the ‘Martin-Baker’ option, ejected, and
landed almost adjacent to his crashed aircraft. He then walked back
to Goose Green – and later became a PoW at Ajax Bay.
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