The first Harriers arrived direct from Ascension by way of Victor tanker support

Harrier Diary 5

The No 1 (Fighter) Squadron Operation Corporate Diary

Reproduced by kind permission of Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Squire, Chief of the Air Staff

Sunday 30 May

Combat Report for this day,

The weather is showery and we spend most of the day attacking targets in the hills to the West of Stanley. Jerry Pook's aircraft is hit and he runs out of fuel some 40 miles from the ship, but he is quickly recovered and returned to the ship along with Bob Iveson. We also get the news that Geoff Glover is in Stanley hospital with a broken jaw and arm.

In a continuing effort to get high-angle bombs onto Stanley runway, we attempt a LGB delivery from high-level using a chase aircraft to actively range the runway. In fact the logic systems between the bomb seeker head and the aircraft laser-ranger are incompatible - thus no guidance. Nor are the bombs seen to explode; is there a fuzing problem - if so it won't be the first or last such error.

Monday 31 May

Combat Report for this day,

Once again the weather is showery. We carry a further and unsuccessful attempt with the LGBs on Stanley runway. Then as a result of a Sea Harrier visual sighting of "swept-wing aircraft, possibly Etendards". Mark and I are launched from cockpit readiness to attack with rockets. Fortunately we flew together on the previous low-level attack on the airfield and plan to take the same route.

The no-notice launching of 2 aircraft by the RN, which had been allocated to the land forces for ground alert for CAS again reveals a lack of understanding of the tasking system. Of course the system must be flexible but I am certain that the principle was not considered. Furthermore, our being launched was an over-reaction. A Sea Harrier CAP could have contained the Etendards (if they had been there) while the photos were processed. These would reveal no such aircraft.

Following our losses, we badly need replacement aircraft but Captain Middleton opposes the direct transit on the grounds that he considers it a "publicity stunt by the RAF". Naturally, he dresses his reservation in flight safety terms (and there is a measure of risk) and I and the SAVO (Cdr Chris Honneyball) have to work hard and persuade the Admiral that Operation BOWSPLIT should proceed.

The RP attack on Stanley Airport


Tuesday 1 June

Combat Report for this day,

The weather is fine but we only have one aircraft available for tasking. I am not happy for singleton tasking at low level, following Jeff Glover's experience, and ask for SHAR escort for the armed recce from Bluff Cove to Goose Green. After a great deal of consideration this is approved with the proviso that the SHAR does not go below 10,000ft!! (some escort!) In the event the SHAR pilot is Ted Ball (Flt LT) who flew s any good No 2 should.

Mike Beech and Murdo McLeod arrive from ASI. Four Victor aircraft are required for each Harrier and Engadine is positioned is positioned approximately halfway as an en-route diversion!!

801 Sqn (Sharkey Ward) sends across a bottle of malt by way of apology for the poor visual report on the Etendards yesterday. At the same time they lose Ian Mortimer, shot down over Stanley by a Roland SAM, but after some hours in a dinghy he is recovered by helo.

Reinforcements and Reconnaissance

Wednesday 2 June

Sea fog and bad weather generally limits all flying and the next reinforcement package from Ascension is postponed.

Weather


Thursday 3 June

Still foul weather and no flying. We have needed more groundcrew for some time and after a number of attempts to get them cross-decked, we learn that they have arrived at San Carlos!!

Friday 4 June

Sea fog again prevents all fixed-wing flying. I therefore grab a Sea King and visit Invincible to see Sharkey Ward (CO 801 NAS). What an enormous difference in both atmosphere and environment.

We receive confirmation from the Red Cross that Jeff Glover is OK. I can now write home formally with details that we have had to protect for so long.

We badly need some work tomorrow.

Saturday 5 June

Combat Report for this day,

Sea fog until the afternoon leaving only a limited time for tasking. Bob Iveson and Tony Flt Lt A Harper fly to the San Carlos FOB and Harris and Rochfort flying the aircraft back having spent a couple of nights with Sid Morris.

The Port San Carlos Forward Operating Base


Sunday 6 June

Combat Report for this day,

Another poor weather day, this time over the Blands and only one operational sortie flown, another sortie looking for the land-launched Exocet which hit Glamorgan as she left the gun line a couple of days earlier. In fact the launcher is mobile but we attack known positions on Stanley Common at the same time as doing a photo-recce. I get very close to some aerials behind Stanley town.

Stanley positions


Monday 7 June

Combat Report for this day,

An excellent weather day but very little tasking.

The strip at San Carlos is causing considerable damage to tyres and again the lack of tasking makes it pointless to keep pilots there overnight. From now on we will merely deploy aircraft as required to sit on ground alert. In the event the SHARs will make far greater use of the FOB - for them it more than doubles there available time on CAP. Our effectiveness once again hampered by poor tasking comms.

Bob Iveson has now flown twice since his ejection and clearly he is in pain. I end him to the doctor and discuss the question of his return to the UK. Naturally he is not keen but the end is in sight with the attacks due to start on the hills West of Stanley tomorrow.

We may even see some or all of the 20 additional groundcrew from Atlantic Causeway.

Groundcrew


Tuesday 8 June

Mark Hare and I are programmed to mount Ground Alert at the FOB. I have aircraft XZ989 which is carrying a number of known defects. On take-off I have to go through the limiter to avoid sinking off the ramp.

At the FOB I misjudge the height going across the side of the pad and lift some of the metal. I overshoot in order to see what damage has been done and at about 90kts there is a marked drop in thrust which is not corrected by pushing through the limiter. As a result of the rate of descent and the fact that I am pointing directly at a Rapier FU, I elect not to eject and the aircraft hits the ground very hard - the undercarriage is broken off and canopy broken. The aircraft, still under power, comes to a rest at the end of the strip, whereupon I shut the engine down and vacate. Sid Morris is quite surprised to see me.

Mark Hare orbits until the pad is clear of metal and then lands, refuels and returns to Hermes. Flt Sgt Cowburn who has spent some time at the FOB starts robbing the aircraft of valuable spares while I catch a chopper down to Fearless in San Carlos Water. There I have a good chat with Wg Cdr Fred Travers who has been manning the ASOC. We discuss the tasking net with regard to communications and priorities.

I spend some time with Captain Jeremy Larkins on the bridge. Clearly he is a superb leader and whenever the ship comes under attack he dons a flack jacket and gives a running commentary over the PA. Plymouth is hit at the entrance to the Sound and limps in for damage control. I spend a couple of hours on the Wardroom floor with Lt Cdr (Surgeon) Rick Jolly. However, he is called away once news is heard of the attack on Galahad and Tristram at Bluff Cove. The plan is for me to transfer to Intrepid after dark and return by sea to Hermes. However, while transferring to Intrepid the plan is cancelled as Intrepid is to go to Bluff Cove to help rescue operations. I therefore return to Fearless where I spend the night.

Ross Boyens and Nick Gilchrist arrive on Hermes with 2 more aircraft. We now have 4 with ALE 40 and the active I-Band jammer and one aircraft capable of firing Shrike ARMs.

Crash landing at Port San Carlos


Wednesday 9 June

Combat Report for this day,

First thing in the morning I get a helo lift up to the FOB to fly one of the Ground Alert GR3s. Tony, Flt Lt A Harper, is the unfortunate one who loses his seat and I lead Ross Boyens on his first operational mission.

Back on Hermes that evening, I share a bottle of Glenmorangie with Bob Iveson in sick quarters. He is setting out for UK the following day.

Typical deck scenes


Thursday 10 June

Combat Report for this day,

The weather is excellent and we are tasked to carry out a number of BAI sorties in the Harriet/Two Sisters and Moody Brook areas. Tony Flt Lt A Harper lofts 2 LGBs into the sea following an unsuccessful trial as the FAC is not in position.

Very sadly the mission to help at Port Howard was very late in arriving and we were late on the TOT. As a result [unknown name] may have lost his life; yet another poor example of poor comms and tasking organisation.

Battlefield reconnaissance

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