Harrier GR3s at Port San Carlos for refuelling and rearming

Harrier Diary 6

The No 1 (Fighter) Squadron Operation Corporate Diary

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

Friday 11 June

Combat Report for this day,

A day of good weather is spent softening up the defensive positions prior to the assault on Stanley. Despite the use of air defence callsigns our purpose is compromised and we note a significant increase in groundfire, including small arms, AAA and SAM. The next few days could be full of excitement.

During the run-in to a target, my aircraft is holed through the cockpit but fortunately the damage is minimal. Tony Harper and Nick Gilchrist attempt to co-ordinate LGB delivery with LTM but the latter is unserviceable.

Peter Moiles calls on DSSS regarding the rotation of personnel. I very much hope that we all go back together.

Saturday 12 June

Combat Report for this day,

The push towards Stanley begins. The first day's objectives of Mts Longdon, Two Sisters and Harriet are achieved. Our aircraft are used for CAS. Again, a number of aircraft are hit by small arms, notably Murdo MacLeod whose aircraft is hit in the main equipment bay, severing a reaction control duct. A fire on landing requires swift reactions.

The Captain calls for citations for awards. It is very difficult to differentiate between the commitment shown by all the pilots.

Sunday 13 June

Combat Report for this day,

Ground forces consolidate before the final push. At last we mount two successful LGB sorties with LTMs achieving DHs against pin-point enemy positions.

The ship's crew present me with a plaque commemorating the battle damage to my aircraft.

Monday 14 June

Combat Report for this day,

There is no tasked flying but one pair of aircraft is scrambled for a LGB sortie; they arrive in the target area after a cease-fire is called. We will now have to await the outcome of negotiations.

In the meantime, I have managed to complete a Rubik Cube - once.

Tuesday 15 June

Argentinean forces in the Falkland Islands have surrendered unconditionally but we await the mainland reaction. There would appear to be some 15,000 POWs, which will be a massive task. Gale force winds and tempestuous seas mean no flying for anyone.

The rotation plot indicates that 1(F) will remain until mid-August with the first down going back in mid-July.

Wednesday 16 June

No activity over the islands and still no reaction from the mainland. In any case the weather is poor and there is no flying. When we do start again, we will convert to the air defence role and support the Sea Harriers until they depart.

I do not look forward to the 6-week period ashore; it is going to be particularly cold.

Thursday 17 June

I fly into the Blands in a Sea King to inspect the racecourse as a possible Harrier operating strip. It is far too wet and there are no facilities. There are a number of Argentinean helicopters there(UH-1s and Agusta 109s); the latter look very good. In any event the decision is made that we have to build a strip a strip on the airfield proper. Conditions in the town are filthy.

I visit MV St Edmund, the home for the second half of the squadron. It is tremendous to see the rest of the troops who seem to be in excellent form - if somewhat bored. After their long passage, they are eager to get to work. I sense that General David Thorne has already made his mark on them.

Friday 18 June

A quiet day with only limited flying but it does provide me with my 1,000th hour on Harriers. The new regime in Argentina has still to indicate its position.

In the meantime, the Task Force is marshalled into "Close Line Ahead" (senior ship at the back) to provide a photo opportunity.

Deployment of the GR3s to the airfield now unlikely before 1 July, but Captain is keen to get rid of us so that Hermes can head north.

Sunday 20 June

The weather is fair and we continue flying PIs which are very boring but at least flying. I decide that I must rotate 4 seasoned pilots for 4 on MV St Edmund. As a result, Harris, Flt Lt A Harper, Hare and Rochfort will be replaced. It some ways it will be a sad occasion but necessary and I have spoken to everyone.

We receive a report from Dunnose Head there were minor casualties as a result of Tony, Flt Lt A Harper's bombs dropping long. It was undoubtedly and accident but the Captain will make much out of it in the coming days. His first action is to send back to Northwood a biased signal.

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