RNA 10 Area
Unity, Loyalty, Comradeship and Patriotism

The Battle for South Georgia. April 3rd

April 3rd

Mill's Marauders.

South GeorgiaLieutenant Mills' brief from Captain Nick Barker of HMS Endurance was to put up a token defence. Lieutenant Mills disagreed strongly, and expressed his intent to "make their eyes water" instead.

The 'important message' was passed from the Bahia Paraiso to Lieutenant Keith Mills by VHF radio at 1030. It was an invitation to follow the Govenor and surrender. Lieutenant Mills repeated the message back to the Bahia Paraiso on high-frequency radio, ensuring that HMS Endurance was aware of what was going on (high-frequency radio could be intercepted over a much greater range than the low-powered VHF transmitter).

Argentine Corvette GurricaThe Argentine corvette Guerrico, entered the cove and its Alouette helicopter made a reconnaissance flight over the Royal Marines. Lt Mills went down to the jetty, assuming that the corvette was going to send a boat with a demand for surrender. Lt Mills's hope to dissuade the Argentine commander from landing troops disappeared when a Puma arrived and disgorged a large number of marines near the jetty. Lt Mills withdrew to the defensive position before the Argentine marines opened fire.

When the Puma returned with a second load of marines, it was greeted by the defenders with accurate machine-gun and rifle fire. The damaged Puma crossed the cove and crash-landed on a small plateau above the steep shore opposite King Edward Point. The Alouette had also been hit and the pilot landed beside the Puma to examine his own damage and to give assistance. The Puma had been hit by at least thirty bullets and the marines aboard had suffered heavy casualties, with several dead and wounded.

One of the Alouette's crew along with the Puma's engineer set up a machine gun and opened fire on the Marines. The Alouette pilot returned to the Bahia Paraiso and began a shuttle to land more marines on the far side of the cove. At about this time a Wasp helicopter launched by the Endurance, piloted by Lt Cdr Tony Ellerbeck, arrived on the scene. The mission was to provide real-time information for the Endurance until she was close enough to launch her armed helicopter. Lt Cdr Ellerbeck landed behind a ridge overlooking Grytviken and watched the final stages of the battle. The Guerrico returned to King Edward Cove to join the attack and opened up with her 40mm anti-aircraft gun, closing to point-blank range. The Royal Marines were armed with a Carl Gustav and a few 66mm anti-tank rocket launchers. Lt Mills waited until the Corvette was well inside before he replied.

Marine D. Coombes fired the first Carl Gustav round, although it hit the water short of the ship it went on to explode under the waterline amidships. The upper decks were raked with small-arms and machine gun fire. The Corvette turned and made for open water, drew out of range and then attempted to engage with her 100mm gun, but the gun elevation gear had been damaged by '66's. After about twenty minutes all firing ceased.

A virtual stalemate had been reached. Lt Mills rose from his position and walked towards the Argentine marines on the jetty and an officer came forward to negotiate. Having obtained a guarantee of good treatment, the Marines left their positions, laid down their weapons, defused explosives they had placed on the jetty and were taken off to the Bahia Paraiso. Lt Cdr Ellerbeck returned to the Endurance. RFA Appleleaf diverted to Gibraltar to refuel Task Force ships on their way south. Emergency Session of the House of Commons. Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher announces the despatch of the Task Force. UN approves Resolution 502.

Lt. Keith Mills was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions. Read his Citation from the London Gazette.