RNA 10 Area
Unity, Loyalty, Comradeship and Patriotism
 

The Liberation of South Georgia. April 25th

On the Endurance the night of the 24th April was spent quietly, camouflaged amongst the icebergs to the south of South Georgia. Just before dawn she moved north east along the cost toward Grytivken and made a rendezvous with the rest of the Antrim group.

At 0810 Humphrey, the Antrim's Wessex, armed with depth-charges and piloted by Lt Cdr Stanley had taken off for an anti-submarine search. Radar silence was maintained to avoid detection. Once the Wessex had swept Cumberland Bay Lt Parry, Humphrey's observer made a single sweep with the radar. He immediately saw a 'blip' and the helicopter went to investigate. The 'blip' was the Santa Fe. The Antrim launched the first naval air attack on a submarine since World War II. One of the two depth-charges dropped exploded close to the port side of the Santa Fe, causing enough internal damage to prevent the submarine from diving. The Santa Fe turned to run for the safety of Cumberland Bay and was followed by the Wessex firing its General-Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) and HMS Brilliant's Lynx, which first fired a homing torpedo and followed with more GPMG fire.

HMS Plymouth's Wasp was scrambled following the Wessex's sighting of the Santa Fe but was beaten to a firing position by one of Endurance's helicopters piloted by Lt Cdr Ellerbeck. The helicopter, armed with AS12 missiles, got off her two shots, the first exploding inside the submarine's large fin. The helicopter had returned to the Endurance, reloaded and returned to the Santa Fe before the Plymouth's Wasp had time to fire. Again one hit and one miss was recorded by the Endurance's Wasp. The Plymouth Wasp had time to fire only one missile, the return flight to HMS Plymouth being 50 miles.

Endurance's second helicopter, piloted by Lt T S Finding was on her way by 10:00 and after encountering machine-gun fire from King Edward Point scored another hit on Santa Fe's fin. Lt Cdr Ellerbeck's third attack was more strongly opposed with anti-tank rockets, rifle-fire from the shore and at least one machine-gun in action on the Santa Fe. The Wasp escaped damage and scored its most damaging hit, striking the periscope standards. At 11:00, the Santa Fe was alongside the pier, listing and apparently on fire.

NGS from HMS Antrim The task group Commander decided to make the most of the offensive, and sustain the effort to recover the island. The first team ashore were a Naval Gunfire Support (NGS) team, landed by Lt Cdr Ellerbeck's Wasp. The team's spotting officer almost immediately called for gunfire against troops on Brown Mountain which the frigate provided for the next twenty minutes. The first wave of the assault was landed by HMS Antrim's Wessex and HMS Brilliant's two Lynxes about two miles from Grytviken. The remainder of the landing force was ferried ashore by the three helicopters, which were later joined by Lt Cdr Ellerbeck's Wasp.

Be pleased to inform Her Majesty that the White Ensign flies alongside the Union Jack in South Georgia. God save the Queen.

HMS Antrim and Plymouth provided fire when called to do so. The troops stormed Grytviken and very soon the Argentines raised the white flag, sang their national anthem, and lowered the Argentinian flag after just 23 days of occupation at Grytviken.

Lt Cdr Ellerbeck had the privilege of witnessing both the beginning and end of Argentine occupation. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions. HMS Plymouth and HMS Endurance were sent to Leith to seize the area where the scrap men had first been landed. The small garrison was called on the radio by Endurance and asked to surrender.

Just rejoice at that news and congratulate our forces and the marines.

The military Commander Captain Alfredo Astiz requested that the civilians be given safe refuge which was granted, However, he refused to surrender the military force. As darkness fell, Captain Astiz, did agree to surrender and was asked to assemble his troops on the football field - a few hundred metres to the west of Leith. This the Commander refused to do - the football field was heavily mined including a particularly potent charge under the helicopter landing H provided.Surrender signed aboard HMS Plymouth

The ceremony at which Captain Astiz formally surrendered was held on board HMS Plymouth.

Nearly two hundred prisoners and civilian detainees were taken, in an operation with only one major casualty; a seaman on board Santa Fe was shot by a Royal Marine who mistook his actions as an attempt to scuttle the submarine. Read the Board of Inquiry report into the death of Felix Artuso.