The Royal Marines Landing at San Carlos by David Rowlands (P)
21 May 1982: In the early hours of darkness on 21st May, 1982 eleven ships, led by Fearless and Intrepid, sailed towards Falkland Sound, the channel between East and West Falklands, and into San Carlos Water. A Force 8 gale had been blowing for days; low cloud and heavy rain kept enemy aircraft at bay. But as the task force sailed into San Carlos Water and the landing craft put out from their mother ships, the sea was dead calm beneath a clear, cold sky twinkling with stars. The Royal Navy's 4.5-in. guns opened up on the Argentinian troops on Fanning Head. 40 Commando Royal Marines and 2 PARA, heavy laden with equipment and weapons, clambered into the landing craft in the darkness. They were the first ashore, wading for the last few yards waist-deep towards Blue Beach. 3 Para's objective was Port San Carlos Settlement. By 0730 the landings by 40 Commando and 2 PARA on Blue beaches 1 and 2 were complete. As the dawn rose, the next wave, 45 Commando, faces blackened, wearing a mixture of berets and helmets, splashed ashore at Red Beach in Ajax Bay, while 3 PARA, followed by 42 Commando in reserve, came ashore at Green Beaches 1 and 2 close to San Carlos Settlement. The surrounding green hills were bathed in bright morning sunshine. Once ashore, the units dug in, as helicopters ferried in guns, ammunition, stores and vehicles. In the darkness the Argentinian defenders had withdrawn, and it was to be a few hours before their first response was to fire a machine-gun at two of the Gazelle helicopters, killing three men.