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B O M B   A L L E Y   -   T H I R D   D A Y
Longcast 1982 ] Ascension Island ] The Passage South ] The Falklands ] Action ] Seawolf ] Invasion 21st May ] Bomb Alley Day One 21st May ] Bomb Alley Day Two 22nd May ] [ Bomb Alley Day Three 23rd May ] Bomb Alley Day Four 24th May ] Coventry 25th May ] Total Exclusion Zone ] The Advance Ashore ] Bluff Cove ] Victory ] Epilogue ]

San Carlos Water - 23 May
San Carlos Water 23rd May

May 23 dawned bright and clear. BRILLIANT was in need of repairs and COVENTRY was detached to the carrier group so we took brilliant's place in San Carlos Water. Here we were supposed to have a better chance because we were protected by high ground and the long awaited Rapier, and it was thought that the only way that the Argentines could attack was through the narrow gap at the head of the water. How wrong we were. The aircraft came in low and fast, swooping down valleys on either side. Earlier in the day we had seen success when ANTELOPE' s Lynx had fired a Sea Skua into a freighter and the Harriers had shot down two Pumas and Bell helicopter, but now the boot was on the other foot. There were several attacks during the day, some more memorable than others. All were frightening but some seemed comical in retrospect. Sea Cat chased Mirages and just when they seemed to be gaining they ran out of steam and fell in the water like something from a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Other missiles and 40/60 fire hit the hillside in pursuit of one jet, scattering a herd of cows who left a trail of dust that even the Roadrunner would have been proud of. After the comedy came the tragedy. ANTELOPE who a  replaced the unfortunate ARDENT was the subject of a particularly ferocious attack in which received an unexploded bomb. She defended herself valiantly shooting down one aircraft and destroying another which hit her mast and cartwheeled into the water just yards ahead of our bridge. We ourselves then became the subject of a determined attack, Sea Wolf took one and 40/60 another, but somehow one aircraft launched two bombs which looked as if they were going to end Broadsword's war. The approach of the bombs, fitted with air brakes was very slow and everyone on the upper deck froze as they watched them draw nearer. Again God was kind and the first one fell short and the second passed over the bridge and exploded in the water 30 yards away. Meanwhile ANTELOPE had limped up the harbour to shelter amongst the assault ships. Yarmouth's sea Cat shot down another aircraft and dusk approached, signaling the end of the day's battle. There was a lot of joy around because many aircraft had been shot down and we had suffered only light casualties. The Navy had also not lost a ship. However this was all about to change. Shortly after dark ANTELOPE exploded as a bomb disposal expert attempted to defuse the unexploded bomb in the engine room. The explosion broke the ship's back and she quickly caught fire. This marred an otherwise successful day and set many minds wondering just how long we could hold out in Bomb Alley, by common consent we had decided San Carlos Water should be named. Early the next day ANTELOPE finally sank.