This is it! Troops go in, crash kills 21
Task force troops and Royal Marines launched a series of raids on Argentinian installations on the Falklands during a dramatic night of heavily-intensified military action, it was announced today.
But there was tragedy for the British forces before the raids began when 21 British soldiers died after a Royal Navy helicopter ditched in the icy South Atlantic while ferrying troops from one ship to another.
Defence Ministry spokesman Mr Ian McDonald told a press conference: ‘Nine of those on board were rescued. One dead body was recovered. The next of kin have been informed.’
He said the raids, carried out by a ‘number of landing parties’ and covered by bombardments from warships and Harrier air strikes, were still going on.
Early indications were that they were ‘achieving their objectives.’
Today’s daring hit-and-run raids came seven weeks to the day since Argentine marines captured the islands.
More - and permanent - landings were expected before nightfall, it is understood.
After weeks of diplomatic activity, the peace hopes finally faded last night, and Government ministers warned the country that fighting was imminent.
One Whitehall source had said: ‘The military screw is being tightened quite quickly now.’
The helicopter is the seventh the task force has lost since it set sail for the South Atlantic. Five Sea Kings and two Wessex helicopters have now ditched or crashed.
The accidents are thought to have been caused mainly by technical faults caused by continuous flying in bad weather.
Death toll up to 45
Forty-five members of Britain’s task force have now died since it set sail for the Falklands. Today’s tragic accident involving a Sea King helicopter almost doubled the number.
One dead body was recovered from the sea early today after the helicopter ditched, and 20 men are missing presumed dead.
Twenty sailors died when the destroyer HMS Sheffield was struck by an Argentinian missile, and 24 others were injured.
The task force has also lost three Harrier pilots.
Missing crew: search still goes on
The search was still going on in Chile today for the three-man crew of a task force Sea King helicopter which was lost “in appalling weather” while trying to reach the Chilean Naval base of Punta Arenas for an emergency landing.
The whereabouts and condition of the crew are a total mystery.
This is the sixth helicopter the task force has lost during the Falklands operation, including three Sea Kings that went down in the sea with mechanical problems.
Premier to visit college
The Prime Minister is to visit South Downs College, Purbrook, in July, to inspect electronic equipment to be used in the South East Hampshire Schools’ Micro-Computer Programme.
Mrs Thatcher will see some of the thousands of pounds-worth of equipment being provided through the scheme, which aims to use computers across the whole education curriculum, not specifically for computer studies.
The equipment will be provided in schools and colleges in the SE Hampshire education area within the next four years.
Mrs Thatcher will see college and further education students, together with secondary and primary school pupils during her visit on July 16.