Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pebble Island Raid -- Falklands 30 years ago

The cratering of the runway and some destroyed aircraft are visible in this post-raid damage assessment photo.

The raid on Pebble Island was a textbook commando raid by the British, who pretty much invented the  modern commando in World War II (the very word 'commando' comes from the ground-breaking Commando units formed by the British in the Second World War). The raid was conducted by the S.A.S. (Speical Air Service) another British speical forces unit that traces its origins to Worl dWar II.

Pebble Island is one of the smaller islands in the Falklands group, just north of West Falkland Island. It's importance lay in a two-runway grass airstrip that the Argentinians had taken over. They established a small air presence at the strip, with a half-dozen Pucara ground attack aircraft, four T-34C trainers, which also had ground attack capability and a transport plane. There was also a radar site. All this presented an obvious threat to the British invasion fleet which was planning to pass just a  few miles away on its way to land troops at San Carlos.

About 45 SAS troopers, supported by naval gunfire from two frigates were given the task of landing near the airfield and attacking it to neutralize the radar site and aircraft.

The raid was a complete success, with all 11 aircraft, the radar site destroyed, runway cratered and the SAS extricated with no fatalities or serious injuries.  At least one Argentinian officer fell leading his troops, but total Argentinian personnel losses aren't reported.

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