On this day in history : 8th June 1982 – Fifty-six British servicemen are killed during an Argentine air attack on two supply ships in the Falklands conflict – in what becomes known as the ‘Battle of Bluff Cove’….

Anchored off of Fitzroy, Port Pleasant, supply ships RFA Sir Galahad and RFA Sir Tristram were in the process of being unloaded, when at 14.00hrs local time five A-4 Skyhawks from the Argentine Air Force’s 5th Brigade made a surprise attack….

RFA Sir Galahad – Image credit : Dmgerrard at English Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0

Three bombs hit Sir Galahad and it instantly burst into flames…. With the fire spreading rapidly ammunition onboard began to explode and men jumped overboard to escape…. A further two bombs hit Sir Tristram – helicopters that were being used to ferry supplies rushed to help….

At 16.50hrs a second air attack took place…. Four Skyhawks sank a landing craft utility which was carrying vehicles to Bluff Cove – six Royal Marines were killed…. this time a Sea Harrier combat air patrol was able to respond and three of the Skyhawks were shot down…. A third wave of Skyhawks arrived shortly afterwards, attacking ground targets – but with little success…. HMS Plymouth was also targeted in a separate attack, which caused considerable damage and injured five onboard….

In total 56 British servicemen were killed in the attacks, 48 of these were onboard Sir Galahad and 2 on Sir Tristram…. A further 150 were injured – many through burns…. Sir Tristram was later rebuilt but Sir Galahad was beyond repair and so was towed out to sea and scuttled….

RFA Sir Tristram after the Argentine attack – Image credit : Ken Griffiths – own work – CC BY-SA 4.0

Among the wounded onboard Sir Galahad was Simon Weston…. His injuries were so severe that 25% of his skin suffered third degree burns…. He was to endure years of reconstructive surgery which was to involve over 96 operations and procedures….

Weston was later to travel to Argentina for a TV documentary and was to meet Carlos Cachon, the Argentinian Air Force pilot who had carried out the bombing on Sir Galahad…. The visit was returned when Cachon and his family visited Weston in Liverpool…. The two became great friends….

Simon Weston – Photo credit : cropped image (Wikipedia) taken from original photo by Phil Guest via Flickr – CC BY-SA 2.0

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