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Chapter Twenty-Two THE BATTLE FOR STANLEY As the battle for Goose Green was being fought, 45 CDO and 3 PARA reached their first objectives - Douglas setdement and Teal Inlet - while D Squadron of SAS arrived at the landing site below Mount Kent. On the night of 29/30 May it was intended to fly in the tactical headquarters of 42 CDO, with K Company, the Mortar Troop and three light guns. This was thwarted by atrocious weather conditions , but was achieved the following night. Just as they arrived D Squadron SAS engaged an Argentine patrol which had wandered into the area. This was the only opposition they found. By first light on 31 May the slopes of Mount Kent were reached, made available to British troops by the move of the bulk of the Argentine detachment to Goose Green. This was a critical piece of ground to seize, the largest hill around Stanley and only 12 miles from the outskirts of the town. However, the forces now holding it were few - around 200 men - and were vulnerable to counter-attack. Five Argentine infantry regiments with considerable artillery support were believed to be somewhere in the vicinity. In the event the troops were mainly placed at risk by the elements. Between 1 and 3 June, Thompson made Teal Inlet the administrative base for his Brigade as planned before D-Day. Soon the build-up of 3 Brigade on the line of Mount Estancia-Mount KentMount Challenger was complete. There was no counter-attack because General Menendez had now decided that his main priority was to prepare for a battle in the 377 Combat immediate vicinity of Stanley. The possibility of dislodging the British from the beachhead was more remote than ever. Following the battle for Darwin/Goose Green, he ordered the 4th Infantry Regiment to occupy Two Sisters and Mount Harriet - instead of Mount Kent and take a defensive position to the west, from where the main attack was now expected. News that Mount Kent had been secured helped convince the Argentine command that it must retrench in Stanley for the critical battle, and even that this could begin in forty-eight hours. On ι June a number of Argentine patrols were helicoptered in to monitor British movements. They were caught in the areas of Mounts Challenger, Kent and Long Island, and in a series of small encounters lost up to half their strength. Meanwhile the Argentine Air Force claimed that the presence of these patrols inhibited them from con­ ducting strikes against the British position on Mount Kent.1 This may have been something of a rationalization; the problem may simply have been that the patrols had not identified for them anything worth attacking. The Argentine Assessment After Goose Green had fallen, Argentine intelligence and the Joint Chiefs of Staff assumed the final attack to be very close. The Chiefs recommended an increase in offensive air strikes and the maintenance of the air transport link with Stanley. If the Argentine position there was to be defended, additional supplies would be required from either West Falkland or the continent. The CEOPECON ordered an analysis of all provisions in the Malvinas. This study confirmed that there was enough food and fuel to deal with all Argentine needs until 15 June. In order to allow the garrison to hold out longer, the CEOPECON decided to prepare two naval auxiliary ships to sail on 30 May with food and ammunition, as soon as a third ship (which was already on its way to the Islands) had deposited its cargo in the harbour. As it turned out the two additional ships never left San Juan de Salvamento (Staten Island). This was because Admiral Lombardo 378 The Battle for Stanley thought that the provisions taken by the first ship would allow the defendants sufficient margin to resist until 31 July: the other ships should be sent only if required in the near future. Nevertheless they were to remain ready, loaded and waiting for the signal to sail. The air strikes that had been ordered were executed on 30 May, notable as thefirstoccasion on which the Air Force and Naval Aviation had acted jointly. The Air Force had asked to join the raid after the Navy had completed its initial planning. The Navy were worried that taking along four Skyhawks, while increasing the ordnance that could be delivered, risked compromising secrecy. The Air Force pilots, who had to rely on the superior navigation equipment of the SuperEtendard...


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