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Last Updated: Friday, 15 June 2007, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Diary from the Falklands Conflict
Pictures taken by Tony Groom

Tony Groom, a diver in the Royal Navy's bomb and mine disposal team, had just turned 23 when he was sent to the Falklands in April 1982.

He kept a diary of his experiences and contacted the BBC News website to tell us about it. Tony re-read these diaries for the first time this year and is now planning to write a book.

See below for his diary entries from June.

TUESDAY 1 JUNE 1982

A couple of air-raid warnings during the day. One was a Hercules. Two Harriers attacked it.

It was hit by a Sidewinder missile and also cannon-fire. Bet it went with a bang.

First page of Tony Groom's diary

We're hoping it was the tanker that was refuelling their jets.

I mentioned previously that the other diving team had gone ashore. Some of them came on board today to bring more bomb disposal gear to us. They are having a rough time ashore. They are living in Red Beach, the field hospital I said was bombed.

The team said some are very young and skinny, some were only fourteen years old. They apparently are no trouble at all, just glad to be alive and want to go home.

They were told: "The British will shoot you if they catch you."

Pictures taken by Tony Groom
British soldiers crowd on deck

Team dived on the Fearless today to blank a hole.

Going into Teal Inlet to pick up a small mine-sweeping team that we took there last night. Forgot to mention it.

So it's back into Exocet country for a while. Hope they found no mines. Another job for us if they have.

Teal Inlet is where the main attack is going to go on, I believe.

WEDNESDAY 2 JUNE 1982

Going to sea for two days, to the maintenance place for a rest period.

All the sailors on here are keeping what's called "defence watch". It is six hours on, six hours off, constantly.

They've been at it since we got in the danger area now. During the six off, of course, there are meals to be had and washing etc.

Pictures taken by Tony Groom
A rare moment of down-time for British troops

We're told we're out of standard range now. One was shot down today by a Harrier.

Two thousand more troops went ashore today. We could take Stanley, any time now.

Been busy, and lost track of the days. I'll start again on the 5th.

SATURDAY 5 JUNE 1982

I got picked for a good job. Four lads, Mick and Ben and I left the Intrepid just as it was getting dark in a Sea King [helicopter], the pilot was the special ops pilot (SAS).

Six of us (divers) went off, there were also lots of Paras to protect us. We were complete with rucksacks, ration packs; "you-can't-see-me gear".

The pilot never went above 50 feet and did 110 knots all the way. About 10 minutes to cover 30-odd miles, through valleys, over and round mountains etc.

We landed at a place called Bluff Cove just as it was getting dark.

I don't know what happened to 7 June. I don't think there was one.

It is a small settlement of only two families, they were English and would do anything to help us get the Argies out.

The old man from the settlement gave us a lift to the small estuary we were to swim in, in search of mines.

It was about midnight when we got there. Myself and Billy dived, searching for the mines. It was a spectacular ride.
Pictures taken by Tony Groom
A dive team heads to Bluff Cove to search for mines

We cleared the estuary and the REs [Royal Engineers] cleared the shore. We finished diving around 0400 and slept the night in a pig pen or sheep pen, both smell the same.

In the morning, the families topped us up with tea and steak sarnies. They flew a Union Jack that day for the first time since the invasion.

Our tanks and Paras appeared from all over the place that morning. The Argies have killed over 150 of their sheep and torn down over four miles of fences to burn.

The following day, nearly 1,000 Royal Scots Guards will come in to Bluff Cove estuary and land at the site we dived. The families don't know that yet, for security reasons.

She'll have some tea to make then!

Caught another chopper back about six the following day.

It was 6 June 1944 that D-Day really happened. I don't know what happened to 7 June. I don't think there was one.

TUESDAY 8 JUNE 1982

Bomb Alley.

It had only been light about half an hour - it was about midday. Air-raid warning, red, imminent.

I was stood on the flight deck, camera in hand - getting brave these days!

The Exeter fired her sea dart. She was about a mile behind us in San Carlos Bay (all ships at anchor). It was a very clear morning. The missile could be seen going up.

It does twice the speed of sound, this thing. We all watched where it had gone, but could see no planes as they were at 30,000 feet.

A small puff of smoke was seen after a few seconds, thousands of feet up. It was confirmed a hit over the tannoy. Cheers accordingly.

Pictures taken by Tony Groom
British soldiers crowding on deck

We could see it spinning and glinting in the light as it came down. The smoke train following it. It's the first time they've tried it at such long ranges.

No doubt it's not the last.

The high level bombing was a new theory of theirs - not getting hit because we're too high.

At sea tonight to pick up the landing craft that dropped the Scots Guards off. Oh no! Tooth ok now.

Think I'll wash my socks just for a laugh. They'll fall to pieces, it's the dirt that's holding them together. Wrong!

WEDNESDAY 9 JUNE 1982

Attacked about 1730. Waves and waves of Mirages and Sky Hawkers.

After the attacks, the Plymouth came in just ahead of us. She was ablaze and listing badly. She asked for bomb disposal assistance.

We all looked at each other - it's a sick feeling deep in your stomach. Mick (Fleet Chief), myself and Billy E went over to her.

She had been hit by two 1000lb bombs, plus cannon and rocket line. The two bombs had gone in the port side and amazingly turned upwards and flew out of the dock about midship. The funnel was ripped apart.

Pictures taken by Tony Groom
Tony and his colleagues were sent to HMS Plymouth to assist

One of the cannon fire shots had hit a depth charge on the flight deck. It went off a full order, nearly. There was a hole ripped in the deck about 15 foot in area.

The other end caught fire and swept forward. Again brilliant naval fire-fighting saved the ship.

When the bombs came in, they smashed two mortar bombs in half, in the mortar magazine. That's what we had to render safe. We lowered them over the side in about an hour.

Another air raid took place during our job. It was not at us but at the Teal Inlet, I mentioned it earlier, I believe.

Tristram and Galahad were at Bluff Cove. On arrival back to Intrepid we were hit with the news, Sir Tristram and Sir Galahad were ablaze and abandoned.

Tristram took two 1000lbs and Galahad three or four at Bluff Cove. The casualties were ferried to the Intrepid where a hospital was again set up in the dining room.

Crew and embarked foces were ferried to us from Tristram and Galahad. Some were burned beyond recognition.

Their flesh was black and swollen, most had no hair

Many we knew well from our four or five weeks on the Tristram. It was clear lots had not been wearing anti-flash.

The blast or flash had caused most of the burns. Many had no skin on the exposed areas. Their flesh was black and swollen, most had no hair.

It was sick, disheartening and demoralising, the guys we knew from Tristram told us about it all. They said she was exploding like mad as they left.

They don't know if she sunk. I hope not, to put it mildly.

THURSDAY 10 JUNE 1982

Attacked but were all beaten off by Harriers. Nice day.

FRIDAY 11 JUNE

Today was the day for the big attack on Stanley. Naval gun fire, Harriers etc. For some reason it was put off 24 hours.

I can't stop thinking about home. I mean, they're going to think we were on the Tristram. They won't give any casualty numbers to us for some reason. They were much more than expected.

SUNDAY 13 JUNE 1982

Big push forward ashore today.

2 Para have taken the Two Sisters and 45 Commando have taken Mount Longdon. In fact, all objectives have been taken.

We went to sea to Berkeley at nightfall. It was to drop off one of the landing craft the Intrepid carries and pick up four others.

At about 0200, there was an air raid warning. Three waves of four.

We heard the countdown - 10 miles, five miles to only one mile.

They were going overhead to attack the troops ashore. They passed directly overhead very low without seeing us. Or not bothered about us?

We were 43 miles from Port Stanley. We could see the flashes from the bomb lighting up the sky.

One flash was in the sky and shortly after we could see a ball of flames come all the way down until it went out in the sea.

Four ships behind us were giving naval gun fire support around Stanley when the attack came and the Cardiff got the one we saw with Sea Dart.

We thought they were going to attack us on the way back as they had to go over us anyway. We heard the countdown - 10 miles, five miles to only one mile.

Again they went over the top - we stayed in a snow cloud so they obviously didn't see us.

Got to bed around 0400. About 0430 there was an Exocet warning so we were up again for a while. Sleep? Ha.

MONDAY 14 JUNE 1982

The push forward by troops went on all night with some resistance.

Pictures taken by Tony Groom
The High Street in Port Stanley

This morning, the Argies had retreated again, further back.

At 1605, a pipe came over that they had virtually surrendered. 1615: a white flag was seen flying in Stanley. At bloody last!

Tonight the peace treaty should be signed, this is only for the land forces, not the sea or air force. At 1130 a pipe from the Commander said that we, the Intrepid, will go to West Falklands to secure that agreement and rescue the civvies.

West Falklands is still in Argentine hands so it might be fun sailing into Port Howard, they might not wish or might not know they are supposed to surrender.

It snowed heavily today. It's cold enough diving but at least we can get into the warm afterwards. Not at sea tonight. In Bomb Alley.
Pictures taken by Tony Groom
Tony Groom surrounded by hundreds of Argentine prisoners

The lads on the hills and mountains mustn't half be cold at night. Picked up hundreds of prisoners.

Been to Stanley, seen the damage. Seen it, done it, read the book, seen the film, blah-blah.

WEDNESDAY 23 JUNE 1982

Just been told we are going home on the Fearless on Friday next. Don't know if it's possible but have to get mail away today. It may all fall over, usually does. Must go or I'll miss the helo.






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