• Si Biggs

Loss of 2 Gazelle and 3 crew from 3 BAS - San Carlos Water

3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron Royal Marines (3 BAS) deployed six Scout and nine Gazelle helicopters to the Falklands, commanded by Major Peter Cameron RM, who was awarded the Military Cross.


Landings began on 21 May 1982 under the codename Operation Sutton.


That day, Sergeants Andy Evans RM and Eddy Candlish in Gazelle XX411 were flying armed escort to a Sea King helicopter that was heading towards Port San Carlos, when they came under fire and had to ditch in San Carlos Water.


Fired on when swimming ashore - Evans was fatally wounded.


Lieutenant Ken D Francis RM and his crewman, Lance Corporal Brett Giffin set off in Gazelle XX402 to search for them, but were hit by ground fire from a heavy machine gun and were killed instantly, the aircraft crashing on a hillside. Only Candlish survived.


Sergeant Edgar Candlish received a Mention in Despatches in recognition of his service during the landings at San Carlos, East Falkland, May 1982. He was crewman of a Gazelle helicopter which was forced to ditch in the sea after the pilot was wounded by enemy fire. Sgt. Candlish managed to tow the wounded pilot 600 yards back to the shore and render first aid until relieved by medical orderlies.



The bodies were recovered to SS Canberra, and when that ship was ordered to leave the Falklands and head for South Georgia, Evans, Francis and Giffin were buried at sea in a special service attended by many on board the liner.


The remaining Gazelle XX412 of the three deployed with 'C' Flight, also came under heavy small arms fire in the area but managed to avoid casualties and return for inspection and repairs. The REME technicians were able to repair the damage whilst still under constant air attack by Argentinian 'Skyhawk' and 'Mirage' ground attack jets but returned the aircraft for operational use. Gazelle XX412 continued to be fully operational for the remainder of the conflict.


The squadron was involved in every major ground battle during the campaign in a variety of roles; reconnaissance, liaison, the movement of ammunition to the front line, and the recovery of casualties from forward positions. Its helicopters flew a total of 2,110 hours in just over three weeks reflecting a remarkable rate of serviceability and flying.


Distinguished Flying Crosses(DFCs) were awarded to Lieutenant R J Nunn (posthumously) and Captain J P Niblet RM.

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