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San Carlos

The British Task Force under Argentine attack in San Carlos Water
Soldiers disembark from a Wessex at San Carlos
The Operations Room on HMS Fearless during landings at San Carlos
It seemed likely from the Argentine invasion of the Falklands in early April that British ground forces would need to land somewhere on the Islands. Plans were considered and at an early point it became clear that a landing on East Falkland was desirable for several reasons, not least it being a little further from Argentine air bases and also where the main occupying Argentine forces were established. A number of options were considered but San Carlos emerged as the best choice as its separation from Stanley gave the best chance of successful landing and buildup. A further factor was the landlocked topography of the inlet, giving a degree of defence against Argentine air attack. Early on 21 May a large group of ships approached San Carlos. They included two assault ships, five landing ships and a number of requisitioned merchant ships including the liner Canberra. These carried most of 3 Brigade (mostly Royal Marines and Parachute Regiment), the landing force. The group also had a number of destroyers and frigates whose tasks included close escort, naval gunfire support and diversionary attacks to deceive the Argentines. The latter reacted by organising air attacks and some British losses were suffered, mostly by frigates, including the sinking of HMS Ardent. But by the end of the day the brigade was established ashore and the buildup continued over the following days.