Friday, May 2, 2008


It's 25 years on since the Falklands War, which took place in the spring of 1982. The government of Argentina, headed by the US-backed military dictator Leopoldo Galtieri, invaded the Falkland Islands in a wag-the-dog attempt to distract public attention from Argentina's economic collapse and internal troubles such as the Dirty War.

At the time of the invasion, the islands were home to about 2,500 Britons and had been sovereign (albeit intermittently contested) British territory since the 1700s, but which Argentina has maintained a claim to since the 1830s, referring to the islands as Las Malvinas. The island's chief exports were mutton and wool.

In a sneak attack, Argentine troops landed in on the islands on April 2, 1982, disarming the tiny Royal Marine detachment (after machine-gunning and burning the Marines' barracks under the mistaken impression that the British troops were inside) and establishing a 12,000-man garrison.

To the surprise of many in the international community, not least the Argentines themselves, the United Kingdom did not accept the Argentine occupation of the islands as a fait accompli. Despite the islands' being 8,000 miles away from Britain and the economically strapped condition of the UK, popular support ran strongly in favor of retaking the Falklands and Downing Street began mobilizing most of the atrophied Royal Navy for an expedition to retake the islands.

After some skirmishing at sea, British troops landed at San Carlos Water on East Falkland on May 21; over the next three weeks of fierce fighting, the British marched and fought their way east towards the islands' capitol town of Port Stanley. The Argentine garrison, who had been essentially abandoned to their fate by Galtieri's government, surrendered on 14 June. Galtieri's military government was thrown out the following year.

British warships headed south.

British troops marching across East Falkland. This is probably the most iconic photo of the war.

The Argentine cruiser General Belgrano sinking after being torpedoed.

War memorial in Buenos Aires.

HMS Sheffield burning

42 Commando memorial, East Falkland

British ships under air attack, San Carlos Water, May 24

A total of 907 men were killed on both sides; 649 Argentines and 258 from the UK (including three islanders), with 1,845 wounded.

So here's a drink to everyone on both sides who fought or only sat and waited in this strange little war at the bottom of the world..... in memory of anyone who was at Port Stanley, South Georgia, Teal Inlet, Goose Green, San Carlos Water, Mount Kent, Top Malo House, Port Pleasant, Fitzroy, Wireless Ridge, Two Sisters, Grytviken, South Georgia, Mount Longdon, Mount Harriet, Mount Tumbledown, the South Sandwich Islands, and on all the ships at sea.

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