Falklands War


Introduction

The Falklands War was a ten week war between Argentina and the United Kingdom. The hostilities were carried out at long distance across two oceans. While there were no overt allies, the United Kingdom benefitted from the US military base on Ascension Island in the mid-Atlantic and also had access to the latest weaponry. The Falklands War started almost by surprise, but stimulated a massive military and logistical response including the conversion of the Cunarder Queen Elizabeth into a troopship.

The Falklands War is summarised in Wikipedia:

The Falklands War, Guerra de las Malvinas, was a 10-week undeclared war, between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982, over two British dependent territories in the South Atlantic: the Falkland Islands and its territorial dependencySouth Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The result of the war was a British victory.

The conflict began on 2 April, when Argentina invaded and occupied the Falkland Islands, followed by the invasion of South Georgia the next day. On 5 April, the British government dispatched a naval task force to engage the Argentinian Navy and Air Force before making an amphibious assault on the islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and ended with an Argentine surrender on 14 June, returning the islands to British control. In total, 649 Argentine military personnel, 255 British military personnel and three Falkland Islanders died during the hostilities.

The conflict was a major episode in the protracted dispute over the territories’ sovereignty. Argentina asserted, and maintains, that the islands are Argentinian territory and the Argentine government thus characterised its military action as the reclamation of its own territory. The British government regarded the action as an invasion of a territory that had been a Crown colony since 1841. Falkland Islanders, who have inhabited the islands since the early 19th century, are predominantly descendants of British settlers, and strongly favour British sovereignty. Neither state officially declared war, although both governments declared the Islands a war zone.

Diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and Argentina were restored in 1989 following a meeting in Madrid, at which the two governments issued a joint statement. No change in either country’s position regarding the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands was made explicit. In 1994, Argentina adopted a new Constitution, which declared the Falkland Islands by law as an Argentinian province. However, the islands continue to operate as a self-governing British Overseas Territory.

This is also one of the most recent military interventions when some of the participants are still alive to describe their experiences. This article benefits from the experience of four residents who were involved. One with a positive overview of events, praising the naval action involved, the others serving in the Navy at that time.

The naval officers describe their experience on two warships, both of which were subject of attack by Argentinian Mystère fighter planes carrying Exocet missiles.


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