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Falklands War

From Women in European History

Leadup and Initial Confrontation

Argentina and the UK had long argued about the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. Argentina claimed that the islands rightfully belonged to them and were stolen by imperial Britain. In the months leading up to the war Argentina cut off supplies to the Islands and then later bribed local townspeople to raise the Argentinean flag, a jab at British sovereignty. On April 2, 1982 and in preemption of British reinforcement Argentina invaded the islands. They launched an amphibious landing with some 600 men and quickly dispatched the Royal Marines garrison. Following this the British governor surrendered and Argentina installed their own governor.

British Response

Due to the disparity of air coverage between the British and Argentinean forces, recovery of the island was expected to be difficult if not impossible. The US initially tried to intervene diplomatically but these talks quickly fell apart as it became obvious that Argentina was not interested in negotiation. Thatcher, deciding that failure here was politically unacceptable, began the retaliation.

The British immediately launched a naval task force and set up a temporary air base at Ascension Island. On April 21 Commando and SAS troops attempted to land on South Georgia Island in order to gather recon for an invasion but were forced to withdraw after two helicopters crashed in the fog. On April 25, after regrouping and while pressing their attack, an Argentinean submarine was spotted and destroyed by depth charges, multiple torpedoes, machine gun fire, and an antiship missile. Shortly thereafter the Commando and SAS forces landed and quickly recaptured the island.

Following this invasion the Argentineans increased their aerial presence in preparation for an invasion on Falkland itself. British Harriers from the HMS Invincible fought Argentinean fighters but failed to secure air superiority. On May 21 4,000 men landed on East Falkland and secured the beachhead. During the landing four British ShipS were sunk and another two badly damaged by Argentinean bombers and antiship missiles. On May 27 after heavy shelling British forces took Goose Green and Darwin, two cities on the island. On June 1 an additional 5,000 British troops arrived and the battle for the main city, Stanley, was soon to be underway. From June 11 to June 13 the British launched simultaneous assaults on the high ground defensive emplacements around Stanley and on June 13 they took Stanley. A cease fire was declared on June 14 and Argentina surrendered. By defying expectations and retaking the islands the UK had bolstered her international image and proved that she was a force to reckon with. Domestically, Britain felt a new surge of optimism and national pride.

Back to Margaret Thatcher's Critical Biography

Sources Used

Falklands War. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. [[1]]

Corum, James. Argentine Airpower in the Falklands War. Air & Space Power Journal, 2002. [[2]]

Retrieved from "http://womenineuropeanhistory.org/index.php?title=Falklands_War"

This page has been accessed 11,483 times. This page was last modified on 2 June 2010, at 17:17.


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