Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Falklands War Remembered

It seems some people are being asked what they remember of the Falklands war which happened 25 years ago.

Firstly I had for one reason or another been reading up on the Falklands long before the invasion, along with other islands in the South Atlantic like Tristan Da Cunha, and Gough Island. So I knew exactly where they were.

When at 13 I heard we were to withdraw the Endurance I was concerned that it was a cut to far, and concerned about the signals it would send. In short I thought it was nuts.

I was 14 at the time. I was on the bus home from school when someone got on the bus and said that the Argentinians had invaded the Falkland islands. I seemed to be the only person on the bus who knew where they were.

The invasion was a shock. Well, it was to a lot of people. Obviously we made a statement denouncing the invasion and demanding the immediate withdrawal of Argentinian forces. Needless to say they didn't accede to the request.

I remember the build up to war and sailing of the fleet, with large crowds gathered to send our lads off.

Several ships were commandeered for the war. One such was teh container ship Atlantic Conveyor which carried more aircraft to the area (They could fly off the deck). Many other ships were also commandeered including the Canberra which was used as a troop ship and hospital ship.

I remember Brian Hanrahan's famous words as our Sea Harriers engaged the enemy. "I counted them out, and I counted them all back."

I was shocked at the loss of the Sheffield, and the Atlantic Conveyor (we lost other ships as well). When the Atlantic Conveyor was hit several of its merchant crew, including its captain died.

I also remember the sinking of the Belgrano. This seems to attract a lot of controversy even today though I don't know why. If you go around invading someone elses territory and sinking their ships, expect some payback. Like the German Surface fleet of the First and Second word war, the Argentine navy withdrew to port.

It was tough at San Carlos bay, named by the troops as bomb alley. They were constantly under air attack. From there the army advanced on Darwin and Goose Green, where 500 men of 2 Para led by Colonel H Jones VC took both, despite being outnumbered. Colonel Jones VC lost his life storming a machine gun nest, for which he posthumously received the Victoria Cross.

I still remember the pictures of our infantry "yomping" across the Falklands. (We lost a lot of helicopters on the Atlantic Conveyor).

I was both sad and angry to hear of the loss of the Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram with the appalling injuries to the Welsh guards and others aboard, including Simon Weston.

Then after some fighting around Mount Tumbledown we forced the surrender of the Argentinians in Port Stanley.

We lost 258 men, whilst the Argentinians lost 649. I will remember them.

You can read this Wikipedia article on the Falklands war here.

4 comments:

infolibre said...

Ok, i'm argentinian and i dont know like you.Why? It's very simple:
Argentina not invaded Malvinas. Malvinas are in de continental plataform of argentina and the history said that the island must in argentian hands.
I will can clasificate your country like a "pirate", because stole lands around the world. Maybe of your point of view (like an english) you dont understund my position, but whit 22 years old i live in a different world, en 1982 argentina suffered a goverment of fact and the people couldnt tell wath we want.
In the war the soldiers (one of them, my father) were 18, 19 years old and dont know anything about the conflict, only that dont want that one part of us country were stay in others hands.
Now, i know that Margaret Thatchet is a criminal of war. You tell that dont understund the controversy about the navy but in the war there be laws and your country dont respect this. The belgrano didnt go to malvinas, was out of the conflict area ¡but died around 300 soldiers!Why..is my simple question for you?

Benedict White said...

infolibre, "Malvinas are in de continental plataform of argentina and the history said that the island must in argentian hands."

I think we will have to agree to disagree on that one.

"en 1982 argentina suffered a goverment of fact and the people couldnt tell wath we want. "

yes, and as a result of teh Falklands war, your country was able to get rid of that government.

"The belgrano didnt go to malvinas, was out of the conflict area ¡but died around 300 soldiers!Why..is my simple question for you?"

It's quite simple, if you go to war with someoe you get to sink their navy where ever it is, even if it was in port. It was a lot closer to the Falklands than that.

ROGUE GUNNER said...

Dear infolibre,
The Argentineans have long claimed the islands as their own, but they were discovered by an Englishman, Captain John Davis in the ship Desire, in August 1592. The first recorded landing was made in 1690 by another English sailor, Captain John Strong, who named the channel dividing the two main islands ‘Falkland Sound' after Viscount Falkland, the Royal Navy’s treasurer.
The British took formal possession of the islands for the Crown in 1765 – fully 51 years before Argentina even existed.

Maria said...

I've read a lot of bibliography about who claimed the islands first and the point of view depends on what side is the author. Anyway, I don't care much about that. I'm just very sorry about the war.