bbc.co.uk
Home
TV
Radio
Talk
Where I Live
A-Z Index
Front Page | In-depth | UK
Fight for the Falklands: Twenty years on
Introduction
My war story
Guide to the conflict

'I saw Sir Galahad burn'
Falklands map
The first day

The Argentine military's lost cause
Guide to the Conflict

Previous   1       2       3       4       5       6       7     Next
Brig-Gen Menendez being sworn in as the first Argentine governor of the Malvinas
Menendez becomes Malvinas Governor  
Patrick Watts of the Falkland's radio station broadcasts as it is taken over

26 March Argentine Junta decides invasion date
2 April Falklands invaded
3 April South Georgia invaded
5 April British task force sails


John [Nott - the defence secretary] gave the MOD's view that the Falklands could not be re-taken once they were seized


UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands without warning on 2 April 1982, up until then few people would have been able to point out the tiny islands on a map.

For the next 10 weeks the Falkland’s 1,800 inhabitants found themselves the focus of the world’s attention.

The isolated British dependency had been overrun by an Argentine naval task force. The token garrison of 80 Royal Marines were brushed aside, after they inflicted a handful of casualties.

Within a few hours 150 years of British government had ended. The islanders, were in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s words of British "tradition and stock", but now they found themselves under the control of a foreign power.

For the Argentines the British possession of the islands - which they called the Malvinas - was a long standing affront to national pride. They traced their claim back to the days of the Spanish empire, of which both the Falklands and Argentina had been a part.

The decision to use force instead of diplomacy was taken by Argentina’s brutal military Junta. It hoped to use the nationalist fervour a short successful war would arouse to divert attention from the country’s shattered economy.

However, winning the Falklands was hardly a glittering prize. Set in the wild seas of the South Atlantic, Britain’s largest remaining colony was about 350 miles from Argentina. Its barren ground supported more sheep and penguins than people.

To the surprise of the Argentines the British Government immediately decided it was prepared to fight to reclaim the islands.

Mrs Thatcher dismissed advice from defence officials who feared the islands could not be re-taken. She ordered a task force to be assembled to fight a war 8,000 miles away from the British Isles.