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1982: Marines land in South Georgia
Britain has re-established its presence in the Falkland Islands after a two-hour assault by Royal Marines on the remote island of South Georgia.

The victory was signalled to London by the commanding officer with a brief but dramatic message: "Be pleased to inform Her Majesty that the White Ensign flies alongside the Union Jack in South Georgia. God Save the Queen."

There were no British casualties reported in the operation, which was announced by the Defence Secretary, John Nott, and the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, outside 10 Downing Street.

Just rejoice at that news
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

In the statement, Mr Nott said Argentine forces surrendered to the British troops with "only limited resistance".

Following the announcement, Mrs Thatcher's only comment was to rebuke questioning journalists with the remark, "Just rejoice at that news and congratulate our forces and the marines."

In the first phase of the attack, announced in London at 1200 BST (1100 GMT), helicopters attacked the Argentine submarine, Santa Fe, close to the harbour of the island's capital, Grytviken. It was the first indication the attempt to re-capture South Georgia had begun.

The submarine was attacked with rockets and machine-gun fire while she lay on the surface. Some hours later, she was reported to be still smoking, leaking oil and listing to one side. There was no news of her 80-man crew.

At 1600 BST (1500 GMT), British soldiers were landed on the island by helicopter. Two hours later, they had taken control from the vastly outnumbered Argentine garrison.

The United States reacted with "grave concern" to the news, saying it would remain committed to a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

The Argentine Foreign Minister, Costa Mendez, warned that the British action would have "very grave consequences for peace". As he arrived in New York on his way to talks with the US Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, he told reporters that Argentina was now technically in a state of war with Britain.

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Watch/Listen
Marines raising the flag on South Georgia
Marines raising the Union flag and white ensign on South Georgia

Newsnight report on the attack and the landings



In Context
South Georgia was the island where the Argentine invasion of the Falklands began in March 1982, when a group of scrap metal workmen landed and raised the Argentine flag.

Two weeks later, on 3 April, an invasion force followed and the 22 Marines on the island were forced to surrender.

The air, sea and land battle for the Falklands lasted three weeks. More than 900 people died - 655 Argentines, 255 British troops and three Falkland islanders.

Argentine forces surrendered and peace was declared on 20 June.

A detachment of 20 British soldiers remained on South Georgia until March 2001. The island is now home to a new scientific research station run by the British Antarctic Survey.

Argentina still lays claim to South Georgia, and to the rest of the "Malvinas", although the two nations are now at peace.

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