Decisive Turning Points During the Falklands War

Sovereignty of the Falkland Islands had long been a point of argument between Britain and Argentina. Events came to a head in 1982, when planned cut-backs to the British Royal Navy convinced Argentina’s ruling military junta that Britain no longer had the will or capability to defend the islands. The Falklands War, fought over these far away South Atlantic islands were the consequence.

Here are 13 decisive points in the conflict.

1. South Georgia (19th March 1982) – A group of Argentines, ostensibly on a fragment metal salvage mission, land on South Georgia and raise the Argentine flag.

2. Operacion Azul (2nd April 1982) – The Argentine navy lands a military force in the Falklands Islands proper, overwhelming the tiny British garrison of Royal Marines.

3. Dispatch of the Task Force (3rd April 1982) – First Sea Lord, Sir Henry Leach, convinces chief Minister Margaret Thatcher to send a naval task force with the words, “because if we don’t do that, in a few months we will be living in a different country whose information will for little!”

4. South Georgia (25th April 1982) – British Special Forces and Royal Marines recapture South Georgia. The Argentine submarine Santa Fe is crippled during the fighting.

5. Operation Black Buck (1st May 1982) – A Royal Air Force Vulcan bombs the Port Stanley airfield runway, denying use of the airfield to Argentine fast jets.

6. General Belgrano (2nd May 1982) – The Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano is sank by the Royal Navy nuclear submarine, HMS Conqueror. The Argentine Navy withdraws to port and plays no further part in the war.

7. Sheffield (4th May 1982) – The Argentine airforce sinks the Royal Navy’s HMS Sheffield using an Exocet missile. It is the first of many British naval losses to Argentine air attack.

8. Pebble Island (14th to 15th May 1982) – British Special Forces raid the Argentine airbase at Pebble Island, destroying 11 Argentine aircraft.

9. San Carlos (23rd May 1982) – British troops land at San Carlos Water. Although, British ships come under harsh Argentine air attack in “bomb alley”, the Argentine’s are unable to remove the British bridgehead.

10. Goose Green (27th to 28th May 1982) – British troops defeat Argentine forces defending the settlement at Goose Green in the first major land battle of the war.

11. Bluff Cove (8th June 1982) – British troops landing from the RFA Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram at Bluff Cove, come under Argentine air attack and suffer horrific casualties. However, already these losses are unable to stop the British improvement on the ground.

12. Mount Longdown, Two Sisters and Mount Harriet (11th to 12th June 1982) – British troops capture these three peaks in bitter fighting with Argentine ground forces.

13. Mount Tumbledown and Wireless Ridge (13th to 14th June 1982) – British troops capture these peaks which overlook Port Stanley in the last major land battle of the war. Argentine forces in Port Stanley begin to raise white flags, and a surrender of all Argentine forces in the Falkland Islands is negotiated soon after.

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