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In the early 1980s, things weren't going too well in Argentina for the military junta which at that time governed the country under the leadership of Lieutenant General Galtieri. Aware of their fragile position, the junta thought they might get additional support if they could pull off some kind of superior feat which would impress their fellow countrymen. They set their sights on a group of islands in the South Atlantic known to Argentineans as Islas Malvinas which had been under British Sovereignty since 1833. Clearly, they thought, since the islands had an Argentinean name, they must once have belonged to Argentina - the military junta would rally support for a national cause by restoring them to Argentina's ownership.

 

South Georgia from the air

An aerial view of South Georgia

Courtesy Zweiblumen

 

On 19 March 1982, a dispute  broke out on the the British - owned island of South Georgia between Argentine salvage workers and the British scientists who were stationed there. This triggered the start of a conflict between the two nations. On 2 April 1982, the nearby Falklands Islands were invaded by Argentine troops who overcame a small garrison of British Marines at Port Stanley. The following day, South Georgia and the South Sandwich group of islands were seized in the name of Argentina. By late April, the Argentine Army had more than 10,000 troops stationed on Falkland. In Argentina itself, political support for the junta rose dramatically and large crowds gathered in the cities, celebrating the success of the military mission.

Margaret Thatcher, at that time the British Prime Minister, declared a war zone for 200 miles around the Falkland Islands and sent a Naval task force briefed with the task of restoring them to British Sovereignty. By 25 April, this had set out on the 8000 mile journey to the South Atlantic, pausing only to recapture South Georgia on the way.

 

View of the Falklands 1982
Falkland Islands in 1982

©Martin Dunkin

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