Falklands War: Explosive Conflict Between Argentina and The United Kingdom in 1982

The Falklands War, which began on April 2, 1982, pitted Argentina against the United Kingdom in the Falkland Islands, which are located off the southeast coast of South America. The blitzkrieg ended on June 14, 1982, with a death toll of some 900.

The Falklands War broke out between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982 over territorial claims and colonial legacies. Margaret Thatcher’s forces fought against Leopoldo Galtieri’s for a little over two months as both sides attempted to protect or seize control of the Falkland Islands and the surrounding territory. Although hostilities in the Falkland Islands have subsided for over half a century, the islands continue to be a source of international tension. The Argentinians still don’t agree that the UK is the rightful owner of the land, and they keep making claims to it.

What were the reasons for the Falklands War?

The primary battleground between the Argentines and the British during the Falklands War was an area of the world called the Falklands. Together with the Sandwich Islands and the island of South Georgia, the Falkland Islands comprise a territorial grouping located in the South Atlantic Ocean. In addition, they serve as a passageway to Antarctica, bringing with them the risks inherent in venturing into such a remote place and the economic difficulties of extracting the territory’s natural resources.

In a matter of decades, the discovery and colonization of these islands by the world’s major powers—France, Spain, and the United Kingdom—led to disputes about who had the right to claim sovereignty. Except for the British and Argentinians, these clashes eventually subsided.

The United Kingdom and the Argentine dictatorship were embroiled in a diplomatic confrontation over the recognition of this sovereignty at the outset of the Falklands War. The Argentine military junta had finally had enough of fruitless talks and resolved to take drastic measures. On April 2, 1982, Argentine special forces arrived on the Falkland Islands to take control by force. The war ended on June 14, 1982.

How did the Falklands War unfold?

Margaret Thatcher with troops in the Falklands
Margaret Thatcher with troops in the Falklands.

The Falklands War formally began on the night of Thursday, April 1, to Friday, April 2, 1982. The Argentines began Operation Rosario that night by landing a special forces group south of Stanley. The majority of the men, armed with their heavy weaponry, were ready to attack the Moody Brook barracks at the crack of dawn, at around 6 a.m. On April 3, the governor of the Falkland Islands surrendered. Margaret Thatcher, undaunted, coordinated the reaction. In the beginning, diplomatic measures were taken, and Argentina was hit with international sanctions.

Then it was military. On April 25, British soldiers retook South Georgia. On May 1, British special forces troops landed in the Falkland Islands after the Royal Air Force initiated Operation Black Buck. Torpedoes sank the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano the next day. The war went on, with numerous major strikes, including the Fitzroy air raid and the combat near Port Stanley in June 1982. On June 14, 1982, after little over two months of warfare, Commander Mario Menéndez surrendered along with about ten thousand Argentines.

What forces were present in the Falklands?

During the Falklands War, the British deployed 20,000 troops to the island chain, while the Argentines sent in just 10,000. The British army had the personnel resources it needed thanks to the Special Air Service (SAS), Gurkhas recruited in Nepal, and seasoned military leaders like Sir Terence Lewin, Sandy Woodward, and Julian Thompson. The Argentinians, on the other hand, committed their future to major personalities in the history of their nation, such as Leopoldo Galtieri, Jorge Anaya, Basilio Lami Dozo, and Mario Benjamín Menéndez.

The Falklands Battle was not merely a ground war. A large number of planes and helicopters were involved in the aerial battle, with the British fielding a squadron of Harriers and a few Vulcan bombers against the Americans’ assortment of fighters, light aircraft, helicopters, and bombers. The Falkland War, an unusual post-World War II naval action, finally demonstrated the Royal Navy’s full offensive capabilities, but it was not the only one. As a defining moment of the conflict, the British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror torpedoed the Argentine battleship General Belgrano. The Exocet missile proved its efficacy by sinking the HMS Sheffield, another missile frigate.

What role did Margaret Thatcher play in the Falklands War?

The British Prime Minister at the time of the events, Margaret Thatcher, had a key influence on the Falklands War. She was the one who chose to use force in response to the Argentine military junta’s takeover of the Falkland Islands, despite having kept up cordial diplomatic ties with them. Margaret Thatcher displayed an iron resolve during the war that helped cement her reputation as the “Iron Lady“. While the Queen of England had a negative impression of Margaret Thatcher before the war, she was able to win reelection thanks to the triumph and the patriotic fervor of the British people.

Queen Elizabeth II had a hard time hiding her disapproval of the Falklands War, making it unlikely that she would support the austerity measures pushed by the British prime minister. France’s part in the Falklands War was, by the end, not entirely clear. Even though many people prefer to highlight the partnership of France with the British in an ideal view of history, the truth was a bit more complicated. The French government had a hand in the Exocet missile scandal.

Who won the Falklands War and how?

Argentine prisoners of war on June 17, 1982. Falklands War
Argentine prisoners of war on June 17, 1982 /  Port Stanley.

To sum up, the British were victorious against the Argentines in the Falklands War. This result was helped along by a number of factors, including the intervention of nuclear submarines from the Royal Navy, the logistical prowess of the British army, and the expertise of the special forces. The British were ultimately successful in forcing their opponents to surrender because of two important events: the seizure of Goose Green at the end of May 1982 and the attack on Port Stanley. On June 20, 1982, peace was declared.

What was the outcome of the Falklands War?

The final tally of casualties from both sides of the Falklands War was as follows: 258 British killed, 777 injured (and 106 captured), and 649 Argentine dead, 1,068 injured (and more than 11,300 prisoners). The material losses were also considerable, with the destruction of a dozen Harrier jets, 24 helicopters, two destroyers, two frigates, and a cargo ship (among others) for Margaret Thatcher’s soldiers.

After the battle, the Argentine military junta was dispossessed of more than 35 fighter jets, 2 bombers, and roughly 30 other military aircraft. Additionally, the British attack group damaged a light cruiser, a submarine, and a spy ship. This battle was reported to have cost Argentina more than $800 million, compared to $1,400 million for Great Britain.

What were the consequences of the Falklands War?

Most of the fallout from the Falklands War was political in nature. Margaret Thatcher helped the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom to victory in the elections held a few months following the conclusion of World War II. The military dictatorship that had been ruling Argentina was toppled in a more devastating loss on the other side of the board. Raúl Alfonsín was elected as this South American nation’s first democratically elected leader in 1983.

In spite of the fact that hostilities have subsided, lingering animosity remains between the two sides. Even after repeated assertions from Buenos Aires, London stands firm on the Falkland Islands, claiming they are British territory. Diplomatic relations between the two nations are constantly being tested by the reemergence of tensions. As such, the UK and Argentina continue to keep a close eye on the situation, as do the rest of the world’s governments.


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  3. Eddy, Paul; Gillman, Peter; Linklater, Magnus; Sunday Times of London Insight Team (1982). The Falklands War. Sphere Books. ISBN 978-0-7221-8282-6.
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By Hrothsige Frithowulf

Hrothsige works at Malevus as a history writer. His areas of historical interest include the ancient world and early Europe, as well as the history of modern culture.