Argentinian ratbags got what they deserved

The_empire_strikes_back_newsweekApart from smashing the unions Margaret Thatcher also smashed the Argentines after they invaded the Falkland Islands. The Telegraph has some good coverage and the ITN video above is a great summary as well.

Margaret Thatcher served as prime minister for more than 11 years, but it was arguably the 74 days she spent evicting the Argentine invaders from the Falkland Islands that did most to fix the image of an unbending, uncompromising leader in the British popular imagination.

…Several Tory MPs, including Ken Clarke, then a junior minister, warned against fighting. Sir Ian Gilmour, a Tory wet, predicted that “it will make Suez look like common sense” — and a secret memo from defence chiefs spelled out both the expense and “serious risk” of fighting a conflict so far from home.

Overruling those voices of caution, Mrs Thatcher gave the order for the Task Force to sail on April 5 with the aircraft carriers Hermes and Invincible at the centre of a fleet that would ultimately contain 38 warships, 77 auxiliary vessel and 11,000 soldiers and marines.

“We have to recover those islands,” she said. “We have to recover them for the people on them are British and British stock and they still owe allegiance to the Crown and want to be British.”

The cover of that month’s Newsweek magazine was a picture of Hermes beneath the headline “The Empire Strikes Back”. 

The_Sun_(Gotcha)It was an epic endeavour to sail to the South Atlantic and attack and defeat entrenched and hardened troops.

[B]ut if anyone questioned Mrs Thatcher’s determination to retake the islands, the answer came on May 2 when the British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror received orders to sink the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano.

The sinking in which some 400 Argentine sailors died, remains controversial to this day. Argentina maintains that the ship was heading away from the Falklands and the 200-mile exclusion zone declared by Britain. For supporters of Mrs Thatcher, it was an example of her unselfish hard-headedness. “It was a pivotal moment of the war. It took real guts,” said Nile Gardiner, a former Thatcher aide. “Lady Thatcher made clear in a number of interviews that she acted to protect British lives. It was a huge decision that very few people would have taken.”

Certainly, the sinking had a deterrent effect, sending the Argentine navy back to port, where it remained for the rest of the conflict, leaving the Task Force to contend with the far more deadly threat from Argentina’s air force armed with sea-skimming Exocet missiles.

Bad news was yet to come:

Over the next week, the bad news came thick and fast as Argentine jets continued to attack despite heavy losses inflicted by British carrier-borne Sea Harriers.

HMS Ardent was hit first, on May 22, then two days later HMS Antelope went down. And on the disastrous day of May 25, HMS Coventry and the MV Atlantic Conveyor, with its Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and supplies, were also both sunk.

On May 28, in need of some good news as doubts grew in some quarters about the wisdom of the war, 600 men under Lt Col H. Jones — who was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross – outfought more than 1,000 Argentines around Darwin and Goose Green.

Now able to break out of the beachhead at San Carlos, the British forces, including the Royal Marines, the Parachute Regiment and the Guards, “yomped” their way to Port Stanley, in harsh conditions that provided some of the most memorable images of the war.

But yet further disaster was to strike on June 8 when the landing ship Sir Galahad was hit by two Argentine bombs, setting the ship on fire and killing 48 British servicemen. The images of Royal Navy helicopters hovering in thick smoke, winching survivors to safety were seen around the world.

The final battle for Port Stanley began on June 11 and, after three days of intense fighting, the Argentine commander, Gen Mario Menéndez, surrendered his 9,800 men on June 14, effectively ending the conflict.

The Falklands had been re-taken at a cost of 258 British killed and 777 wounded. In addition, two destroyers, two frigates, and two auxiliary vessels were sunk. Argentina lost 649 killed, 1,068 wounded, and 11,313 captured. Three Falkland Islanders also lost their lives.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.