History Community ~ All Empires Homepage

This is the Archive on WORLD Historia, the old original forum.

 You cannot post here - you can only read.


Here is the link to the new forum:

  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Forum LockedSouth American Wars

 Post Reply Post Reply
Jalisco Lancer View Drop Down

Retired AE Moderator

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Mexico
Status: Offline
Points: 2123
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jalisco Lancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: South American Wars
    Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 12:14


sources: http://www.berclo.net/page94/94en-hist-sam-wars.html

South American Wars


These few notes aim to provide some historical background on the events that have shaped the people I have met in the countries I visited in South America.


Wars of Independence (1806 - 1826)

At the end of the 18th century, the South American pie was shared between Portugal that ruled its territory from Rio de Janeiro and Spain to whose possessions were partitioned between the three Viceroyalties of New Grenada (Caracas), of Lima and of Rio de la Plata (Buenos Aires). Power was maintained in the hands of a small European born elite in spite of the complaints of a growing number of American born colonists who had acquired wealth as landowners and merchants and resented their inferior status as "criollos". The colonies were allowed to trade only with their respective European powers who taxed all exports and imports.

This was a time of change when science and reason challenged monarchies, the church and class distinctions. The American Revolution (1775 - 1783) and the French Revolution (1789 - 1799) provided examples to the frustrated Criollos. In Europe, the Napoleonic wars weakened Spain's control over its American colonies and forced the Portuguese Court to flee to Brazil.


Independence in the East

After the French were driven from Portugal, the royal family chose to stay in Brazil which became a kingdom equal to Portugal in 1815. King Joao VI ruled both countries from Rio de Janeiro until his return to Portugal in 1822 leaving his son  Pedro  to rule in Brazil. When the Portuguese tried to regain control, Pedro refused and declared Brazil independent in September 1822. Brazil remained a monarchy until 1889. Brazil had been lucky to have a King to champion its independence. Not counting the Pernambuco Revolution which lasted 3 months in 1817 it become free without the ordeal of the vicious wars that Portugal's other colonies had to face a century and a half later.


Independence in the South

In 1806 a British naval squadron attacked Buenos Aires and took it with little resistance from the Spanish colonial forces. A few months later a volunteer militia of Porteños (people of Buenos Aires), forced the invaders out and resisted recapture by British reinforcements. When Spain fell to Napoleon in 1810, prominent Criollos in Buenos Aires backed by this militia forced the last Spanish viceroy to surrender power to a local junta. Spain attempted to retake the Viceroyalty by blockading the estuary and by sending an army from Peru but were soundly defeated by the Buenos Aires forces who then undertook to spread the cause of independence.

Central control was however contested by other provinces who resisted dominance by the Buenos Aires merchants who hoped to maintain their monopoly on trade. Across the river from Buenos Aires, Montevideo and its surroundings declared itself a separate "Eastern State" in 1815 (later Uruguay) under the leadership of  José Gervasio Artigas  backed by an army of gauchos. To the north-west,  Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia , "El Supremo", took control of Asunción in 1814, resisted the Buenos Aires forces and undertook to develop Paraguay in complete isolation. Distinct interests and long-standing resentment of the viceregal capital led some regions to pursue separate destinies. The assembly that finally proclaimed independence in 1816 received no delegates from several provinces, even though it was held outside Buenos Aires, in the interior city of Tucumán.

In Upper Peru, some Buenos Aires forces enjoyed initial victories but soon retreated leaving the battle in the hands of the local Criollo, Mestizo, and Indian guerrillas. Other southern independence forces had more success on the Pacific coast. In 1817 the Criollo General José de San Martín  crossed the Andes with 5000 men and took Santiago with the assistance of Chilean patriots led by  Bernardo 0'Higgins  who became Chile's first president. After establishing naval dominance with the help of British and North American finance, San Martin's forces gained control of the coast and captured Lima in 1821. The Clergy and many Criollos that had benefited from colonial monopolies were however not anxious to break with Spain and San Martín was unable to overcome loyalist resistance in the highlands. That had to wait for the intervention of liberation armies from the north.


Independence in the North

The struggle for independence was much more difficult in the north than in the south. Also, much more was at stake. It took 4 years after the first attempt by revolutionary Francisco de Miranda for the Criollos of the Viceroyalty of New Granada to organise revolutionary governments that proclaimed social and economic reforms in 1810 and openly declared a break with Spain the following year. Forces loyal to Spain fought the rebels from the start. Patriot rebels led by  Simon Bolivar held the capital Caracas and its surroundings but could not dominate large sections of the countryside.

The landed elite and the Clergy reacted with open distrust and opposition. In 1812 loyalist forces crushed the rebels and drove Bolívar into exile but he soon returned with a new army in 1813 and the battle entered a violent phase of "war to the death". Loyalist José Tomás Boves and his llaneros (cowboys) pushed Bolívar out of his home country once more in 1815 and a large military expedition sent by Ferdinand VII reconquered Venezuela and most of New Granada. In 1816, another invasion led by Bolívar failed miserably but following year a larger and revitalised independence movement emerged, winning the struggle in the north.

A mixed-race group of llaneros led by  José Antonio Páez  and the recruitment of British mercenaries proved crucial to the patriots' military victories. After leading his army up the face of the eastern Andes, Bolívar dealt a crushing defeat to his enemies in the Battle of Boyacá in August 1819. The "Libertador" entered Bogotá and proclaimed the independent Republic of Gran Colombia embracing Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador in December that year. Further military campaigns liberated New Granada and Venezuela and a constituent congress held in Cúcuta in 1821 chose Bolívar president of a centralised Gran Colombia. Leaving  Santander  to run the country, Bolivar marched to Ecuador to support their claim to independence which was achieved only two years later when Marshal Antonio José de Sucre defeated the royalists at the Battle of Pichincha near Quito in May 1822.

Then, the two great heroes of South America's independence, San Martín and Bolívar came face-to-face on July 1922 in a private encounter in Guayaquil Ecuador. What was said remained a secret but after that, San Martin went to live in France leaving Bolivar and Sucre in charge of completing the liberation of Peru and Bolivia.

When the Spanish threatened to recapture the lands that San Martín had liberated, Bolívar responded to the calls of Peruvian Criollos by leading his forces to victory in Lima and sending his lieutenants to win the highlands of Peru and Upper Peru which was named Bolivia in his honour. The last major battle of the Wars of Independence was won in 1924 at Ayacucho in the Peruvian highlands by the Venezuelan Sucre. Within two years independence fighters mopped up the last of loyalist resistance, and South America was free of Spanish control.




Paraguayan War (1864 - 1870)

When Argentina proclaimed its independence of Spain in 1810, Paraguay refused to join it and instead proclaimed its own independence on May 14, 1811. Three years later José Gaspar Rodríguez Francia made himself dictator, called himself "El Supremo" and ruled absolutely until his death in 1840. The leading political figure at that time was his nephew Carlos Antonio López who became president and dictator from 1844 until his death in 1862. He was succeeded by his son, Francisco Solano López who, seeking to build an empire, led the country into a war against an alliance of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. The war devastated Paraguay, and when López's death ended the conflict in 1870, more than half of the population had been killed, the economy had been destroyed, agricultural activity was at a standstill and the country had lost more than 142,500 sq km (55,000 sq mi). The country was occupied by a Brazilian army until 1876, and had to pay heavy war indemnities.




War of the Pacific (1879 - 1884)

In 1874 Bolivia and Chile signed a treaty recognising Bolivia's sovereignty over the Atacama Desert but exempting Chile's nitrate companies from paying new taxes for 25 years. When Bolivia demanded a new tax in 1878, Chile occupied the port of Antofagasta and Bolivia declared war with the support of Peru. The Chilean navy won a decisive victory at Point Angamos in 1879, and its army followed with the capture of Tacna and Arica in 1880. Bolivia withdrew from the war but Chile went on to occupy Lima, forcing the Peruvian government into the highlands. After two years of occupation, Peru accepted Chile's peace terms in the Treaty of Ancón in October 1883, ceding the province of Tarapacá to Chile along with the provinces of Tacna and Arica on condition that a referendum be held in 10 years. Under a treaty signed in 1884, Bolivia ceded its Atacama Province to Chile and became landlocked. The referendum was never held but a treaty was finally arranged and subsequently ratified in 1929 giving Tacna to Peru and Arica to Chile with the latter agreeing to pay Peru an indemnity of 6 million dollars.




Chaco War (1932 - 1935)

Beginning in 1906, Bolivia began constructing small forts in the Chaco plain, inching progressively farther into what Paraguay considered its territory. Paraguay countered with its own forts and encouraged the settlement of Mennonites in the area to support its claims in 1927. The discovery of oil in the Bolivian lowlands and the alleged involvement of American oil companies led to full-scale warfare in 1932. The larger and better-trained Bolivian army initially held the advantage, but the Bolivians, used to a mountain climate, found it difficult to operate in the hot and dry conditions of the Chaco lowlands. Superior tactics and knowledge of the terrain, combined with fierce fighting, enabled the Paraguayans to gain control of most of the area by 1935. A truce was agreed upon and a final treaty was signed in 1938, giving Paraguay three-fourths of the region and Bolivia the rest. About 50,000 Bolivians and 35,000 Paraguayans died in the war.




La Violencia (1948 - 1957)

Bolivar's goal of uniting Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador into the centralised Republic of Gran Colombia he proclaimed in Cœcuta in 1821 did not materialise as Venezuela broke away in 1829 and Ecuador followed suit in 1830. This breakdown reflected regional disparities much more importantly it was caused by the profound conflict between the political visions of the Conservatives and the Liberals in a Spanish colonies. Following the Spanish Absolutist tradition, the pro-clerical Conservatives favoured an authoritarian central government that was abhorrent to the anticlerical liberals who, attracted by the new ideas on the "rights of man" and the separation of Church and State developed by the French and American revolutions, might have accepted a loose federation had it been offered.

Strife between uncompromising Conservatives holding on to "God-given" privileges and Liberals wanting change is a cultural heritage common to all ex-Spanish colonies but it reached its most violent expression in Columbia at the turn-of-the-century and just after World War II.

Colombia suffered 8 debilitating civil wars in the 19th century as power passed from one party to the other and centralist constitutions were replaced by federalist ones and vice versa. In 1899 a Liberal revolt against the centralist 1886 constitution turned into a devastating civil war (War of a Thousand Days) won by the Conservatives in 1902 after 100 000 had been killed. (When the terms of a US proposal to build a canal were rejected in 1903 the United States sponsored the secession of the Province of Panama from war-weakened Colombia.)

Conservatives held power for the next four decades but civil war broke out again in 1948 as Liberals took up arms following the assassination of one of their popular leaders. This time, grass roots guerrillas took to the hills and allied with communist guerrilla bands. Atrocities were carried out by both parties in the name of their respective ideologies earned this war the name of "La Violencia". The carnage cost 300 000 lives and lasted until a military dictator, Rojas, forced the two parties to accept an uneasy truce in 1957.

The truce amongst members of the political class did not however eliminate the existence of a number of competing guerrillas such as the FARC, the ELN, the EPL, the CNG and the M-19. Since then several truces and amnesties have been decreed and broken and the situation has been further complicated by the emergence of the drug merchants as an armed force more or less allied with some of the politically motivated guerrillas. In other words, it's an awful mess...




Ecuador-Peru Conflict (1941 & 1995 )

When Ecuador broke away from Gran Colombia in 1830, it signed a treaty with Peru defining their common boundary along the Marañon river.

In 1941, Peru nevertheless invaded Ecuador occupying more than half of its territory in the Amazon basin in a 10 day war. In the context of WW II peace in South America was essential and it was achieved with the signing of the Rio de Janeiro Protocol in 1942, which defined the border in favour of Peru. The U.S., Brazil, Chile, and Argentina agreed to act as guarantors of the peace treaty. The U.S. Air Force completed mapping and marking most of the border by 1947 but a 78 km stretch in the Cordillera del Cóndor remained unmarked.

Skirmishes occurred several times in this area where there were believed to be deposits of gold, uranium, and oil. War flared up again in January 1995 causing dozens of casualties and harming the economies of both countries. A cease-fire signed in Rio de Janeiro was not respected. A second one signed in Montevideo is holding but it did nothing to alleviate intense feeling on both sides.

Back to Top
Degredado View Drop Down

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Portugal
Status: Offline
Points: 369
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Degredado Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 13:32
What about the Guerra dos Farroupilhos? (I'm surprised the resident Brasilian said nothing)
Vou votar nas putas. Estou farto de votar nos filhos delas
Back to Top
Jalisco Lancer View Drop Down

Retired AE Moderator

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Mexico
Status: Offline
Points: 2123
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jalisco Lancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 17:19


When the Brazilian Empire was stablished on December 1st, 1822. The Emperor Don Pedro I , as viceroy was required to return to Lisboa , he replied “Eu fico” (I will stay ) - in that period of time, it was a big pressure to seced to Rio Grande del Sur in an independent state, the Republicc of Piratiní. The “farroupilhos” were among the revolutionaires. They had ties with the General Fructuoso Rivera.


Os Lanceiros Negros Farroupilhos

At the end of 1835, the strugle between Rivera and Oribe started.

On July 18, 1836,Rivera insurrected agaisnt the goverment.


Due the relationships of both Warlords with Argentina, the rebels of Rio Grande, as well the interventions of Brazil, France and England extended the conflict and eventually became La Guerra Grance ( The Big War ).

Rivera and his followers were known as Los Blancos ( the whites ) and Oribe's men as Los Colorados ( The red ones ) due during the Battle of La Carpinteria on Sept 19th, 1836, Oribe's forces used a white arm band with the legend : " Defenders of the Laws ". While Rivera's troops were identified with their colored red ponchos.

source: www.lista71.com/informacion?IndexId=47&Id=76


PS: Thanks for the contribution, Degregado.


Back to Top
Tobodai View Drop Down
Retired AE Moderator

Joined: 03-Aug-2004
Location: Antarctica
Status: Offline
Points: 4321
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tobodai Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 17:42
I think someday I will be called El Supremo
"the people are nothing but a great beast...
I have learned to hold popular opinion of no value."
-Alexander Hamilton
Back to Top
Jalisco Lancer View Drop Down

Retired AE Moderator

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Mexico
Status: Offline
Points: 2123
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jalisco Lancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-Sep-2004 at 18:14


   Why not Su Alteza Serenisima ? Napoleon of the West ? El Libertador ? El Heroe de Tampico ?

   Uuuhhh...forget about that, some one already used those titles

Back to Top
Jalisco Lancer View Drop Down

Retired AE Moderator

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Mexico
Status: Offline
Points: 2123
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jalisco Lancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Dec-2004 at 12:40


State Entry Exit Combat Forces Population Losses
San Martin 1814 1824 10000 200000 2000
Spain 1814 1824 100000 12000000 6000

In Argentina...An assembly representing most of the viceroyalty met at San Miguel de Tucumán and on July 9, 1816 (Nueve de Julio), declared the country independent under the name of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata.

Several years of hard fighting followed before the Spanish royalists were defeated in northern Argentina. But they remained a threat from their base in Peru until it was liberated by José de San Martín and Simón Bolívar in 1820-24. The Buenos Aires government tried to maintain the integrity of the old Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, but the outlying portions, never effectively controlled, soon were lost: Paraguay in 1814, Bolivia in 1825, and Uruguay in 1828. The remaining territory--what now constitutes modern Argentina--was frequently disunited until 1860.


In Chile... the initial move toward independence was made on Sept. 18, 1810, when a cabildo abierto (open town meeting) in Santiago, attended by representatives of privileged groups whose vaguely defined objectives included a change in administration, accepted the resignation of the President-Governor and in his place elected a junta composed of local leaders.

From 1810 to 1813 the course of the patriots was relatively peaceful because they were able to maintain themselves without formal ties to the Viceroyalty of Lima. Trade restrictions were relaxed; steps were taken toward the eventual abolition of slavery; a newspaper was established to publicize the beliefs of the patriots; and education was promoted, including the founding of the National Institute. However, the embers of civil strife were also fanned. The Creoles were divided over how far the colony should go toward self-government. José Miguel Carrera and his brothers, whose desire for complete independence was equaled if not surpassed by their personal ambition, inflamed the issues. Meanwhile, Spain had taken steps to reassert its control over the colony. At the Battle of Rancagua, on Oct. 1 and 2, 1814, it reestablished its military supremacy and ended what has been called la patria vieja ("The old fatherland").

Following the defeat at Rancagua, patriot leaders, among them the Carrera brothers and Bernardo O'Higgins, future director-dictator of Chile, migrated to Argentina. There O'Higgins won the support of José de San Martín, who, with the support of the revolutionary government in Buenos Aires, was raising an army to free the southern portion of the continent by first liberating Chile and then attacking Peru from the sea. The Carreras continued their spirited agitation for independence in Buenos Aires and the United States.

Meanwhile, many of those who remained in Chile suffered from the harsh rule of Spain's inept representatives and became convinced that absolute independence was necessary. In January 1817 San Martín's well-drilled army, with O'Higgins as one of its commanders, began its march across the Andes; and on Feb. 12, 1817, the patriot forces defeated the royalists on the hill of Chacabuco, which opened the way to Santiago. O'Higgins was proclaimed supreme director of Chile, although the act of declaring Chile's independence was not taken until a year later (Feb. 12, 1818), on the first anniversary of Chacabuco; and the decisive defeat of Spain on the Chilean mainland (Spain held the island of Chiloé until 1826) did not come until the Battle of Maipú, on April 5, 1818. Before emancipation was assured, O'Higgins began the creation of the Chilean navy, which by late 1818 was in the process of clearing the Chilean coast of Spanish vessels.

Chile was free, but its inherent weaknesses were everywhere manifest. The Creoles remained bitterly divided between O'Higgins and the Carreras. Two of the Carrera brothers had been executed in Mendoza, Arg., in 1818; and José Miguel Carrera suffered the same fate in the same city in 1821. The elite groups were dedicated to the retention of those institutions on which such things as law, property, family, and religion were founded. The masses, who had been little more than spectators in the conflicts between 1810 and 1818, were excluded from government.


In Peru... The Napoleonic invasion of Spain in 1808 sparked the Creoles (those of European descent born in America) in other Spanish colonies to struggle for independence between 1810 and 1821. But Peru remained loyal because of the conservative attitude of the Peruvian aristocracy, the presence of many Spaniards in Peru, the concentration of Spanish military power in Lima, and the effective suppression of Indian uprisings. Peru's independence was, consequently, achieved primarily by outsiders.

Among them was General José de San Martín of Argentina, whose aims were to secure Argentine control of Upper Peru's silver from the Spanish forces that had occupied Upper Peru and to assure Argentina's independence by destroying the remaining Spanish power in South America. Because Argentine forces had previously been defeated in Upper Peru, San Martín determined to surround the Spaniards by liberating Chile and using it as a base for a seaborne attack on Peru. Chile was freed in 1818 and a fleet was readied, which enabled San Martín to occupy the Peruvian port of Pisco in September 1820. When the viceroy withdrew his forces into the interior, San Martín entered Lima. Peruvian independence was declared on July 28, 1821.

Lacking power to attack the strong Spanish forces in the interior, San Martín sought aid from Simón Bolívar, who had liberated northern South America, but Bolívar declined, refusing to share leadership. San Martín then withdrew, and Bolívar assumed power in Peru to carry on the struggle for liberation. At the battles of Junín (Aug. 6, 1824) and Ayacucho (Dec. 9, 1824) Spanish power was broken and Peru's independence assured.


José de San Martín... Instead of taking up his new post, he sought permission to go to Lima, the capital of the viceroyalty of Peru, but traveled by way of London to Buenos Aires, which had become the principal centre of resistance in South America to the Seville junta. There, in the year 1812, San Martín was given the task of organizing a corps of grenadiers against the Spanish royalists centred in Peru who threatened the revolutionary government in Argentina. ...

In the service of the Buenos Aires government, San Martín distinguished himself as a trainer and leader of soldiers, and, after winning a skirmish against loyalist forces at San Lorenzo, on the right bank of the Paraná River (Feb. 3, 1813), he was sent to Tucumán to reinforce, and ultimately replace, General Manuel Belgrano, who was being hard pressed by forces of the viceroy of Peru. San Martín recognized that the Río de la Plata provinces would never be secure so long as the royalists held Lima, but he perceived the military impossibility of reaching the centre of viceregal power by way of the conventional overland route through Upper Peru (modern Bolivia). He therefore quietly prepared the masterstroke that was his supreme contribution to the liberation of southern South America. First, he disciplined and trained the army around Tucumán so that, with the assistance of gaucho guerrilleros, they would be capable of a holding operation. Then, on the pretense of ill health, he got himself appointed governor intendant of the province of Cuyo, the capital of which was Mendoza, the key to the routes across the Andes. There, he set about creating an army that would link up overland with the soldiers of the patriotic government in Chile and then proceed by sea to attack Peru.

... To his disappointment, when the first stage of this plan was nearing completion, loyalist forces recaptured Chile (although the Chilean liberator, Bernardo O'Higgins, was able to escape to Mendoza). This made it necessary for San Martín to fight his way westward across the formidable barrier of the Andes. This was accomplished between Jan. 18 and Feb. 8, 1817, partly by a double bluff, which caused the Spanish commander to divide his forces in order to guard all possible routes, and more especially by careful generalship that ensured the maximum concentration of force at the enemy's weakest point, backed by adequate supplies. San Martín's skill in leading his men through the defiles, chasms, and passes--often 10,000 to 12,000 feet (3,000 to 4,000 m) above sea level--of four Andean cordilleras has caused him to be ranked with Hannibal and Napoleon. On February 12 he surprised and defeated the royalists at Casas de Chacabuco and took Santiago, where he refused the offer of the governorship of Chile in favour of Bernardo O'Higgins (who became supreme director) because he did not wish to be diverted from his main objective, the capture of Lima. Nevertheless, it took him more than a year to clear the country of royalist troops. He finally routed the remaining 5,300 on April 5, 1818, at the Battle of Maipú.

The next stage of San Martín's plan involved the creation of the Chilean navy and the accumulation of troop ships. This was accomplished, despite a shortage of funds, by August 1820, when the rather shoddy fleet, consisting mainly of armed merchant ships, under the command of Thomas Cochrane (later 10th Earl of Dundonald), left Valparaíso for the Peruvian coast. Cochrane, whom San Martín found a cantankerous colleague, had failed the year before to take the chief port, Callao, which was well-defended. The port was therefore blockaded, and the troops were landed to the south near Pisco; from this point they could threaten Lima from the landward side. True to his cautious nature, San Martín resisted the temptation to assault the capital, which was defended by a superior force, and waited for almost a year, until the royalists, despairing of assistance from Ferdinand VII (who had since been restored to the Spanish throne), withdrew to the mountains. San Martín and his army then entered Lima, the independence of Peru was proclaimed on July 28, 1821, and the victorious revolutionary commander was made protector.

San Martín's position was nevertheless insecure. He had broken with his supporters in Buenos Aires when, against their wishes, he insisted on pressing on to Lima; he was unsure of the loyalty of the Peruvian people and of the backing of some of his officers, many of whom suspected him of dictatorial or monarchical ambitions; and he lacked the forces to subdue the royalist remnants in the interior. Moreover, Simón Bolívar, who had liberated the northern provinces of South America, had annexed Guayaquil, a port and province that San Martín had hoped would opt for incorporation in Peru. He therefore decided to confront Bolívar.


Battle of Maipú (April 5, 1818), during the South American wars of independence, a victory won by South American rebels, commanded by José de San Martín, leader of the resistance to Spain in southern South America, over Spanish royalists, near Santiago, Chile.

The six-hour battle left 2,000 Spaniards dead and 3,000 captured; the patriots lost about 1,000 men. It ended the struggle for Chilean independence.


The struggles that produced independence in the south began even before Napoleon's invasion of Portugal and Spain. In 1806 a British expeditionary force captured Buenos Aires. When the Spanish colonial officials proved ineffective against the invasion, a volunteer militia of Creoles and peninsulars organized resistance and pushed the British out. In May 1810 prominent Creoles in Buenos Aires, having vied with peninsulars for power in the intervening years, forced the last Spanish viceroy there to consent to a cabildo abierto, an extraordinary open meeting of the municipal council and local notables. Although shielding itself with a pretense of loyalty to Ferdinand, the junta produced by that session marked the end of Spanish rule in Buenos Aires and its hinterland. After its revolution of May 1810, the region was the only one to resist reconquest by loyalist troops throughout the period of the independence wars.

Independence in the former Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, however, encountered grave difficulties in the years after 1810. Central authority proved unstable in the capital city of Buenos Aires. An early radical liberal government dominated by Mariano Moreno gave way to a series of triumvirates and supreme directors. More troubling still were the bitter rivalries emerging between Buenos Aires and other provinces. From the start Buenos Aires' intention of bringing all the former viceregal territories under its control set off waves of discord in the outlying provinces. At stake was not only political autonomy per se but also economic interest; the Creole merchants of Buenos Aires, who initially sought the liberalization of colonial restraints on commerce in the region, subsequently tried to maintain their economic dominance over the interior. A constituent assembly meeting in 1813 adopted a flag, anthem, and other symbols of national identity, but the apparent unity disintegrated soon afterward. This was evident in the assembly that finally proclaimed independence in 1816; that body received no delegates from several provinces, even though it was held outside Buenos Aires, in the interior city of Tucumán (in full, San Miguel de Tucumán).

Distinct interests and long-standing resentment of the viceregal capital led different regions in the south to pursue separate destinies. Across the Río de la Plata from Buenos Aires, Montevideo and its surroundings became the separate Estado Oriental ("Eastern State," later Uruguay). Caught between the loyalism of Spanish officers and the imperialist intentions of Buenos Aires and Portuguese Brazil, the regional leader José Gervasio Artigas formed an army of thousands of gauchos. By 1815 Artigas and this force dominated Uruguay and had allied with other provinces to oppose Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires achieved similarly mixed results in other neighbouring regions, losing control of many while spreading independence from Spain. Paraguay resisted Buenos Aires' military and set out on a path of relative isolation from the outside world. Other expeditions took the cause to Upper Peru, the province that would become Bolivia. After initial victories there, the forces from Buenos Aires retreated, leaving the battle in the hands of local Creole, mestizo, and Indian guerrillas. By the time Bolívar's armies finally completed the liberation of Upper Peru (then renamed in the Liberator's honour), the region had long since separated itself from Buenos Aires.

The main thrust of the southern independence forces met much greater success on the Pacific coast. In 1817 San Martín, a Latin-American-born former officer in the Spanish military, directed 5,000 men in a dramatic crossing of the Andes and struck at a point in Chile where loyalist forces had not expected an invasion. In alliance with Chilean patriots under the command of Bernardo O'Higgins, San Martín's army restored independence to a region whose highly factionalized junta had been defeated by royalists in 1814. With Chile as his base, San Martín then faced the task of freeing the Spanish stronghold of Peru. After establishing naval dominance in the region, the southern movement made its way northward. Its task, however, was formidable. Having benefited from colonial monopolies and fearful of the kind of social violence that the late-18th-century revolt had threatened, many Peruvian Creoles were not anxious to break with Spain. Consequently, the forces under San Martín managed only a shaky hold on Lima and the coast. Final destruction of loyalist resistance in the highlands required the entrance of northern armies.
Back to Top
Degredado View Drop Down

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Portugal
Status: Offline
Points: 369
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Degredado Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Dec-2004 at 13:28
Now that we're on the subject of South American wars, does anyone know of a site where I might find pics of uniforms worn during the Paraguay war, and during the conflicts that pitted the Portuguese and the Spanish around Uruguay?
Vou votar nas putas. Estou farto de votar nos filhos delas
Back to Top
Jalisco Lancer View Drop Down

Retired AE Moderator

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Mexico
Status: Offline
Points: 2123
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jalisco Lancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Dec-2004 at 14:09
See what I found for you:


Back to Top
Degredado View Drop Down

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Portugal
Status: Offline
Points: 369
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Degredado Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Dec-2004 at 02:24
Interesting site. It needs more illustrations though.
Vou votar nas putas. Estou farto de votar nos filhos delas
Back to Top
Sudaka View Drop Down

Joined: 14-Nov-2004
Location: Argentina
Status: Offline
Points: 28
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sudaka Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Jan-2005 at 00:29

Is a good post about all the war that happend in my continet. But i finf a grate flaw. U forget about Falkland/ Malvinas Was!!!. Not so big, but very important for the present day argentina.

There were some other battles in the 19th century agains england and france for the open of river traffic for european ships.

Another thinK: We, the south americans, fight together for the liberation of all south americans, is time to forgett our little differences and join to take out south america of this poor situation and enter in the first world.


Not yet mein friend, not yet
Back to Top
Sudaka View Drop Down

Joined: 14-Nov-2004
Location: Argentina
Status: Offline
Points: 28
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sudaka Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Jan-2005 at 00:32

Originally posted by Tobodai Tobodai wrote:

I think someday I will be called El Supremo

SUPREMO Can I join ur glorius army!!!  

Not yet mein friend, not yet
Back to Top
Jalisco Lancer View Drop Down

Retired AE Moderator

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Mexico
Status: Offline
Points: 2123
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jalisco Lancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Jan-2005 at 16:05


Malvinas / Falklands War

First War for 100 Years - As Argentina goes to war for the first time since the Paraguayan War of 1865-70, the Navy and Marines will spearhead the invasion on Friday 2nd April 1982, the Army will garrison and finally lose the Falklands, and the Air Force, which could possibly have won the coming Anglo-Argentine war, gets ready to establish a presence there.
Right - Super Etendard of the Argentine Navy. The four operational aircraft later mount a series of attacks on the British Task force with Exocet missiles, sinking destroyer "Sheffield" and aircraft/helicopter support ship "Atlantic Conveyor"


Navy or Armada Republica Argentina - With a strength of 30,000 officers and men, including 12,000 conscripts, the Navy is a mix of World War Two and modern ships.

Main units in commission are:

four patrol submarines ("SANTA FE" lost),
one light fleet carrier and
the old cruiser "GENERAL BELGRANO" (sunk),
six destroyers and three frigates, all Exocet-armed, amphibious warfare craft,
eight fleet tankers and transports, and
two icebreakers or polar vessels,

.... a large proportion of which are at sea on the eve of invasion.

Under the overall command of Vice Admiral Juan Lombardo, most have sailed by Friday 26th March from the main base of Puerto Belgrano.

Distant support and cover is provided by Task Force 20,

... while the landings take place from the ships of amphibious Task Force 40.

Before being recalled to join TF 40, frigates "Drummond" and "Granville" had earlier left for South Georgia, while fleet transport "Bahia Buen Suceso" has already returned to Argentina from there.

Marine Corps or Infantaria de Marina - The Navy also includes a 6,000 strong Marine Corps or Infanteria de Marina organised into two Fleet Marine forces, each with two infantry battalions and supporting arms. It is from these, that the assault commandos or Buzos Tactico and the landing force of some 800 men of the 2nd Marine Infantry Battalion are drawn. Another battalion is later deployed near Stanley.

Naval Aviation Command or Comando Aviacion Naval Argentina (CANA) - Includes:

four operational Super Etendard strike fighters and their air-launched version of Exocet,
eight Skyhawk A-4Q attack bombers,
ten Aermacchi MB.339's and
fifteen Mentor T-34C's in the light attack role,
Tracker anti-submarine aircraft and Lynx, Alouette and Sea King helicopters.

Carrier "25 de Mayo" first sails with Skyhawks and Trackers embarked, but these are later landed, and together with the Super-Etendards, moved to southern airfields. Flying from there, three of the Skyhawks will be lost in combat, and of the six MB.339's and four Mentors flown to the Falklands and operated from Stanley or Pebble Island, only one MB.339 survives.
Argentine Coastguard or Prefectura Naval Argentina (PNA) - Separate from the Navy, the PNA operates its own aircraft and over 40 patrol vessels. The one Puma helicopter, two Skyvan light aircraft and two patrol craft transferred to the Falklands are also lost.


Army or Ejercito - Although a professional army in South American terms, a weakness in comparison with the British land forces is the predominance of one year conscripts in the ranks.

Total strength is 60,000 including 20,000 regular officers and NCO's. Apparently organised in to five corps, the main operational unit is the brigade of which there are around two armoured, one mechanised, four infantry, three mountain, one jungle and one airmobile, each consisting of three battalions plus one artillery and one engineer battalion. In addition there are five anti-aircraft and one aviation battalions. The Army (with the Marines) will employ on the Falklands, Panhard armoured cars, 105 and 155mm artillery, 20mm, 30mm and 35mm AA guns, and Roland, Tigercat and Blowpipe SAM's.

Occupation Forces - With the islands secured by the Marines, a relatively small Army garrison will be air-lifted in to Stanley, but once the British Task Force is on its way, army strength will build-up to over 10,000 troops.

Of these, a reinforced brigade of 8,000 men from five regiments together with artillery, AA, armoured car and engineer units will stay in the Stanley area. Nearly 1,000 infantry with AA and some artillery will go to Goose Green, and over on West Falkland, Port Howard and Fox Bay will each receive 800 men of an infantry regiment plus engineer support. Many will be killed or wounded and the rest captured with all their surviving equipment.

Army Aviation Command or Comando de Aviacion del Ejercito - Equipped with aircraft and a large variety of helicopters, many of which are deployed to the Falklands and all lost - two Chinook CH-47C's, five Puma SA.330L's, three Agusta A-109A's and nine Iroquois UH-1H's.


Argentine Air Force or Fuerza Aerea Argentina (FAA) - According to best estimates, the FAA starts the war with:

45 Skyhawk A-4B and C attack bombers,
37 Dagger and
17 Mirage fighter and attack aircraft,
ten Canberra light bombers,
more than 35 Argentine-designed and built Pucara close support aircraft,
nine Hercules C-130 transports and tankers,
Learjets, Boeing 707's and a number of other aircraft and helicopters.
Not all are operational.
Below - FAA Mirage

As soon as the assault forces land, the Hercules start a job they continue to the very end; flying into Stanley the men and materiel vital to the Argentine defence of the Falklands. Eventually transferred to the islands are 24 Pucaras at Stanley, Goose Green or Pebble Island, and two Bell 212 and two Chinook helicopters. All but the Chinooks will be lost.
As the British Task Force heads south, the FAA transfers many of its aircraft to southern bases and by the time the war is over has lost 32 Daggers, Mirage and Skyhawks, two Canberras, a Hercules, a Learjet and one more Pucara.

Added to the Navy, Coast Guard and Army casualties, Argentina will lose a total of 100 aircraft and helicopters.

British Aims and Outcome - Once the decision is taken to launch "Operation Corporate" and dispute the Argentine invasion by force if necessary, Britain's military power is rapidly mobilised. Commanders are appointed and from bases thoughout the country, the highly technological ships and aircraft are readied and despatched to transport and support a limited number of professional marines, paras and guardsmen. Fighting as infantrymen, they will re-take the Falklands the hard way, and at the end of an 8,000 mile long logistical nightmare and lengthy chain of command.
Directly responsible to the British Cabinet for all military aspects is the Defence Staff at Whitehall not far from Downing Street with its Chief, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Terence Lewin and the other service heads. Working out of Northwood, Middlesex, just outside London are the Task Force Commanders led by Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse, Commander-in-Chief Fleet, who in turn must control events in the South Atlantic through the commanders on the spot.

Taking part in this vast undertaking are nearly 30,000 men and a few women, and a large proportion of Britain's Navy and Marines, fleet auxiliaries and merchantmen, aircraft and helicopter squadrons, plus five Army battalions and supporting arms.

Up to the final Argentine surrender, each of the ships, aircraft squadrons and main military units, as they enter the South Atlantic for the FIRST time in the campaign are introduced below. Ships lost are in blue CAPITALS, damaged in lower case blue letters:
Above - Nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarine
HMS Conqueror, one of the first Royal Navy
warships to reach South Georgia and then the
Falklands area. She torpedoed and sank the
Argentine cruiser "General Belgrano" on the
2nd May 1982


Submarines reaching the Falkland's Area, early April to May
Nuclear submarines "Spartan", "Splendid", "Conqueror", "Courageous"(?), "Valiant" and conventionally powered "Onyx", possibly with some SBS.

RAF Squadrons reaching or deploying to Ascension, early April to May
VC.10 transports of 10 Sqdn, Hercules transports of 24, 30, 47 and 70 Sqdns,
Nimrod maritime reconnaissance aircraft of 42(TB), 51(?), 120, 201 and 206 Sqdns,
Victor tankers of 55 and 57 Sqdns,
Vulcan bombers of 44, 50 and 101 Sqdns,
Harrier GR.3 attack aircraft of 1(F),
Chinook helicopter of 18 and a
Sea King of 202,
Phantom fighters of 29(F) Sqdns,
Units of the RAF Regiment.

South Georgia recaptured ("Operation Paraquat") on 25th April
Naval forces - Destroyer "Antrim", Frigates "Brilliant", "Plymouth", Ice patrol ship "Endurance", RFA's "Tidespring" and (earlier) "Brambleleaf" and "Fort Austin".
Land forces - M Coy 42 Cdo RM, SBS RM and D Sqdn 22nd SAS.

Carrier Battle Group starting attacks on Falklands, 1st May
Naval forces - Carriers "Hermes", "Invincible", Destroyers "Glamorgan", "COVENTRY", "Glasgow", "SHEFFIELD", Frigates "Broadsword", "Alacrity", "Arrow", "Yarmouth" and RFA's "Olmeda" and "Resource". Joined later in May by destroyer "Exeter", frigate "Ambuscade" and RFA "Regent".
Carrier aircraft - Sea Harriers of Nos.800 and 801, anti-submarine and assault Sea King helicopters of Nos.820, 826 and 846 NAS; and later, Sea Harriers of No.809 and RAF Harrier GR.3's of 1(F) Squadrons.
Land forces - SBS RM, D and G Sqdns 22nd SAS.

Amphibious Group reaching the TEZ, followed by Landings in San Carlos Water ("Operation Sutton") on 21st May
Naval forces - including Assault ships "Fearless", "Intrepid", Frigates "ARDENT", "Argonaut" and later "ANTELOPE", RFA's "Stromness", "Tidepool", LSL's "SIR GALAHAD", "Sir Geraint", "Sir Lancelot", "Sir Percivale", "Sir Tristram" and (later) "Sir Bedivere", Transports "Canberra", "Elk", "Europic Ferry", "Norland", and Aircraft and helicopter support ship "ATLANTIC CONVEYOR".
Land forces - 3 Commando Brigade RM including 40, 42 and 45 Cdo RM and 2 and 3 Para, and 3 CBAS Gazelle and Scout helicopters.

Other Ships and Helicopter Squadrons supporting the Task Force up to the End of May
At Ascension
RMAS mooring vessel "Goosander" and Tanker "Alvega"; also Detached despatch vessel "Dumbarton Castle".
Tanker Holding Areas in the South Atlantic and in Tug, Repair and Logistics Area (TRALA)
RFA tankers "Appleleaf", Pearleaf and "Plumleaf" plus Tankers "Anco Charger", "Eburna", Eight British Petroleum "British" tankers, and Water tanker "Fort Toronto".
Operating in Falklands area
Hospital ship "Uganda" and Ambulance ships "Hecla", "Herald" and "Hydra" in Red Cross Box (RCB), Repair ship "Stena Seaspread" and Tugs "Irishman", "Salvageman", "Yorkshireman" in TRALA.
Reaching South Georgia
Requisitioned minesweepers "Cordella", "Farnella", "Junella", "Northella" and "Pict", RFA tanker "Blue Rover", RMAS tug "Typhoon", Detached despatch vessels "Iris" and "Leeds Castle", Ammo ship "Lycaon" and Stores ship "Saxonia".
Other Helicopters
Sea Kings of No.824 and also 846, Wessex of Nos.737, 845 and 848, Lynx of No.815 and Wasps of No.829 NAS on warships, RFA's and merchantmen, together with one RAF Chinook of 18 Sqdn.

"Bristol" Group arriving in TEZ, late May
Destroyers "Bristol", "Cardiff", Frigates "Active", "Avenger", "Andromeda", "Minerva", "Penelope", RFA's "Bayleaf" and "Olna".

5th Infantry Brigade reaching South Atlantic late May to join Advance on Stanley, early June
Land forces - 5th Infantry Brigade including 2 Scots and 1 Welsh Guards, 1/7 Gurkha Rifles and Gazelle and Scout helicopters of 656 Sqdn AAC.
Transports - "Queen Elizabeth 2", "Baltic Ferry" and "Nordic Ferry".

Other Ships and Helicopter Squadrons arriving to support Task Force up to Surrender
RFA's "Engadine" and "Fort Grange", Merchantmen "Atlantic Causeway", "Balder London", "Contender Bezant", "Geestport", "St. Edmund", "Tor Caledonia" and "Wimpey Seahorse",
Sea Kings of No.825 and Wessex of No.847 NAS.


1st Attack Sqdn (1 Esc) 6 Aermacchi MB-339A's to Falklands, 2 lost and 3 captured Minor damage to "Argonaut" by cannon (21st May)
2nd Fighter and Attack Sqdn (2 Esc) Super Etendard flying from Rio Grande with no losses Destroyer "SHEFFIELD" (4th May) and
Support ship "ATLANTIC CONVEYOR" (25th May) hit by Exocet and both sunk

3rd Fighter and Attack Sqdn (3 Esc) Skyhawk A-4Q's flying from Rio Grande, 3 lost Frigate "ARDENT" sunk by bombs (21st May)
4th Attack Sqdn (4 Esc) 4 Mentor T-34C's to Falklands, all lost -


1st Air Transport Group (Grupo 1) Hercules (1 lost), Boeing 707's. Also photo-reconnaissance Learjets (1 lost) -

2nd Light Bomber Group (Grupo 2) Canberras flying from Trelew and Rio Gallegos, 2 lost -

3rd Attack Group
(Grupo 3) 24 Pucaras to Falklands, 13 lost and 11 captured, plus one mainland-based aircraft lost Only British aircraft casualty directly due to Argentine aircraft is Royal Marine Scout [b28] shot down by a Grupo 3 Pucara on the 28th May
4th Fighter Bomber Group (Grupo 4) Skyhawk A-4C's flying from San Julian and Rio Grande, 9 lost Believed to have damaged LSL's "Sir Bedivere", "Sir Galahad" and "Sir Lancelot" with UXB's (all 24th May)
5th Fighter Bomber Group (Grupo 5) Skyhawk A-4B's from Rio Gallegos, 10 lost Destroyer "Glasgow" damaged by UXB (12th May)
Frigate "Argonaut" damaged by UXB (21st May)

Frigate "ANTELOPE" sunk by bomb (23rd May)

Destroyer "COVENTRY" sunk by bombs and frigate "Broadsword" damaged by UXB (both 25th May)

LSL's "SIR GALAHAD" (later scuttled) and "Sir Tristram" damaged; "Fearless" LCU F4 sunk by bombs (all 8th June)

6th Fighter Bomber Group (Grupo 6) Daggers from Rio Grande and San Julian, 11 lost Destroyer "Glamorgan", frigates "Alacrity" and "Arrow", minor damage by cannon fire and near misses (all 1st May)
Destroyer "Antrim" damaged by UXB, frigate "Ardent" damaged by bomb, frigates "Brilliant" and "Broadsword" minor damage by cannon fire (all 21st May)

Frigate "Plymouth" damaged by UXB and cannon (8th June)

7th Group, Helicopter Sqdn including Bell 212's and Chinook. Two Bells to Falklands, both lost -

8th Fighter Group
(Grupo 8) Mirage IIIE's from Comodoro Rivadavia and Rio Callegos, 2 lost


HMS Conqueror Cruiser "GENERAL BELGRANO" sunk
HMS Alacrity Fleet transport "ISLA DE LOS ESTADOS" sunk
HMS Brilliant and HMS Yarmouth Coaster "Monsunen" driven aground


HMS Hermes, No.800 Sea Harriers Trawler "NARWAL" sunk
Fleet transport "Bahia Buen Suceso" damaged
Transport "Rio Carcarana" damaged
Patrol ship "Rio Iguaza" beached
HMS Antelope, No.815 Lynx Transport "RIO CARCARANA" destroyed
HMS Antrim No.737 Wessex
HMS Brilliant No.815 Lynx
HMS Endurance and
Plymouth No.829 Wasps Submarine "Santa Fe" disabled
HMS Coventry and
Glasgow, No.815 Lynx Patrol vessel "Alferez Sobral" damaged

------------------------------------------------------------ --------------------


HMS Hermes, No.800 Sea Harriers:

Lt Cmdr A D Auld (DSC) RN 2 Daggers [a50, a51]
Lt Cmdr G W J Batt (post DSC) RN -
Lt Cmdr M S Blissett (MID) RN Skyhawk [a36]
Lt Cmdr R V Frederiksen (MID) RN Dagger [a38]
Lt M Hale RN Dagger [a49]
Flt Lt J Leeming RAF Skyhawk [a43]
Flt Lt D H S Morgan (DSC) RAF 2 Skyhawks [a67, a68]
Lt C R W Morrell (MID) RN 1½ Skyhawks [a42, a44]
Flt Lt R Penfold RAF Dagger [a7]
Lt D A Smith (MID) RN Dagger [a52], Skyhawk [a69]
Lt Cmdr N W Thomas (DSC) RN Skyhawk [a37]
3 Pucaras [a2,a3,a4], 1½ Pumas [a45, a47], Agusta 109A [a46]

HMS Invincible, No.801 Sea Harriers:

Flt Lt P C Barton RAF Mirage [a5]
Lt W A Curtis (post MID) RN Canberra [a8]
Lt S R Thomas (DSC) RN Mirage [a6], 2 Daggers [a39,a40]
Cmdr N D Ward (DSC) AFC RN Pucara [a35], Dagger [a41], Hercules [a65]
½ Puma [a47]


HMS Ardent ½ Skyhawk [a44]
HMS Brilliant 3 Skyhawks [a16, a17, a18]
HMS Broadsword probably Dagger [a34]
HMS Coventry Puma [a15], 2 Skyhawks [a54,a56]
HMS Exeter 2 Skyhawks [a63,a64], Learjet [a66], Canberra [a70]
HMS Fearless or Intrepid Skyhawk [a57]
Naval bombardment Skyvan [a12]
Royal Marines Puma [a1], Aermacchi [a59]

.... by BRITISH ARMY and RAF

San Carlos Water defences 3 Skyhawks [a48, a53, a55]
T Bty, 12 Air Defence Regt RA Dagger [a61]
2 Para Pucara [a60]
D Sqdn SAS 7 Pucaras [a20-a25, a33], 4 Mentors [a26-a29], Skyvan [a30]
1(F) Sqdn RAF Harrier GR.3's Chinook [a31], Puma [a32]
Sqdn Ldr J J Pook (DFC) RAF -
Wing Cdr P T Squire (DFC) AFC RAF -

Summary of Early Falklands History

   1. 1592 - British sighting by Capt Davis
2. 1600 - Plotted by Dutchman Sebald de Weert
3. 1690 - British landing by Capt Strong
4. 1764 - First French settlement by de Bougainville
5. 1765 - British landing by Capt Byron
6. 1766 - British settlement by Capt MacBride
7. 1767 - French settlement handed over to Spanish control
8. 1770 - Spain expels British colonists
9. 1771 - Britain allowed to return, but Spain reserves right to sovereignty
10. 1774 - British colony abandoned
11. 1820 - Recently-independent Argentina takes possession
12. 1831 - US declares the island "free of government"
13. 1833 - Britain takes possession from Argentina
14. 1842 - Britain declares a colonial administration
Argentina - continues to claim the Falklands/Malvinas

First European Sightings and Landings - Claims for the first sightings of these uninhabited islands include the Italian Amerigo Vespucci in 1502 and the expedition of Portugese-born Ferdinand Magellan in 1520. Thereafter three firsts are generally accepted - Capt John Davis makes the first British sighting in 1592, Dutchman Sebald de Weert first accurately plots the westerly Jason Islands in 1600, and the first British landing is made in 1690 on the north coast by Capt John Strong who names Falkland Sound after Lord Falkland of the Admiralty.   Spanish Control - The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht confirms Spain's continued control of her traditional territories in the Americas, including the offshore islands, but by now the French, many from St. Malo are visiting the islands from which they receive the name Les Iles Malouines, subsequently the Spanish Islas Malvinas. In the 1740's, Admiral Lord Anson, back from his voyage around the world recommends them as a naval base because of their strategic position near Cape Horn.
French and British Settlement - The first settlement is established in 1764 at Port Louis in Berkeley Sound by the French under Antoine de Bougainville, who claims the colony in the name of the King of France, a step which brings strong protests from allied Spain.
Next year British Captain John Byron arrives to survey the north coast, goes ashore on Saunders Island off West Falkland and in turn claims the islands for Britain, naming Port Egmont before sailing away. Captain John McBride follows him there in 1766 to set up a permanent colony, and that same year tries to eject the French from Port Louis, but unknown to both of them, de Bougainville has already sold out to Spain.

Spanish Colony - De Bougainville formally hands over the French colony in 1767 and Port Louis is renamed Puerto Soledad (7). A Spanish governor is appointed under the Captain-General of mainland Buenos Aires, but both the British on West Falkland and Spanish on East Falkland carry on until 1769 when each tries to get the other to leave.

The following year, on orders from Buenos Aires, five Spanish ships with 1,400 troops arrive and the small marine garrison at Port Egmont is forced to leave in a move which nearly leads to war between the two countries. After intensive negotiations Spain agrees in 1771 to Britain returning to Port Egmont, but reserves the right to sovereignty. She also claims Britain has secretly agreed to pull out and indeed the settlement is abandoned three years later in 1774. Until the early 19th century, the Falklands remain the Spanish colony of Islas Malvinas.

Argentine Claim and Possession - Following independence from Spain in 1816, the future state of Argentina lays claim to the previous colonial territories, and in 1820 sends a frigate to take possession of the Falklands. In 1826, Louis Vernet of French origin establishes himself and a number of colonists at Puerto Soledad to develop fishing, farming and trade, and as governor from 1828 attempts to control the widespread sealing. Waking up to developments, Britain's consul general in Buenos Aires protests in 1829 against the appointment of a governor and re-asserts old claims to sovereignty.

United States and British Involvement - In 1831, after arresting American sealers accused of poaching, Louis Vernet sails in one of them for Buenos Aires where the captain is to stand trial. In reprisal, the US warship "Lexington" arrives off Puerto Soledad, destroys the fortifications, arrests some of the people and declares the islands free of government before sailing away.

Argentina and the United States argue furiously over each other's high-handed behaviour, and next year a new governor is appointed but then murdered by rebellious colonists. As Argentine forces attempt to restore order, Royal Navy warships "Clio" and "Tyne" under the command of Captain Onslow arrive in early 1833, force them to leave and claim the Falklands for Britain. Argentina protests strongly, but the British Government maintains that all rights to sovereignty were retained during the 1770 negotiations with Spain.

British Colonisation - Britain later starts to settle the islands and formally declares a colonial administration in 1842, although Argentina continues to press her claim and from the 1960's on, with increasing vigour. Stanley is established in 1845. By this time, Britain's right to ownership rests mainly on her peaceful and continuous possession over a long period of time, and when serious negotiations begin, they become dominated by the islander's desire to remain British.

Argentine Claims - After a period of Argentine lobbying, the United Nations passes Resolution 2065 in 1965 specifying the Falklands/Malvinas as a colonial problem, and calling on Britain and Argentina to find a peaceful solution. Talks continue on and off for the next seventeen years under both British Labour and Conservative Governments. Britain initially appears flexible over the question of sovereignty, and by 1971 the Argentines are agreeing to concentrate on economic development and support, but thereafter, both side's position hardens. The Argentines will accept nothing less than full sovereignty and in late 1980 the islanders reject the one remaining solution of lease-back for a fixed period.

On the road to war, Argentina sets up a scientific base on Southern Thule in the South Sandwich Islands in 1976 and stays put, and in 1982 her forces find themselves about to land on South Georgia and to invade and hold the Falklands themselves.

Back to Top
Jalisco Lancer View Drop Down

Retired AE Moderator

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Mexico
Status: Offline
Points: 2123
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jalisco Lancer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Jan-2005 at 16:05

The Falklands consist of two main and many smaller islands in the South Atlantic Ocean east of Argentina. Ownership of the group had long been disputed. The Falklands were probably first discovered in the 1520s by the Spanish. The first British claim dates from 1592. In 1690, the British named them after the Treasurer of the Navy, Viscount Falkland. On April 5, 1764, France established a settlement on East Falkland and claimed the islands, which the Spanish offered to buy as they were concerned about disrupting the balance of power in the region. In 1765, the British established a settlement on Saunders Island, and in 1767 France transferred its settlement to Spain. In 1770, the Spanish captured the British settlement, but in 1771 it was handed back. In 1774 and 1806-11, respectively, the British and Spanish left the islands, each maintaining a claim over them. It is in this general period that the confusion lies.

Argentina gained independence from Spain in 1816 and thus control over the Falklands (Islas Malvinas). In 1829, Argentina established Luis Maria Vernet as the first governor of the islands. Finally, in 1833 the British occupied the islands by force and ejected its inhabitants to the Argentine mainland. (For more details on the origin of the dispute see History of the Falkland Islands.)

With the late 20th century absorption of the British Colonial Office into the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, successive British governments had come to see the dispute with Argentina as a minor problem from which they would have been happy to relieve themselves. Despite their government's neglect, the 1,800 or so inhabitants of British origin steadfastly refused to become part of Argentina, citing Article 73 (http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/chapt11.htm) of the United Nations charter to support their position. In 1965, under UN Resolution 2065, Britain and Argentina started negotiations on the islands' future, but seventeen years later little had changed.

Argentina was going through a devastating economic crisis. There was also massive social unrest against the Military Junta which had murdered thousands of Argentines for political opposition to the unelected Junta. Between 1976 and 1983 - under military rule - in the middle of the "Dirty War", supposedly waged against communism, thousands of people, most of them dissidents and innocent civilians unconnected with terrorism, were arrested and then vanished without trace. Many of these people simply 'disappeared'. Death squads struck with impunity, terrorizing working class union members and anyone opposed to the corruption which infested the country's higher ranks.

The oppression of the Argentine people continued under a succession of dictators from General Jorge Videla to General Roberto Viola and then General Leopoldo Galtieri for a short while. Before he started the Falklands War, Galtieri was subject to growing opposition from the people. The actual dictatorship of General Galtieri lasted only eighteen months but he was a key player in the slaughter and oppression of his own people for years previous. Throughout 1981, Argentina saw inflation climb to over 600%, GDP went down to 11.4%, manufacturing output down to 22.9% and real wages by 19.2%. The Unions were gaining more support for a general strike every day and the popular opposition to the Junta was growing rapidly.

Critics of the invasion by Argentina claim that the Junta sought to use the patriotism of war to quell unrest in the working classes, hoping that whilst engulfed in a patriotic fervour, the Argentines would forget about the crisis, and the crimes of their military. Likewise, critics of the British government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher claim that she sought to use the war to bolster her flagging popularity -- another "splendid little war." The Royal Navy maintained a military presence in the area in the form of a small group of forty Royal Marines known as Naval Party 8901, and HMS Endurance, an aging patrol vessel which was on the verge of decommissioning.

Galtieri aimed to counterbalance public concern over economic and human rights issues with a speedy nationalist 'win' over the Falklands. Pressure was exerted in the UN with a subtle hint of invasion raised. The British missed this threat and continued to waste time (it is worth noting that British positions are not expressed centrally but rather emerge from the operations of special interests and departments without always being consistent; this has often misled outside observers). The Argentines interpreted the British position as disengagement, being willing to back away if the islands were invaded - a viewpoint encouraged by the planned withdrawal of the last Royal Navy presence in 1981 (together with a general down-sizing of the fleet) and the British Nationality Act of 1981 which withdrew full citizenship rights from the Falkland Islanders. The British also helped by being unwilling to believe that the Argentines would invade.

The invasion plan was developed by Admiral Jorge Anaya, the passionately anti-British head of the Argentine navy. Following the failure of further talks in January 1982, the plans were finalised and the invasion set for April. The attack was pre-empted by the 'invasion' of the island of South Georgia (1,390 km east of the Falklands) on March 19, 1982 by a group of patriotic Argentine civilians posing as scrap metal merchants. The Royal Navy's Antarctic patrol vessel HMS Endurance was ordered to remove the civilians on March 25, but was blocked by three Argentine warships and wisely retreated. However on March 30 despite the further evidence of the Argentine Navy loading troops in Puerto Belgrano the UK Joint Intelligence Committee's Latin American group stated that "invasion was not imminent".

Failed diplomacy
From the time of the breaking of formal diplomatic relations, Peru represented Argentine diplomatic interests in the UK and Switzerland represented UK interests in Argentina. Argentine diplomats in London were credentialed as Peruvian diplomats of Argentine nationality and the UK diplomats in Buenos Aires were credentialed as Swiss diplomats of British nationality. Despite this civility, and although Peru and Switzerland exerted great diplomatic effort to avoid war, they were unable to head off the conflict; a peace plan proposed by Fernando Belaunde Terry was not accepted.

Falkland Islands Governor Rex Hunt was informed by the British Government of a possible Argentine invasion on 31 March. The Governor summoned the two senior Royal Marines officers of Naval Party 8901 to Government House in Stanley to discuss the options for defending the Falklands.

He said during the meeting, "Sounds like the buggers mean it", still remaining composed despite the seriousness of the situation that the islands faced.

Major Mike Norman RM was given overall command of the Marines due to his seniority, while Major Gary Noott RM became the military advisor to Governor Hunt. The total strength was 68 Marines and 11 sailors, which was higher than would have been because the garrison was in the process of changing over. Both the replacement and the troop preparing to leave were in the Falklands at the time of the invasion. This was decreased to 57 when twenty-two Royal Marines embarked aboard the Antarctic patrol ship Endurance to observe Argentine soldiers based at South Georgia. Graham Bound states in his book Falkland Islanders At War that approximately forty (both serving and past) members of the Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF) reported for duty at their Drill Hall. Their commanding officer, Major Phil Sommers, tasked the militiamen with guarding such key points as the telephone exchange, the radio station and the power station.

Pedro Giachino
On April 2 the Argentine destroyer Santisima Trinidad halted 500 metres off Mullet Creek and lowered 21 Gemini assault craft into the water. They contained 92 Special Forces of Lieutenant-Commander Guillermo Sanchez-Sabarots' 1st Amphibious Commando Group. The small party under Lieutenant-Commander Pedro Giachino, who were to capture Government House, had the shortest distance to go - two and a half miles due north. Moody Brook Barracks, the destination of the main party was six miles away over rough Falklands terrain. Lieutenant-Commander Sanchez-Sabarots in the book The Argentine Fight for The Falklands (Pen and Sword Military Classics) describes the main party's progress in the dark:

"It was a nice night, with a moon, but the cloud covered the moon for most of the time. ... It was very hard going with our heavy loads; it was hot work. We eventually became split up into three groups. We only had one night sight; the lead man, Lieutenant Arias had it. One of the groups became separated when a vehicle came along the track we had to cross. We thought it was a military patrol. Another group lost contact, and the third separation was caused by someone going too fast. This caused my second in command, Lieutenant Bardi, to fall. He suffered a hairline fracture of the ankle and had to be left behind with a man to help him. ... We were at Moody Brook by 5.30 a.m., just on the limits of the time planned, but with no time for the one hour's reconnaissance for which we had hoped.""

The main party of Argentine Marines still assumed that the Moody Brook Barracks might contain sleeping Royal Marines. The barracks were quiet, although a light was on in the office of the Royal Marine commander. No sentries were observed and it was a quiet night apart from the occasional animal call. Lieutenant-Commander Sanchez-Sabarots could hear nothing of any action at Government House nor from the distant landing beaches; nevertheless he ordered the assault to begin. Lieutenant-Commander Sanchez-Sabarots continues his account:

"It was still completely dark. We were going to use tear-gas, to force the British out of the buildings and capture them. Our orders were not to cause casualties if possible. That was the most difficult mission of my career. All our training as commandos was to fight aggressively and inflict maximum casualties on the enemy. We surrounded the barracks with machine-gun teams, leaving only one escape route along the peninsula north of Stanley Harbour. Anyone who did get away would not able to reach the town and reinforce the British there. Then we threw the tear-gas grenades into each building. There was no reaction; the barracks were empty."

The noise of the grenades alerted Major Norman to the presence of Argentines on the island, and he thus drove back to Government House. Realizing that the attack was coming from Moody Brook, he ordered all troop sections to converge on the house to enable the defence to be centralized.

Lying on a small hillock south of Government House, Lieutenant-Commander Giachino faced the difficulty of capturing this important objective with no radio and with a force of only sixteen men. He split his force into small groups, placing one on either side of the house and one at the rear. Unknown to them, the Governors' residence was the main concentration point of the Royal Marines. The first attack against came at 6.15 a.m. when Lieutenant-Commander Giachino, with four of his men, entered the servants' annexe, believing it to be the rear entrance to the residence. Three Royal Marines - Corporals Sellen and Fleet and Marine Dorey - who were placed to cover the annexe, beat off the first attack. Giachino was hit instantly as he burst through the door, while Lieutenant Diego Quiroga was hit in the arm. The remaining three retreated to the maid's quarters. Giachino was not dead, but very badly wounded. An Argentine medic, Corporal Ernesto Urbina, attempted to get to Giachino but was wounded by a grenade. Giachino had been shot whilst carrying a live hand grenade. The Royal Marines had attempted to persuade the officer to get rid of the grenade so that they could give him medical treatment, but he refused. After the surrender of the British forces at Government House, Giachino was taken to Stanley Hospital but died from heavy loss of blood.

Hugo Santillan and Bill Trollope
There was a more pressing action on the eastern edge of Port Stanley. Twenty US-built LVTP-7A1 tracked amphibious armoured personnel carriers from the 1st Amphibious Vehicles Battalion, carrying D and E Companies of the 2nd Marine Infantry Battalion, had been landed from the ex-US tank landing ship Cabo San Antonio, and were being watched by a section of Royal Marines under the command of Lieutenant Bill Trollope. The armoured column trundled along the Airport Road into Stanley with three Amtracs (05, 07 and 19) in the vanguard and near the Ionospheric Research Station at exactly 7:15 am were engaged by a section of Royal Marines with anti-tank rockets and machine-guns. This from Lieutenant-Commander Hugo Santillan's official post-battle report:

"We were on the last stretch of the road into Stanley. ... A machine-gun fired from one of the three white houses about 500 metres away and hit the right-hand Amtrac. The fire was very accurate. Then there were some explosions from a rocket launcher, but they were inaccurate, falling a long way from us. We followed our standard operating procedure and took evasive action. The Amtrac on the right returned fire and took cover in a little depression. Once he was out of danger, I told all three vehicles to disembark their men. ... I ordered the crew with the recoilless rifle to fire one round of hollow charge at the ridge of the roof of the house where the machine-gun was, to cause a bang but not an explosion. We were still following our orders not to inflict casualties. The first round was about a hundred metres short, but the second hit the roof. The British troops then threw a purple smoke grenade; I thought it was their signal to withdraw. They had stopped firing, so Commander Weinstabl started the movement of the two companies around the position. Some riflemen in one of the houses started firing then; that was quite uncomfortable. I couldn't pinpoint their location, but one of my other Amtracs could and asked permission to open up with a mortar which he had. I authorized this, but only with three rounds and only at the roofs of the houses. Two rounds fell short, but the third hit right in the centre of the roof; that was incredible. The British ceased firing then." (Martin Middlebrook, The Fight For The Malvinas: The Argentine Forces In The Falklands War, Viking, 1989, pp.36-37)

The Amtrac on the right manoeuvred itself off the road into a little depression and as it did so, disembarked the Marines inside out of view, this encouraged the Royal Marines to think that Marine Mark Gibbs had scored a direct hit on the passenger compartment of the APC.

Lieutenant Bill Trollope, with No. 2 Section, describes the action:

"Six Armoured Personnel Carriers began advancing at speed down the Airport Road. The first APC was engaged at a range of about 200 to 250 metres. The first three [missiles], two 84mm and one 66mm, missed. Subsequently one 66mm fired by Marine Gibbs, hit the passenger compartment and one 84mm [Marines Brown and Betts] hit the front. Both rounds exploded and no fire was received from that vehicle. The remaining five APCs which were about 600 to 700 metres away deployed their troops and opened fire. We engaged them with GPMG, SLR and sniper rifle [Sergeant Shepherd] for about a minute before we threw white phosphorus [a smoke grenade] and leap-frogged back to the cover of gardens. Incoming fire at that stage was fairly heavy, but mostly inaccurate." (Graham Bound, Falklands Islanders At War, Pen & Sword Books, 2002, pp. 52-53)

Lieutenant Trollope and his men withdrew along Davis Street running behind the houses with Argentinian Marines in hot pursuit, and went to ground firing up the road when it became obvious they could not reach Government House.

Government House and surrender
At Government House, Major Norman received a radio report from Corporal York's section, which was positioned at Stanley Harbour, observing any possible Argentinian ship movement. The Corporal proceeded to report on three potential targets in sight and which should he engage first. "What are the targets?" the Major enquired. "Target number one is an aircraft carrier, target number two is a cruiser...", at which point the line went dead.

Corporal York decided to withdraw his section and proceeded to booby trap their Carl Gustav launcher, before paddling their Gemini assault boat north across Port William. As he did so, York claimed an Argentine destroyer began pursuing them. His initiative led to the Gemini reaching an anchored Polish fishing vessel, hiding the small assault boat in its shadow. They patiently waited for a chance, before moving to the shore and landing on a small beach.

Back at Government House, another incident occurred, when the three Argentine survivors of the skirmish at the House inadvertently alerted Major Noot to their presence, while they had been preparing to leave their hiding place. The Major fired shots into the maid's room ceiling. The startled Argentines tumbled down the stairs and surrendered to the Major, becoming the first POWs of the Falklands War, albeit briefly. Lieutenant Commander Giachino's 'snatch party' was thus completely neutralized and it would be at least two hours before the bulk of the 1st Amphibious Commando Group could reach Government House.

There is some evidence that the use of stun grenades during the battle for Government House led the Royal Marines inside to believe they were facing a company of Marines and were hopelessly outnumbered. Certainly Governor Hunt called Patrick Watts (at the radio station), by telephone and said he believed the attacking force to be about 200. "They must have 200 around us now. They've been throwing grenades at us. They came along very quickly and very close, and then they retreated. Maybe they are waiting until the APCs come along and they think they'll lose less casualties that way." (Graham Bound, Falkland Islanders At War, 2002)

Alerted by the sound of the approaching Amtracs, the Royal Marines in Government House saw the vehicles that had earlier on been engaged by Lieutenant Trollope and his section, pushing on toward Moody Brook and link up with Sanchez-Sabarots, with his Commandos plodding along the road to reinforce his colleagues at Government House. Major Norman had earlier advised Rex Hunt that the Royal Marines and the Governor could break out and set up a 'seat of government' elsewhere, but he decided to surrender to the now overwhelming Argentine forces. Corporal York's section remained un-captured. On the 4th of April, his section reached a secluded shepherd's hut owned by a Mrs. Watson. He had no radio, and due to worries about possible civilian deaths chose to surrender to Argentine forces. They gave their position to the Argentines using a local islander's radio, and York subsequently ordered his men to destroy and then bury their weapons.

After the surrender, the Royal Marines and the members of the FIDF were then herded onto the playing fields. Pictures and film were taken of the British prisoners arranged face-down on the ground, which galvanised the British public when they were broadcast on television. The Argentine intention appeared to have been to show the lack of British casualties, but the images became a painful reminder of a national humiliation. Soon afterwards, the Royal Marines were moved to a C-130 transport aircraft, which would take them to Uruguay and on to Britain.

Rex Hunt was allowed to make a farewell address on local radio, and even wore his Governor's ceremonial uniform, attracting ridicule from the Argentines, before changing back into civilian clothes. One Marine as he headed up the ramp, gave an Argentine guard a parting shot that would come true in 72 days time. "Don't make yourself too comfy mate, we'll be back."

In Buenos Aires huge flag-waving crowds flooded the Plaza de Mayo on hearing the news. Argentina's losses in the operation were one dead and three wounded. In London the government was in a state of shock on what became known as "Black Friday". The next day Argentine forces seized the island chain of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, 1500 km to the east of the Falklands.

Argentine President Galtieri[edit]
Life under the occupation
In spite of earlier assurances that the Islanders' way of life and cultural identity would be maintained, Argentina made changes that were unwelcome, such as the changing of Port Stanley's name to 'Puerto Argentino', the adoption of Spanish as an official language, and commanding traffic to drive on the right. In spite of arrows being painted on the roads by the occupying forces, Islanders defiantly continued to drive on the left.

Task force
The British were quick to organise diplomatic pressure against Argentina and to assemble a task force to dispatch to the islands, centred around the aircraft carriers HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes. Although the public mood in the UK was in support of an attempt to reclaim the islands, international opinion was much more divided. To some, Britain was a former colonial power, seeking to reclaim a colony from a local power, and this was a message that the Argentines initially used to garner support. To others Britain was seen as the stable democracy that had had its territory invaded by a military dictatorship. British diplomacy centred on arguing that the Falkland Islanders were entitled to use the UN principle of self-determination and an apparent willingness to compromise. The UN Secretary-General said that he was amazed at the compromise that the UK had offered. Nevertheless, Argentina rejected it, basing their arguments on rights to territory based on actions before 1945 and the creation of the UN. Many UN members realised that if territorial claims this old could be resurrected, and invasions of territory allowed unchallenged, then their own borders were not safe. So on April 3 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 502, calling for the withdrawal of Argentine troops from the islands and the cessation of hostilities. On April 10 the EEC approved trade sanctions against Argentina. In spite of this, President Ronald Reagan and the U.S. administration remained (officially) neutral.

Shuttle diplomacy and US involvement
Legally, the United States had military treaty obligations to both parties in the war, bound to the UK by NATO and to Argentina by the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance. Alexander Haig, the United States Secretary of State, briefly (April 8–April 30) headed a "shuttle diplomacy" mission before President Ronald Reagan declared U.S. support for Britain and instituted sanctions against Argentina. Support of the USA was initially equivocal, and is reported to be the result of urging by Haig and Caspar Weinberger, who advised the President to support the UK. Reagan famously declared at the time that he could not understand why two allies were arguing over "That little ice-cold bunch of land down there". Reagan sympathized with Galtieri because of his anti-Communist position. He had received a reportedly warm reception when he visited the US. Galtieri likely didn't think that the UK would react; otherwise it is doubtful Argentina would have launched the attack. Of course, this would have been astounding to British people at the time, already familiar with Margaret Thatcher's controversial uncompromising style of government. In as many words, she declared that the Crown and the Empire had been assaulted, and would not surrender the Falkland Islands to the Argentinian jackboot. This stance was aided, at least domestically, by the staunchly conservative British press, especially The Sun, which ran such headlines as 'THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK' (when the British task force was dispatched) and 'GOTCHA' (following the sinking of the General Belgrano). A US preoccupation with the Soviet Union and communism and the thought Britain could handle the matter on her own may have factored into this view as well, although assessments of this theory vary. In the broader sense of the Cold War, with the performance of UK forces watched closely by the Soviet Union, it was worthwhile for the UK to handle without assistance a conflict minor in scale compared to an all-out NATO vs. Warsaw Pact war. Regardless, American non-interference was vital to the U.S.-British relationship. Ascension Island, a UK possession, was on lease to the Americans and the British needed to resume its use as a relay point and air base. The main and decisive American contribution was AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles of the latest L model (these missiles were much more deadly then older models of the Sidewinder), spy satellites and intelligence information. There were also rumours, later expanded upon by Weinberger, which spoke of lending an aircraft carrier, although this was not public knowledge at the time. It is worth noting that both Weinberger and Reagan would go on to receive honorary knighthoods, the honour of Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, from Queen Elizabeth II. American critics of the U.S. role claimed that, by failing to side with Argentina, the U.S. violated its own Monroe Doctrine.

In September 2001, Mexican president Vicente Fox would cite the conflict as proof of the failure of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance.

Preparing for war
Because of the long distance between the Falklands and United Kingdom, the British were reliant on a naval task force. This task force would have to be self-reliant and able to project its force across the littoral area of the Islands. The task force centred on the two small aircraft carriers, commanded by Rear Admiral John Woodward (commonly known as Sandy Woodward). A second component was the amphibious assault shipping, commanded by Commodore M.C. Clapp RN. Contrary to common belief, Admiral Woodward did not command Commodore Clapp's ships. The embarked force comprised 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, (including units from the Parachute Regiment) under the command of Brigadier J. Thompson RM. Most of this force was aboard the hastily commandeered cruise liner Canberra. Both Clapp and Woodward reported directly to the Commander in Chief Fleet (CINCFLEET), Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse, in Britain, who was the overall commander of the operation. In order to keep neutral shipping out of the way during the war, the UK declared a 'total exclusion zone' of 200 nautical miles (370 km) around the Falklands before commencing operations.

HRH The Duke of York served as a helicopter pilot off the Invincible during the war, although he did not take part in any direct war action.

The British called their counter-invasion Operation Corporate. When this task force sailed from Britain, with The Queen seeing the armada off, the American news magazine Newsweek cover headline was "The Empire Strikes Back!"

By mid-April the Royal Air Force had set-up an airbase at Wideawake on the mid-Atlantic island of Ascension, including a sizable force of Vulcan bombers, Victor refuelling aircraft, and F-4 Phantom fighters to protect them. Meanwhile the main British naval task force arrived at Ascension to prepare for war. However a small force had already been sent south to re-capture South Georgia.

Recapture of South Georgia
The South Georgia force, Operation Paraquat, under the command of Major Guy Sheridan RM, consisted of marines from 42 Commando, a troop of Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS) troops who were intended to land reconnaissance forces for an invasion by the Royal Marines embarked on the RFA Tidespring. First to arrive was the Churchill-class submarine HMS Conqueror on the 19th, and the island was over-flown by a radar-mapping Handley-Page Victor on the 20th. The first landings of SAS troops took place on the 21st, but the weather was so bad that their landings and others made the next day were all withdrawn after several helicopters crashed in fog.

On the 23rd a submarine alert was sounded and operations were halted, with the Tidespring being withdrawn to deeper water to avoid interception. On the 24th the British forces regrouped and headed in to attack the submarine, the ARA Santa Fe, locating it on the 25th and damaging it enough that the crew decided to abandon it. With the Tidespring now far out to sea and an additional defending force of the submarine's crew now landed, Major Sheridan decided to gather the 75 men he had and make a direct assault that day. After a short forced march the Argentine forces surrendered, making it official the next day. The British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, broke the news to the media telling them to "Just rejoice at that news!" [1] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/25/n ewsid_2503000/2503977.stm)

The Black Buck Raids
On May 1st, operations against the Falklands opened with the Black Buck 1 attack by RAF Avro Vulcan V bombers on the airfield at Port Stanley. The Vulcan had originally been designed for medium-range stand-off nuclear missions in Europe and did not have the range to fly to the Falklands, requiring several in-flight refuelling missions. The RAF's tanker planes were mostly converted Victors with similar range, so they too had to be refuelled in the air. Thus, a total force of 11 tankers were required for only two Vulcans, a massive logistical effort. In the end only a single bomb hit the runway at Port Stanley, but the Argentine Air Force (FAA) realized that the British were likewise capable of hitting targets on the mainland, and immediately recalled all jet fighters in order to protect against this possibility. The attack was therefore a strategic success, hampering Argentine efforts at close air support, reducing the effective loiter time of incoming Argentine aircraft, and compelling them to overfly British forces in any attempt to attack the islands.

Nonetheless, whilst Argentine fighters were no longer stationed at the airfield, it was never down and remained strongly used by continuous Hercules C-130 flights until the end of the conflict. The transports continued to fly into Port Stanley by night, bringing in supplies, weapons, vehicles, and fuel into the Falklands and airlifting out the wounded. Argentine air transports continued to slip past the British through the last night of the war.

Only minutes after Black Buck, nine Sea Harriers from the Hermes followed up the raid by dropping cluster bombs on Port Stanley and the smaller grass airstrip at Goose Green. Both missions scored aircraft kills on the ground, as well as causing some damage to the airfield infrastructure. The aircraft had taken off from the deck of HMS Invincible, and although attached BBC reporter Brian Hanrahan was forbidden to divulge the number of planes involved, he came up with the memorable phrase "I counted them all out and I counted them all back".

Meanwhile the FAA had already launched an attack of their own with Grupo 6, on information that landings had already taken place. Four of these planes were lost to Sea Harriers operating from the Invincible, while combat broke out between other Harriers and Mirage fighters of Grupo 8. Both sides refused to fight at the other's best altitude, until the Mirages finally descended to engage. One was shot down, and another was damaged and made for Port Stanley, where it fell victim to friendly fire from the Argentine defenders.

Sinking of the Belgrano

Gotcha headline
HMS ConquerorOn May 2 the World War II - vintage Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano - a survivor of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attacks - was sunk by the Conqueror, coincidentally using WWII vintage torpedoes. 321 lives were lost, although initial casualty reports were confused. The British newspaper The Sun famously greeted the sinking with the headline GOTCHA!, albeit that the accompanying story carried no news of Argentine deaths. The nuclear-powered Conqueror was captained by Commander Christopher Wreford-Brown and was the third and final ship of the Churchill class of boats. The loss of the Belgrano hardened the stance of the Argentine government and also became a cause celebre for anti-war campaigners (such as Labour MP Tam Dalyell), who declared that the ship had been sailing away from the Falklands at the time. The vessel was inarguably outside the exclusion zone, and sailing away from the area of conflict. However, during war, under international law, the heading of a belligerent naval vessel has no bearing on its status.

Regardless of controversies over the sinking, it had an important strategic effect. After the loss of the Belgrano, the entire Argentine fleet returned to port and did not leave again for the duration of hostilities. The two destroyers supporting the Belgrano and the task force built around the aircraft carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo both withdrew from the area, ending the direct threat to the British fleet that their pincer movement had represented. The attack on the Belgrano was the first time since the end of World War II that a submarine had fired torpedoes in wartime.

Sinking of HMS Sheffield

HMS Sheffield on fireTwo days after the Belgrano sinking, on May 4, the British lost the Type 42 destroyer HMS Sheffield to fire following an Exocet missile strike. The Sheffield had been ordered forward with two other Type 42s in order to provide a radar and missile "picket" far from the British carriers. After the ships were detected by an Argentine Navy Air Force (CANA) P-2 Neptune patrol aircraft, two CANA Dassault Super Etendards were launched, each armed with a single Exocet. Refuelled by a C-130 Hercules shortly after launch, they went in at low altitude, popped up for a radar check and released the missiles from 20 to 30 miles (30 to 50 km) away. One missed HMS Yarmouth, due to her deployment of chaff, but the other hit the Sheffield. The weapon struck with devastating effect, hitting the centre of the ship and starting raging fires which quickly spread, killing 22 sailors and severely injuring 24 others.

Whilst fighting the fire, Yarmouth reacted to a possibile attack from an Argentine submarine, firing anti-submarine weaponry. HMS Sheffield was abandoned several hours later, gutted and deformed by her still-burning fires which lingered on for six more days. She finally sank outside the Exclusion Zone on May 10, whilst under tow from the Yarmouth, becoming an official war grave. Meanwhile the other Type 42s were withdrawn from their precarious position, leaving the British task force open to attack.

The tempo of operations increased throughout the second half of May. UN attempts to mediate a peace were rejected by the British who felt that any delay would make a campaign impractical in the South Atlantic storms. The destruction of the Sheffield had a profound impact on the British public, bringing home the fact that the "Falklands Crisis", as the BBC News put it, was now an actual shooting war.

Landing at Port San Carlos

San Carlos landing sites
Context of landings in the FalklandsDuring the night of May 21 the British made an amphibious landing on beaches near San Carlos Water, on the northern coast of East Falkland, putting the 4000 men of 3 Commando Brigade, including 2nd and 3rd battalions of the Parachute Regiment (2 and 3 Para), ashore from the amphibious ships and the liner Canberra: 2 Para and 40 Commando landing at San Carlos beach; 45 Commando at Ajax bay; 3 Para at Port San Carlos. By dawn the next day they had established a secure bridgehead from which to conduct offensive operations. From there Brigadier Thompson's plan was to capture Darwin and Goose Green before turning towards Port Stanley.

Stricken HMS ArdentAt sea the paucity of British ships' anti-aircraft defences was demonstrated in the sinking of HMS Ardent on the 21st, HMS Antelope on the 23rd, and the MV Atlantic Conveyor, with a vital cargo of helicopters, runway building equipment and tents on the 25th. The loss of all but one of the Chinook Helicopters being carried by the Atlantic Conveyor was a severe blow from a logistics perspective; the sole surviving Chinook was called Bravo November. Also lost on this day was HMS Coventry, a sister to HMS Sheffield, whilst in company with HMS Broadsword. HMS Argonaut and HMS Brilliant were badly damaged. The Argentines lost over thirty aircraft in these attacks. Argentina received some assistance from the Peruvian Air Force in the form of loaned Mirage 5P aircraft.

Goose Green
Starting early on May 27 and through May 28, 2 Para approached and attacked Darwin and Goose Green which was held by the Argentine 12th Inf Regt. After a tough struggle which lasted all night and into the next day; seventeen British and 47 Argentine soldiers had been killed and 1050 Argentine troops taken prisoner. Due to a gaffe by the BBC the taking of Goose Green was announced on the BBC World Service before it actually happened. It was during this attack that Lt Col 'H' Jones, the CO of 2 Para was killed. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. See also Battle of Goose Green.

East Falkland showing San Carlos bridgehead, Teal Inlet, Mt. Kent and Mt. ChallengerWith the sizeable Argentine force at Goose Green out of the way, British forces were now able to break out of the San Carlos bridgehead. From May 27th men of 45 Cdo and 3 Para started walking across East Falkland towards the coastal settlement of Teal Inlet.

Meanwhile 42 Cdo and the SAS moved by helicopter to within sight of Stanley where they seized Mt Kent and Mt Challenger. The SAS had several clashes with Argentine Commandos in the Mount Kent area, and although four SAS were wounded, the Argentines who were members of the 602nd Commando Company, had the worst of the clashes. They had two men killed and one captured in an SAS ambush at Bluff Cove Peak in an action on 30 May. First Lieutenant Ruben Eduardo Marquez and Sergeant Oscar Humberto Blas were posthumously decorated for their part in this action.

A larger fight took place on 31 May. Argentine Commandos were observed moving to Top Malo House. Nineteen Royal Marines were helicoptered there in daylight and attacked the house. One group with 66mm rockets, grenades and rifles were to provide covering fire as the assault teams moved close to the house. These men followed a sheep fence to keep them on line for the house which was hidden beyond a hillock. The covering team doubled out to the right to come out of cover a few hundred metres from the house. First Lieutenant Ernesto Emilio Espinosa at one upper window, saw them and gave the alarm, but the Royal Marines pressed home the attack with anti-tank rockets which set it ablaze within seconds. Reserves of ammunition on the ground floor 'cooked off' and the building peeled open in a ball of flame. Even so, the assault teams were met by steady fire that wounded three of them as they advanced towards the front door, from which Sergeant Mateo Domingo Sbert was firing while others leapt from windows and withdrew down a small valley. One Royal Marine sergeant, against orders, made a dash into the open, drawing Argentine fire long enough for his 'oppos' to find the direction of the enemy, before he fell, hit in the left shoulder. His move gave the Marines the momentary sighting that was all they needed to follow their quarry; and all thirteen Argentine Commandos were killed or captured after what had been forty minutes of sharp action.

By June 1, with the arrival of a further 5000 British troops of 5 Inf Brigade landed at San Carlos from the liner QE2, new British divisional commander, Major General JJ Moore RM, had sufficient force to start planning an offensive against Port Stanley.

During this build-up the Argentine air assaults on the British naval forces continued, killing 48, including 32 Welsh Guardsmen on the RFA Sir Galahad and the RFA Sir Tristram on June 8. Many others suffered serious burns (including, famously, Simon Weston). These troops were still on the ships because of the loss of the helicopters on the Atlantic Conveyor. This meant that they had had to be transferred to the islands by boat. Unfortunately, and tragically, the commanders of the landing force ignored the advice of naval commanders to disembark at the earliest opportunity.

Battle for Port Stanley
On the night of June 11, after several days of painstaking reconnaissance and logistic build-up, British forces launched a brigade-sized night attack against the heavily defended ring of high ground surrounding Port Stanley. Units of 3 Commando Brigade, supported by naval gunfire from several Royal Navy ships, simultaneously assaulted Mount Harriet, Two Sisters, and Mount Longdon. During this battle thirteen were killed when HMS Glamorgan, which was providing naval gunfire support, was struck by an Exocet fired from the back of a truck, further displaying the vulnerability of ships to anti-ship missiles. On this day Sgt Ian McKay of 4 Platoon, B Company, 3 Para died in a grenade attack on an Argentine bunker which was to earn him a posthumous Victoria Cross. After a night of fierce fighting all objectives were secured.

On the night of June 13 the second phase of attacks started in which the momentum of the initial assault was maintained. 2 Para captured Wireless Ridge and the 2nd battalion, Scots Guards captured Mount Tumbledown. As the fighting was coming to a close the Falklands Islanders on the eastern edge of Port Stanley were in imminent danger of being shot at by a platoon of a 3rd Infantry Regiment company as the conscripts and regulars steeled themselves for the final house-to-house battle near Government House. This is revealed in the book The Battle For The Falklands by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins. Brigadier-General Oscar Jofre, Commander of the 10th Argentine Mechanized Infantry Brigade, has admitted that the abrupt end of the ground fighting was hastened by fear of war crimes against the civilians.

On June 14 the commander of the Argentine garrison in Port Stanley, Mario Menendez, surrendered to Major General JJ Moore Royal Marines. 9800 Argentine troops were made POWs and were repatriated to Argentina on the liner Canberra. On June 20 the British retook the South Sandwich Islands and declared the hostilities were at an end.

The war lasted 72 days, with 236 British and around 700 Argentine soldiers, sailors, and airmen, killed.

Militarily the Falklands War was important for a number of reasons.

It was one of the few major naval battles so far to have occurred after the end of World War II. As such this conflict illustrated the vulnerability of surface ships to anti-ship missiles and reaffirmed the effectiveness of aircraft in naval warfare. The viability of stealth (in the form of submarines) again proved its usefulness, much as it did during World War II and the Cold War.

Neither side achieved total air supremency, but the power of air forces during a conflict like this proved invaluable, due to the isolated, rough landscape of the Falklands. Air strikes were staged against ground, sea and air targets on both sides and often with clear results. All of the UK losses at sea were achieved by the FAA. The French Exocet missile proved its lethality in air-to-surface operations.

It vindicated the UK decision to develop the VTOL Harrier aircraft, that showed its capability of operating from forward bases with no runways. At sea it demonstrated the domination of airpower in major engagements and the usefulness of carriers.

The logistic capability of the UK armed forces was stretched to the absolute limit in order to mount an amphibious operation so far from a home-base, onto mountainous islands which have few roads. After the war much work was done to improve both the logistic and amphibious capability of the Royal Navy.

The role of special forces units, which destroyed many Argentine aircraft, and carried out intelligence gathering operations, was reaffirmed.

The usefulness of helicopters in combat, logistic, and casevac operations was reaffirmed.

At sea, some shortcomings of warship design were made apparent, particularly the danger of using aluminium in ships (although it did not catch fire it melted in the heat). Nylon was shown to be a poor choice of fabric in uniforms, as it is more flammable than cotton and also melts with heat, sticking the incendiary fabric to the skin and causing avoidable casualties.

The Falklands War illustrates the role of political miscalculation and miscommunication in creating war. Both sides seriously underestimated the importance of the Falklands to the other. The Falklands War illustrates the role of chance in determining what happens in a war. Some commentators believe that the war could have ended in an Argentine victory if one of the Exocets had hit an aircraft carrier, or if the frequent unexploded bombs had detonated on striking some of the ships (75% of the British task force was damaged or sunk), or if Argentina had attacked the British artillery, using the three paratroop regiments already deployed at Comodoro Rivadavia. Equally, if the Argentines had made better preparations to hold the islands, they might have been able to do so, but they did not expect that the British would attempt to carry out a war 6000 miles (10,000 km) from home. Either way an Argentine victory would have been an unacceptable show of weakness on the part of the UK during an intense period of the Cold War, and as a result it's highly doubtful such an outcome would have been allowed to remain for long. With the UK being an integral US ally and important part of NATO, to permit a loss would have been a signal to the USSR that the NATO alliance was militarily and politically weak.

Margaret ThatcherThe war cost the UK 255 men, six ships (10 others were very badly damaged), thirty-four aircraft, and more than 1.6 billion pounds, but the campaign was considered a great victory for the United Kingdom. The war was a massive boost to the popularity of Margaret Thatcher and played a role in ensuring her re-election in 1983. Several members of her government resigned, including the former Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington. It has also been said by diplomats that following the British victory there was an increase in international respect for Britain, formerly regarded as a fading colonial power. As mentioned earlier, the victory was not overlooked by the USSR and was an important junction in the Cold War.

On the other hand, the Argentine military government was ousted after mounting protests by human rights and war veterans groups. Galtieri was forced to resign, paving the way for the restoration of democracy. Elections were held on October 30, 1983 and Raúl Alfonsín, the Radical Civic Union (UCR) party candidate, took office on December 10, 1983. Alfonsin defeated Italo Luder, the candidate for the Justicialist Party (Peronist movement).

During the operations, several wounded British soldiers had to spend hours in the cold before receiving medical aid; famously, no British casualties evacuated to medical aid stations died. Many recovered beyond what medicine of the time thought possible, and subsequent theories have suggested that this was due to the extreme cold (similar apocryphal tales had originated during the bitter winter fighting of the Korean War).

Cultural Impact in the UK
The war provided a wealth of material for writers, and many dozens of books came from it; in the UK the definitive account became Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins' The Battle for the Falklands. Other titles focussed on the Sea Harrier (Sharkey Ward's Sea Harrier over the Falklands), the land battles leading up to the Argentine capitulation (Christian Jennings and Adrian Weale's Green Eyed Boys), and the general experience of battle (Ken Lukowiak's A Soldier's Song). Jack Higgins' thriller Exocet dealt with one of the war's most famous 'buzz-words'; for many years afterwards, 'exocet' became synonymous with 'rocket' in the UK ('Yomp' and 'Task Force' also entered the language).

Very few films emerged from the conflict, one such being the 1989 BBC drama Tumbledown, which starred Colin Firth in an early role. It told the tale of a soldier in the Scots Guards, brain-damaged by a sniper's bullet, adjusting to disabled life after the war. Ian Curteis' The Falklands Play was commissioned by the BBC in 1986, but was not filmed until 2004; the BBC claimed that it would have been broadcast too close to the 1987 General Election. Curteis maintained that the generally sympathetic portrayal of Margaret Thatcher offended a perceived BBC anti-government bias. On a lighter note, the character of Grant Mitchell from the popular, gritty soap opera Eastenders was written as a traumatised Falklands veteran, although this characterisation was swiftly abandoned. Tottenham Hotspur's popular Argentine midfielder Ossie Ardiles had helped beat Leicester City one day after the invasion, to no ill effect, although he subsequently left the UK for a year of his own volition.

Although the war did not have a direct impact on British civilians, it nonetheless had a minor impact on British pop culture. Both Elvis Costello's Shipbuilding and the Pink Floyd album The Final Cut dealt with the conflict. The popular computer games Harrier Attack and Yomp presented unofficial portraits of the fighting. The aforementioned Simon Weston, became a popular figure. A badly burned member of the Welsh Guards who, with skin grafts and an iron will, went on to lead a normal life. A series of television documentaries followed his progress (Simon's War being the first). For many, the conflict was encapsulated in the image of a six-foot Welsh soldier, his skin seared, crying in pain as the doctors removed his dressings.

Falklands War Veterans afflictions
The British Ministry of Defence was accused several times of a systematic failure to prepare service personnel for the horrors of war and provide adequate care for them afterwards.

There are strong allegations that the Ministry of Defence has tried to ignore the issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which left many sufferers emotionally scarred and unable to work, inmersed in social dislocation, alcoholism, and depression. Most veterans have suffered prolonged personality disorders, flashbacks and anxiety levels sometimes reaching pathological levels.

It was revealed that more veterans have committed suicide since the Falklands conflict ended than the number of Servicemen killed in action.

SAMA - the South Atlantic Medal Association, which represents and helps Falklands veterans - believe some 264 veterans have now taken their own lives, number that contrasts with the 255 who died on active service.

See also
Operation Algeciras was a failed plan conceived by the Argentine military to send some Montoneros to sabotage the British military facilities in Gibraltar.
Martin Middlebrook (1989). The Fight For The Malvinas: The Argentine Forces In The Falklands War. Viking. ISBN 0140107673.
Martin Middlebrook (2003). The Argentine Fight for the Falklands. Pen and Sword Books. ISBN 0850529786.
Graham Bound (2002). Falklands Islanders At War. Pen and Sword Books. ISBN 0-85052-836-4.
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 11.10
Copyright ©2001-2017 Web Wiz Ltd.

This page was generated in 0.125 seconds.