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The Falklands: When Britain fought alone and proud


IN June this year Britain commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Falklands conflict. This campaign is unique in Western European history after World War II, in that a nation fought to defend its own territory and its own people from attack. It was fought by the British armed forces alone under a British government, not under the aegis of Nato, the UN or any other globalist institution. 

A ten-week operation between April and June 1982, the campaign evoked the spirit of a more patriotic and confident Britain a century earlier.

The Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic were uninhabited until the latter part of the 18th century. After a brief French and Spanish presence, they fell into British hands in the 1830s and have since remained under British control with a population of largely Welsh and Scottish ancestry. Though 8,000 miles from Britain, the 1,800 inhabitants cherish their connection to the Crown. Their desire to remain British was rudely challenged in 1982 when an Argentine military force landed on the islands with the intention of annexing them.  

The invasion was a desperate attempt by an ailing regime to boost its popular support in a time of economic crisis. Argentina was ruled by a military junta which had taken power in 1976. Initially welcomed as an antidote to the chaos and disorder into which that country had fallen in the late 60s and early 70s, it subsequently acquired a reputation for torture and disappearances which are still the subject of much recrimination, bitterness and debate.

The nature of the Argentine regime is of little importance in assessing the justice of the war. The point is that they launched an aggressive attack on a peaceful people who had no desire to come under their rule. The British responded by defending their own territory and their own people.

The war began with the invasion known as Operation Rosario on April 2. The Argentines quickly occupied the islands and the governor surrendered after a short resistance. In response, the government of Margaret Thatcher assembled the largest military taskforce in a generation to recapture the islands. Fighting began on May 1 with the British bombing of the Port Stanley airfield which the Argentines were using. On the same day, British troops landed on both the East and West Falkland Islands and Britain declared an exclusion zone of 200 nautical miles around the islands. On the second day of fighting the British submarine Conqueror torpedoed the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano, sinking it with the loss of 323 lives. The Argentines retaliated two days later by bombing the British destroyer Sheffield, killing 23 crew. Five more British ships would be lost during the conflict. 

On May 21 a force of 4,000 British troops landed at San Carlos. May 27-28 saw the Battle of Goose Green, in which the second battalion of the Parachute Regiment went up against an Argentine force more than twice their size and won, killing or capturing the entire enemy garrison. Seventeen British were killed and 47 Argentines. The British commander Lieutenant-Colonel Herbert ‘H’ Jones was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. The conflict ended with the British capture of Port Stanley on June 14. Some 255 British forces personnel were killed and 649 Argentines. Three civilians lost their lives, a tiny number for a modern war.

The British troops arrived home to a rapturous welcome in scenes unparalleled since 1945.

At the Conservative Party conference later in the year, Mrs Thatcher said: ‘The spirit of the South Atlantic was the spirit of Britain at her best. It has been said that we surprised the world, that British patriotism was rediscovered in those spring days. It was never really lost. But it would be no bad thing if the feeling that swept the country then were to continue to inspire us. For if there was any doubt about the determination of the British people it was removed by the men and women who, a few months ago, brought a renewed sense of pride and self-respect to our country.’

The Falklands War ranks as the most popular of modern times with the support of 84 per cent of the British population. Victory ensured the landslide re-election of Mrs Thatcher’s government the following year.

Yet in spite of this war’s success and popularity, little is taught about it in British schools. Perhaps teachers are too busy promoting ‘woke’ phenomena such as Black History Month or LGBT History Month. The only time I remember the Falklands War being mentioned when I was at school was when an invited left-wing journalist illustrated what he considered one of the worst examples of ‘jingoistic’ journalism by citing the Sun banner ‘Gotcha’ following the sinking of the Belgrano. The headline was indeed tasteless and a trivialisation of the seriousness of war but it expressed the popular feeling of the time. Sinking the Belgrano was undoubtedly the most controversial event of the conflict. It is difficult, however, to see it as unjustified given that we were at war (albeit undeclared) with Argentina and this was an Argentine warship. However, a segment from the BBC current affairs programme Nationwide in which a member of the public takes Margaret Thatcher to task for the sinking of the ship has become a favourite TV moment among the leftists at the BBC.

Although the leaders of the Labour Party backed the war at the time, there is no doubt that this patriotic expedition to liberate British territory and British people, serving no greater globalist purpose, is a matter of distaste to the left and the supporters of globalism. Some of this can be seen in the parliamentary debates following the Argentine invasion. MPs well known for their globalist views harped on about the need to consult ‘world opinion’ before taking any military action. Edward Heath, who as prime minister ten years earlier had taken Britain into what would become the EU, stated that before taking any action Britain would need to consult ‘European, Commonwealth and world opinion’. Liberal leader David Steel said that it was vital to keep in tune with ‘external opinion’ and ‘world opinion’. Labour MP Michael Meacher stated that a British military response would be an ‘outrage to world opinion’. Thankfully the globalist voices were ignored and, on this occasion, a British government acted in the national interest, putting Britain first and globalism last.

In the last 60 years British governments have consistently acted against Britain and the British people. They have supported mass immigration in a manner detrimental to the country, they have promoted transgenderism and inappropriate sexual material to children, enacted laws to stifle free speech on crucial national issues, sent British soldiers to die in Middle Eastern conflicts which serve no discernible British interest, and have been soft on crime and criminals. 

The Falklands War provides a rare example in modern times of a British government acting to defend British people from assault. It stands alongside the vote for Brexit as one of the few occasions when the voice of the usually silent majority was heard loud and clear and the popular will of the British people was done.

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Piers Shepherd
Piers Shepherd
Piers Shepherd is a freelance writer based in London.

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