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  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)
Falklands War

Conflict resulting from the unresolved Argentinian claim to the *Falkland Islands (known to them as Las Malvinas). In March 1982 60 Argentinians landed on South Georgia to collect scrap metal; they then hoisted the Argentinian flag and left some of their number on the island. There soon followed the news that an Argentine naval force was heading towards the Falklands, and on April 2 it was confirmed that the islands had been invaded and captured by some 5000 Argentinian troops; the governor, Rex Hunt, and the garrison of 81 Royal Marines were their prisoners (they were flown back to Britain a few days later). On April 3 the prime minister, Mrs *Thatcher, announced that a large task force was being assembled to recapture the islands. The foreign secretary, Lord Carrington, resigned in acknowledgement that the foreign office had been taken by surprise.

Air engagement over the Falklands began on April 30 with attacks by British Vulcan bombers. Britain had declared a 200-mile exclusion zone round the islands, within which any ship or aircraft would be assumed to be hostile, and the most controversial event of the war came with the torpedoing on May 3 of the Argentinian cruiser General Belgrano with considerable loss of life; the ship was subsequently said to have been outside the exclusion zone and moving away from it. The following day a British destroyer, HMS Sheffield, was hit by an Exocet missile with the loss of 20 men.

By May 21 Royal Marine Commandos and the Parachute Regiment had established a bridgehead on East Falkland; by May 28 the town of Port Darwin and the nearby Goose Green airstrip had been recaptured; and on June 14 it was announced that British troops were in Port Stanley, the capital, and that the Argentinians had surrendered. A total of 255 men of the task force had been killed during the war (and 655 Argentinians). Some of the heaviest casualties were on the landing ships Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram, which were bombed as they were unloading supplies near Fitzroy settlement. A few days after the cease-fire Sir Galahad was towed out to sea and sunk as a war grave.

The defeat of Argentina led to the immediate overthrow of the military junta which had conducted the war; four years later, in May 1986, General *Galtieri and two of his closest colleagues were stripped of their rank and given jail sentences. It was not until October 1989 that Britain and Argentina formally ended hostilities.

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