Beyond the Falklands Conflict:

From First Impressions to a Deeper Understanding of Anglo-Argentine Relations

Causes of the War
I was 12 years old when the Falklands War broke out in 1982. I had only just started grammar school and had hitherto been barely aware of current affairs, politics or what was going on in the wider world. I had a dim awareness that Margaret Thatcher was our Prime Minister but that was very unpopular for reasons that were beyond me. Mass unemployment seemed the norm in my world and seeing factories close and businesses go bankrupt were just background events on the news programmes that my parents watched. All that changed in the run up to Easter 1982. Events were about to unfold that would transform my relationship to the news and current affairs and make me aware of a far bigger and more complex world than I had possibly imagined. The ‘Falkland Islands’ entered our vocabulary in earnest for the first time. Although from afar, it felt like I was watching history unfold in real time.

I should perhaps add some context as to why I became more hyperaware of this event than any other that might have flashed on to the front pages of newspapers and dominated the news programs in an era when we only had three channels and one TV in the house. First of all I was born and brought up in the port of Plymouth one of the homes of the Royal Navy and with the biggest naval dockyards in Western Europe. It was also home to many Royal Marine Commando battalions and many of the specialist maritime forces like the SBS and the Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre. Going up on Plymouth Hoe there was a constant stream of Royal Naval vessels and support ships to-ing and fro-ing not to mention high speed rigid raiders bombing around Plymouth Sound practicing boarding vessels or lightning strikes on shore installations. As the Cold War was in full flow in 1982, Plymouth was a hive of military activity. The specialism developed amongst Plymouth’s military forces was mainly aimed at supporting NATO’s Northern flank; that is to say the Arctic Warfare conditions anticipated to be required for defending Norway from Soviet invasion. By a serendipitous coincidence these were to be the ideal skills required for the retaking of the Falklands as the Southern Hemisphere’s winter approached in April 1982.

The Falklands War
SS Uganda
This background noise of growing up in a busy military port was no mere hypothetical detached reality. My father was a lecturer in the local Royal Naval Engineering College and taught ship design. My step mother was a QUARNN - Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service - or at least she had been. She had literally just had my little sister and had only just left the service. Otherwise, she may well have headed to the South Atlantic with her friends and colleagues. Several of my uncles were in the Royal Marines and nearly all my school friends had parents or older siblings in the services - usually the Royal Navy or Royal Marines. Needless to say my grandparents were all veterans too. My parent’s social circle was very military orientated indeed and our house was full of military paraphernalia, photographs and pictures of ships and bases. Many of my father’s former engineering students would be heading to the South Atlantic - not all of them would return.

We had two close family friends in particular who would serve in the Falklands War and both with a high degree of responsibility. One was my step-mother’s best friend who was an Theatre Sister in the QUARNNS. She would go on to become the Triage Sister in the Operating Theatre of the hospital ship SS Uganda. I still vividly remember being on a family holiday in Yorkshire where my step-mother’s family lived and watching the Six O’Clock news as the Task Force was returning from the South Atlantic. Suddenly I heard my step-mother scream in delight as she yelled “It’s Jean on the News…. They are interviewing Jean live on TV now!” We all rushed to the TV to see for ourselves that yes indeed they were interviewing a young QUARNN in her smart Naval Uniform about how she felt about her time in the South Atlantic. You can still find the interview today on Youtube. Our other family friend was her partner at the time (they since married and have had a long and happy life together) who also had a medical military connection. He was to be the Chief Medical Officer of 42 Commando, one of the Royal Marine battalions stationed on the outskirts of Plymouth. These Marines also were heading South and although we were not to see him interviewed on national TV, his unit was to become very heavily involved in the fighting and we followed 42 Commando’s movements on the maps on the TV and in the newspapers far more conscientiously than any other unit’s movements. When he returned we were treated to a particularly intimate slide show and talk in our living room from Uncle Ross with Auntie Jean at his side as he showed us what he had got up to for the entire campaign. The government had been far more censorious of the news coming from the South Atlantic than we had realised. They were concerned at bad news undermining support for the campaign and there were often agonising waits for footage and photographs of events. We were to be exposed to photographs and an account that had avoided the censors altogether. It should be said that with them both being medics the one emotion I took away was a sense of pity for the plight of the poor Argentine conscripts who had to endure the same harsh environmental conditions as the British but often with less in supplies and appropriate equipment and with the added burden of intense aerial, naval and ground bombardments and a sense of foreboding doom. Uncle Ross himself took the surrender of some young Argentinians despite the fact that he was carrying no weapon whatsoever due to his medical duties. He saw first hand the collapse in their morale as the British took the heights surrounding Port Stanley and the sorry physical state they had been reduced to.

The Falklands War
South Atlantic Seas
So this young 12 year old devoured any and every news item about the Falklands War. I vividly remember reading newspapers virtually cover to cover and asking if we could buy different newspapers to get more information. TV News was only at set times of the day but luckily the radio covered the news at different hours so we would switch from one media to another in a frantic race to find new information however slim it may be. In school, it was all we talked about as school friends enquired if we had heard from family members or friends of the family serving in the Task Force - the answer almost always being in the negative. You could also feel the patriotic wave permeating wider society. Hitherto, Margaret Thatcher had been spoken of as some kind of ‘evil child-snatcher’. As the Task Force gathered and ships set sail, and pictures came from the Ascension Island and then from the South Atlantic a growing respect for the “Iron Lady’s” decision to commit our armed forces to the campaign could be clearly discerned. This was a patriotic balloon that could easily have been punctured had bad news come flooding back. Elements of the political Left in Britain put their critical heads above the parapet with the sinking of the General Belgrano outside the Exclusion Zone. Indeed Margaret Thatcher herself looked unsteady in one famous interview from a member of the public, but with so many British lives on the line, the consensus was that we would prefer to be reading about Argentinian setbacks rather than British ones. But then bad news really did hit the airwaves as news of ‘Exocet Missiles’ hitting Royal Naval ships filtered back. This was the real first test of resolve of the politicians and of the military leaders. How many of these Exocets did the Argentines have? Could they wipe out the entire fleet? Might they sink one or even both of the Aircraft Carriers? Could we continue operating so far from home with such a threat to our surface fleet? There was to be a time-lag between news of HMS Sheffield being hit and the awful TV pictures of her burning hulk. This was partly due to the censorship discussed earlier but also due to operating so far from home and away from satellite technology. Film had to be physically flown and transported to censors who then had the unenviable task of watching the footage and gauging what should and should not be seen by the general public. How much could they bear to watch? Now British personnel joined the casualty lists in earnest. This was no longer a theoretical war for the British public - even for young ones like me. People were getting hurt and some would not return home to their families.

The Falklands War
San Carlos Bay
The events at San Carlos Bay seemed to up the ante even more. Initially there was relief that British troops were going ashore and there was still hope that Argentine morale would collapse. It appeared that the Argentinians didn’t have quite as many Exocet missiles as feared and we later learned that the French offered valuable technical intelligence to the British to help prepare for the threat of further missile launches. For all the criticism of the sinking of the General Belgrano it had appeared to have had the general effect of dissuading the Argentine Navy from putting to sea and challenging the Royal Navy in the grey and grim South Atlantic Ocean. It was something of an irony that the Argentine Navy was the arm of the Argentine Armed Forces most in favour of forcibly seizing the Falkland Islands and yet offered the least in terms of defending them. Meanwhile the Argentine Air Force was the most critical of the invasion of the three services and yet fought the hardest to retain them. Seeing the Argentine aircraft zoom in to San Carlos Sound at high speeds and low altitude was terrifying for all to witness. TV crews frantically turned their cameras to catch glimpses of these deadly aircraft as the roar of their engines advertised their arrival and determination to drop deadly ordinance on the waiting ships in the Sound. These jet engine sounds were joined by sounds of defensive gunfire before giving way to the sounds of dull explosions - sometimes misses but sometimes direct hits. Listening on the radio could be even more perturbing as you inserted your own mental images to the deadly soundtrack being provided. This was what modern warfare was like; short bursts of intense noise, confusion and then either absolute terror or profound relief for the recipients of the payloads or those who feared they might have been the intended targets.

The Falklands War
The Royal Navy began losing more ships but critically the vast majority of the Invasion Force had got ashore. There was now no alternative to victory. There was no turning back. There was no easy way home which didn’t include capturing Port Stanley and forcing the Argentinians out of the islands. It was at this time we all began to learn the names of tiny Falkland settlements that we had not even known had existed a few weeks earlier. One of the first of these was ‘Goose Green’ where a short, sharp clash saw the Parachute Regiment hold on to its reputation for aggressiveness if at the cost of its Commanding Officer Colonel H. But after this action we saw the arrows on the maps diverge as different units took different routes towards Port Stanley. Another word that soon entered the English dictionary in earnest was ‘yomping’, previously a Royal Marine term for walking with a heavy load. After the sinking of the Plymouth ship Atlantic Conveyor (which had been mistaken for an aircraft carrier), the British lost much of their heavy lift capability and so the forces and their equipment would be reduced to yomping across the bleak landscape (that looks eerily similar to the Dartmoor of my home county of Devon and where I would yomp for years with the cadets).
The Falklands War
Bluff Cove
An attempt to sidestep the yomping would end in tragedy for the Welsh Guards as Sir Tristram and Sir Galahad sailed around to drop troops to Bluff Cove to avoid the arduous terrain and get closer to the fighting. It was a rare military mistake in the campaign as the troops did not act with enough urgency to disembark. Tragically, the Argentine Air Force learned of their location and swooped in for their most devastating attack of the war. Once again haunting images of burning ships and desperate attempts at escape them flooded our TV screens. Tragedies are all the worse for being avoidable. One Welsh Guard in particular, Simon Weston, who suffered horrific burns to his body would go on to become a household name in Britain as his recovery was followed through various TV programmes. He also was one of the people that our Auntie Jean had to triage as he came aboard SS Uganda.

The Falklands War
Returning Home
As the weather deteriorated in the Falklands and as the British forces relentlessly yomped over the mountains, it appears that the Argentine soldiers’ morale collapsed too. Many of them were young conscripts who had not expected to be on the front line. The Argentine Army, similar to the Navy, were preparing for the aftermath of the campaign and had kept their best troops and resources firmly in Argentina to help prop up the Junta after its forthcoming defeat. The Argentine Air Force alone committed firmly to the campaign and consequently inflicted the lion’s share of the damage to British Forces of the three Argentine arms. There were still significant clashes on Tumbledown, Longdon, Two Sisters and Harriet, but soon the British media couldn’t keep up with the pace of advance. I still recall watching the news item where an officer of the Gurkha regiment said “I can confirm that white flags are flying over Stanley, the Argentines have surrendered – Bloody marvellous”. He may well have been happy but his Gurkha troops were apparently not so elated as they were keen to get stuck in with yet more combat. Apparently the Argentines were as afraid of the diminutive Himalayan warriors with their ferocious reputation as any of the British forces. As victory became apparent there was a collective sigh of relief at the end of the war that soon rose towards a euphoria as the battered and tired looking ships of the Task Force sailed home and as people began to understand the full extent of the achievement of fighting such an arduous campaign on the other side of the world in a hostile environment during a harsh South Atlantic winter. Plymouth and Portsmouth were to welcome home the warriors in scenes that had probably not been seen in Britain since VE Day in 1945. Within days our entire school walked into the city centre to cheer the soldiers, sailors and marines through Plymouth in a see or red, white and blue flags.

The Falklands War
Victory Parade
Argentina had not realised it, but they had given Britain the opportunity to restore faith in its institutions, its military, its political leadership and in its self confidence. Margaret Thatcher catapulted from a figure of scorn to a figure of adulation. She was to sweep the next General Election and the one after that and embed her radical political ideas for a generation or more. It was not just the British public who were impressed by this feat of arms, President Reagan had initially hesitated in his support for the British fearing that seeing two American allies fight might weaken both of them and a defeated Britain might undermine NATO as a whole in the face of Communist aggression in Europe. He was very pleasantly surprised to see how well the British armed forces performed and he and Thatcher would soon become best of friends as her political star rose spectacularly. Furthermore, the Soviet Union itself had largely written off the value of Britain as a NATO ally in Western Europe and believed that its forces would have proved little resistance to any invasion by the Red Army. The fact that Britain could throw a sizeable force 8000 miles away and successfully fight a campaign against a relatively well resourced Western style military forced the Soviet Union to reevaluate the combat effectiveness of Britain in particular but NATO as a whole. It is no accident that soon they would realise they could no longer compete with the West in military expenditure and capability and President Gorbachev would steer the Soviet Union towards a rapprochement with the West which culminated eventually with the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Warsaw Pact threat. For all the euphoria, Thatcher had gambled and the stakes had been high. A few more Exocets hitting more valuable targets could have undermined the entire naval campaign and hence consign the Task Force to ignominious retreat and would almost certainly have seen Thatcher toppled. To the victor though came the spoils.

The Argentinian junta had also gambled, but in their case lost. And lost spectacularly. Had they but known it, they had gambled too early. They had only to wait 6 to 12 months and they almost certainly would have triumphed. The unpopular Thatcher government had just announced massive military cuts as they sought desperately to reduce spending to balance the budget. The lion’s share of these cuts were to be for the Royal Navy which would see its fleet savaged. John Nott the Defence Minister planned to reduce the surface fleet by 20% including scrapping HMS Endurance with its last tour of the South Atlantic due to take place in that year of 1982. Even more amazingly, they had agreed to sell their only two aircraft carriers; HMS Invincible was due to be sold to Australia and HMS Hermes was due to be sold to India. The strategic rationale was that the British military would never need to have air support provided by aircraft carriers as they would never fight far enough away from a NATO aerial umbrella to need any of these anachronistic ships. On top of all this, Margaret Thatcher’s government was so unpopular before the war broke out that they may well have lost the 1983 General Election anyway and be replaced by a far less bellicose and often pacifistic Labour government headed by a Plymouth MP by the name of Michael Foot. Had the Argentines invaded the Falkland Islands in 1983 rather than 1982 things might have been different. Indeed, March 1982 was a particularly bad time to seize the Falkland Islands as the bulk of the Royal Navy happened to be engaged in a large NATO exercise off the coast of Gibraltar when news of the invasion was received. They could set sail for Ascension Island and wait for fresh supplies and troops speeding up the entire operation. Even on the Falkland Islands itself, the timing of the invasion was spectacularly bad. The tiny trip wire garrison of just 43 Royal Marines had a one year rotation which changed every March. For a few days a year, there were double the normal number of Royal Marines on the islands. The Argentines decided to invade in those few days of double the normal defenders. But of course the Junta had a domestic deadline of their own to adhere to. The option of waiting a year was a luxury they could not afford. The same global forces that were afflicting Thatcher’s Britain were also ravaging Argentina - perhaps more so as a collapsing currency and runaway inflation ate into the savings of all but the richest of Argentinians. With mass public demonstrations occurring daily and a police force finding it difficult to maintain law and order, the imperative for a diversion and to discover a unifying policy saw the military decide to make their biggest gamble to date: To try to retake the Malvinas - as they referred to the islands.

The Falklands War
Had the Junta’s gamble succeeded Argentina may well have ended up worse off in a paradoxical way. Yes, they may have felt good and gained new territory to their country, but it would have given prestige to the military Junta and almost certainly would have allowed them to carry on their economic policies and dictatorial tactics for many more years yet. As it was General Galtieri was pushed from power within a month of the end of the war and Argentina soon returned to its democratic trajectory. Although undoubtedly there is little love for Margaret Thatcher in Argentina, she really did do them a political favour in defeating the military leaders who had seized the reins of government in Argentina.

The Falklands War
I freely confess that as a 12 year old boy living in one of the key centres of Falkland War activity, I got as swept up as anyone in the patriotic fervour and reflected glory. The end of the Cold War would see Britain’s military be slowly depleted as the overwhelming threat from the Soviet Union retreated. I was to study history at University specialising in Imperial History and it was there that I began to learn of the far deeper roots of the Anglo-Argentine relationship. I came to understand that Britain and Argentina had been unbelievably close in the 19th and early 20th Century and that many British migrants intending to settle in colonies in South Africa or Australia or New Zealand got off the boat at Buenos Aires and liked what they saw. British engineers helped design and build Argentine cities, roads, factories and railways. Britain became one of the largest consumers of Argentine foodstuffs and products as a symbiotic economic relationship was formed despite the vast distances involved. Britain’s control of the world’s waterways after the Battle of Trafalgar meant that the High Seas became the most efficient means of delivering food and goods long distances. The trade winds worked to the benefit of Britain and Argentina as to round the Cape of Good Hope it was often easier going via South America which invariably meant stopping off at Buenos Aires and finding the clement climate, warm people and sophisticated culture a pleasure for many Britons moving around their own Empire. Britain’s biggest gift to Argentina though was almost certainly the British sporting heritage. Argentines took to British codes of sport like ducks to water; Rugby, Football, Polo, Field Hockey, Tennis, Golf…. It was not to be long before the young student of ‘Argentina’ was competing at or beyond the international levels of of her former tutor of ‘England’. Argentina was also to be a stalwart friend of Britain during the Second World War and not just in supplying the all important food especially that of tinned beef. There was a local RAF station near to where I still live now called RAF Harrowbeer.
The Falklands War
Fellowship of the Bellows
I was to learn almost by accident of the “Fellowship of the Bellows” groups started in Buenos Aires to raise funds through fun activities for the RAF to buy aircraft to defeat the Third Reich. The ‘Bellows’ being the means by which they could fund the planes that would rise up in the air to defeat the Luftwaffe. They raised so many funds in Argentina they were able to fund the creation of an entire RAF Squadron; 263 Squadron, which cheerily nicknamed themselves the “Fellowship of the Bellows” in thanks of the Argentine donation of the planes. They flew 20 Westland Whirlwinds and were twice stationed at RAF Harrowbeer sweeping the English Channel looking for German U-boats and E-boats and keeping any Luftwaffe reconnaissance planes at bay. The “Fellowship of the Bellows” idea spread throughout South and Central America and many other countries emulated the generosity of the Buenos Aires fundraisers. Brazil funded a squadron of Typhoons that also were stationed at RAF Harrowbeer during the war. Another quirky organisation that helped the British war effort especially in 1939 were the “Tabaris Highlanders” rather insalubriously named after a particular Buenos Aires nightclub with 'something of a reputation’. Most of the volunteers were rugby players of British descent. When war broke out they volunteered to go to the Falkland Islands to help defend them in case of a German invasion. This was no mere threat as there had been a significant battle off Port Stanley in World War One and a German pocket battleship the Graf Spee would soon be using the South Atlantic as a happy hunting ground. Although the Tabaris Highlanders saw no action, their existence provided useful cover for the Royal Navy to sail into the River Plate and visit the technically neutral nation of Argentina under the pretext of picking up and dropping off of the volunteers. This gave the Royal Navy vital intelligence about the movements and intentions of the Graf Spee. Her scuttling was to be the first significant British naval victory of the Second World War. Breaking their own neutrality, Argentina supplied steel and equipment for the badly damaged but victorious British ships to make the return journey to Britain for full repairs. Indeed HMS Exeter was to enter Plymouth Sound to a Heroes’ reception much as the Falkland Islands’ Task Force would do so some 40 years later. All this information would force me to reevaluate the prism through which I saw Anglo-Argentine relations. The Falklands War had blotted out a much longer period of friendship, amity and very close ties between the two countries.

I was to meet my first Argentinian shortly after I finished my university course in my first job in Japan of all places. He was a few years older than me and was married to a Japanese lady. He had an English surname ‘Williamson’ but could not speak a word of English. He had grown up in Hurlingham, although not Hurlingham in London but Hurlingham in Buenos Aires. He could not speak English and I could not speak Spanish but we could both speak Japanese. We formed a very strong friendship and must have made a few Japanese heads turn as they saw us walking down the street conversing in Japanese with one another. He explained how his ancestors had arrived to work on the trains and never left. They had married locally and soon regarded Argentina as their home. I also learned from him that he had been conscripted into the army in 1982 himself and was in the process of basic training as war broke out. His draft had apparently received orders to fly to the Malvinas to help defend the area. Fortunately for him, the Argentines had lost air superiority before he was due to be flown out. Nevertheless he confided to me that his fellow conscripts and himself gave a hearty cheer when they heard of the Argentine surrender. He even demonstrated it to me with his outstretched arms punching the air. It was more relief than pleasure. He explained he had no desire to fight the British soldiers from where his forefathers had come from.

The Falklands War
J Company
I would later train to become a history teacher and set up a website on imperial history stretching all the way up to the handing over of Hong Kong in 1997 which meant that the Falklands War could sneak into the ambit of the website. I did a lot of research on the long history of the Falkland Islands and the various claims and counterclaims stretching back through the centuries. On the basis of this I was contacted by a number of academics, interesting parties, Falkland Islanders and most intriguingly of all by soldiers who had fought in the conflict. One of these had also served on the Falkland Islands in March 1982 as part of NP8901 - that is to say Naval Party 8901 of the Royal Marines the original defenders of the islands. By a happy coincidence they hold their annual reunion in Plymouth due to it being the home of so many of the Royal Marines involved. I was invited to one of their big reunions - the 30th in this case in 2012 to hear their stories and to explain what I had come to understand of the conflict and the claims of the islands. It was a delightful occasion with a very high turnout of the surviving members of the two teams of NP8901 (remember that the Argentines made the mistake of invading during the few days of handover when both teams were on the islands). I found it particularly illuminating to discuss with the overall Commanding Officer Major Mike Norman who was a very thoughtful and generous man and you could see why his men gladly followed him then and still saw him as their commander now. Technically Major Norman should not have been in command of the soldiers in 1982 because the new group led by Major Gary Noot was supposed to have already have relieved them when the Argentines invaded. However Major Noot realised that Major Norman had a year’s worth of experience on the island and was far better placed to understand how best to defend Government House and act as the trip wire force that was always intended. Basically, NP8901 had to show armed resistance to the Argentines in order to prove in international law that the invasion was hostile and that the legal authorities on the island did not in any way agree to the forcible seizure of the islands. NP8901’s resistance allowed the dispute to be raised rapidly in the United Nations which would eventually culminate in United Nations Resolution 502 condemning the Argentine invasion and requiring an Immediate Withdrawal by Argentina.
The Falklands War
NP8901 Reunion
The NP8901 trip wire force had done their job. But it was fascinating talking to the men at the centre of the action and how they remembered the events. The vast majority of them would return to the Falkland Islands as part of the Task Force and fight with 42 Commando and return to Port Stanley after yomping over fighting their way back to where they had started in one enormous 16000 mile circuit! These soldiers were given the honour of raising the Falkland Island’s flag back over Government House which they had defended against such overwhelming odds just a few months earlier. They talked very movingly about Governor Rex Hunt who at the time of the reunion was very ill and sadly died that same year. They were appreciative that he had first allowed them to act as Royal Marines and resist the invasion but also understood after they had fulfilled their trip wire mandate that they had been ordered to lay down their arms by the Governor surrender to the overwhelming forces surrounding them. I was left in no doubt that they would have fought to the last man if ordered to do so! I was also to meet the defenders of South Georgia who had been despatched there on HMS Endurance and were led by Lieutenant Keith Mills who was also present at the reunion. They also completed their trip wire task but in an even more remote location. There was no Governor on South Georgia to order Lieutenant Mills and his 22 men to lay down their arms so they had fought on even longer in a more sustained action damaging an Argentine ship and knocking out a helicopter in the process. It was only when it was clear they had no retreat options left open to them that they agreed to surrender. It was a privilege to spend the entire day with these brave men. Every one of them had a fascinating story to tell. I was also very surprised at how attached they all were as individuals to the Falkland Islands. Many of them made regular pilgrimages to the islands and indeed the Royal Marine who had invited me to the reunion moved permanently to the Falkland Islands shortly after this reunion. It was clear that this formative event in their lives would never leave them.

The Falklands War
Lieutenant Keith Mills
A few years later I was to meet a very interesting member of the Overseas Service Pensioners Association at one of their annual gatherings. OSPA had been a group to advocate for all the various civil servants of the British Empire. This one particular man had worked in the Central African Federation Ministry of Agriculture in the dying days of Empire. However, he had been born and brought up in Argentina. He provided me with yet more reading material on British and Argentine relations over the last two centuries and gave me a copy of his book Britain and the Making of Argentina. He was perturbed himself at how the Falklands War had seemed to drive apart the two countries and had written this book with a view to show how the two countries had so much in common and how they shared a common and friendly past. I was delighted to help him publicise the book, but more so I was to help him put online a Spanish translation of the book so that Argentinians might be able to read it for themselves and to help build bridges damaged by the fallout from the Falklands War.
The Falklands War
42 Commando Memorial As I hope you can glean from this article, his intentions were very much in tune with my own journey about Anglo-Argentine relations. I went from having naive, simplistic but a very personal relationship to the Falklands War - a conflict that catapulted me into the adult world of news and of pain and suffering alongside the relief and joy at a common national endeavour performed beyond expectations - towards a more nuanced understanding and appreciation of British and Argentine history and how we have been friends for far longer than antagonists. The Falklands War transformed the political and military destinies of both Britain and Argentina. Although many soldiers, sailors and airmen died in the conflict, it also provided another strand of a common history between our two nations. Argentines and Britons alike have a venn diagram overlapping interest in this small group of islands in the South Atlantic. We may still argue over who should administer these islands, but we both are fascinated by the fate of them and of their people and we both have personnel who felt so strongly about them that they were prepared to die over them. Hopefully we can respect one another’s perspective but ultimately I believe we should allow those who actually live on the islands to decide their own destiny for themselves.

map of Falkland Islands
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Uganda Returning to the UK

Falklands War

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by Stephen Luscombe