On This Day - 14th June

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Falklands War

The 14th of June 1982

On June 14 1982 the already demoralised Argentine forces saw the inevitability of defeat, and surrendered.

They had been beaten back from the outlying areas of the Falklands in a series of hard fought battles that began on May 21 when the amphibious landing at San Carlos Water, soon dubbed bomb alley by the British forces there. When the last feasible line of defence of Port Stanley, at Mount Tumbledown, fell to the Scots Guards on June 13 the Argentine commander there, General Mario Menendez, surrendered.

Folk memory now has it that the Falklands conflict was a walk in the park for the British. The truth was entirely different: naval losses were considerable — HMS Sheffield, HMS Coventry , HMS Ardent, HMS Antelope, and MV Atlantic conveyor were all destroyed, and with the loss of supplies and materiel, especially helicopters, the conflict for the British came close to the point when the attack would have been abandoned — the South Atlantic winter was approaching and conditions soon after the war ended would have made continued naval operations impossible.

In all 907 died in the war, 258 on the British side (including eight civilian staff from Hong Kong). For Argentina the ramifications were major: civilian government returned when the Junta fell in disgrace, the 9,800 Argentines repatriated after the conflict largely bringing back tales of poor preparations.

For the British the conflict shored up Margaret Thatcher 's then diminishing support in the country, and the Conservatives would remain in power for another 15 years. For the armed forces the lessons were serious: amphibious capability was beefed up; support carriers that were to have been phased out were retained; Special Forces were valued even more than previously; and helicopters were shown as vital in modern ground attacks.

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