It is important that we remember that 40 years ago Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory inhabited by people who had no intention of being ruled by Argentina. It’s also important we remember the immense challenge of the deployment of a task force sailing 8000 miles from the shores of the United Kingdom to liberate The Falklands and the sacrifices made by those who did so, including the sacrifices of those who lived on the islands. DropZone Brewery, endorsed by the South Atlantic Medal Association 82 (SAMA82), are proud to launch a limited-edition rum, whiskey, and gin to support veterans of the Falklands conflict with the aim of maintaining and promoting a sense of pride and comradeship among all involved in the South Atlantic campaign. The limited edition of whiskey, rum and gin will be restricted to 258 bottles of each; one for each person who lost their lives in the liberation of The Falkland’s.
DropZone are proud to announce that all profits of the sales will be donated to the SAMA82.
The Falklands War was a ten-week undeclared war between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982 over two British dependent territories in the South Atlantic: the Falkland Islands and its territorial dependency, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
On 2 April 1982 an Argentinian Force of 3,000 men invaded the Falkland Islands taking the Islanders and the 80 Royal Marines stationed there by surprise, despite pressure from the United Nations to withdraw the Argentinians’ attempt to secure the whole of the Islands (778 in total). The British Government responded by creating a Naval Task Force to travel the 8,000 miles to retake the British Overseas Territory.
The retaking of the Falkland Islands was considered extremely difficult. The chances of a British counter-invasion succeeding were assessed by the US Navy, according to historian Arthur L. Herman, as “a military impossibility”. Firstly, the British were significantly constrained by the disparity in deployable air cover. Crucially, the British lacked airborne early warning and control (AEW) aircraft. Planning also considered the Argentine surface fleet and the threat posed by Exocet-equipped vessels. Let’s not forget the 8000 mile one way trip to get to the islands
While negotiations continued for a peaceful settlement of the conflict (for the United Kingdom a complete withdrawal from all Falkland Island territories of all Argentinian forces), ways were being explored by which the United Kingdom could project force in such way to send a message to Argentina and in doing so, deny use of the island’s main runway at Stanley (the capital). Due to the politics of the time, none of the South American countries, or the United States, would allow the British to use their air bases at the start of the conflict; so, the RAF had to make plans to fly only from British bases. However, the closest British airbase to the Falklands was on Ascension Island, also in the Atlantic, but still 3,900 miles from the Falklands.
The plan itself was simple. To stop the Argentinians from being able to bring large amounts of troops and supplies into the Falklands, the British had to make the main airport and runway on the Islands at Stanley unusable – this meant the mission would be to attack the runway from the air. The challenge was how to fly over 7,800 miles (3,900 miles there and 3,900 miles back again).
A Vulcan bomber from Ascension flew an 8,000-nautical-mile (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) round trip, dropping conventional bombs across the runway at Stanley. The mission required repeated refuelling aircraft operating in concert, including tanker-to-tanker refuelling. The runway was cratered by only one of the twenty-one bombs, but as a result, the Argentines realised that their mainland was vulnerable and fighter aircraft were redeployed from the theatre to bases further north.
Despite being a remote and localised war the fighting in parts was incredibly brutal. Naval vessels were destroyed, resulting in deaths and very serious injuries, and land battles were fought in very close quarters in difficult conditions.
The war raged throughout May through to mid-June. Notable battles took place with names that will be etched into the memories of many. On the night of 11 June, 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 Stanley. Units of 3 Commando Brigade, supported by naval gunfire from several Royal Navy ships, simultaneously attacked in the Battle of Mount Harriet, Battle of Two Sisters, and Battle of Mount Longdon. At Two Sisters, the British faced both enemy resistance and friendly fire, but managed to capture their objectives. The toughest battle was at Mount Longdon. British forces were bogged down by rifle, mortar, machine gun, artillery and sniper fire, and ambushes. Despite this, the British continued their advance.
The second phase of attacks began on the night of 13 June, and the momentum of the initial assault was maintained. 2 Para, with light armour support from the Blues and Royals, captured Wireless Ridge, and the 2nd Battalion, Scots Guards captured Mount Tumbledown. A simultaneous special forces raid by the SAS and SBS in fast boats to attack the oil tanks in Stanley Harbour was beaten off by anti-aircraft guns.
A ceasefire was declared on 14 June and Thatcher announced the commencement of surrender negotiations. The commander of the Argentine garrison in Stanley, Brigade General Mario Menéndez, surrendered to Major General Jeremy Moore the same day
The Falklands war resulted in the deaths of 255 British service personnel and three civilians. An estimated 300 servicemen were wounded. No official figures are available for Argentinian casualties, but it is estimated that at least 655 were killed.