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  Battle Atlas of the Falklands War 1982


2nd April 1982

Argentine Mirage attacking a British frigate in San Carlos Water only 8 weeks later

on to 6. Early Diplomatic Events


Summary of Argentine Naval Forces

TASK FORCE 40 - DD “Santisima Trinidad”, “Hercules”, FR “Drummond”, “Granville” , SS “Santa Fe”, Transports LST “Cabo San Antonio”, icebreaker “Almirante Irizar”, “Isla de los Estados”  

Main Invasion Events

1. Late on 1st - small Buzo Tactico force from DD “Santisima Trinidad” to secure Mullet Creek
2. early on 2nd - small Buzo Tactico force from SS “Santa Fe” to check main landing beach at York Bay, northeast of Stanley
3. early on 2nd, 4.30 am - more Buzo Tactico by helicopter from “Almirante Irizar” landed at Mullet Creek
4. Most of Mullet Creek landing force to Moody Brook, rest to Government House for attacks just after 6.00am
5. 6.30am - “Cabo San Antonio” started landing Marines over steep beach by Amtrak
6. 6.45am - more troops land at airfield by helicopter from “Almirante Irizar”

Invasion Go-ahead - The build-up to invasion started when Britain protested about the landing on South Georgia. With talks on the future of the Falklands stalled, Argentina reacted strongly and by the 26th March, two frigates were on their way south, and more ships had put to sea ostensibly for exercises with the Uruguayan Navy. But it seemed that only now was the final decision taken to invade and they headed for Stanley although bad weather delayed their arrival. By Wednesday 31st March, British intelligence had to assume landings were imminent, Governor Hunt was warned, and next evening he announced over the radio that invasion was expected early on Friday 2nd April.

Defences - Before the broadcast took place, the defence of Stanley was already being put in hand by the small Falklands garrison of Naval Party 8901. Usually consisting of just 40 Royal Marines, the remaining members of the 1981/82 Detachment (others had left with "Endurance"), had only been relieved that day by Major M J Norman (MID) RM and his 1982/83 Detachment. Assuming the main landing would be near the airfield followed by an advance on Stanley, he deployed his 70 men accordingly, and positioned four delaying sections on the Stanley road ready to fall back on the main HQ at Government House. By the early hours of Friday, they were mostly in position and the small coaster "Forrest" was out in Port William on radar watch.

Landings around Stanley, Friday 2nd April - The plan was for the Buzo Tactico to attack both the Royal Marine barracks at Moody Brook and Government House to force a surrender, supported if necessary by men of the 2nd Marine Infantry Battalion landed from ships of Task Group 40.1. Once the airfield was in Argentine hands, the Army garrison would then fly in. The first landings were before midnight with a Buzo Tactico party going ashore from destroyer "Santisima Trinidad" to secure Mullet Creek, followed early on Friday morning by a smaller group from submarine "Santa Fe" to check out the main landing beach north of Stanley. Reports now started reaching the defenders about the presence of Argentine ships, and at 4.30am, more Buzo Tactico landed at Mullet Creek apparently from Sea King helicopters embarked on icebreaker "Almirante Irizar". Most of them headed for the by now empty barracks at Moody Brook while the rest passed quietly below Sapper Hill on their way to Government House. As they approached their objectives the destroyers and frigates of TF 40 took up support and escort positions and the LST headed in for the unguarded beach at York Bay.

Less than eight weeks after the invasion,
an Argentine Mirage was attacking a
British frigate in San Carlos Water

Attacks - From 6.00am the main attacks and supporting landings got underway. The larger body of Buzo Tactico hit Moody Brook and then headed east for Government House which by then was under fire from the smaller group. Around 6.30am, the first of some 20 LVTP-7 Amtraks with 20 Marines each inside were landing from "Cabo San Antonio" and by 6.45am more troops were coming into the airfield by helicopter. As the off-balanced Royal Marine defenders fell back on Government House, one of the sections on the Stanley road stopped an Amtrak with anti-armour weapons.

British Surrender - With daybreak and Government House surrounded, under sniper fire and the Amtraks approaching, Governor Hunt attempted to negotiate. Faced with the overwhelming forces at Adm Busser's disposal, he ordered the Marines to lay down their arms, which they did at 9.30am without having suffered any casualties. The Argentines only admitted to one dead and others wounded. That evening, Governor and Mrs Hunt and most of the Royal Marines and the few men from "Endurance" were flown out. Major Norman and his men were back in Stanley 76 days later with J Coy, 42 Cdo RM.

Argentine Reinforcements - Before the surrender, the Army garrison, mainly from the 25th Infantry Regt was flying in. Another early arrival by Hercules was an AN/TPS-43F surveillance radar which became the centre of Argentina's command, control and communications structure at Stanley right through until the end of the war. Now Lieutenant General Osvaldo Garcia took over as Commander, Malvinas Operational Theatre, but as Britain's military response became clearer, the command was relocated to Argentina to cover the South Atlantic as a whole. Then on Wednesday 7th April, Major General Mario Menendez was appointed commander-in-chief as well as military governor, the same day Britain announced a 200 nautical mile maritime exclusion zone (MEZ) around the Falklands to take effect from the 12th April.

By Monday 5th April following the landings, the invading warships were returning to port, although some of the naval transports were used in the build-up, and after the MEZ came into force the blockade was run by fleet transport "Bahia Buen Suceso" and merchantmen "Formosa" (12,800 grt) and "Rio Carcarana" (8,500 grt). Most of the aircraft destined to be lost on the islands flew over although some of the helicopters were air-lifted, and Coast Guard patrol craft "Islas Malvinas" and "Rio Iguaza" reached Stanley for local duties.

Occupation -   The occupying forces were soon imposing their rules and regulations on the Islanders, many of whom got out of Stanley to the "Camp". Coasters "Forrest" (144 grt) and "Monsunen" (230 grt) were requisitioned together with a number of civil aircraft, some of which were lost in the subsequent bombardments. By the end of the month, as the British Task Force drew near, air raid precautions were introduced and a curfew and black-out was in force. A number of people were rounded up, some deported, and others confined, sometimes as at Goose Green in poor conditions.


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revised 31/5/13