The Falklands War was a military conflict fought between Argentina and the United Kingdom, from April 2 to June 14, 1982, on the Falkland Islands, South Atlantic. It broke out when an Argentinian invading force of 600 men captured the islands during the early hours of April 2. The next day, a small Argentine military unit, composed of 65 marines also seized South Georgia Island. Although the British government had obtained secret information that the Argentines were planning to invade the islands, the British people were shocked and outraged, especially by the fact that the whole population on the Falklands are Anglo-Saxon English-speaking people, with British citizenship, who had been inhabiting the islands since 1833, and that no Argentine had ever been born there. Thus, the British public opinion regarded it as a total foreign aggression on British soil.
The man who decided to launch such an invasion was General Fortunato Galtieri, president of Argentina, and army commander who presided over the military junta that ruled the country. The reason for such an unexpected attack was to distract public attention from its domestic problems, such as unemployment, inflation, and growing budget deficit. At the time, the Prime Minister of Great Britain was the Conservative Margaret Thatcher, a single-minded woman of great determination and whom the Argentine military had underestimated. On April 5, two British aircraft carriers, the HSM Invincible and the HSM Hermes, set sail for the Falklands, leading 120 surface vessels and one nuclear submarine.
The first military encounters occurred before the British landed on the islands. On May 2, an Argentinian cruiser, the ARA General Belgrano, was sunk by the British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror, as it headed towards the islands; 323 Argentinian sailors got killed, and 700 rescued. On May 4, an Argentine Navy strike aircraft, a Super Étendard, launched a French-made Exocet missile and hit HMS Sheffield, a destroyer Type 42, which sank four days later. Two other British warships an one transport ship were struck and sunk by the Argentinian attack aircraft A4 Skyhawks and Super Ëtendard on May 21, 1982: the HMS Ardent, HMS Antelope, and the Atlantic Conveyor. However, the carrier-based British fighters, Sea Harriers, had begun their hunt for enemy aircraft, shooting down 36 enemy fighters, thus obtaining air superiority for the British fleet. As a result, the British 2 Para Battalion and the 45 Commando Royal Marines were able to land on the shore of San Carlos Bay, on the west coast of Eastern Falkland on May 21. They were followed by other units, such as the 42 Commando, 40 Commando, 3 Para, and Gurkha Rifles.
On May 28, the 2 Para men fought the first ground battle of the war, the Battle of Goose Green, in which the British had the difficult task of eliminating machine gun nests and pillboxes located on top hills. Having defeated the Argentines, the British paratroopers headed east, toward Port Stanley, the capital of the Falklands. Meanwhile, the Royal Marines defeated the Argentine Army infantry regiments 12, 4, and 6, and one marine battalion BIM 5 at the battles of Two Sisters, Mount Tumbledown, Mount Kent, Bluff Cove, and others. The British were professional soldiers highly trained during the Cold War to fight against Soviet troops in cold weather conditions. As a result, the cold and windy weather of the Falklands did not affect them as it affected the Argentine conscript soldiers who had only had 2 months of military training in the warm weather of Argentine northern provinces.
As the bulk of the British ground forces closed in on Stanley, most of the Argentinian troops panicked and ran away towards the capital, but ferocious battles were fought between the Royal Marines and some hard and stubborn Argentine units. Finally, on June 14, the commander of the Argentine forces on the Falklands, General Mario Menendez, surrendered and signed the cease fire together with the British commander Major General Jeremy Moore. The Falklands War had ended.