1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands

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Argentine invasion of the Falklands
Part of The Falklands War
An Argentine Marines Amtrack in Port Stanley, 1982
Date2 April 1982
LocationStanley, Falkland Islands
Result Argentine victory

 United Kingdom

Commanders and leaders
Governor Rex Hunt
Major Mike Norman RM
Major Gary Noott RM
Major Phil Summers FIDF
Rear Admiral Carlos Büsser
Lieutenant commander Guillermo Sánchez-Sabarots
Lieutenant commander
Pedro Giachino 
57 marines
11 RN sailors
25–40 FIDF and some volunteer civilians[1]
600 troops[2]
Casualties and losses

107 surrendered[3]

  • 91 military personnel
  • 18 civilian servants
    Several military trucks and jeeps disabled by gunfire
    3 coastal boats confiscated[4]
    1 refuelling barge confiscated[4]
    1 survey launch confiscated[5]
    3 small planes confiscated[6]
1 killed
6 injured/wounded (including Private Horacio Tello, Padre Ángel Maffezini and Lieutenant-Commander Hugo Santillan[7])
1 Amtrac vehicle slightly damaged

On 2 April 1982, Argentine forces launched the invasion of the Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas), beginning the Falklands War. The Argentines mounted amphibious landings, and the invasion ended with the surrender of Government House.


Governor Rex Hunt was informed by the British Government of a possible Argentine invasion on 1 April 1982. At 3:30 pm that day he received a telegram from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office stating:

We have apparently reliable evidence that an Argentine task force could be assembling off Stanley at dawn tomorrow. You will wish to make your dispositions accordingly.[8]

Forces involved[edit]

The Governor summoned the two senior Royal Marines officers of Naval Party 8901 to Government House in Stanley to discuss the options for defending the Falklands. He said during the meeting: "Sounds like the buggers mean it".[9]

Major Mike Norman was given overall command of the Marines due to his seniority, while Major Gary Noott became the military advisor to Governor Hunt. The total strength was 68 Marines and 11 sailors, which was greater than would normally have been available because the garrison was in the process of changing over – both the replacements and the troops preparing to leave were in the Falklands at the time of the invasion.[10]

This was decreased to 57 when 22 Royal Marines embarked aboard the Antarctic patrol ship HMS Endurance to observe Argentine soldiers based at South Georgia. The Royal Navy, and author Russell Phillips state that a total of 85 marines were present at Stanley.[11][12]

Their numbers were reinforced by at least 25 Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF) members.[13] Graham Bound, an islander who lived through the Argentine occupation, reports in his book Falkland Islanders At War that the higher figure of 40[14] (including 15 ex-FIDF members[15]) members of the FIDF reported for duty at their drill hall. Their commanding officer, Major Phil Summers, tasked the volunteer militiamen (including his son Brian Summers) with guarding such key points as the telephone exchange, the radio station and the power station. Skipper Jack Sollis, on board the civilian coastal ship Forrest, operated his boat as an improvised radar screen station off Stanley. Two other civilians, former Royal Marines Jim Fairfield and a Canadian citizen, Bill Curtiss, also offered their services to the governor.[1][16]

Prior to the main Argentine landings, the British sailors under orders from the Chief Secretary, Dick Baker, rounded up 30 Argentine nationals living in Port Stanley, placing them in protective custody.[17]

Operation Rosario[edit]

The Argentine Type-42 destroyer ARA Santísima Trinidad

The Argentine amphibious operation began in the late evening of Thursday 1 April, when the destroyer ARA Santisima Trinidad disembarked special naval forces south of Stanley. The bulk of the Argentine force was to land some hours later from the amphibious warfare ship ARA Cabo San Antonio near the airport, on a beach previously marked by frogmen from the submarine ARA Santa Fe.[18]

The operation had been called Azul (Blue) during the planning stage, but it was finally renamed Rosario (Rosary).[19]

ARA Santa Fe[edit]

Operation Rosario began with the reconnaissance of Port William by the submarine ARA Santa Fe and the landing of 14 members of the tactical divers group near Cape Pembroke, including the commander of this elite unit, Lieutenant-Commander Alfredo Raúl Cufré. The reconnaissance mission began as early as 31 March, when the trawler Forrest was spotted through the periscope at 10:00 PM off Port Stanley. The next day, Santa Fe learned that the authorities in Stanley were aware of the Argentine plans, so a change was necessary. Instead of landing right on Pembroke, the commandos would initially take a beach near Menguera Point, south of Kidney Island.[20][21]

The commandos left Santa Fe at 1:40 PM. From the beach, the special troops headed towards Pembroke peninsula in Zodiac boats. They reached Yorke Bay at 4:30 AM of 2 April. After planting beacons for the main landing, they took over the airstrip and the lighthouse without resistance. Argentine sources claim that they captured a few prisoners. After the British surrender at Port Stanley, this team was given the task of gathering the Royal Marines and taking them into custody.[20][21]

Attack on Moody Brook barracks[edit]

On the night of 1-2 April 1982, Santísima Trinidad halted 500 metres off Mullet Creek and lowered 21 Gemini assault craft into the water. They contained 84 special forces troopers[22] of Lieutenant-Commander Guillermo Sánchez-Sabarots's 1st Amphibious Commandos Group and a small party[23] under Lieutenant-Commander Pedro Giachino, who was normally second-in-command of the 1st Marine Infantry Battalion, that was to capture Government House.[24] The Argentine Rear Admiral Jorge Allara, through a message radioed from Santisima Trinidad, had requested to Rex Hunt a peaceful surrender, but the proposal was rejected.[24]

Giachino's party had the shortest distance to go: two and a half miles due north. Moody Brook Barracks, the destination of the main party, was six miles away, over rough terrain. Lieutenant-Commander Sánchez-Sabarots, in the book The Argentine Fight for the Falklands, describes the main party's progress in the dark:

It was a nice night, with a moon, but the cloud covered the moon for most of the time. It was very hard going with our heavy loads; it was hot work. We eventually became split up into three groups. We only had one night sight; the lead man, Lieutenant Arias had it. One of the groups became separated when a vehicle came along the track we had to cross. We thought it was a military patrol. Another group lost contact, and the third separation was caused by someone going too fast. This caused my second in command, Lieutenant Bardi, to fall. He suffered a hairline fracture of the ankle and had to be left behind with a man to help him. We were at Moody Brook by 5.30 a.m., just on the limits of the time planned, but with no time for the one hour's reconnaissance for which we had hoped.[25]

The main party of Argentine Marines assumed that the Moody Brook Barracks contained sleeping Royal Marines. The barracks were quiet, although a light was on in the office of the Royal Marine commander. No sentries were observed, and it was a quiet night, apart from the occasional animal call. Lieutenant-Commander Sánchez-Sabarots could hear nothing of any action at Government House, nor from the distant landing beaches; nevertheless, he ordered the assault to begin. Lieutenant-Commander Sánchez-Sabarots continues his account:

It was still completely dark. We were going to use tear-gas to force the British out of the buildings and capture them. Our orders were not to cause casualties if possible. That was the most difficult mission of my career. All our training as commandos was to fight aggressively and inflict maximum casualties on the enemy. We surrounded the barracks with machine-gun teams, leaving only one escape route along the peninsula north of Stanley Harbour. Anyone who did get away would not able to reach the town and reinforce the British there. Then we threw the gas grenades into each building. There was no reaction; the barracks were empty.[25]

The noise of the grenades alerted Major Norman to the presence of Argentines on the island, and he thus drove back to Government House. Realising that the attack was coming from Moody Brook, he ordered all troop sections to converge on the house to enable the defence to be centralised.[9]

Although there were no Royal Marine witnesses to the assault, British descriptions of the state of Moody Brook barracks afterwards contradict the Argentine version of events. After the Royal Marines were allowed to return to barracks to collect personal items. Major Norman describes walls of the barracks as riddled with machine gun fire and bearing the marks of white phosphorus grenades—"a classic houseclearing operation".[9] The Argentines maintain that the barracks were destroyed in an air attack on 12 June (involving Flight Lieutenant Mark Hare and Wing Commander Peter Squire) that killed three conscripts (Privates Mario Gustavo Rodriguez, Carlos Gustavo Mosto and Ignacio Maria Indino from 10th Brigade Headquarters) and wounded their commander, Major José Rodolfo Banetta.[26][27][28]

Amphibious landing at Yorke Bay[edit]

There was a more pressing action on the eastern edge of Stanley. Twenty US-built LVTP-7A1 Argentine tracked amphibious armoured personnel carriers from Lieutenant-Commander Guillermo Cazzaniga's 1st Amphibious Vehicles Battalion, carrying D and E Companies of the 2nd Marine Infantry Battalion (BIM-2) from Puerto Belgrano, had been landed from the tank landing ship ARA Cabo San Antonio at Yorke Bay, and were being watched by a section of Royal Marines under the command of Lieutenant Bill Trollope. Two Argentine-built landing crafts (Numbers 09 and 23), also took part in the landings later that morning and would fall into British hands at the end of the fighting in June.[29]

The armoured column trundled along the Airport Road into Stanley, with three Amtracs (Numbers 05, 07 and 19) in the vanguard, and, near the Ionospheric Research Station, at exactly 7:15 am, was engaged by a section of Royal Marines with anti-tank rockets and machine guns. This is from Lieutenant-Commander Hugo Santillán's official post-battle report:

We were on the last stretch of the road into Stanley. A machine-gun fired from one of the three white houses about 500 metres away and hit the right-hand Amtrac. The fire was very accurate. Then there were some explosions from a rocket launcher, but they were inaccurate, falling a long way from us. We followed our standard operating procedure and took evasive action. The Amtrac on the right returned fire and took cover in a little depression. Once he was out of danger, I told all three vehicles to disembark their men. I ordered the crew with the recoilless rifle to fire one round of hollow charge at the ridge of the roof of the house where the machine-gun was, to cause a bang but not an explosion. We were still following our orders not to inflict casualties. The first round was about a hundred metres short, but the second hit the roof. The British troops then threw a purple smoke grenade; I thought it was their signal to withdraw. They had stopped firing, so Commander Weinstabl started the movement of the two companies around the position. Some riflemen in one of the houses started firing then; that was quite uncomfortable. I couldn't pinpoint their location, but one of my other Amtracs could and asked permission to open up with a mortar which he had. I authorized this, but only with three rounds and only at the roofs of the houses. Two rounds fell short, but the third hit right in the centre of the roof; that was incredible. The British ceased firing then.[25]

The Amtrac on the right manoeuvred itself off the road into a little depression and as it did so, disembarked the Marines inside (including one wounded, Private Horacio Tello[30]) out of view. This encouraged the Royal Marines to think that Gibbs had scored a direct hit on the passenger compartment of the APC.

Lieutenant Bill Trollope, with No. 2 Section, describes the action:

Six Armoured Personnel Carriers began advancing at speed down the Airport Road. The first APC was engaged at a range of about 200 to 250 metres. The first three missiles, two 84 mm and one 66 mm, missed. Subsequently one 66 mm fired by Marine Gibbs, hit the passenger compartment and one 84 mm Marines [George] Brown and [Danny] Betts hit the front. Both rounds exploded and no fire was received from that vehicle. The remaining five APCs which were about 600 to 700 metres away deployed their troops and opened fire. We engaged them with GPMG, SLR and sniper rifle [Sergeant Ernie Shepherd] for about a minute before we threw a white phosphorus smoke grenade and leap-frogged back to the cover of gardens. Incoming fire at that stage was fairly heavy, but mostly inaccurate.[31]

According to Governor Hunt in his memoirs, Marines Brown and Betts brought the leading Amtrac to a screeching halt with a direct hit in one of the forward tracks while Marine Gibbs scored another hit in the passenger compartment:

About this time, we received the heartening news that the section led by Mike's second-in-command, Bill Trollope, had knocked out the first APC. They put an 84mm rocket into the tracks and a 66mm rocket into the passenger compartment. They stood ready to shoot anybody who got out, but nobody did.[32]

Lieutenant Trollope and his men withdrew along Davis Street, running behind the houses with Argentine Marines in hot pursuit, and went to ground firing up the road when it became obvious they could not reach Government House.[33]

Corporal Lou Armour, commanding '1 Section', was positioned at Hookers Point when the invasion began. Shortly after the attack on Moody Brook, he was ordered to withdraw to Government House, meeting up with Corporal David Carr's section along the way.

The marines, now numbering sixteen, decided to try and work their way around to the back of the ridge where the Argentinians were positioned, and then charge down to Government House, hopefully taking the enemy by surprise. But as they moved through the edges of the town they came under fire at every street corner and it was eventually so heavy they had to abandon their plan.[34]

As both sections headed off to find Lieutenant Trollope's men, Corporal Armour decided to have one more try at getting into Government House. Using fire and maneuver to cross a football pitch they then crawled along the hedgerow leading to the gardens where they experienced Friendly fire. According to Corporal Armour:

I had a running battle with a bunch of Argentines in armored vehicles who were chasing me and my section back toward Stanley. When we eventually got to government house, we were taking fire from three directions: the Argentines who were attacking the house, both behind and in front, and our own guys, who were in the house and thought we were another Argentine snatch squad trying to get in. So that was a bit hairy. An Argentine was killed that day and a few more wounded.[35]

They eventually made it to safety via the kitchen door. Corporal Armour again:

One Section pepper-potted down the road towards the wood where we knew Government House to be. Movement was slow as we had to crawl and monkey run until we reached the hospital. It was now broad daylight. From there the section fired and manoeuvred behind the nurses' home and across the football pitch until we reached a hedgegrow. I informed Marine Parker to call out, 'Royal Marines!' as we approached the house. We were eventually heard by Corporal Pares, who told us where the enemy were. The section, under cover from Corporal Pares, then dashed into the house where we were deployed upstairs by Major Noott.[36]

In the meantime, Corporal Stefan York and No 6 Section had been patiently manning their hide on the western end of Navy Point. As the Argentine landing crafts approached Stanley Harbour, Marine Rick Overall fired a Carl Gustav anti-tank round that the British claimed penetrated the side of an Argentine Marine LCVP, killing all on board.[37]

Battle of Government House and surrender[edit]

Lying on a small hillock south of Government House, Lieutenant-Commander Pedro Giachino faced the difficulty of capturing this important objective with no radio and with a force of only 16 men. He split his force into small groups, placing one on either side of the house and one at the rear. Unknown to them, the governor's residence was the main concentration point of the Royal Marines, who outnumbered the commandos by over two to one.

The first attack against this building came at 6.30 a.m., barely an hour before the Yorke Bay amphibious landing, when one of Giachino's squads, led by Lieutenant Gustavo Adolfo Lugo,[38] started to exchange fire with the British troops inside the house. At the same time, Giachino himself, with four of his subordinates, entered the servants' annexe, believing it to be the rear entrance to the residence. Four Royal Marines, Corporals Mick Sellen and Fleet and Marines Harry Dorey and Murray Paterson,[39] who were placed to cover the annexe, beat off the first attack. Giachino was hit instantly as he burst through the door, while Lieutenant Diego Garcia Quiroga was shot in the arm. The remaining three retreated to the maid's quarters.

Giachino was not dead, but very badly wounded. An Argentine combat medic, Corporal Ernesto Urbina, attempted to get to Giachino but was wounded by a grenade. Giachino, seeing what had happened, pulled the pin from a hand grenade and threatened to use it. The Royal Marines then attempted to persuade the officer to get rid of the grenade so that they could give him medical treatment, but he refused, preventing them from reaching his position. After the surrender of the British forces at Government House, some three hours later, Major Giachino was taken to Stanley Hospital but died from loss of blood.[40]

At the governor's office, Major Norman received a radio report from Corporal York's section, which was positioned at Camber peninsula, observing any possible Argentine ship entering Stanley Harbour. The corporal proceeded to report on three potential targets in sight and which should he engage first. What are the targets? the major enquired. Target number one is an aircraft carrier, target number two is a cruiser, at which point the line went dead.

Corporal York decided to withdraw his section and proceeded to booby trap their Carl Gustav recoilless rifle, before paddling their Gemini assault boat north across Port William. As he did so, York claimed an Argentine destroyer began pursuing them (the corvette ARA Granville according to Argentine sources). His initiative led to the Gemini reaching an anchored Polish fishing vessel, hiding the small assault boat under her shadow. They patiently waited for a chance, before moving to the shore and landing on a small beach.[24]

Back at Government House, the Argentine commandos' pressure continued unabated. There is some evidence that their use of stun grenades, mistaken as high-explosive rifle-grenades and/or mortars,[41] and their continuous shift of firing positions during the battle led the Royal Marines inside to believe they were facing a large company of marines and were hopelessly outnumbered. Actually, after the failure of Giachino's small platoon to break into the residence, the British were surrounded by only a dozen amphibious commandos. These men were under Lieutenant Lugo, Giachino's second-in-command. The Land Rovers used by the Royal Marines were disabled by automatic gunfire from the commandos.[42] Governor Hunt called Patrick Watts (at the radio station, Radio Stanley), by telephone and said he believed the assaulting force to be the equivalent of a reinforced company:

We're staying put here, but we are pinned down. We can't move.(...) They must have 200 around us now. They've been throwing rifle grenades at us; I think there may be mortars, I don't know. They came along very quickly and very close, and then they retreated. Maybe they are waiting until the APCs [Amtracs] come along and they think they'll lose less casualties that way.[43][44][45]

Corporals Geordie Gill and Terry Pares, both snipers, also claimed to have shot several Argentines through the chest and head as they attempted to scatter along the hillside overlooking Government House:

We dropped a number of Argentinians as they approached and I had a couple in my sights and made sure they were taken out of the game. It was initially estimated that we had killed five and injured seventeen, but we only counted the bodies that we saw drop in front of us.[46]

Major Norman's estimate is that Corporals Pares and Gills killed or wounded some four or five Argentine special forces:

Corporals Pares and Gill, were doing an excellent job. Gill would look through his sniper scope and tell Pares where the enemy were and Pares would fire ten rounds rapid, and as soon as that got them on the move, Gill would take them out with the sniper rifle. They took out four or five this way and all the time they were giving the rest of us a running commentary.[47]

In the official history of both sides, Argentine casualties are listed as one killed and three badly wounded outside Government House. Another three Argentine Marines (Private Horacio Tello, Padre Ángel Maffezini and Lieutenant-Commander Hugo Santillan) were slightly wounded or injured taking cover in the skirmishes in and around Port Stanley.

Around 7.30 a.m., the local police commander Ronnie Lamb, had to order two RFIP (Royal Falkland Islands Police) officers to nearby Government House, in order to rescue a civilian, Henry Halliday, as he blissfully headed off to work, despite the fierce gun-battle taking place all around him.[48]

Eventually, Hunt decided to enter talks with Argentine commanders around 8:30 am after Major Norman warned him "that our defence would be determined, unrelenting-but would be relatively short-lived".[49]The liaison was Vice-Commodore Hector Gilobert, the head in the islands of LADE, the Argentine government's airline company. Gilobert and a governor's deputy went to the Argentine headquarters displaying a white flag. A de facto ceasefire was put in place at that time which was occasionally breached by small arms fire.[50]

The governor's envoys found the Argentine command post at Stanley's town hall. The Argentine commander accepted the British offer of a face to face meeting with Hunt at his battered office.

While the negotiations were still going on, another incident occurred inside the residence. Three Argentine amphibious commandos who survived the first skirmish along the compound inadvertently alerted Major Noott to their presence, while they had been preparing to leave their hiding place. The Major fired his Sterling submachine gun into the ceiling of the maid's room. According to British reports, the stunned commandos tumbled down the stairs, laying their weapons on the ground. They became the first Argentine prisoners of war of the Falklands War, although by then Governor Hunt had already been in contact with Argentine officials negotiating the terms of surrender.[51]

The version of Lieutenant Commander Cufré, who was then at Stanley airport, is that the three Amphibious Commandos supporting Giachino's party kept their positions right to the end of the hostilities.[52]

Admiral Carlos Büsser, commander in chief of the operation, states that a ceasefire was already in place when the three commandos, after realising that the battle was coming to a close and that any loss of life at the time would be futile, laid down their arms to the marines in order to assist the wounded. Just a few minutes after this event, Government House capitulated.[51]


Meanwhile, the Royal Marines in the house saw the approaching Amtracs that had been engaged earlier by Lieutenant Trollope and his section. The Amtracs were Rex Hunt's biggest problem, because they could take up positions outside the range of the Royal Marines and blast Government House to pieces.[53] The vehicles pushed on toward Moody Brook to link up with Sánchez-Sabarots. His amphibious commandos were plodding slowly along the road to reinforce their colleagues besieging Government House after taking some prisoners near the racecourse.[54][55] Major Norman had earlier advised Governor Hunt that the Royal Marines and the governor could break out to the countryside and set up a 'seat of government' elsewhere, but when he finally met the commander of the Argentine seaborne forces, Admiral Büsser, he agreed to surrender his troops to the now overwhelming Argentine forces at 9:30 am. It was a hard decision for Governor Hunt to make:

With a heavy heart, I turned to Mike and told him to give the order to lay down arms. I could not bring myself to use the word 'Surrender'. Mike's face was a mixture of relief and anguish: it was not part of his training to surrender, but his good sense told him that there was no real alternative. As Gary accompanied Busser to tend the wounded round Government House, Mike told his radio operator to instruct all sections to down arms and wait to be collected.[56]

While Major Noott accompanied Busser outside Government House, the British officer applied morphine and the tourniquet on the Argentine wounded that would staunch the heavy bleeding and, Lieutenant Diego García Quiroga would later say Noott saved his life.[57]

Hunt would later state in mid-April that the defenders fired 6,000 rounds in the fighting at Government House and elsewhere.[58] The Falklands Governor disputed Argentine claims that the seaborne assault resulted in only one Argentine dead and two wounded; telling Time Magazine reporters Briton Hadden and Henry Robinson Luce in their 12 April 1982 article that at least five and possibly 15 invaders were killed and 17 were wounded in the invasion. According to Port Stanley resident John Pole Evans the napalm bombings on 21 April were part of the mock battles in Stanley Common that coincided with General Cristino Nicolaides[59]' visit as commander of the Argentine Army's 1st Corps:

We knew what sort of damage they could do, because during April whilst we were still in our homes, they'd bombed the Tussock Island in the harbour with napalm and it burned for a couple of days. This was like a warning of what they were capable of—that they could destroy the settlement if they wanted to. For them it was probably just some sort of target practice.[60]

Fearing that British had established an Observation Post on Tussock Island, Major Mario Castagneto's 601st Commando Company was sent to clear the island of enemy special forces, but returned empty handed and completely covered in black soot due to another Pucara napalm bombing on 1 May.[61]

After the surrender, the Royal Marines and two rifle sections under Corporals Gerald Cheek and Pat Peck from the FIDF were then herded onto the playing fields.[62]Pictures and film were taken of the British prisoners arranged face-down on the ground. This was probably an attempt to demonstrate the lack of British casualties,[citation needed] but it backfired: The images galvanised the British public when they were broadcast on television and increased public opposition to the invasion. Corporal Armour's section had fought on the second floor[36] at Government House and was taken prisoner:

There were three casualties lying in the garden of Government House. You think: What sort of mood are they going to be in when their oppos are shot up? When we were actually lying down I felt a bit humiliated but I also felt apprehensive about what was going to happen next. One of the Argentine officers came along and actually struck one of the guards and told us to stand up. We stood up and he shook my hand and a few other guys' hands and said that we shouldn't lie down, that we should be proud of what we'd done."[63]

The Royal Marines had fought with bravery and skill for they had killed one of his best officers, Carlos Busser said.[64] Now they could lay down their arms with their military honor intact. The appeal succeeded in that the governor decided he had no choice but to accept the inevitable. The Royal Marines were allowed, 10 at a time, to return to Moody Brook Barracks under armed guard and were given ten minutes to pack their personal belongings.[65][66]

Soon afterward, the Royal Marines were moved to a C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, which would take them to Comodoro Rivadavia, where they were to be picked up by another airliner to Uruguay and on to the United Kingdom. Members of the FIDF were not taken to Argentina along with members of NP 8901; instead they were disarmed and returned to their homes.[67] As the Marines were being taken to Montevideo, one of them said to an Argentine guard "don't make yourself too comfy here mate, we'll be back".[24]

Corporal York's section remained at large. On 4 April, they reached Long Island Farm owned by a Mrs Watson. York had no radio, and due to worries about possible civilian deaths, chose to surrender to Argentine forces. They gave their position to the Argentine Army using a local islander's radio, and York subsequently ordered his men to destroy and then bury their weapons.[68] Major Patricio Dowling and a platoon from the 181 Military Police Company platoon were helicoptered forward and after roughly handling Yorke's men and posing for pictures, locked up the Royal Marines men in Stanley Police Station. Yorke's section would then be held in Comodoro Rivadavia along with Lieutenant Keith Mill's 22-man platoon and supporting 13-man British Antarctic Survey (BAS) detachment under Steve Martin captured in South Georgia.

In Buenos Aires, huge flag-waving crowds flooded the Plaza de Mayo upon hearing the news. Argentina's losses in the operation were one dead and three wounded. In London, where the bad news was fully known from Argentine sources, the government was in a state of shock. The crisis prompted the resignation of the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington.[69]

The next day, Argentine forces captured the island chain of South Georgia, 1350 km to the east of the Falklands. In that action, the Argentines suffered one sailor from the corvette ARA Guerrico and two marines killed (Navy Corporal Patricio Guanca and marine conscripts Mario Almonacid and Jorge Aguila). One British Royal Marine was wounded in an exchange of fire with the Argentine troops. The Marines eventually surrendered when this position was bracketed by the Guerrico's main 100mm gun.[70]

During his stay in Comodoro Rivadavia, Corporal Lou Armour befriended two English-speaking Argentine conscripts, Edgardo Blaguerman and Mariano Tantignone at the Liceo Militar General Roca that had been converted into a Prisoner of War Camp.[71] In 2017, Armour agreed to return to Argentina to take part in the Argentine play Minefield that brought the former enemies together in a reconciliation move.[35]


Terry Peck, former Port Stanley Chief-of-Police and former member of the FIDF, set up a resistance base near Estancia House in April. He was soon joined by ex-Sergeant Neil Watson, Patrick Minto, Patrick Witney and other ex-FIDF soldiers who armed themselves with the rifles and 66mm anti-tank rockets that Corporal Stefan York and his Marines had buried at Long Island Farm. Peck, Minto, Witney and others would later join Captain Matthew Selfridge's D (Patrols) Company from 3 PARA at Douglas Settlement and help SAS/SBS teams secure Mounts Kent and Estancia.[72] In June, Terry Peck and Vernon Steen would act as guides in the 3 PARA patrols at Murrell Bridge sent out to reconnoitre the Argentine Mount Longdon stronghold.

Reaction in the United Nations[edit]

On 3 April 1982, the United Nations Security Council comprising the five permanent members and with Poland, Spain, Ireland, Panama, Guyana, Japan, Jordan, Uganda, Zaire, and Togo) passed the Resolution 502 demanding an immediate withdrawal of all Argentine forces from the islands and called on the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom to seek a diplomatic solution to the situation and refrain from further military action. Panama voted against this resolution, with China, Poland, Spain and the Soviet Union abstaining. All 10 remaining members voted for the resolution.[73]

Informing London[edit]

At 16:30 local time on 2 April 1982, the last telex conversation between the operator in the Falklands and an operative in London, announced that the islands were under Argentine control.[74]

LON: ARE YOU OPEN FOR TRAFFIC (i.e. normal telex service)

Operation timeline[edit]

Operation Rosario

The timeline of the operation was as follows:[18]

  1. 21:30 1 April – The Type 42 destroyer ARA Santisima Trinidad begins loading naval commandos of the Amphibious Commandos Group into 21 small inflatable motor boats. These set out for Mullet Creek but sail too far north and are caught up in beds of kelp, which cause problems for the boats. They decide to head for the nearest beach, which is near Lake Point.
  2. 23:00 1 April – The first group of 84 men lands on an unnamed beach at Lake Point. The group splits into a smaller force led by Lieutenant-Commander Giachino which heads towards Government House, and a larger force commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Sabarots which heads towards Moody Brook barracks.
  3. 04:30 2 April – A small advanced team of the Tactical Divers Group is landed undetected from the Submarine ARA Santa Fe near Yorke Bay.
  4. 05:30 2 April – Lieutenant-Commander Sabarots' force reaches and surrounds the barracks. They throw grenades into the buildings and storm the buildings with heavy machine gun fire. They find the buildings deserted.
  5. 06:00 2 April – 20 FMC Amtracs and several LARC-V stores-carrying vehicles land on Yorke Bay from the LST ARA Cabo San Antonio. The force splits into 3 groups:
    • A four Amtrac vanguard. Including one carrying the Army Platoon.
    • The main force of 14 Amtracs.
    • The second in command, a recovery Amtrac and LARC vehicles.
  6. 06:30 2 April – The first Amtracs meet no resistance. The Army platoon secures the deserted airport, previously swept by Navy tactical divers.
  7. 06:30 2 April – An Argentine force of 16 naval commandos reaches Government House, where they are stopped by 31 Royal Marines, 11 armed Royal Navy personnel and 1 local. Three Argentines are wounded, including the leader of the platoon, Lieutenant-Commander Giachino, who later dies. Another three are later captured inside the House, although by then (around 8:00) talks with Argentine officials about the surrender had already begun.
  8. 07:15 2 April – Having met no resistance, the Argentine Amtracs advance on Stanley, when they are ambushed from a house about 500 metres from the road. Royal Marines use rockets and machine guns. The Royal Marines fall back to government house. One of the Amtracs is scarred by machine gun fire, and there is one minor injury.
  9. 08:30 2 April – The Argentine Amtrac force secures Stanley.
  10. Lieutenant Colonel Seineldín's Regiment 25th platoon begin to clear the runway, while Navy tactical divers provide security on the airport and seize the lighthouse.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Insight team Sunday Time (1982), Chapter I: Surrender (I) and Chapter VIII: An ungentlemanly act. There is a mention of volunteers, such as Jim Fairfield, a former marine, Bill Curtis, a Canadian national and air controller and the skipper Jack Sollis, captain of the Forrest. Rex Hunt himself was armed with a Browning 9 mm pistol.
  2. ^ Mayorga, Part I, Chapters VI and VII. He accounts 84 elite troops, another 16 tactical divers marking the landing zone, 21 amtracs (20 of them with 25 marines each, the other was a command vehicle), and 25 Army riflemen landed by helicopter on Stanley airport.
  3. ^ The highest figure includes the British civilian servants at Government House.
  4. ^ a b Mayorga, pp. 195–196: MV Forrest, MV Monsunen and the small tug Lively.
  5. ^ Barker, p. 219: James Caird, left behind by HMS Endurance.
  6. ^ Andrada, p. 59: 1 Britten-Norman Islander, 2 Cessna 172s.
  7. ^ Un caso singular. CNIM VGM (R) Hugo Jorge Santillán
  8. ^ "Hunt: My Falklands Story". BBC. 2002. Retrieved 2009-12-31.
  9. ^ a b c Bound, Graham, Falkland Islanders at war, Pen and Sword Books Limited, ISBN 1-84415-429-7.
  10. ^ Battles: The Argentine Invasion Archived 2007-09-08 at the Wayback Machine. royalnavy.mod.uk. Accessed 26 August 2007.
  11. ^ The Argentine Invasion
  12. ^ "Consequently, there were 85 Royal Marines on the islands, with 25 men of the Falkland Islands Defence Force, although some retired members of the FIDF also reported for duty that around 40 men were available for the FIDF." A Damn Close-Run Thing, Russell Phillips, Shilka Publishing, 2011
  13. ^ Anderson, pp. 17–19.
  14. ^ "Meanwhile the Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF) was preparing for the invasion quite independently of the Marines. Their OC, Major Phil Summers, had tasked the approximately forty parttime militiamen to guard such key points as the telephone exchange, the radio station and the power station." Invasion 1982: The Falkland Islanders' Story, Graham Bound, Page 45, Casemate Publishers, 2007
  15. ^ "Consequently, there were 85 Royal Marines on the islands, with 25 men of the Falkland Islands Defence Force, although some retired members of the FIDF also reported for duty that around 40 men were available for the FIDF." A Damn Close-Run Thing, Russell Phillips, Shilka Publishing, 2011
  16. ^ Mutch, James (10 April 2017), Britain's secret weapon in the Falklands War reunited with former comrades, The Bolton News
  17. ^ Led by Colour Sergeant J. Noone RM, and accompanied by the Chief Secretary as the representative of the civil power, they had rounded up thirty Argentine nationals residents in Port Stanley by 4.00am, placing them in protective custody. The Royal Navy and Falklands War, David Brown, p.57, Pen & Sword, 1987
  18. ^ a b Mayorga, p. 71
  19. ^ Ruiz Moreno, p. 21
  20. ^ a b Bóveda, Jorge (2007). La Odisea del submarino Santa Fe. IPN editores, pp. 56, 75–76. ISBN 978-950-899-073-0 (in Spanish)
  21. ^ a b La Voz del Interior newspaper, 1 April 2007 (in Spanish)
  22. ^ Busser, Operación Rosario. The force was composed of 76 Amphibious Commandos and 8 members of the Buzos Tácticos (tactical divers) elite group.
  23. ^ The so-called Patrulla Techo (Roof patrol).
  24. ^ a b c d "Naval Party 8901 And the Argentine Invasion (Britain's small wars)". Archived from the original on 2006-10-10.
  25. ^ a b c Middlebrook, pp. 36–37.
  26. ^ "El día anterior el fuego británico había alcanzado los cuarteles de Moody Brook, donde mató a tres soldados e hirió al mayor José Rodolfo Banetta, de la compañía comando de la Brigada X." Isidoro J. Ruiz Moreno, La Lucha Por La Capital (chapter), Comandos en Acción: El Ejercito en Malvinas, Emece, 1986
  27. ^ "El Jefe de Personal del Comando de las Fuerzas Terrestres que, hasta ese entonces, había permanecido con su Sección en el Cuartel de los Marines (Moody Brook), el Mayor del Ejército Don José R. Banetta, que debía replegarse de las instalaciones mencionadas hacia su Puesto de Comando Principal en la localidad, al incendiarse y destruirse los cuarteles, por un efectivo y preciso ataque de la aviación enemiga." Carlos H. Robacio, Jorge Hernández, p. 216, Desde el Frente: Batallón de Infantería de Marina No. 5, Centro Naval, 1996
  28. ^ "Los ataques aéreos continuaban pero en forma cada vez más esporádica, quizá el último bombardeo importante fue sobre el ex-cuartel de los Royal Marines en Moody Brooki donde funcionaba el PC Ret de la Agr Ej a órdenes del My Banetta. Produjo bajas y grandes daños en el cuartel." Horacio Rodríguez Mottino, p. 182, La Artillería Argentina en Malvinas, Clio, 1984
  29. ^ "Free Web Hosting, Domain Hosting, Reliable Web Hosting Provider, Domain registration, Inexpensive, Low Cost, Affordable, Reseller Program, PHP, MySQL, Linux, Ecommerce". www.aposmalvinas.com.ar.
  30. ^ "Fundación Soldados". www.fundacionsoldados.com.ar.
  31. ^ Bound, pp. 52–53.
  32. ^ My Falkland Days, Rex Hunt, p. 238, David & Charles, 1992
  33. ^ Bound, p. 58
  34. ^ The Sunday Times Insight Team, 1982 p. 12. Sphere Books Ltd.
  35. ^ a b "Soldiers Who Fought Each Other in the Falklands War Are Now Sharing a Stage". Vice.
  36. ^ a b Graham Bound, Invasion 1982: The Falkland Islanders' Story, p. 54, Casemate Publishers, 2007
  37. ^ Operation Corporate (Viking, 1985), Martin Middlebrook, p. 51
  38. ^ Busser, p. 259
  39. ^ "Corporal Mick Sellen, who with Marine Paterson had shot the three Argentines in the chicken run, had reported to Gary that he had seen three others make for the staff quarters, and he suspected that they were still there." My Falkland Days, Rex Hunt, p. 233, David & Charles, 1992
  40. ^ Busser, page 277
  41. ^ "The noise for a while was deafening. It numbed the senses, like an anaesthetic, and made thinking a conscious effort. We surmised later that the Argentines were throwing stun grenades but, at the time, we thought we were being mortared. Outbursts of automatic and rifle fire interspersed the bangs. My first rational thought was surprise that the windows had not shattered. My second was to wonder why we had no pieces of metal flying round." My Falkland Days, Rex Hunt, p. 226, David & Charles, 1992
  42. ^ Insight team Sunday Time (1982), Chapter VIII: An Ungentlemanly Act, p. 88
  43. ^ Bound, page 60
  44. ^ Way, p. 134, increases the number of Argentine troops around the House to 600.
  45. ^ Insight team Sunday Time (1982), Chapter VIII: An Ungentlemanly Act, p. 89
  46. ^ David Reynolds, p. 21, Task force: The Illustrated History of the Falklands War, Sutton, 2002
  47. ^ Max Arthur, p. 17, Above All, Courage: The Falklands Front Line: First-Hand Accounts, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1985
  48. ^ "Yesterday morning Ronnie Lamb, the police chief, had to get his officers to rescue old Henry Halliday from the front road, as he had set off for work as usual, through the main part of the invasion, just after seven." 74 Days: An Islander's Diary of the Falklands Occupation, John Smith, p. 33. Century, 1984
  49. ^ "At 0830 Major Norman advised the Governor on various military options. He realised that the enemy had overwhelming numerical superiority and although he would have liked to break out, taking the Governor with him, and set up a seat of Government elsewhere in the Islands, he had no doubt that if they continued as they were, they would be soon overrun. He told the Governor 'that our defence would be determined, unrelenting-but would be relatively short-lived'. The Governor got in touch with Vice Commodore Hector Gilobert, the Argentine representative of Lade, and asked his help in contacting the Argentine Commander, Admiral Carlos Busser." THIS WEEK'S GLOBE & LAUREL - July/August 1982
  50. ^ Insight team Sunday Time (1982), Chapter I: Surrender (I), p. 20.
  51. ^ a b Busser, p. 40
  52. ^ Insight team Sunday Time (1982), Chapter I: Surrender (I), page 20. Instead, in an article published by an Argentine newspaper, the 1982 commander of the Tactical Divers Group (Buzos Tácticos) states that the three men withstood a fierce three-hour gun battle with the Royal Marines.La Voz del Interior newspaper, 1 April 2007 (in Spanish)
  53. ^ "The Amtracks were the Marines' biggest problem, because they could stand off outside the British troops' range and blast Government House to pieces. After telephoning various people in Port Stanley to ascertain the outside situation, Governor Hunt reluctantly agreed to see the commander of the Argentine forces present, Admiral Busser." The World's Elite Forces, Bruce Quarrie, p. 64, Berkley Books, 1988
  54. ^ En su trayecto [el grupo de comandos] recibió la rendición de una patrulla de ocho soldados ingleses, en proximidades del Hipódromo, y momentos después se encontraron, de acuerdo con lo previsto y como hemos visto, con la Vanguardia de la Fuerza de Desembarco, que debía rastrillar la parte norte de la península de Camber. Mayorga, p. 77
  55. ^ These troops seem to have been FIDF men on patrol around Stanley's racecourse in order to prevent helicopter landings (Telegraph.co.uk).
  56. ^ Rex Hunt, p. 234, My Falkland Days, David & Charles, 1992
  57. ^ Una buena mañana para morir
  58. ^ "The Robesonian". news.google.com.
  59. ^ Cabe acotar que justo antes de la visita de los Comandantes fue a la isla el general Nicolaides y pasó la noche allí. Fue a visitar la Brigada de Infantería Mecanizada X perteneciente al Cuerpo de Ejército a su mando, y conversó con el general Jofre y conmigo. Visitó las unidades en sus emplazamientos, conversó con los jefes, etcétera. Malvinas: Testimonio de Su Gobernador, Mario Benjamín Menéndez, Carlos M. Túrolo, Page 100, Editorial Sudamericana, 1983
  60. ^ Hugh McManners, Forgotten Voices of the Falklands: The Real Story of the Falklands War, Random House, 2008
  61. ^ La Compañía de Comandos 601 era usada para las más variadas actividades. Por la mañana, y dado que se creía que desde allí se dirigía a los bombarderos, se habían dirigido a la isla Tussac, a la que le dieron el nombre de Isla Quemada porque un avión había arrojado una bomba de napalm sobre ella y regresaron negros de hollín de la turba que pisaron. Compilación Malvinas, Joaquín A Boccazzi, Page 138, Gráfica Sur, 2004
  62. ^ We watched sadly as Argentine soldiers assembled our Royal Marines on the lawn in front of us. We were alarmed to see some members of the FIDF. They were Gerald Cheek's and Pat Peck's sections, who had been caught between the Argentines attacking Moody Brook and those surrounding Government House. My Falkland Days, Rex Hunt, Page 238, David & Charles, 1992
  63. ^ Michael Bilton, Peter Kosminsky, p. 233, Speaking Out: Untold Stories From The Falklands War, Andre Deutsch, 1989
  64. ^ "The marines had fought with bravery and skill, Busser said. They had killed one of his best captains. Now they should lay down their arms. The appeal succeeded in that the governor decided he had no choice but to accept the inevitable." War in the Falklands: The Full Story, p. 20, Harper & Row, 1982
  65. ^ "The Royal Marines were allowed, 10 at a time, to return to Moody Brook under supervision and were given ten minutes to pack non-service kit." THIS WEEK'S GLOBE & LAUREL - July/August 1982
  66. ^ "The captured British servicemen were then allowed to collect personal items (but no uniform) from Moody Brook and were flown out to Comodoro Rivadavia that evening." The Royal Navy and Falklands War, David Brown, p.59, Pen & Sword, 1987
  67. ^ Bound, pp. 35 ff.
  68. ^ Middlebrook, Martin (1985). Operation Corporate: the Falklands War, 1982. Viking, p. 52. ISBN 0-670-80223-9
  69. ^ Theakston, Kevin (2004). British foreign secretaries since 1974. Routledge, p. 134. ISBN 0-7146-5656-9
  70. ^ Argentine Invasion of South Georgia Archived 2007-10-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  71. ^ diariopublicable.com. "La amistad en los tiempos de la guerra". www.diariopublicable.com.
  72. ^ Newsweek (Volume 99, 1982), Newsweek Incorporated, p. 110
  73. ^ United Nations Security Council Resolution 502. S/RES/502(1982) 3 April 1982. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
  74. ^ "Communications Cut With the Falklands". New York Times. New York: The New York Times Company. 3 April 1982. Retrieved 2014-06-15.


  • Anderson, Duncan (2002). The Falklands War 1982. Osprey Essential Histories. Osprey Publisher. ISBN 1-84176-422-1.
  • Andrada, Benigno Héctor (1983). Guerra aérea en las Malvinas (in Spanish). Emecé editores. ISBN 978-950-04-0191-3.
  • Barker, Nick (2001). Beyond Endurance: An Epic of Whitehall and the South Atlantic Conflict. Pen & Sword. ISBN 0850528798.
  • Bound, Graham (2002). Falklands Islanders At War. Pen and Sword Books. ISBN 0-85052-836-4.
  • Busser, Carlos (1984). Operación Rosario (Informe oficial de la Marina Argentina) (in Spanish). Editorial Atlántida. ISBN 950-08-0324-0.
  • Freedman, Lawrence (2005). Official History of the Falklands Campaign (2 vols.). Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-41911-6.
  • Insight Team Sunday Times (1982). War in the Falklands: the Full Story. The Sunday Times. ISBN 0-06-015082-3.
  • Mayorga, Contraalmirante Horacio A. (1998). No Vencidos (in Spanish). Ed. Planeta. ISBN 950-742-976-X.
  • Middlebrook, Martin (1989). The Fight For The Malvinas: The Argentine Forces In The Falklands War. Viking. ISBN 0-14-010767-3.
  • Middlebrook, Martin (2003). The Argentine Fight for the Falklands. Pen and Sword Books. ISBN 0-85052-978-6.
  • Moreno, Isidoro J Ruiz (1987). Comandos en acción (in Spanish). Emecé editores.
  • Smith, John (1984). 74 days – An Islander's Diary of the Falklands Occupation. Century Publishing. ISBN 0-7126-0361-1.
  • Way, Peter, ed. (1983). The Falklands War in 14 parts. Marshall Cavendish.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°41′30″S 57°52′22″W / 51.69167°S 57.87278°W / -51.69167; -57.87278