The Falkland Islands, or Islas Malvinas, have been at the centre of a centuries-old conflict between Argentina and Britain. This small archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean has witnessed some of the fiercest battles in modern history, with the Falklands War of 1982 claiming the lives of over 900 people.
David Mcdonald, a former navy sailor, offers a compelling firsthand account of this tumultuous period in his memoir, “Two Battles Two Wars 1980-1982.” In this gripping book, McDonald takes readers on a journey through the chaos and violence of war, offering a raw and authentic portrayal of life on the front lines. From his personal struggles to his experiences of camaraderie and bravery, McDonald’s story is one of resilience, courage, and inspiration. With vivid descriptions and powerful insights, “Two Battles Two Wars 1980-1982” is a must-read for anyone interested in the Falklands conflict and the human spirit’s triumph over adversity.
The Brutality of the War
In April 1982, Argentina and Britain engaged in an undeclared war over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, South Sandwich, and South Georgia Islands. The conflict lasted 74 days and claimed the lives of over 900 people.
Argentina has claimed superiority over the Falkland Islands since 1833. Still, most Falkland Islanders were of British lineage and resisted Argentina’s claim. In 1982, Argentina’s President Leopoldo Galtieri decided to seize control of the islands by force.
Argentina established an unauthorized presence in the South Sandwich Islands in 1976. The United Nations condemned Argentina’s occupation of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia on April 3. Sir Rex Hunt, the British Governor, was deported. Naval Party 8901, a small deputation of Royal Marines who protected the islands, was forced to relinquish. President Galtieri selected General Mario Menéndez as governor of the islands and captain of the Argentine force stationed there to defend them. Many restrictions were imposed on the islanders in the following weeks; some were deported forcibly, while others were imprisoned for weeks.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher authorized a military operation called Corporate to retake the islands. It was the first time since World War II that all branches of the British armed forces deployed simultaneously. A British task force of 127 warships, submarines, and requisitioned merchant ships carrying aircraft, troops, and equipment set sail for the South Atlantic within days. On April 25, Operation Paraquet returned South Georgia to British control. Task Force then focused on retaking the Falkland Islands. The Task Force charged a 200-mile Total Exclusion Zone around the Falkland Islands on April 30, barring all aeroplanes and ships from any country from penetrating. British special forces, the RAF, and the Fleet Air Arm attacked Argentinian ships and defences.
After two days, the Royal Navy submarine HMS Conqueror sank the Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano, killing over 300 crew members. Argentina was quick to respond. The Royal Navy destroyer HMS Sheffield was hit on May 4 by an AM39 Exocet cruise missile fired by an Argentine Super Éntendard strike fighter aircraft. Twenty people were killed in the explosion and fire that destroyed the ship. The Argentine Air Force continued to launch Exocet missiles and bombs at British boats, resulting in numerous casualties. Seven ships were lost during the conflict, and others were severely damaged. The May 24 attacks on the landing logistic ships RFA Sir Galahad and RFA Sir Tristram and the May 25 attack on the merchant container ship SS Atlantic Conveyor were particularly devastating.
The term ‘yomp,’ a Royal Marines slang word for a long-distance march carrying complete kit, became popular due to media coverage of the war. Argentinian forces surrendered on June 14 after fierce fighting in the mountains overlooking Port Stanley. The same day, the Union Jack was hoisted over Government House, and the Falkland Islands were back under British control. The war claimed the lives of 255 British military personnel, three Falkland Islanders, and 649 Argentine military personnel.
The Falklands War had far-reaching political consequences. Margaret Thatcher’s popularity increased, and the war helped her win the 1983 general election. In Argentina, the military government’s defeat led to the return of democracy in 1983. The war also highlighted the importance of air and naval power, leading to increased investment in both areas by Britain and other countries.
The Falklands War is still debated and controversial, particularly in Argentina. Some argue that the war was an unjustified act of aggression by Britain. In contrast, others contend that Argentina’s military dictatorship used the Falklands as a diversionary tactic to distract from domestic problems.
Regardless of one’s perspective, the Falklands War remains an important historical event that significantly impacted the lives of those involved and the world’s political landscape.
Author David Mcdonald has flawlessly depicted these tragic war events in his book “Two Battles Two Wars 1980-1982” and shared his personal life stories, particularly her beloved daughter Samantha, who fought for her life in a coma. Readers will become emotionally invested as they read about the Author’s personal life, the devastating events of the war and conflict, and how he overcame those adversities through love, hope, and faith.