Traditionally, the sea has played a significant role in warfare, and it continues to do so, albeit to a limited extent, in conflicts after World War II. The most notable naval conflict was the Falklands/Malvinas conflict. Operations were also crucial during the Gulf War between Iraq and Iran, although to a lesser extent in the recent Gulf War. Maritime warfare also occurred during the conflicts between Israel and Egypt, India and Pakistan, and Vietnam. It is evident that naval warfare operations impact the maritime activities of third States. However, these activities may also affect the position of the belligerent powers in many respects. Over the centuries, international rules governing the respective rights and obligations of neutrals and belligerents have evolved, which maintains a delicate balance between the interests of both parties.
The fundamental basis for this aspect of the law can be simplified to two key principles: firstly, the neutral State should not be hindered in its typical circumstances, and secondly, it should not contribute to favoring one of the belligerent parties. These fundamental principles have led to various specific regulations considered part of customary international law and partially formalized by international treaties.
Author David McDonald has written a naval warfare non-fiction book, “Two Battles Two Wars: 1980 -1982,” centered on the 1982 Falkland Islands War. David dedicated his book to the crew of HMS Plymouth and all armed forces members. The book draws on his experiences and real-life diary accounts during the Falklands conflict in 1982 while always providing an emotional account of David’s daughter’s serious road accident in 1980.
How it all Initiated
On April 2nd, 1982, the military junta ruling Argentina attacked the Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory. The invasion came after a breakdown in negotiations between Great Britain and Argentina over ownership of the islands, with the junta in Argentina claiming sovereignty.
In his military history book, David McDonald recounts the events of 1982, when mobile phones did not exist, and telephone calls onboard were non-existent unless there was a family emergency. Usually, calls were made when the ship docked at a port, and the crew went ashore to find a working telephone booth, which was challenging since 230 other crew members had the same idea. Writing letters was the only reliable way to contact loved ones. It took an average of three weeks for South mail to reach them and vice versa, and mail delivery was often delayed due to various reasons, such as being placed on the wrong ship or the ship being diverted. A letter from home was a comfort and morale boost for the crew, even though the news in the letters was often outdated by the time it arrived onboard. The support of their families, friends, and loved ones was the Navy’s secret weapon in boosting morale and helping them win the war.
How Britain Counteracted
During Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister, Great Britain assembled a task force of 127 ships to transport 25,948 British troops to the Falkland Islands. The task force included a range of vessels, such as warships, merchant ships, and cruise liners, including the QE2, which were rapidly refitted for the purpose.
Emotional Toll on the Naval Officers
The era of the Falkland island war was a trying time for all naval officers, and so was for David McDonald, who was dealing with the realities of the maritime war situation and struggling with his own personal battles and emotions over his 11-year-old daughter who was recovering from a serious car accident.
How Long the War Persisted
The Falklands War lasted for 74 days, ultimately ending on June 14th with the surrender of the Argentinian forces.
Tragically, 255 British Armed Forces personnel lost their lives during the conflict, and 777 were injured.
The conflict also resulted in the loss of 649 Argentine military personnel.
During the Falklands War, Great Britain lost five major ships, with HMS Sheffield being the first British warship in 37 years. In the conflict, Argentina also lost its only cruiser, General Belgrano.
The support available for mental and physical wounds suffered by veterans returning from the Falklands War was much simpler and harder to access than the support available today, thanks to the work of charitable organizations. However, the medical advancements made during the war have since driven significant improvements in military medicine for subsequent conflicts. For example, the Falklands War introduced the Red and Green Life Machine. This mobile A&E unit could be brought on shore to provide direct treatment to casualties where they were, rather than transporting them over long distances, as was the standard practice before.
The Falklands Bequest
Numerous organizations now support Falklands veterans who suffer from long-term health issues, ranging from trench foot to PTSD. These organizations believe that many Falklands veterans may require assistance for physical or mental injuries sustained during the conflict.
Many renowned books have been written on the Falklands War that depicts the gallantry attempts and measures taken by the heroic navy sailors in offering their services to the maritime warfare with Argentina. Two Battles Two Wars: 1980-1982 is a true story of a young navy sailor David McDonald who played an exemplary role during the war, all while dealing with his daughter’s tragic car accident. David’s account is a mixture of hardships of war, humour, and raw emotions that will keep the readers hooked until they finish reading it.