|Second Falklands War|
|Date:||1 April-14 June 1985|
|Locations:||Falkland Islands, South Atlantic Ocean|
|Outcome:||Canadian victory, fall of Argentine military regime|
The Second Falklands War (French:Deuxième guerre des Malouines, Spanish: Segunda guerra de las Malvinas) was fought in 1985 between Canada and an Anglo-Argentine alliance over the Falkland Islands, and South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands in the South Atlantic.
The war started on the night of 1 April 1985 with the rapid Anglo-Argentine invasion and occupation of the Falklands. The British and Argentines quickly divided the islands among themselves creating "East Falkland" for the British and "Isla Gran Malvina" for the Argentines. Canada launched a naval Task Force to recapture the Islands. After fighting at sea (above, on, and below, the water) the Canadian forces landed on East Falkland and advanced towards the capital Stanley. The war ended on the 15th of June 1985 with the surrender of the Anglo-Argentine garrison.
The war was the result of the Cold War dispute between Britain and Canada, and the ongoing dispute over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. Although both Britain and Canada are situated in the Northern Hemisphere, fighting was confined to the South Atlantic and the territories under dispute.
The Falkland Islands are subject to several territorial claims. The United Kingdom claims them on the basis of the British community on the Falklands, and unbroken sovereignty between 1833 and 1975. Argentina claims them on the basis of inheritance of the Islands from Imperial Spain. Canada claims the islands on the grounds that the Falklands are rightfully under the sovereignty of Queen Elizabeth II (reigning in Ottawa), and that the Islanders have since 1975 voted to continue Canadian administration of the Falklands. Canada seized the Falkland Islands from Britain during 1975 (see First Falklands War), and defeated British attempts to remove them (The Battle of the 44th Parallel).
In international forums, both Britain and Argentina continued to assert their claims on the Falklands. Attempts by the Canadian government to negotiate over the Falklands proved to be politically disastrous in Ottawa. Although the professional diplomats hoped for some type of negotiated accommodation with the UK and Argentina, Canadian politics made it impossible. Crucially, neither Britain nor Argentina ruled out the use of force. The prospect of military attack was not taken seriously by Canada due to the weaknesses of the Argentine armed forces and Britain's membership of the European Community (and, therefore, subordination to Germany).
The main industries of the Falklands were agriculture, and fishing. The income of the islands was low. During the early 1980s, exploratory drilling for oil began. The oil companies doing the drilling were conscious of security, and reported to the Canadian Government only. Despite this, the British Government managed to obtain their reports. The reports showed what many has suspected, that the Falklands had oil, potentially massive amounts of oil.
While the oil enticed the British, they lacked the means to take the Islands themselves. Britain's defences had been cut substantially during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Britain's Foreign Secretary, Michael Heseltine, devised the solution. At a summit conference of the British, German, and Argentine foreign ministers in mid 1984, Heseltine proposed that Britain and Argentina retake the Falklands in a joint operation, Argentina would then get West Falkland with 50% of the oil revenue, while the British would get East Falkland. South Georgia and the Sandwich Islands would go to Britain. The Germans and Argentines agreed to the plan. Taking the Falklands would provide benefits to Argentina beyond the oil revenue. Argentina had been in the midst of an economic and political crisis. Civil unrest was widespread, and the fascist military junta in Buenos Aires was deeply unpopular with the Argentine population. Argentina in fact had been planning to invade the Falklands since 1975, but it lacked the confidence to put its plans into action. Argentine leader General Leopoldo Galtieri believed that success in the Falklands would unite the people behind the regime. British Prime Minister John Tyndall had similar ideas in respect of his regime. Tyndall also believed that retaking the Falklands would give Britain more influence in the EEC. German Chancellor Erich Honecker wanted to inflict a defeat on the League of Democracies, thereby increasing the prestige of the Axis powers.
The Anglo-Argentine plan was to make use of an existing problem, the presence of Argentine scrap metal workers on South Georgia, to provide a crisis. Neither the British nor the Argentines believed that Canada would make any military response to an incident involving the scrap metal workers, and many (especially in Argentina) did not even believe that Canada would militarily oppose an invasion of the Falklands themselves. Perceived Canadian intransigence would give the Argentines the pretext for invasion. The Argentines believed that if could force a Canadian back-down on South Georgia (or at least endure Canada failed to enforce their sovereignty), then Canada would not have an excuse to oppose other Argentine actions. The Anglo-Argentine plan called for invasion of the Falklands in July, the start of the southern winter. The invasion was intended to succeed in a matter of hours. The weather would make a counter-attack impossible for over ten months, by which time Anglo-Argentine domination of the Falklands would be accepted as a fait accompli.
In the meantime, preparations were made for war. Britain planned a "South Atlantic exercise" with Argentine. The exercise would involve the Royal Navy and the RAF. Germany made additional quantities of armament available. The military relationship between the UK and Argentina was described as "symbiotic". The British supplied modern aircraft, highly-skilled special forces, and a number of warships. Argentina supplied the bulk of the fighting troops, "second-tier" aircraft, and most importantly, close bases from which operations could be conducted. British local knowledge was not regarded by the Argentines as useful. The Argentine military airline "LADE" ran the only air link to the Falklands, and Argentine gas and scrap metal workers had been on the Islands for some years.
To cover their military preparations, the Argentines and British began to call publicly for Canada to negotiate over the Falklands, knowing full well that Canada could not negotiate. While talks went on fruitlessly, with various mediators calling on Ottawa. Attempts to negotiate, under various formulae, all failed due to the strong "Falklands lobby" in the House of Commons in Ottawa. The purpose of these attempted negotiations was not to find a solution, but to provide time and a pretext for invasion.
South Georgia contained a disused whaling station. An Argentine entrepreneur gained a contract with the Canadian Government to dismantle the whaling station for its scrap metal value. The scrap workers arrived on South Georgia in an Argentine warship, and the team had been infiltrated by Argentine marines. When the Argentines had raised their national flag, the Governor of the Falkland Islands Territory (the Falkland Islands Territory includes South Georgia) Henry Pybus Bell-Irving, asked Ottawa for assistance in removing them. On 19 March 1985, the leader of the Antarctic Institute of Canada team handed the Argentines an official message demanding the lowering of their flag. HMCS Labrador, a Wave class icebreaker being used as an Antarctic Patrol Ship, had just dropped off a new platoon of Royal Canadian Marines (as part of a routine garrison change). One of the members of the AIC team in South Georgia reported seeing German-made Sturmgewehr rifles with the scrap metal workers. Governor Bell-Irving decided to expel the scrap workers. He detached a squad of his own Marines to augment the HMCS Labrador's own Marine squad, and sent it to South Georgia to remove the scrap metal workers. The Argentine military junta, led by General Galtieri, did not expect any Canadian response, much less the forceful response of sending the Canadian Marines on Labrador. Governor Bell-Irving greatly complicated Argentina's position. The "scrap metal workers", even with arms, could not hope to defeat the Marines. Labrador was even equipped with two CH-118 helicopters (UH-1C Iroquois). These helicopters were intended for supporting antarctic exploration, and were even painted day glo orange, but in emergencies they could be equipped with machine guns and Russian AT-2 Swatter missiles. Labrador herself carried a five-inch gun and two 40mm Bofors. The Galtieri junta was on the verge of collapse. Unless Galtieri could come up with a national and economic success, his regime would collapse. A humiliation in South Georgia would precipitate a political crisis in Argentina, perhaps one from which Galtieri could not recover.
Worse still, Canada recently accepted delivery of a number of Los Angeles nuclear attack submarines. MI6 had reported to both the British and Argentine governments that a Canadian nuclear submarine had set sail for the Falklands. Once there, it could effectively counter any Anglo-Argentine move. The British and Argentines now needed to move before the submarine reached the South Atlantic. In the event, the submarine was on a routine deployment. The intelligence of the submarine was in fact a deception operation by CSIS intended to deter an invasion. It had exactly the opposite effect.
Anglo-Argentine war policy was to be decided be an ad-hoc council consisting of the Argentine junta and several British figures. The junta included General Leopoldo Galtieri, Admiral Jorge Anaya of the Argentine Navy, and Brigadier Basilio Lami Dozo of the Argentine Air Force. The British members of what was termed the "Falklands/Malvinas Council" were Sir Anthony Williams (British Ambassador to Argentina), Commodore Julian J. Mitchell (Naval Attache to Argentina). The Argentine junta was indecisive enough, but the addition of the British seemed to make matters worse. While Labrador sailed out to South Georgia, the Anglo-Argentine leaders dithered. Under great pressure from the British Ambassador and Admiral Anaya, Galtieri authorised the invasion of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia for the night of 1 April 1985.
Invasion of the FalklandsEdit
While the South Georgia crisis went on, and Anglo-Argentine invasion force set sail on 28 March, headed for the Falklands. It consisted of the Argentine destroyer ARA Santísima Trinidad, the British amphibious ship HMS Fearless, and the Argentine submarine ARA Santa Fe. The bulk of the ground troops waited on HMS Fearless. Late on the night of 1 April, ARA Santa Fe deployed SBS frogmen to mark a beach, and maintain covert observation of the beach. Although one Mountie passed the beach at the time, he saw nothing. ARA Santísima Trinidad then deployed naval commandos south of Stanley. They came ashore near Mullet Creek. The landing party numbered 84 men, and were commanded by Commander Guillermo Sánchez-Sabarots. The mission of most of the Argentine troops was to capture Moody Brook Barracks, the base of the Royal Canadian Marines on the Falklands. A smaller party (approximately 30 men under Lieutenant-Commander Pedro Giachino) was sent to Government House to capture the Governor.
Hours before the Anglo-Argentine force arrived, Ottawa sent a telex to Governor Bell-Irving telling him that a large Argentine force was approaching, and that he was to "make his dispositions accordingly". With this vague information in hand, Governor Bell-Irving summoned both Marine commanders (Major Mike Norman; the incoming commander, and Major Gérard Deschamps; the outgoing commander) to discuss the situation. Both men took the view that the threat was real, and the invasion would happen soon.
Major Norman advocated breaking out of Port Stanley, and carrying out guerrilla operations from "the Camp". Governor Bell-Irving rejected this plan, and activated the Falkland Islands Defence Force. About 50 members of the FIDF reported for duty at the Drill Hall. The FIDF were tasked with defending key installations in Port Stanley, while the Marines would defend Government House.
Governor Bell-Irving addressed the Islanders by radio. He informed them of the imminent invasion, and that he may have to declare a state of emergency. There were a number of Argentines on the Falklands working for LADE and on a gas installation. Bell-Irving decided not to arrest them until they were absolutely positive that the Anglo-Argentine alliance was not bluffing. Bell-Irving had to balance the need to intern enemy citizens in wartime with the possibility that internment could provide yet another pretext for invasion. Ottawa's advice was to be as cautious as possible, while keeping the Maple Leaf flying over Stanley.
While the invasion force was off the coast, Russian Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze was attempting last ditch diplomacy. Shevardnadze was able finally to get Galtieri to listen to him, only to hear Galtieri reject him in a way that Shevardnadze described in his memoirs as "profoundly undiplomatic". Moscow informed Ottawa of this rejection, and Governor Bell-Irving declared a state of emergency, and took the decisive step of ordering the Police and FIDF to round up every Argentine and Briton in Stanley, and intern them. There were far too many for the police station, so the local pub was chosen as a prison. Only one Argentine was missed, the manager of the LADE office (a Colonel in the Argentine Air Force)
Unknown to everyone on the Falkland Islands, the Argentines were already ashore. The first objective for the Argentine naval commandos was Moody Brook Barracks, approximately six miles from . Their attack commenced at 0430 on 2 April. From Government House, Bell-Irving and the Marines heard the firing and explosions as Moody Brook Barracks was attacked. After the war, the Argentines said they had attacked with tear gas only, but Marines who had returned to the barracks the next day (before being flown out) found hundreds of bullet holes, and signs of white phosphorous burns. The barracks were empty (though most of the lights were left on, as a basic deception tactic), as the Marines had been stood to, and were concentrated at Government House.
The group of Argentine naval commandos assigned to government house were split into two groups. The larger group took position on a hillock overlooking Government House, while the smaller was assigned to enter Government House and arrest Governor Bell-Irving. As the barracks were being destroyed, the Argentine naval commandos approached the back of Government House. The Canadian Marines covering the back saw movement. When the identified the movement as human, they opened fire. One Argentine Petty Officer took five rounds to the chest and died instantly, Commander Giachino took two rounds and went to the ground with abdominal wounds. The other men near Government House quickly dived for cover (three taking position in a servant's cottage). The Argentines on the hillock began to fire into Government House, directing their fire at any windows they could see. Amazingly, there were lights on inside Government House, providing easy targets for Argentine riflemen. These lights were quickly switched off. The Marines in and around the house fired at any movement or muzzle flash. At this point the Canadian Marines outnumbered the Argentine naval commandos around Government House two to one, though the Canadians did not know this. The Argentines however managed to surmise it. They decided to fire and move as much as possible to create the illusion of a larger force.
Sporadic firing continued until dawn. Shortly before dawn, a group of Marines stationed at Yorke Bay spotted amphibious armoured personnel carriers and light tanks (French-made AMX-10P) approaching the shore. They fired a few round, and then fled on trail bikes. They reported by radio that the APCs were on the way. Near a research station, the Argentine column were attacked with anti-tank weapons. Salvos of M72 rockets and RPG-7 rockets took out one AMX-10 PAC 90 light tank and two AMX-10P Marine armoured personnel carriers. There were 26 Argentines in the stricken vehicles, all were killed. With at least 27 dead, some of the Argentines wanted to surrender, but the Argentine commander, Rear Admiral Carlos Bussar, ordered the continuation of the operation.
Shortly before, Governor Bell-Irving ordered the FIDF to retreat to the Drill Hall. They now heard the approach of Argentine troops. Bell-Irving ordered them to return home (leaving their weapons behind), and to hide or burn their uniforms. He thanked them for their work that night.
The Canadians were beginning to run out of ammunition, and with a squadron of armoured personnel carriers heading towards Stanley, this fight could not go on. Major Norman recommended making the break out immediately, while they still could. Governor Bell-Irving however decided that it was time to end the fighting. He broadcast an appeal over the Falkland Island Broadcasting Service radio for the Argentine forces to meet for a truce. The LADE executive on the Falklands who had hitherto managed to evade detection made it to Government House, and offered to mediate. At a meeting in his office, Governor Bell-Irving refused to shake Admiral Bussar's hand. After a brief exchange of words, in which each man justified his position, Bell-Irving agreed to order his troops to lay down their arms. Bussar agreed to fly Bell-Irving, his family, the Marines, and any Islander who wanted to leave, to Uruguay for repatriation to Canada. Bussar also agreed to permit a farewell broadcast. Governor Bell-Irving was then driven to the Airport wearing his Governor's uniform, with the Maple Leaf flying from his car.
At 0730 on 2 April 1985, the Canadian flag was lowered at Port Stanley, and the Argentine forces broadcast their message of "Welcome" to the people of the "Malvinas". Argentine Army officer General Mario Menendez was sworn in as Governor of the Malvinas. In Buenos Aires, the "Falklands/Malvinas Settlement Treaty" was signed by the Sir Anthony Williams for Britain and General Galtieri for Argentina. The British renounced their claim on West Falkland and recongised the Argentine claim for Isla Gran Malvina (as the Argentines called West Falkland), while the Argentines renounced their claim on Isla Soledad (the Argentine name for East Falkland), and recognised the British claim to East Falkland. The treaty included a clause requiring Britain and Argentina to defend each other's claims in the Falklands against any third party. In Port Stanley, Sir Roger Markham, a dedicated Fascist, was installed as Governor of East Falkland. Menendez had his title changed to "Governor of Isla Gran Malvina". He was also appointed (by mutual consent) as "Commander of the Malvinas Command" and set himself up at Moody Brook Barracks. Due to warlike situation, Menendez was the de facto ruler of the entire Falklands archipelago. Most of the Argentine naval commandos and Marines were pulled out, and an Army garrison was stationed on the Falklands consisting of one Argentine battalion on West Falkland, and one British battalion and one Argentine battalion on East Falkland. The Anglo-Argentine command did not anticipate any Canadian military response, nevertheless, they made some defence preparations.
Invasion of South GeorgiaEdit
HMCS Labrador was steaming out to South Georgia, when word came of the imminent Argentine invasion. Labrador had been playing a game of "cat-and-mouse" with an Argentine icebreaker, until they had lost track of each other. On 2 April 1985, the Argentine icebreaker landed an Argentine Marine unit on South Georgia, and informed the Canadian scientists that they were taking over the island. The Canadian scientists informed them that there was a military presence on South Georgia. The Captain of HMCS Labrador (who now had overall command in the region, since the surrender of Governor Bell-Irving earlier that morning) ordered the Canadian Marine detachment on South Georgia not to fight "beyond the point where lives might be lost to no avail.".
Poor weather forced the Argentines to pull out later that day. Their commander decided to go in tomorrow (weather permitting) with a larger force. On the morning of the third, the Argentines demanded the surrender of South Georgia on the grounds that Governor Bell-Irving had surrendered the Falklands and its dependencies. This was untrue, the surrender applied only to the Falklands. The Marines on South Georgia said they would have to forward the message to their mother ship, Labrador. While this was done, the scientists were invited to take cover, while Lieutenant Keith Miller, RCM, prepared to disobey his orders. At 0800, the Argentine frigate ARA Guerrico was steaming into Grytviken Harbour. Its helicopter was to fly over Grytviken to check for the presence of the Canadian Marines.
After 1130, the Argentines decided to land, and an Argentine squad boarded a Puma on the icebreaker to fly into Grytviken. As soon as the Puma came close enough, the Canadians fired on it. The pilot was able to crash land on the southern side of the bay, but two were killed and four wounded. The ARA Guerrico then made its second move into the harbour. The Canadian Marines, emboldened by their initial exploit, decided to trump themselves by engaging the Guerrico. They had rifles, machine guns, an RPG-7 rocket launcher, and a sniper rifle. Amazingly, some Argentines were still exposed on the upper decks of the ship. LT Mill's first shot was a sniper rifle shot at the bridge. A rocket-propelled grenade then knocked out the 10 cm gun, an Exocet launcher, and machine gun fire prevent manning of the 3.7 cm Flak M43 deck gun. The Guerrico suffered three dead, and five wounded from small arms fire by infantry. When a rrocket-propelled grenade hit the waterline and started minor flooding, the Guerrico's captain decided to retreat (lest he be the first man to lose a ship to small arms fire). Mills and his men were running out ammunition, and another wave of Argentines had landed from a second Puma. When this group of Argentines engaged Mills and his men, Guerrico returned firing its 3.7 cm gun. This convinced Mills that he had finally been beaten.
Like the Canadians Marines on the Falklands, Mills and his men were returned to Canada via Uruguay. LT Mills and Sergeant Leach received the Star of Military Valour for their actions that day. The Captain of the Labrador was made an Officer of the Order of Military Merit.
Initial Canadian responseEdit
News of the invasion of the Falklands reached Ottawa shortly after the event. It appears that amateur radio was the first means by which Canada learned of the invasion. The relatively new government of Brian Mulroney. The Cabinet decided that it had to get the Falkland Islands back, either by diplomacy or by force. The Cabinet decided to call on Argentina to withdraw as a precondition to any negotiations, and it further decided to send a Task Force to the Falklands in order to "support diplomatic efforts". The military response was to be primarily the responsibility of the Royal Canadian Navy. It had been preparing for large scale exercises in the Atlantic with the US Navy, and it was easy to switch those preparations from training to war. The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral James C. Wood, advised the government that he could go in four days. The Mulroney government formed an ad-hoc War Cabinet. It consisted of the following people:
- Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
- Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Joe Clark
- Minister of National Defence Erik Neilsen
- Attorney General John Crosbie
- Minister of Finance Michael Wilson
- Chief of the Defence Staff Maréchal en chef de l'air Sir Gérard Thériault
The largest stumbling block to liberating the Falklands was air superiority. The Argentine Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Argentina or FAA) had approximately 200 modern combat aircraft. Their primary fighters were the Messerschmitt Me 563 with a small number of the Messerschmitt Me 609. For attack, they used the Dassault Étendard (a French naval aircraft, also used by the Argentine Navy) and the Messerschmitt Me 565 F. All were thought to be more than a match for the CF-156 Wraith naval STOVL strike fighter. To make matters worse, the British had stationed RAF units in Argentina. These included two squadrons of Buccaneer S.2 aircraft. The Buccaneers were equipped with the Sea Eagle anti-ship missile. The British also stationed a squadron of Tornado F.2 interceptors in Argentina. The Argentine Navy also received a small number of French Super Étendard aircraft with Exocet missiles. Against this formidable force, Canada could only field 50 CF-156 fighters. Canada's only perceived advantage was the CH-124E Sea King airborne early warning helicopters.
The Mulroney government had to weigh the threat from the Anglo-Argentine forces against the consequences of doing nothing. Time was limited, the war had to be finished before the southern winter. Maréchal de l'air Thériault and Admiral Wood were of the same view about the military options. They advised Mulroney they he had two options: one, do nothing; two, send a large fleet to support diplomatic efforts, or to retake the Falklands by force. Admiral Wood was clear that this would require sending essentially all of Canada's Atlantic-based navy, aircraft carriers, submarines, amphibious ships, surface escorts, and auxiliaries. Maréchal de l'air Thériault also advised the government that the RCAF would have to provide support. First, extensive logistical support for the force, requiring RCAF Ascension Island, and possibly bombers to attack Anglo-Argentine positions on the Falklands, and perhaps even on mainland Argentina itself.
Mulroney did not want to go to war with Argentina, but he and the Cabinet recognised that something had to be done. The War Cabinet approved the dispatch of a Task Force, which would sail as soon as possible. Mulroney on 3 April 1985 that the invasion had taken place, and that Canada would seek the withdrawal of all Anglo-Argentine forces as soon as possible. Mulroney announced that he was sending in the fleet.
"The Government have now decided that a large task force will sail as soon as all preparations are complete. HMCS "Bonaventure" will be in the lead and will leave port on Friday."
Hansard, 33rd Parliament, 3 April 1985
The League of Democracies loudly condemned Argentina and Britain. Australia and New Zealand offered full support to Canada. The RAAF sent transport and tanker aircraft to Canada in order to allow Ottawa to maintain existing continental defence commitments while sending forces south. Some of Australia's FV-16 Wraith naval fighters were in the US at the time for pre-delivery training. Australia gave twelve Wraith aircraft to Canada for the duration of the war. All were returned after the war, but Canada had to provide two out of its own inventory to make good losses. The United States took a less emphatic position. Reagan hoped that diplomacy could solve the crisis, nevertheless, Reagan privately assured Mulroney of full support, and publicly condemned Argentina.
The EEC fully supported Argentina and Britain. Germany was concerned that the US should not be dragged in, but he warmly approved of the opportunity to humiliate the democracies. The EEC promised to provide whatever armament was necessary, however the Kriegsmarine did have all of its ships in the Atlantic moved north of the Equator.
Response outside the EEC and LoD was more complex. Brazil adhered to its neutrality. Turkey supported the Canadian position, as did Mexico. Shortly after the invasion, the Canadian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs met with the Chilean Ambassador to Canada. Canada had been hostile to the fascist regime of Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, however the Canadians saw their self-interest at heart. Chile and Argentina had several territorial disputes, and the Canadians pointed out (not unreasonably) that if Argentina could solve one territorial problem by force, then it would have little compunction about solving more territorial problems by force, and that Falklands oil would make it difficult for Germany to support Chile. In exchange for Canadian trade credits, the government of Chile promised to help Canada.
Although Russia had tried at first to act as an honest broker between Argentina, Britain, and Canada, Galtieri's rejection of Moscow's overtures convinced the government that Buenos Aires could not be negotiated directly. However, Shevardnadze believed that Berlin could be used as an intermediary. He gained the government's approval to fly to Berlin and begin discussions with Honecker about securing German support for a mediated end for the conflict, although, as he confessed years later, "I had no illusions about my trip."
But the government's official neutrality did not prevent them from offering help to the Canadians. Not long after Stanley fell, the Russian Ambassador in Ottawa had a private drink with Prime Minister Mulroney. The ambassador remarked that, although Russia was not formally part of the LoD, it was nevertheless tied to the Commonwealth by a 1958 treaty that promised, at the least, "consultation" in the event of third-party aggression (e.g., any power aligned with Germany). Additionally, Emperor Vladimir was married to Maria Georgievna, the former Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth's sister. The Emperor, according to the ambassador, took "very seriously" his ties to the Canadian royal family, and was eager to assist in the present war. Mulroney refused Russia's offer of an expeditionary force to avoid escalation, but did accept the naval attaché's suggestion of sending the Pacific Fleet to Vancouver. The Russian fleet's transfer to Vancouver allowed it to take over the RCN's duties in the Pacific and, by consequence, freed up Canadian ships to head south.
The Russians continued to try the diplomatic route. As the Task Force sailed south, Shevardnadze tried shuttle diplomacy between Ottawa, London, and Buenos Aires. Canada's position was simple: Argentina and Britain had to withdraw from the Falklands at once. Only after that, would Canada negotiate the status of the Falklands. In Canada itself, some of the political obstacles to talks were moved aside by the fact that blood had already been spilled and that a lot more could be spilled soon. Britain and Argentina wanted direct concessions before withdrawing. Shevardnadze found dealing all parties frustrating. The Canadians would, according to him "shout and bluster about their values. At times I thought Mulroney would insist that I kiss his ring.". In London, he would find that the British Foreign Office would start a concession by saying "in consultation with our Argentine allies", and shortly thereafter, the British would announce that the Argentines had vetoed whatever the British proposed. Prime Minister Tyndall only saw Shevardnadze once to berate him about being an "American lackey". In Buenos Aires, things were worse. The junta rarely rejected anything, because (as one Russian diplomat said) "that would require them to make a decision". Galtieri and Costa Mendes would invariably refer anything difficult to the service councils that stood behind the junta as a parliament stands behind a cabinet. The hard-liners would reject anything that even look like being less than all Argentina wanted. Some of the more hot-headed Argentines even talked about evicting the British from East Falkland. On other occasions, Mendes would assure Shevardnadze of an agreement, which would then be reversed, often before Shevardnadze left Argentine air space. Russia, the US, and Canada were coming to the conclusion that negotiations by the British and Argentines were merely a delaying tactic. The US began to provide Canada with new weapons and equipment. War was now regarded as inevitable. At the end of April, Canada had declared an Total Exclusion Zone around the Falklands.
The Task Force sailsEdit
Within a few days of the invasion, the Royal Canadian Navy was abuzz with activity. Both the RCN Dockyard Georgetown and the HMCS Shearwater naval air station saw a higher rate of activity than at any time since 1945. Canada had taken Ascension Island in 1976, which would now be used as the staging point for the Task Force. Command of the Task Force was given to Rear Admiral Charles M. Thomas, who was also Commander, Canadian Atlantic Fleet. He was to control operations from National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa. The commander on the scene in the South Atlantic was Rear Admiral Alain Moreau. Separate to the Task Force was a submarine squadron, which was commanded by Commodore William Hardwood (Flag Officer Submarines).
The Task Force was to be much larger than the force assembled for the First Falklands War because the nature of the enemy was greatly different, and Canada was now in the position of having to possibly wrest the Falklands from an aggressor. The Task Force would therefore consist of virtually all of Canada's Atlantic Fleet. Canada's Pacific Fleet would also add to the Task Force. The Imperial Russian Navy would take over operations in the Pacific, while the US Navy took up the slack in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
The Task Force and submarine squadron consisted of the following ships:
- HMCS Bonaventure
- Three Province class cruisers (Belknap class)
- Five Sherbrooke class destroyers
- Four Annapolis class destroyers (Charles F. Adams class )
- Eight Iroquois class frigates
- Ten Mackenzie class frigates (Knox class )
- HMCS Vimy Ridge (Iwo Jima class landing port helicopter )
- Two El Alamein class landing port docks (Austin class)
- Five Abbotsford class landing ships tank (Newport class)
- Four Protecteur class replenishment oilers
- Two Provider class replenishment oilers
- Four Bay class minesweepers
- Three Olympus class submarines (Barbel class )
- Three Victoria class nuclear submarines (Los Angeles class 
In one way, the Royal Canadian Navy was not the force it was in 1975. The RCN no longer had conventional aircraft carriers. To replace their elderly Essex class carriers, Canada ordered two STOVL carriers, which would operate the CF-156 Wraith. The first, HMCS Bonaventure commissioned in 1984. The second, HMCS Warrior would commission in 1986. While the surface fleet and submarines scrambled to get underway, the Royal Canadian Naval Air Branch was busily trying to get every available RCN aircraft ready for action. As the CF-156B conversion trainer is combat capable, the Navy decreed that all but a core force of ten should go. The Task Force had concerns about amphibious lift, so eight CH-124 Sea Kings at United Aircraft Canada undergoing avoinics upgrade were hastily pulled out of the production line, stripped of their remaining anti-submarine avionics, and fitted with troop seats to act as transport helicopters. The RCAF's rescue unit of CH-124 Sea Kings was stripped of all but three aircraft. The Canadians had one piece of good fortune. Since the departure of the CE-121 Tracer airborne early warning aircraft (these had been retired with the Essex class carriers), the RCN had wanted a new AEW aircraft. Canadair had been working on a conversion of the CH-124 Sea King, and had three pre-production aircraft ready by the time of the invasion of Falklands. These were rushed into service, two for HMCS Bonaventure. Admiral Moreau insisted that without two aircraft carriers, the Task Force would not be viable. With only one carrier, a single accident could result in the loss of any aircraft airborne at that time. For that reason, the amphibious assault ship, HMCS Vimy Ridge was assigned as a second aircraft carrier. It would also carry soldiers and some transport helicopters, but her main role would be acting as a second carrier. This meant that most of the large transport helicopters, the CH-145 Stallions (the Navy had six, the Army ten), had to be ferried on merchant ships.
The Task Force would include substantial ground forces including the 9th Canadian Commando Brigade Group. The Brigade Group contained the three Commando Battalions of the Royal Canadian Marines, together with Army support units such as the 6th Commando Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery. Major Mike Norman and his Falkland Islands Garrison eagerly joined the Brigade. The Commandos are part of Canada's Rapid Deployment Forces, and could be activated quickly. The commander of the 9th Canadian Commando Brigade group was Brigadier General Francis Muller, and the overall ground force commander was Major General Kevin Thompson of the Royal Canadian Marines. The Commando Brigade was outnumbered four to one by the Anglo-Argentine ground forces. Although Canada had enough troops to outnumber the Anglo-Argentine garrison, there was not enough amphibious lift. Two battalions of the Canadian Airborne Regiment were added to the Commando Brigade. This was still not enough for the generals, so another Brigade was prepared for war. This was the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group. The 6th Brigade was a light-role brigade consisting of the 3e Bataillon, Royal 22e Régiment; 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment; and the 1st Battalion, Queen's Own Canadian Guards. The two brigades were accompanied by batteries of the untested C7 howitzer. Apart from the Amtraks and Dynatracs that were the Marine's normal vehicle, a squadron of Lynx armoured vehicles from Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians). To help defend the ground forces against air attack, the Army brought a Light Air Defence Battery with two Troops of MIM-72 Chaparral missiles and two troops of M167 VADS 20mm cannon. A Special Forces Detachment accompanied the Task Force.
In addition to the military resources, Canada mobilised its merchant fleet. The most prominent merchant ship in the Task Force were the Canadian Pacific ocean liner Empress of Australia. The latter was a 70,000 ton liner, the largest ever operated in Canada. It normally carried 1900 passengers with a ship and hospitality crew of 1000. For the war, it was given helicopter pads, hard coverings for the carpets, and many of her spaces were converted to dormitories. Cabins were given extra bunks, and fuel lines were installed for refueling underway. In her war configuration, she could carry 3000 troops, with a volunteer crew of 650. Other merchant ships in the Task Force included tankers, container vessels, general cargo ships, and a heavy lift ship used to carry minesweepers.
The plan was that the Task Force would converge on Ascension Island to reorganise, before heading south. The Task Force would go in two groups. The first group was the battle group, consisting of two aircraft carriers and many of the escorts. By mid-April, the RCAF had upgraded the dilapidated Wideawake Airfield into something resembling a modern air base. The nuclear submarines arrived on the 14th of April to enforce the Maritime Exclusion Zone ordered by the Government two days before. The Task Force arrived at Ascension on 15 April. On Ascension, the ground troops checked and maintained their weapons, and fired thousands of rounds of training ammunition. In the meantime, the naval and merchant ships dealt with one of the side-effects of sending the Task Force quickly. The merchant ships had been loaded in accordance with the safety regulations of the Canadian Department of Transport. The naval and merchant ships, with the aid of helicopters, carried out a massive cross decking operation, moving and sorting cargoes in order to arrange them the way the military wanted them. US Air Force transports, and contract aircraft from Air Canada arrived at RCAF Ascension Island with specialist troops, and extra stores. Included were the latest anti-radar missile, the AGM-88 HARM, additional Stinger surface to air missiles, and AIM-9L Sidewinder and AIM-7M Sparrow missiles. Additional laser guided bomb kits were delivered, along with Pave Spike designators and hand-held units for ground troops. Due to the age of some of Canada's C1 rifles (which, by the mid-1980s, were beginning to wear out), the US provided over 3000 M-16 rifles and almost 1000 CAR-15 caarbines. These were used to reequip the paratroopers, and some of the marines. The RCAF and Canadair rapidly developed a rudimentary flight refueling capability for the CP-140 Aurora. CC-135 and CC-137 tanker transports were deployed to Ascension, along with CP-140 maritime aircraft, and CB-152 Vindicator bombers. The US secretly delivered a batch of air-launched AGM-109 Tomahawk missiles. On the 20th of April (incidentally, Hitler's birthday) the Task Force was formally ordered to retake the Falklands. They proceeded South to do just that.
Formally, the Falklands were split after the surrender of the Canadian forces on the Islands into the British East Falkland and the Argentine Isla Gran Malvina. The East was to be governed by the dedicated British Fascist Sir Roger Markham while Isla Gran Malvina was under the military rule of General Mario Menendez. When the Canadian Government announced that it was sending a task force, Markham became governor in name only, with General Menendez in real control.
Menendez was appointed Commander of the Malvinas Command, with orders to resist and defeat any Canadian attempt to retake the Falklands. He would command only the Anglo-Argentine forces on the Islands themselves. Naval assets, and aircraft operating from the mainland would be controlled from Buenos Aires. Menendez had three Argentine Army infantry brigades, one battalion of Argentine Marines, and one British Army infantry brigade.
The British flew out their own National Police Force to replace the Falkland Islands Police. Apart from forty ordinary police officers, there were eight "detectives" from the NPF Special Branch (Britain's secret police). Governor Markham was able to exercise power over the Islanders provided it did not interfere with military considerations. He ordered the school in Port Stanley to teach an official Fascist curriculum, seized all portraits of the Queen of Canada, distributed portraits of John Tyndall and King James III, banned 'O Canada' and the maple leaf flag. Markham had the Falkland Islands Government, the former police force, and the FIDF deported to Argentina. Markham had wanted them sent to the UK, but the Argentines refused in order not to inflame world opinion (any more). The Falkland Islands' teachers refused to teach Fascism, Markham closed the school. Relations between Menendez and Markham were cool at the best of times. Menendez did not want to alienate the Islanders, yet that was exactly what Markham was doing. Menendez made numerous complaints to Galtieri about Markham, yet they were never pursued with London or with the British Ambassador in Buenos Aires. The resentment of the Islanders to their occupiers had an effect on morale among the soldiers.
Recapture of South GeorgiaEdit
The War Cabinet had decided to recapture South Georgia before moving on to the Falklands. This decision was widely criticised because the recapture of South Georgia was regarded as unnecessary, however the strategy of the Mulroney Government was to escalate in steps. At each step, Britain and Argentina would be given the chance to leave the Falklands before the full weight of the Canadian task force was directed against them. Afterwards, Mulroney said that the retaking of South Georgia was "another tightening of the screws." A small force was assembled which included the RCM Arctic Warfare Cadre (a company), and a Special Forces A Detachment (platoon-sized unit). They embarked on one of the Provider class oilers, which was accompanied by the Mackenzie class frigate HMCS Saskatchewan and the Iroquois class frigate HMCS Iroquois. The Special Forces commander proposed a reconnaissance on the Fortuna Glacier, but this was vetoed by the commander of the South Georgia operation on the advice of the commander of the Arctic Warfare Cadre (who was the only man present who had actually been to South Georgia.
The group was joined by HMCS Labrador which reported that a submarine was in the area. It was believed to be the ARA Santa Fe, an upgraded Type XXI U-boat. Labrador, Inoquois, and Saskatchewan began a search for the submarine. Fortunately, Iroquois had two CH-124 Sea Kings and Saskatchewan had a CH-151 Sea Sprite. On 20 April, the Santa Fe was spotted on the surface heading away from South Georgia. She had been delivering supplies to the garrison. The CH-124 that spotted her dropped a torpedo which damaged her. The Sea Sprite from Saskatchewan was vectored in, and strafed Santa Fe with its fifty caliber machine gun (Santa Fe's original German Flak guns were removed before sale to Argentina). Finally, Labrador's CH-118 fired an AT-2 Swatter missile at Santa Fe, which hit the conning tower. Unable to submerge, the Santa Fe beached itself on South Georgia and the crew fled ashore.
Labrador, Inoquois, and Saskatchewan followed Santa Fe into Grytviken Harbour. The Canadian commander was reluctant to make an opposed landing due to the lack of support. He decided to ask the Anglo-Argentine garrison to surrender. On South Georgia was a company of Royal Marines a platoon of Argentine special forces, and of course the crew of Santa Fe. Labrador and Saskatchewan started shelling Grytviken near the supposed position of the Anglo-Argentine troops. The Canadian commander then radioed the garrison and asked them to surrender. They accepted. The Canadian force of 150 ground troops took over 250 prisoners.
In Ottawa, the news was greeted with joy and relief. The recapture of South Georgia was the first good news Canada had in the Second Falklands War. There were no fatalities, and all of the prisoners were returned to Argentina and Britain via Uruguay. The British government prevented any reporting of the defeat in the official press, however Radio Free Europe did give Europeans the news of the recapture of South Georgia. In Argentina, the news was also suppressed. Some figures in the junta began to have doubts about the venture they entered into with the British, but they could not make an effective decision to do anything except procrastinate. The recapture of South Georgia was a key point in the Falklands campaign. It came near the end of the diplomatic process. The Mulroney government believed that retaking South Georgia would be another turn of the diplomatic screws on Britain and Argentina. In fact, British resolve was hardened by the recapture of South Georgia.
As mentioned above, the Canadian government declared a Total Exclusion Zone around the Falklands on the 30th of April. Any non-Canadian aircraft or vessel in that zone was liable to attack without warning by Canadian forces. On that day, the Canadian task force entered the zone to enforce it.
The start of Canadian military operations on the Falklands came on the 1st of May. The Falklands had one paved runway, which was at Port Stanley. The Royal Canadian Navy feared that Port Stanley Airport's runway could be extended to take fast jets. Admiral Moreau wanted the runway disabled before the Task Force sailed close enough to be attacked by British and Argentine aircraft from Port Stanley. The means available was the detachment of CB-152 strategic bombers at Ascension Island. The Chief of the Air Staff advised against using the RCAF to bomb Port Stanley Airport. The CB-152 strategic bomber did not carry a laser designator (unlike the tactical CF-111C), and there were no troops on the Falklands to illuminate a target. This would mean using unguided bombs, with the attendant potential for inaccuracy. In the days prior to GPS, inertial navigation was used, and small errors on Ascension would become large errors on the Falklands. Local air defences were unknown, but were thought to include several batteries of anti-aircraft artillery and Roland missiles. The Navy however advised the government that this would be yet another "tightening of the screws". Ottawa ordered the bombing. Although HQ RCAF had misgivings, the CB-152 crews were confident in themselves and their aircraft.
The raiding force flew to the Falklands without incident, refueling on the way down. Two CB-152 aircraft required four tankers to make the trip. This was due to the fact that some of the refueling points were so far from Ascension that the tankers themselves required refueling. The force dropped sixteen 1000 lb bombs on the airport, and did minor damage. The runway could not be extended for fast jets, however it was still long enough for C-160 Transall transport aircraft, and Pucara attack aircraft. The Junta reported that the attack had caused no damage at all. This irritated General Menendez on the Falklands as he believed that the Canadians would come back if their first raid had failed. Menendez had his men place rings of earth on the runway. The next day, US reconnaissance satellites duly reported extensive damage to the runway. Shortly after the CB-152 bombers had finished their raid, the Canadian commander Admiral Alain Moreau advised Menendez that the bombing was just the start, and that he should surrender now. Menendez refused to surrender. His naval liaison officer told him that the Task Force would soon be attacked.
The Anglo-Argentine fleet planned a three-pronged attack on the Canadian task force. From the north east, HMS Invincible with the Type 42 destroyers Sheffield and Coventry and the frigate Broadsword were to attack with Harrier fighter-bombers. From the north west, the Argentine carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo with the destroyers Hercules and Santisima Trinidad would attack with their Etendard strike aircraft. From the south, the cruiser ARA General Belgrano with the two Type 12 frigates Bouchard and Piedra Buena would attack with Exocet missiles and gunfire. ARA General Belgrano had previously been the German cruiser Nürnberg.
On HMCS Bonaventure and in Ottawa, concern mounted about the pincer attack that was developing. Fortunately, the submarine HMCS Corner Brook was in "contact" with ARA General Belgrano, and HMCS Windsor was tracking HMS Invincible. Admiral Moreau had no doubt about what should be done, they should be sunk at once. The War Cabinet was not so sure. Sinking two large warships would be a major escalation of the conflict. The military advised Mulroney that time was limited, Belgrano could turn into an area of shallow water. The water would be too shallow for HMCS Corner Brook to operate. The War Cabinet decided to sink both Invincible and Belgrano.
Both submarines attacked within hours of the War Cabinet's decision. Corner Brook fired two Mark 48 torpedos at Belgrano. Both detonated simultaneously beneath Belgrano's keel. The old German light cruiser was cut in two, and sank rapidly. Most of the crew managed to get into the water, however Belgrano's escorts both fled immediately. One hundred and fifty Argentine sailors failed to leave the ship in time. Over three hundred Argentine sailors died in the freezing water. Less than two hundred were rescued four days later. Windsor launched four torpedos at Invincible. Three detonated under her hull, causing massive buckling and tearing in her hull. The British carrier was at a higher state of readiness than the Argentine cruiser, however most of her watertight compartments were now open to the sea. Only one hundred British sailors died on Invincible, and Sheffield, Coventry, and Broadsword remained to collect survivors. The first action by the escorts was, however, to launch their Lynx helicopters. Windsor left the area at speed, diving deeply. The British helicopters gave up the chase after three hours, collected what survivors they could and made for Argentina. Most of the survivors from both ships were rescued by Argentine and Chilean ships.
The sinkings provoked outrage in Argentina and Britain. The German government privately told the British that the Falklands conflict would have to remain confined to the South Atlantic, and that Britain could not declare general war on Canada. Canada since the mid 1960s had its own nuclear capability, and it was more than likely that Canada would be supported by the United States. The Argentine Navy and Royal Navy South Atlantic Squadron returned to their bases in Argentina as quickly as possible, and the Argentine carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo put its aircraft ashore. The Argentine Navy, which had agitated for the invasion of the Falklands and carried it out, was now out of the war. In Britain, Prime Minister Tyndall demanded revenge. 617 Squadron, an RAF Buccaneer unit, was ordered to attack the Canadian fleet. On the 3rd of May, they sent eight aircraft armed with two Sea Eagle missiles each. The other six aircraft in the squadron were used as tankers for the raid. Canadian airborne early warning helicopters failed to spot the raid due to the fact that the British flew only a few feet above the waves. The Canadian fleet had arranged itself in a wedge formation, with the destroyers at "base" of the wedge and the carriers at the "apex". The low altitude of the Buccaneers limited their radar range against ships to 30 miles. HMCS Sherbrooke and the Buccaneers spotted each other at the same time. The Buccaneers rose to 200 feet to fire their Sea Eagles (any lower, and their missiles would have crashed into the sea before their engines started). At that altitude, Sherbrooke was able to lock on. Sherbrooke fired first, launching three RIM-66E Standard Missiles at the attackers. One found its mark before the Buccaneer could fire, one hit a Buccaneer after it fired, the third fell into the sea chasing a Buccaneer which had fired, and then turned for home. Incredibly, Sherbrooke managed to shoot down two Sea Eagles with Standards, but that left eight missiles homing in on the Canadian destroyer. Sherbrooke's Phalanx managed to shoot down two more missiles. One missile failed to start its engine, one flew off course, and four hit HMCS Sherbrooke. One hit the hangar, destroying her CH-151 Sea Sprite helicopters. One hit the bow, and one hit midships. The fourth missile hit the superstructure and failed to detonate. Instead started a large fire with its unspent fuel and inflammable materials in the ship. The crew abandoned ship, and Sherbrooke went down in three hours.
Ottawa decided to take action to remove the Buccaneers. US reconnaissance satellites had pinpointed the Buccaneer base in Argentina. The RAF was using the Rio Grande Military Airport in Tierra del Fuego. Ottawa decided on a cruise missile strike. On the 5th of May, a flight of two CB-152's set off from RCAF Ascension Island, bound for Rio Grande. Each carried ten American-supplied Tomahawk cruise missiles. With considerable help from the tanker force, they reached their launch points and fired their missiles. Some of the Tomahawks rained submunitions on the flight line, others struck hangars with high explosive warheads. The runway, taxiways, and aprons were mined, and the control tower demolished. Submunitions were strewn over the base fuel farm, causing large fires and one massive explosion from a half empty tank.
The raid destroyed twenty Buccaneers outright, and damaged most of the others. With insufficient spares and the airfield now a minefield, the RAF's strike aircraft were out of the war. This raid also kept the British Tornado interceptors out of the war, they now had to remain in Argentina for air defence, beside most of the FAA's Messerschmitt Me 563 fighters.
The Reagan Administration now feared further escalation of the war. US Secretary of State Al Haig told Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney that he feared further escalation, and said it may even lead to World War III. The Canadian Government agreed to no more attacks on the mainland, but insisted that the agreement be kept secret. Mulroney said that if it came out, he would bomb Argentine military headquarters in Buenos Aires.
Through the Peruvian Government, Haig made one last attempt at mediation. The last attempt to obtain a peaceful settlement lasted two weeks, and it failed spectacularly. Argentina wanted joint sovereignty over West Falkland, Britain wanted joint sovereignty over East Falkland and for the Canadian Parliament to consider repealing Succession to the Throne Act 1937 (the Act was Canada's consent to the abdication of Edward VIII, repealing it would effectively oust Queen Elizabeth II of Canada and impose King James III of Britain). Canada rejected all of their terms.
The Task Force then remained near the Falklands while the amphibious and merchant ships caught up. There were ordered not to hurry, as Admiral Moreau engaged in the continuation of his strategy of drawing out Anglo-Argentine air and naval forces and destroying them in battle. His method was simple, Canadian warships would shell Anglo-Argentine positions, which would provoke the Anglo-Argentine air forces on the mainland into attack. The Royal Canadian Navy's main anti-air weapons were the Standard Missile, and the CF-156 Wraith armed with the AIM-7M Sparrow. These worked best in open ocean, so Moreau kept the fleet out of the numerous harbours and inlets on the Falklands. The calls of the Anglo-Argentine garrison for air support were answered by the Argentine Air Force on the mainland. Messerschmitts, and Etendards came out to bomb Canadian ships, only to find CF-156s waiting for them. The air defence ships also inflicted casualties on the FAA. The Wraith was found to be a first-class fighter, and over the two weeks of the air-naval battle, shot down fifteen Argentine and British aircraft without loss in air combat. The warships, particularly the Standard equipped ships. The three remaining Sherbrooke class destroyers, all newly commissioned, shot down over twelve Anglo-Argentine aircraft during the battle.
On the 12th of May a group of Harriers attacked the fleet. They were armed with bombs only, but managed to hit a frigate. The bomb passed through the frigate, and one of the Harriers were shot down. What made the attack unusual was the fact that a Special Forces patrol near Port Stanley (for reconnaissance) did not spot them flying back, but instead spotted them landing in Port Stanley. The satellites had completely missed it, but a CF-156 fitted with an infra-red linescan found the hides, which were skillfully constructed (Trivia: The pilot of the CF-156 was Lieutenant Commander Chris Marshall, later Prime Minister of Canada).
A strike force was assembled. The Wraiths were drawn from both HMCS Bonaventure and HMCS Vimy Ridge. Some were equipped to act as escorts, some carried AGM-88 HARMs to destroy enemy radars, but most carried either cluster bombs or napalm. The raid was successful in destroying the Harriers and their hides. It also destroyed a number of Argentine light aircraft, the main British radar covering Port Stanley, and the LADE building (which was gutted by fire).
On the night of the 14-15th of May, a Canadian Special Forces unit raided an Argentine airfield on Pebble Island, destroying a number of light attack aircraft, including some of the Argentine-made Pucaras.
By the 19th of May, the weather in the South Atlantic was starting to get worse. The War Cabinet in Ottawa was advised that they were out of time, and that they had to start landing troops soon, or it would be too late to liberate the Falklands. The War Cabinet extended the exclusion zone. In the North Atlantic, no British warship would be allowed west of 45 degrees west. The entire South Atlantic, outside Argentine territorial waters, was declared off limits to British and Argentine ships. Through Peru, Canada advised the British Caribbean colonies (British Honduras and British Guiana) that their ships must remain in port, and their aircraft must remain on the ground. A detachment of CF-111 Aardvarks and CF-110 Phantoms was moved to Jamaica in the Canadian Antilles to enforce the new exclusion zone.
Landing at San Carlos - Bomb AlleyEdit
On the 20th, the four Canadian Bay class minesweepers were taken into Falkland Sound, and floated off their transport ship. They began to sweep Falkland Sound from north to south, and back. They found nothing because the Argentines had mined Port Stanley Harbour only. On that night, the amphibious and merchant ships moved into San Carlos Water and prepared to land their troops. Late on the night of the 20th, the landing started. The Canadian marines and paratroopers came ashore in landing craft, Amtraks, and helicopters. A section of Argentine troops at Fanning Head fired on a Canadian CH-146 Twin Huey, and were promptly killed by a Canadian CH-146J SeaCobra.
Anglo-Argentine command were informed about the landings shortly after the first troops came ashore. In Port Stanley, a dispute occurred between the British and Argentine commanders about the nature of the landings. General Menendez believed that the San Carlos landing was a feint, and that the real invasion would be closer to Port Stanley. The British Commander, Major General Henry Strong believed that San Carlos was the real invasion, and wanted to move troops to San Carlos by helicopter to "throw the Canucks into the sea". Menendez refused, and stuck to his original plan of a ring around Port Stanley. General Strong appealed to London, and was allowed to conduct an operation with British troops. The British had five Welkin and five Puma helicopters, just enough to three companies of troops. As they flew over the Falklands, they were spotted by Canadian Sea King AEW helicopters. The Canadian ground commander, Major General Kevin Thompson, asked that they be shot down. Admiral Moreau agreed, and a flight of CF-156 Wraith fighters were vectored on to them. Using guns and Sidewinders, they shot down four Welkins and three Pumas in a matter of seconds. The remainder turned back, and the Canadians let them go. The British Brigade had now effectively lost one of its battalions. Its second battalion was in Port Stanley guarding the town and airport and enforcing Fascist control. This left only one British battalion to actually defend Port Stanley against Canadian attack. Menendez was outraged by Strong's insubordination, and asked Buenos Aires to get the British to replace him. The British refused (but after the war, General Strong was executed for "falling into an obvious Canadian trap").
The attack on the British helicopter force convinced the Anglo-Argentine commanders that San Carlos in fact was the real attack. Menendez stuck to his original plan of defending Port Stanley, and other key points. He requested air strikes against the Canadian task force in San Carlos Water. Admiral Moreau was a submariner, and his plan to defend the landings from air attack was centred around surface anti-air weapons. Both the warships in San Carlos Water and the Chapparal and Vulcan emplacement on the hills surrounding San Carlos Water would play a part. Most of the warships were formed into a ring of steel around the amphibious and merchant ships, while some of the frigates and destroyers were stationed in Falkland Sound to form a defensive line (and a decoy line). On the decks of the ships in San Carlos Water, soldiers and sailors armed with Stinger surface to air missiles, heavy machine guns, and small arms were intended to the the last line of defence (and for the merchant ships, the only on-board defence). Early warning of raids was to be provided by Sherbrooke class destroyers and CH-124 Sea King airborne early warning helicopters. A flight of CF-156 Wraiths was to conduct a combat air patrol over West Falkland, but they were ordered not to enter San Carlos Water. Admiral Moreau feared that they would be shot down by their own air defences. The pilots pleaded with him to change his orders, but he stood firm.
On the 22nd, the Anglo-Argentine air attacks began. Harriers, Messerschmitts, and Etendards came in waves, targeting the task force with bombs. The Anglo-Argentine pilots avoided radar by flying extremely low, and avoided the combat air patrols by flying around them. Argentine troops on West Falkland acted as spotters to guide the aircraft away from Canadian fighters. The first ship they found was one of the decoy ships in Falkland Sound, the Annapolis class destroyer HMCS Brantford. Three Argentine Air Force Etendards came over a ridge and dropped down towards the Sound, flying at over 400 knots mere feet from the water. HMCS Brantford quickly fired a missile, which missed. The Etendards quickly lined up for their attack as HMCS Brantford attempted to engage the aircraft with its five-inch guns, fifty-calibre machine guns and small arms. The Etendards were, nonetheless, successful in hitting HMCS Brantford with three bombs. She sank, taking thirty of her crew with her.
Meanwhile, in San Carlos Water, twenty aircraft attacked the Royal Canadian Navy escorts, transports, and the merchant ships of the Canadian Merchant Navy. Defending them was the escorts, armed with guns and surface to air missiles, the Royal Canadian Artillery with Chaparral missiles and Vulcan guns, and Stinger missile teams on ships and on the beachhead at San Carlos. In the words on one Canadian sailor present that day "when the first aircraft appeared, all hell was let loose". As the aircraft appeared, they were met by furious gunfire, everything ranging from the 5 inch Mark 42 gun, through the 20mm Vulcan (either the Royal Canadian Artillery's M167 or the Navy's Phalanx), down to humble 7.62mm C1 Self Loading Rifle in the hands of the common sailor.
For the Anglo-Argentine pilots, the speed, low altitude of flight, formation of the Canadian ships, and the ferocity of the defensive fire created an impossible problem. In the words of one British pilot in the conflict "You'd come into San Carlos Water at about 750 kilometres per hour, ten metres off the deck, you hear and see flak bursting around you as well as missiles coming at you. Your field of vision straight in front only. You're damned busy flying the aeroplane, trying not to hit the water. In that circumstance, all you can do is hurl your bombs at the first possible target you see. The Canadians arranged their ships such that the first ship we'd see would always be an escort, never a landing ship." Despite the difficulties and the ferocity of Canadian defensive fire, the lack of Canadian fighters meant that the British and Argentine pilots managed to sink three Canadian warships. The Argentine Air Force lost three aircraft, and the Royal Air Force lost only one Harrier. Both the British and Argentines regarded these as acceptable losses. On HMCS Bonaventure, Admiral Moreau and his staff faced a grim situation. The loss of three escort ships, while not crippling in itself, was not something that the Task Force (or, indeed, Canada as a nation) could sustain. Moreau decided to allow the fighters to conduct "free pursuit" over the Falklands while the FAA and the RAF attacked his ships.
On the morning (the 23rd of May), sixteen Argentine and eight British aircraft came to attack the Task Force in San Carlos Water. This time, they were detected by the airborne early warning Sea Kings. They vectored CF-156 fighters towards the attacking Messerschmitts, Etendards, and Harriers. The APG-65 radars of the Canadian CF-156 Wraith fighters could detect the British and Argentine aircraft against the terrain of West Falkland (incidentally, the same radar is used by the RCAF's CF-18 Hornet). The British and Argentine aircraft were operating at the edge of their range, while the Canadians were operating relatively close to their carriers. Additionally, the carriers were out of range of aircraft based on the mainland. Over West Falkland, a running air battle started between the Canadians and their enemies. The Argentines lost four aircraft and the British two before reaching Falkland Sound. The Canadian fighter pilots decided to risk their own defences by taking the fight right into San Carlos Water. By the end of the morning raid, a total of seven Argentine and three British aircraft had been lost. For this loss, one Canadian ship was sunk and another damaged. The only Canadian aircraft loss on that was a CH-151 Sea Sprite. It was destroyed when the ship on which it was stationed by damaged by a bomb passing through its hangar. The bomb failed to explode.
The planned afternoon raid for the 23rd was canceled. This was most likely due to the appalling losses on the morning raid. However, since the war there have always been rumours of a secret deployment of CF-110M Phantoms to Chile or Peru during the war. The RCAF did deploy a squadron of CF-110s to Ascension Island to provide local air defence, and to keep German and British reconnaissance aircraft away from Ascension and the Task Force. The Canadian Government did nothing to dispell these rumours, and (according to one source) may have started, or further circulated, these rumours. Specifically, the rumour was that the Canadian squadron was to arrive on the 24th of May. There is even one (sensational) report that the Canadian Air Attache in Bogota, Colombia made a unsecure phone call to the Canadian Embassy in Santiago, Chile regarding the arrival of "a certain amount of RCAF personnel and equipment." Whatever the cause was, the fighter squadrons of both the RAF and FAA had essentially decided to sit the war out.
While nothing came from the mainland on the 24th, a number of Macchis and Pucaras set out from Port Stanley to attack the fleet. The Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Marines managed to defeat the attack themselves. The Canadian troops on the ground satisfied themselves that they, and the Navy, had seen off the air attacks. Few of them were aware that May 25 was Argentina's national day. While Buenos Aires regarded an all out attack as out of the question, something had to be done for the sake of national prestige. Two attacks were launched. One by a group of Argentine Air Force Etendards on a destroyer reported near the northern end of Falkland Sound, and the other by a group of Argentine Navy Super Etendards (Exocet armed) on an "aircraft carrier" spotted to the north of the Falkland Islands.
The destroyer certainly was where Argentine intelligence said it was. The destroyer in question was the Sherbrooke class destroyer HMCS Côte-Saint-Luc, a Francophone warship being used in the area air defence role. With considerable tanker support, the seven Etendards decided to attack from two directions. Although the Sherbrooke class destroyers were very sophisticated by the standards of the mid-1980s, they were behind the state of the art (the American AEGIS system), and had difficulties with large numbers of targets approaching from multiple directions. HMCS Côte-Saint-Luc spotted the southern attack first, and the ship engaged with its Standard missiles. Seconds after HMCS Côte-Saint-Luc attacked the southern Argentine attack, the larger western attack arrived. HMCS Côte-Saint-Luc could not engage both simultaneously with missiles, so the ships guns (and armed sailors) were prepared. Two out of the three southern aircraft were destroyed, and HMCS Côte-Saint-Luc turned its weapons on the rapidly closing western attack (of four aircraft). HMCS Côte-Saint-Luc attacked the aircraft with Standard missiles, but their missiles missed, and the Etendards were rapidly approaching the minimum range of the Standard missile. As the Etendards approached, the five inch guns of HMCS Côte-Saint-Luc opened fire, then the 20mm Phalanx (which claimed one of the Argentine aircraft), then the M2 fifty calibre machine guns, and finally the hand-held C6 machine guns and C1 rifles. Once again, the Argentines proved they could pass through a "curtain of lead" to attack a target successfully. HMCS Côte-Saint-Luc was hit by six 500 lb bombs, all of which exploded inside Côte-Saint-Luc causing fatal damage and thirty deaths. HMCS Côte-Saint-Luc capsized and sank. For the FAA, honour was satisfied. For the RCN, the loss was almost the last straw for the Task Force. For La Belle Province (Quebec), the war had come home.
As devastating as the loss of HMCS Côte-Saint-Luc was, in strategic terms it paled in comparison to the loss of the container ship CP Discoverer. CP Discoverer was, like the liner Empress of Australia, a ship of Canadian Pacific. CP Discoverer was being used to carry Canadian Army helicopters, and nearly all of the Task Force's heavy lift CH-145 helicopters. All but two of the sixteen CH-145 Stallion helicopters were lost with CP Discoverer. The Army sent nine CH-146J Twin Cobras to supplement the four Navy CH-146Js on HMCS El Alamein and HMCS Dieppe. CP Discoverer was also packed with ammunition for these helicopters. The Argentine Navy badly wanted to sink a Canadian aircraft carrier. Not only would this be a massive boost to Anglo-Argentine morale, the loss of a carrier would force the Canadians to give in. For intelligence close to the Falklands, the Argentines relied on manned observation posts, but for intelligence on Canadian movements further away, aerial radar surveillance was used. The radar aircraft spotted a large contact to the north of the Falklands. Due to its size, the Argentine Navy concluded that it must be an aircraft carrier (which was, in a sense, correct). The Super Etendards were vectored towards CP Discoverer's approximate position. CP Discoverer was hit by three Exocet missiles. Her merchant-standard construction meant that one Exocet would have been fatal. Together, the Exocets inflicted massive damage to Discoverer's hull, and started a fire which rapidly became a raging inferno. Fortunately, most of the crew were able to abandon ship and be rescued. When news of the loss of CP Discoverer reached the commanders of the 9th Canadian Commando Brigade Group (who were still on the troop ships), they were forced to throw out their previous plans of a helicopter move to the hills surrounding Port Stanley. The troops would have to walk.
Battle of Goose GreenEdit
Having established a beachhead at San Carlos (largely crippling the Argentine Air Force, and the RAF's South Atlantic Group), the next phase of the Canadian plan was the liberation of Goose Green and Darwin. Goose Green and Darwin lie on an isthmus between Lafonia and the rest of East Falkland. An Argentine garrison was stationed there, and it was uncomfortably close to San Carlos. Finally, the successful liberation of a settlement would be an important political step
The job of liberating Goose Green was given to the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Airborne Regiment. Supporting 3 CAR was a battery of C7 howitzers, the Mackenzie class frigate HMCS Yukon, and a number of helicopters from the amphibious ships. The helicopters available were CH-146A Twin Hueys (which could be used for medevac, transport, or as gunships), CH-146J Twin Cobra attack helicopters, and CH-144 Kiowa observation helicopters (which could control artillery fire as well as spot enemy movement). Uniquely, 3 CAR were to take the M16 rifle into action, a weapon new to the Canadian Army. The paratroopers were, however, confident in their new rifle. Constant training on the voyage south had been an adequate familiarisation.
The Argentine garrison at Goose Green consisted of a reinforced battalion of Argentine infantry, an artillery battery, a commando company, a battery of 2 cm Flakzwilling 69, two radar-controlled 3.5 cm Flakzwilling 58, and a flight of Pucaras was stationed at Darwin Airstrip. At the strip, incendiary bombs and rockets were stockpiled. Unknown to the Argentines, a Canadian Special Forces unit had infiltrated the area, in order to pinpoint Argentine positions.
3rd Battalion, Canadian Airborne Regiment launched their attack at 0230 on 28 May 1985. Their aim was to capture Goose Green 'before breakfast'. There was a very good reason for wanting this. The Falklands had virtually no natural cover. The closest there was to cover was natural folds in the ground, and the Canadians assumed (rightly) that the Argentines would take all the geographically favourable positions. For over an hour, HMCS Yukon pounded the Argentine positions near Darwin with their five inch gun, killing eight Argentine soldiers. The Canadians then moved forward, under fire much of the way. The Argentines made good use of the excellent German night-vision equipment purchased before the war. Nevertheless, the Canadians were able to clear the Argentines from many of their positions around Darwin.
After four hours, the Canadian attack had stalled. A and B companies were raked by fire from Argentine MG42 machine guns in concealed positions. In an attempt to get the attack moving again, the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Allen Faulkner charged the Argentine machine gun positions alone, with nothing but a CAR-15 and some hand grenades. He managed to destroy two machine gun posts, but was shot dead. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for this action. The Twin Huey sent to evacuate him was shot down by a Pucara, which itself was subsequently shot down by a Canadian Stinger missile.
The attack resumed at noon. Inspired by their battalion commander's example, A Company cleared Darwin Hill. B Company used AT-4 Spigot missiles to demolish Argentine strongpoints on Boca Hill. C and D Companies took Darwin Ridge. At this point, Major James Hart, the new commander since the death of Colonel Faulkner, decided to alter his plan. Before advancing on the airstrip and Goose Green, he needed to even the odds. He asked for an airstrike on the Pucaras on the airstrip and the Argentine Flak guns, and for helicopter gunships to attack the Argentine positions as his men attacked. In the meantime, his men would hold their positions.
During the afternoon, there were sporadic exchanges of fire while the airstrike went in and the gunships prepared. Two Kiowa helicopters scouted out the Argentine positions. Shortly after the CF-156 Wraith fighter bombers hit the airstrip, the attack began. The distinctive sound of Huey rotors heralded the arrival of the gunships. Because the Canadians had only four CH-146J SeaCobra attack helicopters, several CH-146A Twin Hueys were fitted with Miniguns, rocket pods, and twin C5 door guns on each side. The gunships and attack helicopters inflicted significant casualties on the Argentines, and by dusk, the Canadians had taken the airfield. The advance had been costly, with one Twin Huey shot down, and one of the SeaCobras damaged.
As night fell, Major Hart had been informed that the SeaCobras would not be available to him. His battalion had taken significant casualties, and the Argentines still had a superior force in Goose Green. Hart decided to bluff. He sent a Prisoner of War to Goose Green with a white flag, and a request that the Argentines surrender. The Argentine commander realised that his men could endure no more. He also believed that without the Pucaras, the Canadian gunships would be able to range freely over his men. He decided to surrender.
The victory at Goose Green was an important morale booster to the Canadian forces in the Falklands, and to Canadians back home. The images of the Maple Leaf being raised in Goose Green flashed around the world, as did the images of the Falklanders greeting the Canadian troops. The battle removed an important Argentine threat to the San Carlos beachhead. It also showed that the Argentine troops could be broken. The battle further soured relations between Britain and Argentina, because the British expected the Argentines to hold Goose Green for them, and the Argentines had surrendered it along with 1000 Argentine troops. For General Thompson, the battle showed that operating during the day was not a viable option. He explicitly told his commanders "whatever you do from now on, you do it at night only. No daylight attacks". The Canadians could now break out of their beachhead, and march east.
After the breakout, the Canadian commanders planned to take Mount Kent. Mount Kent was believed to be a good observation point for the approaches to Port Stanley. Unknown to the Canadians, the Anglo-Argentine command decided to tie down the Canadian troops on their advance. Two companies of British troops, plus a support company, an SAS unit, and a Blowpipe missile platoon. A Canadian Special Forces patrol had been inserted near Mount Kent, and had made their way to the mountain. They had spotted signs of a large force on the mountain.
To assault the Mountain, the Canadians decided to send the Arctic Warfare Cadre of the Royal Canadian Marines and a company of the Canadian Special Forces. Mount Kent was out of range for naval gunfire, and moving artillery would remove the element of surprise, so all fire support was to be delivered by air. At dusk on 30 May, CH-124 Sea King and CH-145 Sea Stallion transport helicopters delivered approximately 260 troops near Mount Kent.
For the next four days, the Special Forces operators and Arctic Warfare Cadre troops fought battles against British patrols and strongpoints on Mount Kent. Lacking artillery, the Canadian troops were supported by helicopter gunships.. On the fourth day, the British attempted to move Scorpion light tanks from Port Stanley to Mount Kent. Canadian spotters saw the tanks, and called in strike aircraft and Cobra helicopters. The British armoured column lost three tanks before withdrawing to Port Stanley. This event caused the surrender of the British troops on Mount Kent.
The requisitioned liner Empress of Australia arrived at Falkland Sound on the 1st of June. The liner-cum-troopship carried most of the 6th Canadian Infantry Brigade Group. General Thompson's plan was to use the 6th Brigade Group to attack Port Stanley from the south, using Fitzroy as their base. Advance brigades from 3 Battalion Canadian Airborne Regiment found the area clear of Argentine and British forces. This was mostly true, however the Royal Air Force had placed an observation and forward air control post on Mount Harriet, overlooking Fitzroy, Bluff Cove, and Pleasant Bay. It was decided that half of the troops would "march light". and the other half of the 6th Brigade Group (with the heavy equipment) should go to Fitzroy by ship. The troops were cross decked from Empress of Australia to the assault ships HMCS El Alamein, and HMCS Dieppe and the tank landing ships HMCS Juno Beach, HMCS Passchendaele, and HMCS Cambrai. CH-124 Sea Kings would rapidly ferry some of the Brigade's troops to the Fitzroy area to reinforce the advance party of paratroopers. Argentine and British aircraft had been detected "sniffing around", but 2nd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment had managed to arrive without incident, though both assault ships had launched their landing craft much earlier than normal, to reduce risk to the ships themselves. After the RCR had arrived, it was decided that the assault ships would not be used for anymore insertions. This meant that the French Canadian troops of the 22e Régiment (the famed "Van Doos") would be sent on the lower value tank landing ships. Unlike the assault ships, the LSTs were not equipped with Phalanx, and relied on World War II-era three-inch twin guns. Juno Beach, Passchendaele, and Cambrai anchored in Bluff Cove on the 8th of June carrying most of the Van Doos. The RAF observation post reported their presence, and requested an air strike. Seven RAF Harriers (all the RAF had left in Argentina) were scrambled to attack. The ships, without close escort, and packed with troops, and ammunition, were extremely vulnerable. Canadian Marine and Naval officers repeatedly advised the Army officers to get their men off the ship as soon as possible. The Army decided to wait until nightfall, and land at Fitzroy. It was a devastating mistake. The Harriers attacked all three ships, causing severe damage to Juno Beach and Cambrai, and sinking Passchendaele. Over 100 Van Doos were killed, and almost 150 were severly wounded. Their injuries included disfiguring burns.
Almost the entire helicopter effort of the Canadian Task Force was directed toward rescuing the survivors. Staggering ashore, they found medical services overwhelmed by the vast numbers of casualties. Few communities in Québec were unaffected by the disaster at Bluff Cove. Most Québécois were outraged at the attack. Attempts by the Bloc Québécois and the Parti Québécois to use the attack to criticise the war backfired massively, and even led to the members of the Parti Québécois being shouted down in the Assemblée nationale du Québec.
Nevertheless, the attacks had little effect on the Canadian conduct of the war. The British and Argentine commanders in Port Stanley had been told that there were over 900 casualties, and that this would cause Canadian morale to collapse. The Canadian Government ordered the Canadian media to conceal the numbers of casualties, and the families of the dead and wounded were asked not to speak publicly "in the interests of national security". Thus, the Anglo-Argentine command was prevented from discovering the true number of casualties. The Van Doos commander insisted on keeping his battalion in the fighting.
Battles Surrounding Port StanleyEdit
Port Stanley is surrounded by mountains. To a defender, these mountains mean control of the approaches to Port Stanley. To an attacker, they mean dominating Port Stanley. The mountains surrounding Port Stanley include Mount Harriet, Mount Longdon, the Two Sisters, Wireless Ridge, and Mount Tumbledown. General Thompson decided to conduct the attacks over two nights. It took until the 11th of June to build up the required Canadian forces, and conduct reconnaissance. Support was to be provided by artillery, and naval gunfire. Huey gunships, and Cobra attack helicopters would also support the assault, along with the Navy's CF-156 Wraith fighter bombers.
On the night of the 11th of June, General Thompson ordered the assault to begin. Mount Longdon was to be attacked by the 2nd Battalion of the Canadian Airborne Regiment. Mount Harriet in the south was to be attacked by the remaining Van Doos with the 1st Commando Battalion Royal Canadian Marines. The Two Sisters were attacked by the 2nd Commando Battalion Royal Canadian Marines. On the night of the 13th of June, Wireless Ridge was to be attacked by 3rd Battalion Canadian Airborne Regiment and the 3rd Commando Battalion Royal Canadian Marines. Mount Tumbledown was to be attacked by the Queen's Own Canadian Guards and The Royal Canadian Regiment.
Battle of Mount HarrietEdit
The attack on Mount Harriet began with a fierce naval bombardment from two destroyers. According to one correspondent "the mountain seemed to erupt in flame". The bombardment killed ten Argentines and wounded fifty, however the Argentine heavy weapon positions were intact. Shortly after the Marines and Van Doos started their advance, they came under heavy fire from machine gun posts untouched by the shelling. The Canadian advance ground to a halt as the Canadians brought up a Spigot anti-tank missile squad. Their wire-guided missiles destroyed the Argentine machine gun positions. and the advance continued. As the Marines made it to the top, the remaining Argentines fled.
Battle of Mount LongdonEdit
Mount Longdon was also "penciled in" for the 11th of June. The 2nd Battalion of the Canadian Airborne Regiment was allocated to Mount Longdon, with the support of a Canadian frigate, and 6 C7 105mm howitzers. Defending Mount Longdon was a reinforced Argentine company. 2 CAR advanced quietly up the mountain when they discovered that they had walked into a large minefield. They advanced slowly up the hill. Fortunately, only two mines exploded that night. The Argentines had sown 1500 mines, but the vast majority had been frozen.
As they moved up the hill, one Canadian stepped on a mine. This alerted an Argentine platoon, who began to stand to in order to attack the Canadians. Rather than remain still, the Canadians decided to charge forward. The Argentines were slow in rousing themselves (mainly due to the cold and the lack of food), and the Canadians were able to get close, clearing out the Argentine positions with M16 fire and grenades. The Canadians then fixed bayonets and advanced further up the hill.
Further up the hill, Argentine resistance was better organised, including machine gun posts, and bunkers containing men with night-scope equipped rifles. These defences managed to completely halt the Canadian advance. A bayonet charge was considered, but instead, the Canadians decided to call in attack helicopters. With their night-fighting equipment and heavy weapons, the HueyCobras were able to punch a path through the Argentine positions. Even with the helicopter support, the Canadians sustained many casualties. The Canadians did, however, manage to take the mountain.
Battle of the Two SistersEdit
The attack on the Two Sisters was the third attack of the night of 11-12 June. The Two Sisters consists of two peaks. The southern hill is called Long Toenail and the northern is called Summer Days. 2nd Commando Battalion, Royal Canadian Marines was to attack the Two Sisters. The Marines took Long Toenail without fighting. The Argentines, however, did defend Summer Days.
Summer Days was defended by the Argentine Army's 7th Infantry Regiment. In a two hour firefight, the Canadians took Summer Days. The fighting was intense, and the Canadians sustained eight fatalities. The Argentines subjected the Canadians to heavy machine gun fire and mortar fire. The Canadians advanced slowly, with intensive artillery, and naval gunfire support. When the local Argentine headquarters was discovered, Canadian artillery observers with laser designators to help CF-156s to destroy it. When the Argentines heard the sound of Hueys carrying in reinforcements from 3 CAR and Huey gunships machine gunning some of the forward Argentine positions, they withdrew. The Argentines withdrew in "good order" and returned to Port Stanley. After the Argentines withdrew, the Canadians took Summer Days, ending the Battle of the Two Sisters.
Battle of Wireless RidgeEdit
Wireless Ridge was held by a Battalion of British troops from The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, with mortars and anti-aircraft guns. At dusk on the 13th of June, the 3rd Battalion Canadian Airborne Regiment and the 3rd Commando Battalion Royal Canadian Marines fixed bayonets and moved forward. Intensive Canadian artillery fire supported them. A whole battery of C7 howitzers was devoted to the task. In addition, a troop of Lynx armoured reconnaissance vehicles provided close support to the Canadians.
The Canadians found the forward British positions abandoned due to the heavy bombardment. Once the Canadians consolidated these positions, the British brought down heavy recoilless rifle and mortar fire on the Canadian paratroopers. Lynx vehicles and Huey gunships were moved in to support the Canadian paratroopers. Eventually, the British retreated under intense fire.
For the final assault on the western end of Wireless Ridge, the Marines were called in. They proceeded under heavy support from a Canadian destroyer off shore, and artillery to their rear. At first, the going was easy for the Canadian Marines, however after two hours, a company of British Fusiliers began launching rockets and firing heavy machine guns at the Canadians. The Canadians replied in kind. British artillery prevented any advance by the Canadians until a pair of CF-156 Wraiths cluster bombed the British artillery positions near Moody Brook. The Fusiliers then tried a bayonet charge at the Canadians, however, with no artillery support, the British were cut down. After the failure of this charge, the remaining British troops began to withdraw from Wireless Ridge.
Battle of Mount TumbledownEdit
Mount Tumbledown was the last heavily defended objective before Port Stanley. The Queen's Own Canadian Guards and The Royal Canadian Regiment were given the task of taking it. With them were two troops of Lynx armoured vehicles from Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), two batteries of artillery, plus air and naval gunfire support.
At 2030 hrs, a company from The Royal Canadian Regiment launched a diversionary attack on Mount William. After a heavy firefight lasting two hours, they managed to take Mount William. The Guards decided to hold.
Mount Tumbledown itself was defended by the Coldstream Guards, with artillery and mortar support. Although British plans had called for air support to defend Mount Tumbledown, both the RAF and the Argentine aircraft remained on the ground, fearing Canadian fighters.
Half an hour after the diversionary attack, at 2100, the Queen's Own Canadian Guards moved forward to face the Coldstream Guards. Before 1954, The Queen's Own Canadian Guards was known as the Governor General's Foot Guards. The Governor General's Foot Guards were allied with the Coldstream Guards until 1949. The first units reached the western end of Mount Tumbledown undetected and occupied them with no opposition. When the Canadian Guards moved towards the central peak, the Coldstreamers poured heavy fire down on them. With night vision equipment, the Canadians could identify the most troublesome British positions, and vectored artillery fire on them. The artillery fire was precise enough to silence many of the bunkers, but the more strongly built structures could withstand anything except a direct hit. 66mm rockets and rocket-propelled grenades were fired at these positions, yet the British Guardsmen held out. Only the arrival of HueyCobra attack helicopters managed to destroy these positions. Celebrations were shortlived, as the Canadians witnesses one of the valuable attack helicopters being shot down by a British Rapier missile battery near Sapper Hill. A Canadian airstrike did destroy the Rapier, however one CF-156 was shot down and another damaged by anti-aircraft artillery.
At 0230 on the 14th of June, another Canadian assault overwhelmed the British defences. Fighting at the mountain top was often hand to hand, with many British soldiers dying on the points of Canadian bayonets. At the Canadians moved down the eastern side of the mountain, the fighting dragged on. A final attack at 0600 caused the British to retreat. The Coldstream Guards retreated in good order, and with support from artillery and snipers.
Fall of Port StanleyEdit
After Mount Tumbledown, the remaining Coldstream Guards who had not been killed, wounded, or captured retreated via Sapper Hill. They had planned a counterattack, however intervention by the Argentine commanders prevented the attack, and the Coldstream Guards continued to Port Stanley. There was a brief fight on Sapper Hill between a platoon of British Fusiliers and a company of The Queen's Own Canadian Guards, which ended in less than an hour with few casualties. The retreat to Port Stanley continued, with Anglo-Argentine troops throwing away their weapons. The British Governor, Sir Roger Markham, wanted to fight in the streets and said to the British commanders, and Menendez and his staff "If stout men with Fascist spirit cannot defend Port Stanley, then I shall shoot myself. We fight to the last man and the last bullet. No retreat, no surrender." Menendez, and the Argentine and British commanders were despondent. There were no natural defences between the Canadians and Port Stanley. The morale of the Anglo-Argentine troops had been broken, and supplies were running low, especially ammunition. General Menendez's officers were already talking to Spanish-speaking Canadian troops over the radio, and Menendez was starting to take notice of their calls to surrender. By noon on the 14th of June, Menendez had told General Galtieri in Buenos Aires that his troops had given everything, and could do no more. The British commanders had grudgingly agreed to follow Menendez's orders over Markham's. Terms for a surrender were negotiated over the radio, and the surrender document was signed at a Port Stanley doctor's practice. At 2359 Zulu time, the British and Argentine troops were to lay down their arms, and surrender. The surrender covered East and West Falkland, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The British and Argentine commanders signed the document. Governor Markham did not sign, he refused to leave his office. The ceasefire and surrender was respected by both sides. The Second Falklands War was over.
The conflict did not provide a solution to the problem of the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, which remains a diplomatic problem for Argentina, Britain, and Canada. It took some time for the Argentines and British to accept the repatriation of their prisoners of war. The bodies of dead British and Argentine troops were never returned, as both governments saw their graves as an "eternal presence" in the Falklands/Malvinas. Governor Markham was made the scapegoat for the British defeat, after his return to the UK, he was stripped of his knighthood and executed. The First Falklands War provided the impetus for the overthrow of Prime Minister Colin Jordan, however the Second Falklands War saw his successor, Prime Minister John Tyndall, survive defeat. Tyndall's career survived the Second Falklands War. Tyndall had the support of the Third Reich and he had removed the last vestiges of Parliamentary rule in Britain. No one inside dared to touch him, and no one outside wanted to.
General Galtieri did not share Tyndall's good fortune. He and his junta had planned the Second Falklands War as a national unifier that would bring the people behind the junta. The defeat allowed the Argentines to focus their rage on the people who had been the cause of their problems in the first place - Galtieri and the junta. Massive demonstrations broke out across Argentina. In the face of these riots, the regime had two choices, leave quietly, or massacre the demonstrators. With morale in the rank and file of the Army at an all time low, and the police becoming less cooperative with the military, Galtieri resigned. His successor promised a return to democracy by 1987, and his promise was kept. The new democratic Argentina moved entirely out of the Fascist bloc, and joined the League of Democracies in 1990. As a condition of joining, Argentina and Canada concluded a peace treaty (the Treaty of Stanley) in 1989. This treaty included the renouncement of Argentine claims to the Falkland Islands. In return, the Argentines were permitted to visit the islands, and if oil exploration around the Falklands results in commercially viable oil fields, then Argentina may receive a share of the revenues.
In Canada, the Falklands became an important issue. The Islanders were given full Canadian citizenship, and representation in the House of Commons. The Canadian Government decided to make full provision for the defence of the Falklands. A squadron of CF-156 Wraiths was left on the Falklands pending construction of an airbase at Mount Pleasant. The war allowed the Progressive Conservative Government of Brian Mulroney to gain massive support, and achieve the hitherto unknown "double landslide", which set the stage for sixteen years of Conservative Government. The Second Falklands War also made the Cold War a much higher priority. It precipitated a period of peacetime rearmament for Canada. The role of French-Canadians in the war increased unity among all Canadians, and the political missteps of Quebec separatists moved them into the political wilderness for fifteen years.
The Media WarEdit
Argentina's media was controlled by the junta, and was frequently lied to by the junta. They reported victory after victory, and refrained from reporting the state of Argentine morale on the Falklands. The lack of honest reporting heightened the post-war tensions in Argentina.
Britain's media was controlled by the Corporative of Fascist Journalists. The British media, like the Argentine media, reported whatever the government told them. The sinking of HMS Invincible was hidden until after the war.
Canada had (and has) a free press. Only twenty reporters sailed with the Task Force, and lack of satellite bandwidth meant delays in their reporting. Most of the Canadian media took an objective tone. Apart from militarily significant information, the Canadian press was free to report what they saw and heard. The Canadians lived and moved with the troops, and came to identify with them. The Toronto Sun and Le Journal de Québec (respectively, the chief English language and French language tabloids in Canada) took an overtly nationalist tone. After the sinking of ARA General Belgrano and HMS Invincible, the Toronto Sun published the headline "GOTCHA!", while after the attacks on the Van Doos at Bluff Cove by the Royal Air Force, Le Journal de Québec used the headline "L'ALBION PERFIDE!" (Perfidious Albion). While the profession (and most middle class people) considered these papers disreputable, they became enormously popular among the working class, even though they were accused of "reducing the war to a hockey game".
TV reporting of the war was sparse, and often very late. A lot of film of the war was taken, but the inability to get it to Canada while it was still newsworthy made it almost useless as news. The film has, however, formed the basis of many post-war documentary films about the Second Falklands War.
League of Democracies/RussiaEdit
Reporting in the League of Democracies and in Russia generally syndicated Canadian reporting.
Axis alliance/European Economic CommunityEdit
Axis alliance reporting generally followed by British or Argentine line. Reporters in Vichy France tried to push the idea of "Anglo Canada fighting to the last Quebecois". French papers were widely available in Quebec, and their reporting informed the Quebec separatist's attempts to gain political capital out of the war.
This resulted in a notorious incident in the Quebec National Assembly in mid-April when members of the governing Parti Quebecois attempted to introduce a motion to call on Ottawa to institute a ceasefire in the South Atlantic. In the words of Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Camille Desjardins, who was later revealed to have links with the ADECE, the French external intelligence agency, "Quebec's sons have no business dying for English colonies. We have an obligation to defend our youth against the ravages of English imperial greed." Such remarks were denounced by all sides, even by Premier Levesque himself. Taking the floor during the debate, the Premier, who had been in Europe as a war correspondent, declared that "No man loves Quebec more than I do, and no man wants to see it independent more than me. But I can't for a moment think that our interests are separate from those of our English-speaking neighbours. We believe in a free Quebec, yes- but in a free world. We must support our sons fightng for freedom now." Levesque then dismissed the Intergovernmental Affairs Minister and asked the provincial Sûreté to investigate. Unfortunately for Levesque and his party, the subsequent investigation revealed that not only was Desjardins on ADECE's payroll, but so were seven other members of the PQ caucus as well as a dozen senior civil servants in the provincial government. Although Levesque quickly stripped the seven members of their party membership and saw to their arrest at once, the damage had been done. The Premier announced his retirement in July, and his sucessor went on to lose the January 1986 election.