The Irish in Falkland / Malvinas Islands

Much of the material in this first article was researched by Edmundo Murray

Image descriptionThe Falkland/Malvinas according to Bougainville’s “Voyage autour du monde” 1771)
In “La France et l’Argentine, hier”

The Falkland Islands (in Spanish, Islas Malvinas) are an archipelago in the South Atlantic, about 600 kilometres off the coast of Argentina. The islands were first occupied in 1764 by the French, who handed over their settlement to the Spanish naval flotilla on 1 April 1767. British ousted the French settlers, and the French sold their claim to Spain. In 1820 Argentina claimed sovereignty as Spain’s successor and have disputed Britain’s claim to the islands since 1833. There may have been Irishmen among the crew of John Davies’s ship the Desire when he discovered the Islands in 1592, or in the Welfare of John Strong, the first man to land on the Falklands / Malvinas in 1690. But if so, we have no record of their names.

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The first recorded Irish visitor was Commander William Farmer, born in Youghal, County Cork in 1732, who commanded the sloop Swift in West Falkland (Gran Malvina) waters in 1770, and who was obliged to evacuate Port Egmont by a much larger Spanish force. The next Irish name in Falklands / Malvinas history is that of William Dickson of Dublin who was storekeeper for Louis Vernet’s colonists, and was entrusted with the care of the British flag by Captain Onslow after he landed at Port Louis in 1833. Dickson was among those murdered by those gauchos who were led by Antonio Rivera, on 26 August 1833.

The first Falklands / Malvinas census, that taken by Lt. Governor Richard Moody in 1842 noted five colonists born in Ireland. But the Irish population was to increase sharply with the arrival of the military pensioners in 1849. A large proportion of Queen Victoria’s army came from Ireland, and the 1851 census counts seventy-four persons of the Irish nation: fifteen were military pensioners, and most of the rest were their wives and children.

Image descriptionColonel Richard Moody
Governor and Military Commander of the Falkland Islands

During the late 1840s, the second official in the Islands was the IrishMagistrate, William Henry Moore, who had left his practice (and his wife) in Belturbet, County Cavan, and armed with a testimonial signed by many of the Dublin legal establishment, arrived in Port Louis in March 1845. Moore was a caricature provincial lawyer: argumentative, self important, on the make, and a heavy drinker.

He argued violently with the first two governors, Moody and Rennie, and the former reported to London on 25 June 1846: “there are many Irishmen here, Mr. Moore is an Irishman, and the observation has been made that we have a ‘Daniel O’Connell’ among us.” Moore eventually returned to London on leave in 1849, and in a remarkable ‘own-goal’, was discovered offering legal advice to a company in dispute with the Colonial Office. He was sacked, and disappeared from view in a minor post in the Customs revenue service.

Image descriptionPort Stanley from the Harbour Edge

Since the late 1830s, Irish settlers began sheep-farming in the Falkland / Malvinas Islands. Among others, Thomas [Devil] Murray (b. 1854) owned a large flock which he sold a few years later to purchase land in South America. Most of these Irish were Catholics, but there were other Catholics in the islands, including: English; Chilean; French; and other nationalities.

A fundamental part of the life of Irish-Catholic islanders was the presence of priests among them. The islands were (and still are) jurisdiction of Propaganda Fide in Rome. In 1857 the Falkland Catholics wrote to Cardinal Wiseman, archbishop of Westminster, and to Cardinal Alessandro Barnabo, Secretary of Propaganda Fide, to ask for a priest to attend their souls. The archbishop of Buenos Aires, Dr. Mariano J. Escalada, requested Anthony Fahy O.P. (1805-1871) to find a solution for the islanders, and he proposed that a priest from Buenos Aires visit them once every seven years. That same year, Fr. Lawrence Kirwan visited the islands and organized a committee to build a Catholic chapel and to obtain land for a Catholic cemetery. Among the committee members were P.D. Lynch, Thomas Havers, Cristopher Murray, and Patrick Maguire. In 1861, land was acquired to build a Catholic chapel.

In 1865 Fr. Patrick J. Dillon (1842-1889) visited the islands. At that time there were about 200 Catholics, and they had no priest. Fr. Dillon spent a few months among them, and administered the sacraments.

In 1872 Fr. William Walsh made a short visit to the islands, and before the end of the year he was gone on his way to his diocese of Brisbane in Australia.

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Image descriptionSt. Mary’s Catholic Church, Port Stanley

Fr. James Foran was the first resident priest, and was fundamental in establishing a Catholic position in the islands. He arrived in October 1875 and, after receiving permission from ecclesiastical authorities, from 1880 to 1886 he spent half the year on the islands and the other half on the South American mainland.

On 15 June 1873, the ‘Stella Maris’ chapel in Port Stanley had been completed by the islanders, and later Fr. Foran moved it to a better location.

Fr. Foran also started a school for Catholic children in the islands.

When Fr. Foran finally left the islands in April 1886 he travelled direct to Buenos Aires and eventually returned to England.

After 1888, the Catholics of the Falkland / Malvinas Islands were attended by the Salesian Fathers, beginning with Fr. Patrick J. Diamond, who arrived on 19 April 1888 in Port Stanley, together with Mgr. José Fagnano.

Fr. Diamond was able to continue with the work commenced by Fr. Foran. Fr. Diamond built the parish priest house and directed the children’s school. He also baptized sub conditione over twenty-five Protestant adults.

Fr. Diamond was followed in 1890 by Fr. Patrick O’Grady, who had been in Argentina since 1884. Fr. O’Grady replaced the old chapel with a new building, which opened in 1899.

Other chaplains were Fr. Mignone, who remained in the islands until 1937, and Irish-born Fathers Drumm and Kelly.

In addition, other priests assisted the resident clergy, including Mgr. Santiago M. Ussher in 1930, the Passionists Fr. Domingo Moore and Fr. Santiago Deane, and the Pallotine Fr. Celestino Butterly. The Salesian sisters Hijas de María Auxiliadora, among them Sister Mary Jane Ussher, established a mission in the islands and remained there for many years.

However, the Irishman who made the greatest impact on the history of the Islands was certainly Lowther Brandon, a Church of Ireland (Protestant) clergyman from County Carlow who became Colonial Chaplain in 1877. A man of faith and drive, he was remarkable for tackling the social problems of Stanley in a series of practical steps. He founded the first savings bank, established abstinence societies to combat drunkenness, and launched the Falklands Islands Magazine, which he type set and printed himself.

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He rode tirelessly around his broad parish, dragging after him a pack horse (carguero) laden with his magic lantern for shows to the camp settlements. Brandon also served as Inspector of the Government Schools and was a constant advocate of better teaching for children in ‘the camp’. He returned to Ireland in 1907, and died in Slaney, County Wicklow during 1933.

Another Irishman in a senior government post was Doctor Samuel Hamilton from Dublin, who arrived in the islands in 1879 and served there for twenty-five years, returning to Ireland to retire.

Prominent explorers who visited the Islands included Captain Francis Crozier, from Banbridge, County Down, who commanded one of the ships (Terror) on the Antarctic expedition of 1841-3; as well as Sir Ernest Shackleton, born in Athy, County Kildare, who visited Stanley on numerous occasions on his way to Antarctica or returning.

Another explorer, the Irish yachtsman Conor O’Brien called at Stanley and his boat remained in use in Falklands / Malvinas waters until she was returned to the Irish Maritime museum.

Image descriptionCaptain Francis Crozier

Image descriptionHMS Erebus (left) and HMS Terror

Image descriptionSir Ernest Shackleton

Two British governors came from Ireland, Thomas Fitzgerald Callaghan from 1877 to 1880; and Sir Cosmo Haskard, who served from 1964 to 1970, and then retired to Ireland. A third governor, Sir James O’Grady (1931 - 1935), was the son of an Irish family living in England. He started life as a jobbing carpenter, moved into trade union politics, was sent on a diplomatic mission to Bolshevik Russia and was finally appointed as a colonial governor; first to one of the Australian states, and then to the Falkland/Malvinas Islands.

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Above: Sir James O’Grady KCMG

Left: Sir Cosmo Haskard KCMG, OBE

During the opening decades of the twentieth century, the conflict between Argentina and England for the control of the Falkland / Malvinas Islands gained a wider awareness among the Irish community in Buenos Aires and other Argentine provinces. The controversial and nationalistically opinionated Fianna newspaper never missed an opportunity to attack Britain’s occupation of the islands. The integration process of Irish Argentines to a larger and wider society signified that most of them felt that their loyalty was towards Argentina rather than Britain.

Miguel L. Fitzgerald (b. 1926) perhaps best epitomized that general Irish-Argentine attitude, when twice flying from the mainland to the islands in 1964 and 1968. On both occasions he landed near Stanley, raised the Argentine flag and with accompanying journalists tried (unsuccessfully) to interview British authorities. Nothing was achieved by these individual actions, but they do reveal the increasing nationalistic feelings of the Irish Argentines towards the adopted country of their forefathers.

In August 1966, another Irish Argentine, Eduardo F. McLoughlin (b. 1918) a former Air Force officer, was appointed Argentine ambassador to Britain; he would remain in London until 1970. Following Argentine policy, McLoughlin interfered with a British plan to hand sovereignty over to Falkland / Malvinas islanders before 1982, which would have opened the way to a pacific settlement of the conflict.

Image descriptionMiguel L. FitzGerald

Image descriptionEduardo F. McLoughlin

The Falkland/Malvinas War (2 April - 14 June 1982) began when the Argentine military junta sent warships to land a party of scrap dealers on South Georgia with the intention of reclaiming the Falkland / Malvinas Islands.

A full scale military invasion followed.

Attempts by the UN, the USA, and Peru to secure a peaceful resolution to the conflict failed.

Britain dispatched a task force comprising some thirty warships, two aircraft carriers, assorted fleet auxiliaries, the Canberra (a requisitioned passenger liner), ‘Ro-Ro’ ferries, and container ships to recover the islands.

The ten-week conflict claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 British and Argentine servicemen and civilians, and ceased with the surrender of the Argentine forces on 14 June.

The British victory contributed to the downfall of the Argentine military dictatorship.

Argentina officially declared a cessation of hostilities in 1989.

Image descriptionThe first Argentines land and attack Moody Brook barracks, 2 April 1982

Image descriptionRoyal Marines captured in Port Stanley by Argentine troops, 2 April 1982

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Image description‘The Empire Strikes Back’
Task Force units of Britain’s ‘Royal Navy’ sailing to the South Atlantic

Irish and Irish-Argentine soldiers were among those who fought in both sides of the war.

Translation was one particularly skilled service rendered by many Irish Argentines during the Falkland / Malvinas War.

Private Ronnie Quinn translated intercepted British military communications, and Private Miguel Savage facilitated talks with the Falkland Islanders after the surrender, onboard the Canberra.

The Argentine who caused most fear was the “sinister and dangerous” head of military intelligence, Major Patricio Dowling, who personified “the Argentine terror machine”. He had detailed personal dossiers on Islanders and carried out arbitrary house searches and arrests. In one incident at Neil and Glenda Watson’s Long Island Farm, Dowling pointed a weapon at their young daughter Lisa and repeatedly ordered her to stand up. Lisa repeatedly said no and continued sucking her thumb, until Dowling gave up.

Dowling’s hatred of all things British was intense, and he was later sent back to Argentina part way through Argentina’s occupation, for overstepping his authority.

Comodoro Carlos Bloomer Reeve of the Argentine Air Force, described as “the acceptable face of Argentina”, was a man of “humanity and bravery” who did a great deal to protect Falkland Islanders from the excesses of his Argentine compatriots, in what he regarded as a misguided adventure. He was amiable, always smiling, not politically driven, having previously lived with his family and made friends with Falkland Islanders in 1975 – 1976, when he commanded the Argentine Air Force passenger service to the Falklands. His 1982 task was to organise an interim military administration, helped by naval Captain Barry Melbourne Hussey, “a man of humane principles” who worked to help Islanders. Orders were that Islanders were to be regarded as Argentine citizens and treated well.

Image descriptionComodoro Carlos Bloomer Reeve

In November 1979, Constantino Davidoff, a Buenos Aires based scrap metal dealer, gained a contract to dismantle one of the old whaling stations on South Georgia. Descended from a Jewish-Russian family who settled in Argentina after the First World War; Davidoff had become a self-made multi-millionaire after decades of hard work, starting at 8 years of age when his father died.

Davidoff was about to decommission a Norwegian whaling station on the island of South Georgia, to sell as scrap metal and secure his financial future; but, Davidoff’s plan in South Georgia did not proceed ‘smoothly’.

Because of crude political ‘manouvering’ – on both sides of the conflict – Davidoff’s expedition to South Georgia was used as an excuse to escalate a historical conflict over the ownership of Falkand Islands, still known as the ‘Malvinas’ in Argentina.

Constantino Davidoff’s subsequent actions have raised questions about his links to the Argentine military and can certainly been seen as the precursor to Argentina’s invasion. The ‘excuse’, as it were.

Davidoff didn’t do anything about his contract until December 1981, when – without the permission of the British authorities administering South Georgia – he sailed to the Island to ‘assess’ the work that needed doing.

His visit caused Britain to protest to Argentina’s Government, which denied any knowledge of what Davidoff was up to.

In February 1982, Argentina rejected Britain’s protest, although Davidoff did apologise to the British Embassy in Buenos Aires.

In March 1982, Davidoff informed the British Embassy that he intended to send a small party of workers to South Georgia to start work on the old whaling station. The Embassy gave permission only on the understanding that the workmen report to the British authority at Grytviken on their arrival. Despite this, on March 19th, Davidoff’s workers arrived off Leith Harbour in an Argentine naval vessel, the Bahia Buen Suceso, and landed with a group of Argentine navy personnel on South Georgia. Shots were fired and the Argentine flag raised.

Two weeks later, the Falklands War was in full swing.

The war lasted 74 days, approximately a thousand people died and the war had long-term political consequences: Britain’s hard-fought victory consolidated Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s position of power. The crushing defeat of Argentina was the beginning of the end for the military junta in Buenos Aires.

For Constantino Davidoff the war changed everything. After he was blamed and lost the millions he invested in South Georgia, depression confined him to bed and he went bankrupt.

Davidoff lost everything. He lost his wife, money, ships, and aircraft.

Since 1982 Davidoff has been consumed in an effort to clear his name and earn enough money to support his family. The now retired scrap-dealer who had a small but important role in world history, is still working every day.

“You know, they say that people are supposed to work 30 years of their lives. I have worked for 60 years. I do not have the energy to continue much longer.” - Constantino Davidoff

It is only the thought of revenge keeps the old man going.

Lieutenant Commander Alfredo Astiz commanded a special team of fifteen Tactical Divers Group frogmen, dubbed los lagartos (the lizards), which carried out the first act of aggression in what developed into the Falklands War. On March 19, 1982 they landed on South Georgia, under the guise of workers of the Argentine scrap metal dealer Constantino Davidoff. Officially they were to scrap three derelict whaling stations at Leith Harbour which had been purchased by their employer in 1979. They dressed up in uniform and raised the Argentine flag in full view of a British Antarctic Survey party.

Image descriptionLieutenant-Commander Alfredo Astiz

Image descriptionAstiz’s ‘Alpha Group’ in Leith

Image descriptionLeith Harbour

The next day, March 20, the local head of the British Antarctic Survey handed Astiz a note transcribed from a radio message by the Governor of the Falklands. The note told Astiz to take down his flag and leave. Astiz took down the flag, but did not leave.

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Later that day, HMS Endurance, the British navy’s ice patrol ship, was dispatched from Port Stanley on the Falkland Islands to Grytviken, the main British Antarctic Survey base on South Georgia, with 22 Royal Marines ordered to evict Astiz.

The HMS Endurance arrived on March 23, a few hours before a number of Argentine marines landed near Grytviken.

Image descriptionHMS Endurance

Image descriptionBritain’s 22 Royal Marines on South Georgia, ordered to evict Astiz

More Argentine marines arrived over the following days, and there was an armed clash at Grytviken; the ‘Battle of Grytviken’.

2 April

Shortly before the Argentine landings on the Falklands, the Bahía Paraíso and the Endurance were playing a ‘cat-and-mouse game’ around South Georgia, until 31 March, when the ships lost track of each other.

The British plan was that if the Argentine forces showed any hostile intentions, then Acting Lieutenant Keith Mills, the most senior officer of the Royal Marines party, would take command.

On 2 April, Captain Alfredo Astiz, a veteran of Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’, whose extradition was requested by France for human rights violations, announced to the Argentine party in Leith that Argentina had taken over the Falklands.

Meanwhile, the Argentine navy ordered the corvette ARA Guerrico to join the Bahía Paraíso, equipped with two helicopters (an Army Puma and a navy Alouette III ) and carrying 40 marines, along with Astiz team at Leith. The aim was the capture of Grytviken. The Argentine force would be called Grupo de Tareas 60.1 (Task Force 60.1), under the command of Captain Trombetta, on board Bahía Paraíso.

Image descriptionARA Guerrico

Image descriptionBahía Paraíso

After learning of the fall of Stanley, Acting-Lieutenant Mills took urgent measures: his British Royal Marines fortified the beach at King Edward Point, near the entrance of the bay with wire and landmines, and prepared defences around the British Antarctic Survey buildings.

The Endurance, some miles offshore, would provide communication between the small British detachment and London. The new rules of engagement authorized Mills to “fire in self defence, after warning”. A later statement from the British government instructed the marines to “not resist beyond the point where lives might be lost to no avail.”

Lt. Keith Mills DSC , commanding the Royal Marines at South Georgia, allegedly replied, “sod that, I'll make their eyes water”, a remark that became famous.

On the other side, the Argentine plans for 2 April in South Georgia were thwarted by poor weather. These plans consisted in the landing of Astiz’s Argentine special forces on Hope Point, near Grytviken, to secure the arrival of the bulk of the land forces, carried by helicopter. The Guerrico would provide naval fire support outside the bay. But the arrival of the Argentine corvette was delayed by a storm, so a new course of action was decided for the next day.

According to the new plan, the first landing would be led by Guerrico’s Alouette helicopter, followed by three waves of marines on a Puma from Bahia Paraiso.

After sending a radio message demanding that the British surrender, Trombetta would order the Guerrico to make a thrust into Grytviken harbor, right in front of King Edward point.

The Argentine rules of engagement authorized the corvette to fire her weapons only at request of the landing parties.

Astiz’s men would remain in the rearguard on board the Bahia Paraiso. All the Argentine forces involved should avoid enemy casualties as long as possible. Official British historian Lawrence Freedman believes that Trombetta made these provisions thinking he was dealing only with the British Antarctic Survey team.

Image descriptionGuerrico’s Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopter

3 April

At 7:30 A.M., as the weather improved, Bahia Paraiso demanded the surrender of Grytviken. The message intimated that Rex Hunt had surrendered not only the Falklands, but also its dependencies, which was untrue.

Lt Mills ‘copied’, and forwarded the message to HMS Endurance, with the intention of buying time. At the same time, he invited the B.A.S. personnel to take cover inside the local church. By then, the Argentine ‘Alouette’ helicopter was overflying Grytviken and the Guerrico was making her first entrance into the cove.

Image description‘Bahia Paraiso’

According to Mayorga, Captain Carlos Alfonso, commander of the Guerrico, hesitated whether or not to expose the corvette in such narrow waters. Mayorga also supports Freedman’s speculation about Trombetta’s wrong assumptions regarding British military presence around the harbour, citing an official report. Trombetta also had some reservations about the combat readiness of the warship, since she had been in dry dock just days before departing from her home base at Puerto Belgrano.

The Argentine Air Force ‘Puma’ helicopter landed a first group of 15 Argentine marines on King Edward point at 11:41 AM, on the opposite side from Shackleton House, where the Royal Marines were entrenched. By then, the Guerrico knew that the general area of deployment of the British Royal Marines was on the northern shore of the cove’s mouth.

The second wave of Argentine marines took off from Bahia Paraiso deck on board the ‘Puma’ at 11:47 AM.

The commander of the Argentine group already inland, Lt Luna, requested via the Guerrico—he had no direct communication with Bahia Paraiso—that the second wave should be equipped with 60 mm mortars, but the party was already in flight. The landing was to take place to the east of Luna’s position, well within the view of the British detachment.

The Argentine helicopter was spotted by Mills and his British marines, and it was met by intense automatic fire.

The Argentine pilot was able to cross the bay, and crash-landed the helicopter on the southern bank of the bay. Two men were killed and four wounded.

At the same time, Luna’s troops started their march towards Shackleton House, but the British marines pinned them down with heavy gunfire. Therefore, Luna asked the Guerrico for fire support.

Image descriptionArgentine ‘Puma’ helicopter crash-landed below Brown Mountain

The Argentine corvette then carried out her second thrust into the cove, and at 11:55 AM opened fire.

The commander of Guerrico was disgusted when his 20 mm guns jammed after the first shot, and the 40 mm mounting jammed after firing just six rounds. The 100 mm gun became useless after the first shot. Completely exposed, the warship had no other choice but to go ahead in order to put about.

At 11:59, the corvette Guerrico was hit by British small arms fire and 84 mm Carl Gustav anti-tank shells.

Image description84mm Carl-Gustav Rocket Launcher

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According to Mills, his party opened fire from a distance of 550 metres. The shooting killed one Argentine seaman and injured five others; damaged the ship’s electrical cables, the 40 mm gun, one ‘Exocet’ missile-launcher, and the 100 mm gun mounting. All Argentine sources acknowledge that more than 200 small arms rounds hit the corvette.

In the meantime, Lt. Busson’s ‘Alouette’ helicopter had been ferrying more Argentine Marines ashore, out of range of the British weapons.

While the battered Guerrico steered out of the bay, the Argentine troops resumed their exchange of fire with Mills’ British marines.

Once she was out of range of the British troops, Guerrico opened fire with her 100mm main gun, now back in service. This convinced Lt. Mills that ‘the game was up’ for the British, and he then ordered his British marines to cease-fire. This happened at 12:48 PM according to Mayorga.

Lt. Mills approached the Argentine positions waving a white coat, and surrendered, “after achieving his aim of compelling the Argentine troops to use military force.”

Mills and his men were taken in custody by Astiz’s group, who had been left in reserve during the battle.

HMS Endurance dispatched one of her Wasp helicopters to Cumberland Bay. The British aircraft landed there, and spotted an Argentine corvette and a transport ship inside the cove … but observed no signs of fighting.

The Endurance remained in South Georgia waters until 5 April.

The Argentine corvette Guerrico, which had lost 50% of her firepower due to combat damage, left Grytviken along with Bahia Paraiso at 3:15 PM of 4 April, bound for Rio Grande. She spent three days in dry dock for repairs. The British marines were disarmed and taken on board the Bahia Paraiso, ferried to Rio Grande and then airlifted to Montevideo in Uruguay.

British Marine, Andrew Michael Lee, later said he and the other British prisoners were treated well and there was a feeling of respect between the two sides: “They bore us no malice. They did understand the job we did. They were Marines, like ourselves.”

The British marines eventually returned to the United Kingdom on 20 April.

Some British Antarctic Survey members working in remote areas, continued their activities undeterred until the British reconquest of the Falkland Islands.

Wildlife film maker Cindy Buxton and her assistant were evacuated by a helicopter from HMS Endurance on 30 April. She would later reveal that Royal Navy personnel had given her and Annie Price a pistol, and that both female journalists had been trained how to use the weapon.

The Argentine Navy left a detachment of 55 marines on the island. The 39 Argentine scrap metal workers also remained in Leith. South Georgia was retaken by British forces on 25 April 1982, during ‘Operation Paraquet’.

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Image descriptionabandoned whaling station, South Georgia Island

Image descriptionLieutenant Keith Mills DSC
Royal Marine Commando

This Argentine action at South Georgia led to a full-scale war with Britain, which ended with Argentina’s surrender on 14 June 1982.

In the end, more than one thousand Argentines, and two hundred and fifty British, lost their lives during the short but bitter conflict.

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Many Irish-Argentines fought in this war, either as professional soldiers or as conscripts. Similarly, on the British side, there were also numerous soldiers who were either Irish-born, or of Irish descent.

It is not possible to ascertain the actual number of Argentine troops of Irish ancestry who participated in the war, but merely focusing on those with Irish surnames would suggest that their representation among the troops was broadly proportionate to the estimated number of Argentines of Irish descent in the general population (approximately one in a hundred).

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Irish Fighting the Irish in the Malvinas

By Mícheál DubhGhaill

On many tragic occasions in history, the Irish have fought and killed each other while serving in the Irish regiments of both the opposing armies … i.e. Spanish vs English; French vs English; French vs Spanish; Yanks vs Confederates; South African Boers vs British; etc, etc.

The Irish attraction to British military service is an ongoing tradition, despite centuries of political strife and sectarian divisions.

The age-old tendency of Irishmen to enlist in Britain’s army has ensured that Irishmen fighting under other flags would eventually encounter their countrymen.

It seems this also occurred during the Falkland / Malvinas War, during 1982 …

There were several Irish surnames amongst the British killed in the Falklands / Malvinas campaign, which indicates a significantly large number of Irish must have been serving in the British forces at that time, as there would be many more Irish with the British military in the South Atlantic who were not amongst those listed as ‘killed in action’.

However, the British do not acknowledge any ‘Irish’ contribution to their campaign in the Falkland / Malvinas Islands …

A few of the British ‘Irish’ that could quickly be found (those with obvious Irish names), are detailed below (and to ensure both sides are given a ‘human’ face, details regarding some of their particularly notable Argentine adversaries have also been included) …

An account of the experiences of some of the Argentine-Irish fighting in the Falklands / Malvinas Islands follows, at the end of this memorial to the Irish killed in British service …

Chief Petty Officer Kevin Sullivan, HMS Sheffield

Killed In Action during a missile attack by Argentine fighter-bombers, 4 May 1982

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On 4 May, two days after the sinking of Belgrano, the British lost the Type 42 destroyer HMS Sheffield to fire following an ‘Exocet’ missile strike from the Argentine 2nd Naval Air Fighter / Attack Squadron.

Image descriptionARA General Belgrano

The Argentine heavy-cruiser/ training-ship Belgrano was sunk by the British submarine HMS Conqueror with the loss of 323 lives, mainly young naval cadets.

Losses from the Belgrano totalled just over half of Argentine deaths in the war.

On 1 May 1982, Argentine Admiral Juan Lombardo ordered all Argentine naval units to seek out the British task force around the Falklands and launch a “massive attack” the following day.

HMS Sheffield had been ordered forward with two other Type 42 destroyers to provide a long-range radar, and a medium-high altitude missile ‘picket’, far from the British aircraft-carriers. She was struck amidships by the Argentine ‘Exocet’ missile, with devastating effect, ultimately killing 20 crew members and severely injuring 24 others. This British ship was abandoned several hours later, gutted and deformed by the fires that continued to burn for six more days. She finally sank on 10 May.

Image descriptionHMS Sheffield

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The ‘Exocets’ were fired from two Super Étendard fighter-bombers launched from the Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego, Argentine Naval Air Base.

These aircraft were piloted by Teniente (Lieutenant) Armando Mayora and Capitán de Fragata (Lieutenant-Commander) Augusto Bedacarratz, who commanded the mission.

Image descriptionCapitán de Fragata Augusto Bedacarratz

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Image descriptionTeniente Armando Mayora

The tempo of Argentine combat operations increased throughout the second half of May, as United Nations attempts to mediate a peace were rejected by the British … who felt that any delay would make a campaign impractical in the South Atlantic storms.

The destruction of HMS Sheffield (the first British Royal Navy ship sunk in action since World War II) had a profound impact on the British public, bringing home the fact that the “Falklands Crisis”, as the B.B.C. News put it, was now an actual “shooting war”.

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HMS Sheffield was mortally hit by the Argentine Air Force on 4 May

Video of Argentine attack on HMS Sheffield ...

“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” ...

A comedy song that was originally featured in the 1979 film ‘Monty Python’s Life of Brian’ and has gone on to become a common sing-along at public events such as football matches as well as funerals. The song is also popular among the British military, with the crew of the sinking HMS Sheffield singing it to keep up morale.

Sergeant-Major Laurence Gallagher BEM, S.A.S.

Reported as killed in a ‘Sea King’ Helicopter Crash, 20 May 1982

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This death occurred during one of the ‘strangest incidents’ of the Falklands / Malvinas war … which took place inside Chile.

The only certainty is that during the week following the British ‘Sea King’ helicopter crash, the Chilean authorities found a burnt-out Sea King HC.4 of the British navy’s No.846 NAS near the southern town of Punta Arenas … the British crew of three gave themselves up to the Chilean authorities and were returned to the UK … to later receive gallantry awards for a number of hazardous missions. Presumably, and as announced by the Ministry of Defence, these “hazardous missions” included “losing their way” (???), and ending up 500 miles from the British Task Force, and destroying their helicopter inside Chile !!!

Laurence Gallagher’s S.A.S. team had been dispatched to land in southern Argentina for a raid against Argentine air force bases; with the intention of destroying the Argentine Super Etendard fighter-bombers.

However, after a high speed dash to the west during Monday night (17 May) by HMS Invincible and escort HMS Brilliant, a ‘Sea King’ helicopter was launched carrying the S.A.S. soldiers, but was then forced by extremely bad weather to land 80 kilometres from its target, and the mission was aborted.

The British pilot then flew to Chile, landed south of Punta Arenas, and dropped-off the S.A.S. team.

The British helicopter’s crew of three then destroyed the aircraft, surrendered to Chilean police on 25 May, and were repatriated to the UK after interrogation.

The discovery of the burnt-out British helicopter inside Chile attracted considerable attention in the international press.

Meanwhile, the British S.A.S. team crossed and penetrated deep into Argentina … but then they cancelled their mission after the Argentines suspected an S.A.S. operation was underway and deployed some 2,000 Argentine troops to search for them.

It has since been ‘reported’ that, with the exception of Laurence Gallagher, the S.A.S. men were able to return to Chile, and then took a civilian flight back to the UK.

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Image descriptionHMS Brilliant and HMS Invincible

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Image descriptionArgentine Airbases

Due to the distance required to fly to the islands, two minutes was the average time Argentine attack-aircraft had available in the Falklands target area.

Flying distances to Port Stanley airfield:

Trelew: 580 nautical miles (1,070 km)

Comodoro Rivadavia: 480 nautical miles (890 km)

San Julián: 425 nautical miles (787 km)

Rio Gallegos: 435 nautical miles (806 km)

Rio Grande: 380 nautical miles (700 km)

Whatever happened to the helicopter carrying Laurence Gallagher’s S.A.S. team, the aircraft-carrier HMS Invincible obviously could not risk waiting for the helicopter to return, and by Tuesday morning (18 May) she was back with the British Task Force in the Falklands / Malvinas region. The ‘Sea King’ helicopter therefore had to make its way to neutral territory to be destroyed by the crew sometime over Tuesday night.

Prior to the report that the S.A.S. men were able to return to Chile, and then took a civilian flight back to the UK, it was also suspected that they had been picked up later by British submarine. As it happened, the diesel-engined and more maneuverable British submarine HMS Onyx arrived in the Falklands / Malvinas area by the end of the month and was reported to have lifted off British special forces from near Rio Grande, and in doing so to have damaged herself on an uncharted rock.

As is the case with most S.A.S. operations, we may never know the exact details of how Laurence Gallagher died …

… and, there are continuing and persistent rumours that three Irish-born members of Britain’s elite S.A.S. Regiment perished during the Falkland Islands War.

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Image descriptionHMS Onyx

Image descriptionSir Cedric Delves KBE, DSO (left), former commander of D Squadron, 22 S.A.S.;
Kirsty Gallagher, the daughter of D Squadron Sergeant-Major Laurence Gallagher SAS;
and Lieutenant-Commander Roger Edwards RN (who had been seconded to D Squadron 22 SAS during the Falklands War)

Lieutenant Brian Murphy RN

Killed in action during multiple Argentine air attacks, 21 May 1982

Image descriptionBrian Murphy
Deputy Flight Commander of HMS Ardent,
a Type 21 frigate which operated the ‘Lynx’ helicopter

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In 1976, Brian Murphy had been appointed to the helicopter flight on board HMS Endurance, the British Antarctic Patrol vessel, visiting both Argentina and the Falkland Islands in the course of his duties.

In his letters home he described how kind and hospitable both the Argentine Navy and the Falkland Islanders were.

On Friday 21 May 1982, he was killed, alongside his Flight Commander, Lieutenant-Commander John Sephton DSC, as the ship’s company fought off multiple Argentine air attacks.

His body was not recovered, and he lies buried at sea, in Falkland Sound.

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Image descriptionThe stern of the ‘Ardent’ destroyed by Argentine air attack

At 15:01, three Argentine Navy A-4Q ‘Skyhawks’ of 3rd Fighter and Attack Naval Squadron hit HMS Ardent with at least two bombs on the stern, as well as a number of unexploded bombs which ripped into the hull, and several near-misses.

These Argentine fighters usually operated off the carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo, but this mission was carried out from a land base at Rio Grande, in the far south of Argentina.

Argentine Navy aircraft used a dozen 500 lb (230 kg) retarding-tail bombs during the attack.

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Image descriptionARA Veinticinco de Mayo

During their escape the Argentine ‘Skyhawks’ were shot down by British Navy ‘Sea Harrier’ fighter aircraft.

The pilot who made the final run, Lt. Gustavo Marcelo Márquez was killed in action after his A-4Q ‘Skyhawk’ was hit by 30 mm fire and exploded.

Lt. Philippi, shot down by an ‘Sidewinder’ air-to-air missile, ejected safely; and, after being sheltered by local farmer Tony Blake during the night, he rejoined nearby Argentine forces.

Lt. Arca, with his A-4Q ‘Skyhawk’ also struck by 30 mm rounds, bailed out safely after an unsuccessful attempt to land at the Port Stanley airfield. This Argentine pilot was rescued from the water by the Argentine Army UH-1H ‘Huey’ of Captain Svendsen.

Image descriptionBritish Aerospace Sea Harrier

Image descriptionAIM-9L ‘Sidewinder’ air training missile

Image descriptionCaptain Svendsen’s Argentine Army ‘Huey’ rescuing Lieutenant Arca

Image descriptionLt. Gustavo Marcelo Márquez

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The attack following after the first wave of the Argentine Navy fighters, was delivered by three A-4Q ‘Sky Hawks’ of the same force.

Commanded by Lieutenants Benito Rótolo (3-A-306 on first pane), Carlos Lecour (3-A-305, second) and Roberto Sylvester (3-A-301, last), this second stage attack sank HMS Ardent.

One of the bombs launched by Lt. Lecour exploded inside a fuel storage, initiating a fire that resulted in the sinking HMS Ardent … and this was later confirmed the First Sea Lord of the British Royal Navy, during an official visit to Argentina by Admiral Lord Alan West (who had served as Captain of HMS Ardent during the Falklands War).

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According to the Argentine Air Force official web site, HMS Ardent was also the subject of two attacks from Argentine Air Force aircraft:

The first attack was at 14:00 hrs (Argentine time) by a lone A-4B ‘Skyhawk’ of Argentine 5th Air Group. Four A-4B ‘Skyhawks’ took off from Rio Gallegos in the far south of Patagonia, Argentina at 11:30 hrs. After experiencing problems during the air-to-air refuelling, two aircraft were forced to abort and fly back to their base. Once over the Falklands Sound, the remaining ‘Skyhawks’ chanced upon an unidentified transport ship – she was apparently the abandoned Argentine cargo vessel Río Carcaraña – which was attacked by one of the jets. The other fighter, piloted by the mission commander, Captain Pablo Carballo, dropped one 1,000 lb (450 kg) ‘dumb’ bomb (unguided) on a British frigate he found at Grantham Sound. He reported heavy anti-aircraft fire but returned safely to his base in Argentina. The bomb exploded on the stern of the British ship. Carballo went on to attack HMS Broadsword a few days later.

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The second attack was at 14:40 hrs (Argentine time) by Israel Aerospace Industries ‘Daggers’ of Argentine 6th Air Group. A flight of two ‘Daggers’, led by Captain Mir González, was joined by a third ‘Dagger’ returning from an aborted sortie. They headed together towards San Carlos, but were intercepted by a patrol of British ‘Sea Harriers’ vectored by HMS Brilliant, and it was the ‘third Dagger’ which was shot down over West Falkland. The pilot ejected and was recovered later. The two original ‘Daggers’ successfully outran the British air patrol and entered Falklands Sound from the south. They discovered a British frigate and dropped two 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs on her stern. They also hit that British ship with their 30 mm cannon. According to this report, the warship responded to the attack by firing anti-aircraft missiles.

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Image descriptionThe ‘face of the enemy’
these Argentine pilots don’t look so different to their British opponents

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During the night on 21 May 1982, the British Amphibious Task Group commenced an amphibious landing on beaches around San Carlos Water.

At sea, the paucity of the British ships’ anti-aircraft defences was demonstrated by the Argentines sinking HMS Ardent on 21 May, HMS Antelope on 24 May, and MV Atlantic Conveyor (struck by two AM39 Exocets) on 25 May … along with a vital cargo of helicopters, runway-building equipment and tents. ( The loss of all but one of the ‘Chinook’ helicopters being carried by the Atlantic Conveyor was a severe blow to the British from a logistics perspective.)

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On 25 May 1982 MV Atlantic Conveyor was hit by two AM39 Air-Launched ‘Exocet’ missiles fired by a two Argentine Navy Super Étendard jet fighters. The mission was led by the Croatian-descended Capitán de Corbeta Roberto Curilovic, (call sign ‘Tito’) flying Super Étendard 0753/3-A-203, and his wingman, Teniente de Navío Julio Barraza, (call sign ‘Leo’) flying in 0754/3-A-204.

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Image descriptionRoberto Curilovic and his wingman, Julio Barraza

Also lost on 25 May 1982 was HMS Coventry, a sister to HMS Sheffield, whilst in company with HMS Broadsword, after being ordered to act as ‘decoy’ to draw away Argentine aircraft from other ships at San Carlos Bay. HMS Argonaut and HMS Brilliant were also badly damaged.

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However, many British ships escaped being sunk because of the Argentine pilots' bombing tactics.

To avoid the highest concentration of British air defences, Argentine pilots released ordnance from very low altitude, and hence their bomb fuses did not have sufficient time to arm before impact.

The low release of the retarded-bombs (some of which had been sold to the Argentines by the British years earlier) meant that many of the bombs never exploded, as there was insufficient time in the air for them to arm themselves.

A retarded-bomb has a small parachute or air brake that opens to reduce the speed of the bomb to produce a safe horizontal separation between the bomb and the aircraft that drops it. A simple free-fall bomb will, during a low altitude release, impact almost directly below the aircraft which is then within the lethal fragmentation zone of the resulting explosion. The fuse for a retarded-bomb requires a minimum time over which the retarder is open to ensure safe separation. The Argentine pilots would have been aware of this, but due to the high concentration levels required to avoid surface-to-air-missiles and anti-aircraft-artillery (AAA), as well as any British ‘Sea Harrier’ fighter aircraft, many Argentine pilots failed to climb to the necessary release-point height. The Argentine Air Force solved the problem by fitting improvised retarding devices, allowing their pilots to effectively employ low-level bombing attacks on 8 June.

Image descriptionMk. 82 bomb with tail retarding device,
similar to that used by the Argentine Navy A4Qs in the attack on HMS Ardent

If all the Argentine bombs that hit British ships had exploded, the British would have lost the war. The Argentines lost 22 aircraft in these attacks

In his autobiographical account of the Falklands War, Admiral Woodward blamed the ‘B.B.C. World Service’ radio news for disclosing information that led the Argentines to change the retarding devices on the bombs.

The ‘B.B.C. World Service’ reported the lack of detonations after receiving a briefing on the matter from a British Ministry of Defence official. He describes the B.B.C. as being more concerned with being “fearless seekers after truth” than with the lives of British servicemen. Colonel ‘H’ Jones levelled similar accusations against the ‘B.B.C. World Service’ after they disclosed the impending British attack on Goose Green by 2 PARA.

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Corporal Paul Steven Sullivan, 2 PARA

killed in action during the Battle for Goose Green, 28 May 1982

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Corporal Paul Sullivan was killed at Goose Green on 28 May 1982 by small arms fire, together with Lieutenant Barry (also Irish), whilst attempting to obtain the surrender of a group of Argentine soldiers.

600 British troops participated in the battle for Goose Green on 28 May 1982. Of these, 17 were killed and 64 wounded. The Argentines also sustained heavy losses.

Paul Sullivan was a builder before joining the British army at the age of 19 years. He became a member of 12 Platoon, D Company, 2 PARA* Corporal Sullivan married Bette Lampey and had a daughter Alesia, who was born in 1979 when Corporal Sullivan was away serving in the jungle in Brunei.

* 2 PARA = 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment

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Lieutenant James Barry RSigs/ 2 PARA

killed in action during the Battle for Goose Green, 28 May 1982

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Lieutenant ‘Jim’ Barry, Royal Signals, OC 12 Platoon, D Company, 2 PARA was killed in a confused situation where a group of Argentine troops perceived that he intended to surrender, whereas Barry thought that it was the Argentines who wished to surrender … these circumstances made even more complicated by British ‘friendly fire’ from Darwin Hill.

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On 26 May, 2 PARA was ordered to move south and attack the Argentine Strategic Reserve and airfield on the Darwin/Goose Green Peninsular. The British attack began during the early hours of 28 May, with naval and artillery support. By sunrise, however, the British attack was held up by strong Argentine defensive positions near Darwin, and the British Commanding Officer (‘H’ Jones) was killed during the battle. The British assault continued with some ferocious trench-to-trench fighting and by last light the whole peninsular, less the Goose Green Settlement, was captured. Around 45 to 50 Argentine soldiers were killed.

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The bulk of the Argentine forces were in positions around Port Stanley, about 80 kilometres to the east of San Carlos. The position at Goose Green and Darwin was well defended by an Argentine force of combined units totalling about 1,200 (at the start of the battle the number was thought by the British to be less than half this), well equipped with artillery, mortars, 35 mm cannon and machine guns.

However, the Argentine force was fairly static and judged to present little threat to the British beachhead. Consequently, it had no strategic military value for the British in their campaign to recapture the islands, so early British plans for land operations had called for Goose Green to be isolated and bypassed.

Things changed in the days following the British landings on 21 May. While the British bridgehead was being consolidated, no offensive ground operations of any size were feasible and yet Argentine air attacks caused significant losses and damage to British ships. This led to a feeling among senior commanders and politicians back in London that the momentum of the British campaign was being lost.

As a result, British Joint Headquarters in the U.K. came under increasing pressure from the British government for an early ground offensive of ‘propaganda value’.

And so, on 25 May, the British ‘3 Commando Brigade’ was ordered to mount an attack on Argentine positions around Goose Green and Darwin.

The British force consisted of The 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (2 PARA) which had the following support: three 105mm artillery pieces with 960 shells from 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery; one MILAN anti-tank missile platoon; ‘Scout’ helicopters … and at dusk, air support was provided by three R.A.F. ‘Harriers’ later in the battle. Plus, HMS Arrow shelled the Argentine forward positions.

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The defending Argentine forces known as ‘Task Force Mercedes’ consisted of Lieutenant-Colonel Italo Piaggi’s 12th Infantry Regiment (RI 12) and a company of the Ranger-type 25th Infantry Regiment (RI 25).

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Image descriptionSoldiers of 25 Regimiento de Infantería

Lieutenant-Colonel Mohamed Alí Seineldín, considered by many Argentines to be the ‘father’ of the Argentine commandos, had chafed at his role as the commanding officer of an ordinary infantry unit. And so, he then put all his conscripts through a compressed version of the commando course in March 1982 … presenting them with the green berets of the Army Commandos, and changing the title of RI 25 unofficially to 25th ‘Special’ Infantry Regiment.

Image descriptionLieutenant-Colonel Mohamed Alí Seineldín

Mohamed Alí Seineldín converted from Islam to Christianity during his youth, and also participated in two failed uprisings against democratically elected Argentine governments in 1988 & 1990

Image descriptionArgentine soldier of Regimiento de Infanteria 12

The 12th Regiment chaplain, Padre Santiago Mora, later wrote, “The conscripts of 25th Infantry wanted to fight and cover themselves in glory. The conscripts of 12th Infantry Regiment fought because they were told to do so. This did not make them any less brave. On the whole, they remained admirably calm.”

Argentine air defence was provided by a battery of six 20mm ‘Rheinmetall’ guns, manned by Argentine Air Force personnel, plus two radar-guided ‘Oerlikon’ 35mm anti-aircraft guns from the 601st Anti-Aircraft Battalion, which would be employed in a ground-support role during the last stages of the fighting.

There was also one battery of four 105 mm pack-howitzers from the Argentine 4th Airborne Artillery Regiment.

And, there were Pucarás based at Stanley, armed with rockets and napalm, which provided ground-attack support.

Image descriptionIA 58 Pucará with assorted armaments

Unknown to the Argentine outpost, a four-man British ‘Special Air Service’ (S.A.S.) patrol had infiltrated the Argentine 12th Regiment’s ‘A Company’ area, attempting to pinpoint the Argentine positions. For over a fortnight, the S.A.S. patrol successfully avoided Argentine helicopter and foot patrols.

As part of the diversionary raids to cover the British landings in the San Carlos area on 21 May, which involved naval shelling and air attacks, ‘D Squadron’ of the S.A.S. put in a major raid to simulate a battalion-sized attack on the Argentine troops dug-in at Darwin Ridge.

Image description‘Sea Harrier’ on bombing run

On 4 May, three Royal Navy ‘Sea Harriers’ operating from the British aircraft-carrier HMS Hermes attacked the airfield and installations at Goose Green. During the operation, a ‘Sea Harrier’ was shot down by Argentine 35mm anti-aircraft fire, killing its pilot. His body, still in the ejector seat, was recovered by residents of Goose Green, and was then buried with full military honours by the Argentines.

Throughout 27 May, Royal Air Force ‘Harriers’ were active over Goose Green. One of them, responding to a call for help from 2 PARA, was lost to 35mm fire while attacking Darwin Ridge.

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Image descriptionThe village of Goose Green, 2012

Image descriptionThe village of Goose Green, 2012

Just after 2.30 AM of 28 May, 2 PARA launched its attack on the Argentines … to capture Goose Green “before breakfast”.

The Argentine RI 12’s ‘A’ Company, under First Lieutenant Jorge Manresa, defended the Darwin Parks sector with two rifle platoons, and a mortar platoon.

For 90 minutes the forward Argentine platoons were pounded with British naval artillery from HMS Arrow.

In the ensuing night battle about twelve Argentines were killed.

The Argentine platoon under Sub-Lieutenant Malacalza fought a delaying action against the British paratroopers, blooding themselves on Burntside Hill before taking up combat positions again on Darwin Ridge.

2 PARA’s ‘D’ Company was temporarily halted by the Argentines on the Coronation Ridge position. Two of the 2 PARA British soldiers darted out from under cover to charge the Argentine machine gun nest that was holding up the British advance. Both British soldiers were hit 10 metres from the Argentine machine gun, but shot two of the Argentine soldiers before collapsing. With the Argentine machine gun out of action, the PARAs were able to clear the Argentine platoon position, but at the cost of three British dead.

Then 2 PARA moved on to the south, via Darwin Parks.

The Argentines made a determined defence along Darwin Ridge.

As 2 PARA’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies moved south from Coronation Ridge they were raked by fire from a couple of concealed Argentine machine guns. An Argentine senior NCO, Sergeant-Major Juan Carlos Cohelo, is credited with rallying the RI 12’s ‘A’ Company remnants who had been falling back from Darwin Parks. He was seriously wounded later in the day, and for his bravery was awarded Argentina’s ‘La Cruz al Heroico Valor en Combate’.

Another two Argentine RI 12 NCOs, reported to be sergeants that had fallen back from the earlier fighting who, at great risk to themselves, un-jammed a machinegun that allowed RI 25’s Private Oscar Ledesma to resume fire at a critical point in the morning battle … and it was Private Ledesma who killed British Colonel ‘H’ Jones.

Image descriptionLa Cruz al Heroico Valor en Combate

The first British assault was broken up by fire from Sub-Lieutenant Ernesto Peluffo’s RI 12 platoon.

Corporal Osvaldo Faustino Olmos, of RI 25 refused to leave his foxhole and continued firing at the British company as it moved forward. The PARAs called on the Argentines to surrender.

Corporal Olmos was later interviewed by the British newspaper the ‘Daily Express’ and credited with the killing of Lieutenant-Colonel ‘H’ Jones.

At this juncture of the battle, 2nd PARA’s advance had become stuck. ‘A’ Company was in the gorse line at the bottom of Darwin Hill, and against the entrenched Argentines who were looking down the hill at them.

As daylight was now all over the battlefield, Colonel Jones led an unsuccessful British charge up a small gully resulting in the death of the 2 PARA adjutant, the ‘A’ Company’s second-in-command, and a British Corporal.

Shortly thereafter Colonel Jones was seen to run east along the base of Darwin Ridge to a small re-entrant, followed by his bodyguard. He checked his weapon then ran up the hill toward an Argentine trench. He was seen to be hit once, then fell, then got up, and was hit again from the side. He fell metres short of the Argentine trench, had been hit in the back and the groin, and died within minutes.

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Colonel ‘H’ Jones was later to receive the Victoria Cross for his efforts.

As Colonel Jones lay dying, his men radioed for urgent casualty evacuation. However, the British ‘Scout’ helicopter sent to evacuate Jones was shot down by an Argentine Pucará ground attack aircraft.

Argentine 12th Regiment Corporal José Luis Ríos, who had fallen back from the Burntside Pond area and who, in the opinion of historian Hugh Bicheno, killed Lieutenant-Colonel ‘H’ Jones, was later fatally wounded in his trench by Corporal Abols firing a 66 mm rocket.

By then it was 10.30 am and 2 PARA’s ‘A’ Company made a third attempt to attack the Argentines, but this British attack petered out.

Eventually the British company, hampered by the morning fog as they advanced up the slope of Darwin Ridge, were driven back to the gulley by the Argentine fire of 1st Platoon of RI 25’s ‘C’ Company, under the command of1st Lieutenant Roberto Néstor Estévez.

During this action Lieutenant Estévez directed Argentine 105 mm artillery and 120 mm mortar fire that posthumously earned him the La Cruz al Heroico Valor en Combate.

2 Para’s mortar crews fired 1,000 rounds to keep the Argentines at bay, and helped stop the enemy getting a better field of fire at the PARAs.

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Image description1st Lieutenant Roberto Néstor Estévez

It was almost noon before the British advance resumed.

Inspired by their commanding officer’s sacrifice, ‘A’ Company of 2 PARA soon cleared the eastern end of the Argentine position and opened the way forward.

There had been two battles going on in the Darwin hillocks – one around Darwin Hill looking down on Darwin Bay, and an equally fierce battle in front of Boca Hill, also known as ‘Boca House Ruins’.

Sub-Lieutenant Guillermo Ricardo Aliaga’s 3rd Platoon of the Argentine RI 8’s ‘C’ Company held Boca Hill. The Argentine position of Boca Hill was taken after heavy fighting by 2 PARA’s B Company, with support from the British MILAN anti-tank platoon.

Sub-Lieutenants Aliaga and Peluffo were gravely wounded in the fighting.

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About the time of the victory at the Boca Hill position, 2 PARA’s ‘A’ Company overcame the Argentine defenders on Darwin Hill, finally taking the position that had caused many casualties on both sides.

After the British victory on Darwin Ridge, 2 PARA’s ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies began to make their way to the small Goose Green airfield, as well as to Darwin School, which was east of the airfield … at the same time, 2 PARA’s ‘B’ Company made their way south of Goose Green Settlement. 2 PARA’s ‘A’ Company remained on Darwin Hill. 2 PARA’s ‘C’ Company took heavy losses when they became the target of intense direct-fire from Argentine 35 mm anti-aircraft guns; with ‘C’ Company suffering 20 per cent casualties.

Lieutenant James Barry’s No. 12 Platoon, ‘D’ company, 2 PARA, were involved in fierce fighting at the airfield. They were ambushed, by another Argentine platoon of the 25th Regiment, but one of the British soldiers shot dead two of the Argentines.

The Argentine RI 25 platoon defending the airfield fled towards the Darwin-Goose Green track and was able to escape. Sergeant Sergio Ismael Garcia, of the Argentine RI 25, single-handedly covered the withdrawal of his platoon during the British counterattack. He was posthumously awarded the Argentine ‘La Cruz al Heroico Valor en Combate’.

Image descriptionSergeant Sergio Ismael Garcia

Four of the PARAs of ‘D’ Company, and approximately a dozen Argentines, were killed in these engagements.

Among the British dead was 29-year-old Lieutenant Barry, who, along with two corporals (one of them was Corporal Sullivan), was killed after a local truce in which the British officer tried to convince Sub Lieutenant Juan José Gómez Centurión of the need for the Argentine RI 25 platoon to lay down their arms.

2 PARA’s ‘C’ Company had not lost a single man in the Darwin School fighting, but one British soldier from ‘D’ Company, died when a splinter from an Argentine 35 mm anti-aircraft shell struck him in the chest. The Argentine anti-aircraft guns had reduced the building to rubble.

Image descriptionGoose Green airfield

As day became night, two Argentine Air Force warrant officers, who had been captured and were now prisoners of the British, were sent to the Argentine commanders at Goose Green with the British terms for the Argentines to surrender.


We have sent a PW to you under a white flag of truce to convey the following military options:

1. That you unconditionally surrender your force to us by leaving the township, forming up in a military manner, removing your helmets and laying down your weapons. You will give prior notice of this intention by returning the PW under a white flag with him briefed as to the formalities by no later than 0830 hrs local time.

2. You refuse in the first case to surrender and take the inevitable consequences. You will give prior notice of this intention by returning the PW without his flag (although his neutrality will be respected) no later than 0830 hrs local time.

3. In the event and in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Geneva Convention and Laws of War you will be held responsible for the fate of any civilians in Darwin and Goose Green and we in accordance with these terms do give notice of our intention to bombard Darwin and Goose Green.


Commander of British Forces"

‘Juliet’ Company, 42 Commando was flown to Darwin to reinforce 2 PARA, and at the same time plans were made that night for ‘Bravo’ Company, 6th Regiment to be taken by helicopter to Goose Green in a spoiler move.

The following day Lieutenant-Colonel Piaggi*** surrendered all Argentine forces … approximately 1,000 Argentine troops, including 202 men of the Air Force.

The fourteen-hour battle had cost the British 17 killed and 64 wounded according to Surgeon-Commander Rick Jolly, who was in charge of treating the wounded.

47 Argentines were killed and 120 wounded, with the 12th Regiment losing 32 killed and about 70 wounded. Some 20 Argentine Air Force personnel were wounded.

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Surgeon-Captain Richard Jolly OBE is a former British navy medical-officer who decorated by both the British and Argentine governments for his distinguished conduct to the wounded on both sides during the war

Image descriptionRick Jolly taking a rare break at the frontline medical centre he set up during the Falklands War
“Welcome to the Red and Green Life Machine” – refers to the Paratrooper and Marine Commando berets worn by the British surgeons of ‘3 Commando Brigade’

Image descriptionCasualties being treated at the Ajax Bay Field Hospital

Image descriptionLieutenant-Colonel Ítalo Ángel Piaggi

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*** Lieutenant-Colonel Ítalo Ángel Piaggi, born in San Fernando on 17 March 1935, is a retired Argentine Army commander who was involved in the Battle of Goose Green in the Falklands War. The defending Argentine army forces known as Task Force Menéndez consisted of the Lieutenant-Colonel Italo Piaggi’s 12th Infantry Regiment (RI 12) and a company of the 25th Infantry Regiment (RI 25). The day after the battle, Lieutenant-Colonel Piaggi surrendered all Argentine forces, approximately 1,000 men, including 202 men of the Air Force. He was later ‘drummed-out’ of the Argentine army in disgrace. In 1986, he wrote the book Ganso Verde (a calque of ‘Goose Green’, using the colour green to translate [Village] Green), where he makes a strong defence of his decisions during the war and criticizes the lack of logistical support from the Argentine commander-in-chief in Stanley. He estimates that Task Force Menéndez only disposed 28 per cent of their intended firepower regarding artillery, mortars and heavy machine guns.

Image descriptionBrigadier-General Mario Benjamin Menéndez

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Brigadier-General Mario Benjamin Menéndez only disposed 28 per cent of his intended firepower regarding artillery, mortars, and heavy machine guns in support of the Argentine forces fighting at Goose Green …

Corporal Andrew McIlvenny
9 Independent Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers

Killed in Action during the Argentine air attack on the RFA Sir Galahad in San Carlos Water, 8 June 1982

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On the 8 June 1982 while preparing to unload soldiers from the Welsh Guards regiment in Port Pleasant, off Fitzroy, together with RFA Sir Tristram, the RFA Sir Galahad was attacked by three A-4 Skyhawks from the Argentine Air Force’s V Brigada Aérea, each loaded with three 500 lb retarding-tail bombs.

At approximately 14:00 hours local time, Sir Galahad was hit by two or three bombs and set on fire. A total of 48 soldiers and crewman were killed in the explosions and subsequent fire.

Corporal Andrew McIlvenny was onboard the Sir Galahad with 9 Independent Parachute Engineer Squadron, and was being transported on the Sir Galahad to provide engineering support following the amphibious landings by 3 Commando Brigade.

During the attack on 8 June, the fires on Sir Galahad were out of control.

The main part of the evacuation of the injured and wounded was carried out by the ship’s Royal Marine Detachment. The Royal Marines organised the launch of life-rafts from the bow of the ship, whilst at the same time marshalling helicopters for personnel to be winched clear. Immediate first aid was given to those most seriously wounded and a triage system set up. The actions of these few Royal Marines undoubtedly saved lives on the day, though only one, Sergeant Dolivera, received a ‘Mention in Dispatches’. The Royal Marines were the last personnel to abandon ship.

The same Royal Marines had also returned to the RFA Sir Galahad to assist the Royal Navy explosive ordnance demolition team in defusing the 1,000 lb bomb dropped by Lt. Luis Alberto ‘Tucu’ Cervera’s A-4, which crashed through the side of the ship without exploding on 24 May 1982. All these Marines had returned on board as volunteers, and assisted in physically carrying the unexploded bomb through to the rear Tank Deck ramp … where it was placed in an inflatable boat (filled with packets of cornflakes to act as padding !), and taken out into San Carlos water where the boat was punctured and sank.

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Image descriptionLieutenant ‘Tucu’ Cervera, 1982 and 2012

Paul David Callan, Royal Marines

Killed In Action on 10th of June 1982 with seven of his comrades, during an attack by the Argentine Air Force on shore facilities in San Carlos bridgehead - two Argentine aircraft were destroyed

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During the night of 21 May, the British Amphibious Task Group mounted Operation Sutton, the amphibious landing of 4,000 British soldiers of 3 Commando Brigade*, on beaches around San Carlos Water, on the north-western coast of East Falkland facing onto Falkland Sound. The bay, known as Bomb Alley by British forces, was the scene of repeated air attacks by low-flying Argentine jets.

* the British ‘3 Commando Brigade’ was composed of: 2 PARA**; 3 PARA; 40 Commando; 42 Commando; 45 Commando; and as well as detachments of artillery, engineers, and armoured reconnaissance vehicles

** 2 PARA = 2nd battalion, The Parachute Regiment; and 3 PARA = 3rd battalion, The Parachute Regiment

By dawn the next day the British had established a secure beachhead from which to conduct offensive operations … to capture Darwin and Goose Green before turning towards Port Stanley.

Now, with the British troops on the ground, the Argentine Air Force began the night bombing campaign against them, using ‘Canberra’ bombers until the last day of the war (14 June)

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Corporal Keith ‘Ginge’ McCarthy, 3 PARA

killed in action during the Battle for Mount Longdon, 12 June 1982

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Corporal Keith John McCarthy, served with 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA), and was 27 years old at the time of his death in action during the battle for Mt. Longdon. He cut a tall imposing figure and was eloquently spoken; a charismatic section commander, when commanding his soldiers he often injected his acid wit and humour.

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Corporal Stewart McLaughlin, 3 PARA

killed in action during the Battle for Mount Longdon, 12 June 1982

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Corporal McLaughlin was 27 years old and a Section Commander in 5 Platoon, ‘B’ Company, 3 PARA* which led the main assault on Mount Longdon.

* 3 PARA = 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment

Throughout the battle, Corporal McLaughlin performed with outstanding personal bravery and displayed exemplary leadership, inspiring all those around him. His actions were noticed by many throughout the night battle, as he led attack after attack on Argentine positions, and was seen to be instrumental in maintaining momentum for ‘B’ Company’s attack at times when the outcome was far from certain.

Having fought heroically throughout the night, Corporal McLaughlin was seriously injured by mortar fire the morning after.

Whilst being assisted to walk to the regimental aid post for treatment, he was killed by artillery fire.

Despite his actions being widely recognised by his comrades and officers within the battalion, and considered by many to be deserving of a significant award for gallantry, Corporal McLaughlin was never recognised by any award for gallantry (because he was Irish ?).

Since the glaring omission of Corporal McLaughlin from the list of those awarded for their gallantry during the Falkland’s Campaign, his family and comrades have maintained a campaign to seek formal recognition for his major contribution to the victory achieved by the Third Battalion, The Parachute Regiment on Mount Longdon.

Following the Argentine invasion of the Falkland / Malvinas Islands, 3 PARA were deployed as part of a British Task Force to retake the Islands. Having landed at Port San Carlos, they speed-marched across the East Falkland, via Teal Inlet to Estancia House, from where they began to send out patrols to make a reconnaissance of the area around Mount Longdon situated to the north west of Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands.

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Before British forces could retake Port Stanley, it was essential that the high ground around the capital was captured. This included Mount Longdon, Mount Kent, the Two Sisters, Mount Harriet, Mount Tumbledown, Wireless Ridge, and Mount William.

Of these objectives, 3 PARA was tasked with taking Mount Longdon on the night of the 11/12 June 1982, to coincide with attacks on the Two Sisters by 45 Commando, and on Mount Harriet by 42 Commando.

The soldiers of 3 PARA were told to expect around 800 Argentine soldiers defending the Mount, who were well dug in and provided with artillery cover from three Argentine 105mm howitzers from Moody Brook, and a further 155mm gun on Sapper Hill. In addition, the area had been heavily mined.

Mount Longdon is a long narrow feature of rocky terrain, running from east to west with two summits. As a result of its geography, only one company attacking could advance along it. The plan was that the PARA rifle companies would be led to the start line at the stream, west of Mount Longdon by members of ‘D’ Company. ‘H hour’ was set for 0001hrs, 12 June. The start line would be known as ‘Free Kick’.

‘B’ Company, on the right would take the two summits named ‘Fly Half’ and ‘Full Back’ following the ridge line.

Meanwhile, ‘A’ Company would be on the left to take ‘Wing Forward’, a spur running from the western side of the summit.

‘C’ Company would be held in reserve.

The start line was crossed at 0015hrs by ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies.

It was a silent approach until Corporal Milne stepped on a land-mine, which alerted the Argentines to the attack. At this point the enemy opened fire and fierce fighting ensued.

The PARA’s 4 Platoon took the brunt of the Argentine fire, with one man killed and an additional four wounded, including the British Platoon Commander.

Sergeant Ian McKay (a Scotsman), therefore, took command of 4 Platoon and moved forward to attack an Argentine heavy machine gun position up a steep slope. It was whilst engaging this Argentine position he was killed in action. He would later receive a posthumous Victoria Cross for his actions.

Meanwhile, ‘A’ Company was attacking from the northern side of Mount Longdon. They were coming under heavy, sustained, and accurate Argentine fire and so the decision was made to withdraw them from that position. Instead, they were to move through ‘B’ Company and attack the ‘Full Back’ summit. Having taken the western peak, they moved eastwards, under heavy Argentine artillery fire from Mount Tumbledown, before taking the eastern peak.

Mount Longdon was taken by 1100hrs on the 12 June.

By this time, 3 PARA had been fighting for ten hours and they would remain under heavy artillery fire for a further 36 hours from Mount Tumbledown. During this period an additional four British soldiers were killed in action.

The Battle of Mount Longdon cost 3 PARA twenty-three dead, including attached personnel, and forty-three wounded. Accounts vary on the Argentine casualties, with between thirty to fifty killed, a similar number taken prisoner, and up to one hundred and twenty wounded.

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Testimonies of Irish-Argentine Veterans
of the
Falklands / Malvinas War (1982)

researched by John Kennedy

Image descriptionThe Argentine Military Cemetery on East Falkland, where 237 soldiers were buried.
Most of the graves are unidentified.

Individual accounts from soldiers who fought in wars can give new insights into the conduct of a war and the execution of military strategy and thereby serve as a valuable tool for the military historian. Below, the testimonies of three Irish-Argentine soldiers who fought in the war are presented, each of which portrayed the first-hand experiences of a particular category of participant: a senior officer; a newly-commissioned officer; and a conscript.

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Brigadier-General Eugenio Dalton

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Brigadier-General Eugenio Dalton is a grandson of Thomas Dalton of General López, Santa Fe in the province of Buenos Aires (born in 1843 in Ireland, died in 1925 in Córdoba, Argentina) and Ellen McGann. He joined the Argentine military academy in 1953 and graduated in 1956 as Sub-Lieutenant of the infantry army. In 1974, Major Dalton obtained the title of Staff Officer. Between 1977 and 1978, he attended a course at the Academy of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Germany, together with Commandant (Major) Colm Mangan who, in 2000, was promoted to Lieutenant-General and appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Irish defence forces.

In early 1981, at the age of forty-eight and having attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, he was appointed Chief of the Operations Division of the III-X Command of the Mechanised Infantry Brigade, based in the city of La Plata, in the province of Buenos Aires. The command's mission was to prepare officers and conscripts of the units and sub-units to carry out conventional operations who could be deployed on regional missions. After the Falkland / Malvinas Islands war, Major Dalton returned to his original command and continued his military career. He was promoted to Colonel in 1982, and promoted to Brigadier-General in 1987. In December 1989, he retired from the army. Following his retirement, he acted as an advisor to the Argentine Senate on national defence issues until 2005.

A Senior Officer’s Story: The War in the words of Eugenio Dalton …

“In April 1982, the brigade was training the conscripts who had recently begun their year of compulsory military service. We were fully engaged with this activity and were ‘surprised’ by the events of 2 April 1982 [the initial landing of the Argentine forces in the Falklands / Malvinas]. On 9 April, the brigade was ordered to prepare for airlift to the Falklands / Malvinas. All elements of the brigade, including conscripts from the previous year who had been drafted, were called up to go to the Falklands / Malvinas, except for the Tenth Mechanised Artillery Group, whose armaments were obsolete.

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“The higher rungs of the brigade, of which I was part, were the first to go on 11 April. We took personal equipment, including enough ammunition for a day’s combat. At 19:00 hours we landed at the airport in Port Stanley / Puerto Argentino. The deployment of the whole brigade was completed on 16 April.
“The field kitchens, water carriers, trailers and light vehicles essential for the preparation and distribution of rations, some jeeps and ammunition for fifteen days of fighting were loaded aboard the ship Formosa and arrived in Port Stanley / Puerto Argentino on 21 April.

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“Already from 2 April, General Benjamín Menéndez, commander of the Argentine troops and military governor of the Falklands / Malvinas, together with his entourage, including the commander of the Ninth Infantry Brigade, General Daher and his staff, had deployed units to defend the Argentine positions: the Twenty-Fifth Infantry Regiment in the airport area; one of his companies from the Ninth Infantry Brigade in Darwin; the Fifth Marine Battalion in Sapper Hill, Tumbledown and Williams; the Eighth Regiment Infantry and the Ninth Squadron of Engineers in the Fox Bay area. The Air Force with their ‘Pucara’ combat aircraft was based in Port Stanley / Puerto Argentino under the command of Brigadier Luis Castellanos.

Image description‘Pucara’ ground-attack aircraft of the Argentine Air Force

“On 12 April, the commander of the Tenth Mechanized Infantry Brigade, General Oscar Jofre, took over as commander of ground troops in the Falklands / Malvinas. I was part of his staff, and, as the most senior officer, was appointed Chief of the Division III-Operations (G3). It fell to our division to carry out studies and to propose a course of action. The order for the commencement of operations was made on 15 April.

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“On 24 April, with the arrival of the Third Infantry Brigade and other troops to the islands, it was decided to divide the islands into two sectors. One of the sectors included the Puerto Argentino / Stanley area, the Fressinet peninsula and Port Louis (the Puerto Argentino / Stanley group). The other sector included Darwin, Goose Greens, Port Howard and Fox Bay.
“The command post of the army’s Puerto Argentino / Stanley Group was initially installed at Moody Brook, once the headquarters of the Royal Marines, which was later destroyed by the British during aerial bombardment. Before the attacks, the command post had been moved to Stanley House in Port Stanley / Puerto Argentino.

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“The battle for the Falklands / Malvinas can be split into two phases: the first between 1 and 20 May, which was predominantly aerial, and the second from 21 May to 14 June, which was mainly terrestrial. In the first stage, we had no alternative but to play a game of “wait-and-see” for the British air and naval actions. We reacted from our positions with the modest means at our disposal to neutralise the British attacks, and waited for the Argentine Air Force based in the mainland to strike at the British fleet.

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Image descriptionArgentine Navy ‘Super Étendard’ fighter-bombers, refueling en route to attack British targets in the Falkland / Malvinas Islands

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“In the second phase, we fought against the British attack insofar as we could, given that we were faced with their superiority, isolation, lack of resources, difficult terrain, poor weather conditions and the aerial attacks we were subjected to throughout the campaign.

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“If I were to explain the list of tasks we carried out during the campaign, it would be a very extensive list indeed, but I can attest that the commander of the Port Stanley / Puerto Argentino Group worked extremely hard, with very little rest or relaxation, and, in my case, from the operations tactical centre, mindful of anything that could happen in the area of operations.
“On 14 June, the ceasefire happened and the Argentine forces surrendered. On 17 June, I was transferred by helicopter with other prisoners of war from Port Stanley / Puerto Argentino to a disused refrigeration plant at Ajax Bay, where we stayed until 30 June, when we boarded the ship St. Edmund which was docked in Berkeley Sound. On 13 June, we were told that the ship would be sailing to the mainland and on 14 June, we landed in Puerto Madryn in the province of Chubut.”
“At all times we received considerate treatment by the British forces.”

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Colonel Leandro Luis Villegas

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Colonel Leandro Luis Villegas is the grandson of Santiago Farrell, who managed the estancia of Siete Arboles in General López, in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina, on behalf of an Irish-descended landowner, Patricio Cunningham (1861-1947). Farrell’s parents had emigrated from Ireland and settled in Venado Tuerto, Santa Fe. Colonel Villegas graduated from the National Military Academy in December 1981 as a Sub-Lieutenant of the Armoured Engineers and, in January 1982, was posted to his first unit, the Ninth Company of Engineers, based in Sarmiento in Chubut.

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A newly-Commissioned Officer’s Story: the War in the words of Leandro Villega …

“After finishing instruction on the basic training course for the recent intake of conscripts, we met on 25 March with our head officer, Major Minorini Lima. We were asked to take an oath to not divulge to anyone what he was going to say to us. He gave us the order to prepare our unit to join with the Twenty-Fifth Infantry Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Seineldin, to partake in the invasion of the Falklands / Malvinas.

Image descriptionArgentine infantry patrolling in the Falklands / Malvinas

“Naturally we were surprised by the news. Immediately we began preparations to go to Comodoro Rivadavia and then fly to the Falklands / Malvinas. We landed in Port Stanley / Puerto Argentino on 2 April at approximately 08:45 hours.

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“We stayed at the airport until late afternoon, where we were given orders to board the ship ‘Isla de los Estados’ to be taken to Fox Bay. On boarding the ship, we received the news of the death of Lieutenant Giacchino, the first Argentine fatality in the war. On the journey to Fox Bay East, I shared part of the trip with Lieutenant Estebes, who disembarked at Goose Green. He would later lose his life there, in a battle with the Second British parachute regiment.

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“My role in my unit was Chief of Combat Engineers section. On arrival in Fox Bay East, we set up positions on the southwestern part, covering a large beach side village of two kilometres in length. We immediately set about shoring up our positions until 1 May, when we first came under attack. Our position was persistently shelled by the frigates. Thank God we did not suffer serious casualties. As an engineering company, a key part of our job was laying mines along our front line and giving advice to other infantry units on how to install them.

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‘An interesting story is how the soldiers built pseudo-weapons (for example, anti-aircraft guns) by using the wheels of scrap cars and sewer pipes that civilians had in their garages. The activity was undertaken at night to avoid being observed. It annoyed me as, at the time, I didn’t think they would be useful. But time showed me otherwise, as on many occasions they drew enemy fire. After the war, the British were very surprised that some of coastal defences comprised pseudo-weapons.
“As a younger officer I was proud to carry the flag of the unit. The flag was about to be burned before surrendering, but I took the decision to hide it in my spare underwear. Following our release as prisoners of war and repatriation to Argentina on the ship, the Norland, I discovered it and removed it on landing in the mainland.
“Our treatment as prisoners of war was humane but tough, but as I was twenty-one years old and a professional soldier, it did not affect me that greatly. The great disappointment was not being able to retain the islands and the great loss in human life.”

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Carlos Connell

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Carlos Connell was born in Berisso near La Plata, in the province of Buenos Aires. He is the son of Carlos Esteban Connell, of Irish descent, and Nelida Arun, of Syrian-Lebanese descent. His grandfather, Thomas Connell, and grandmother, Maria Luisa MacAdden, moved to Berisso from Capitán Sarmiento, one of the principle areas of Irish settlement in the province of Buenos Aires. Following graduation from high school in 1980, Connell carried out his civic responsibilities and entered training with the Seventh Mechanised Infantry Regiment in the city of La Plata. Conscription was not abolished in Argentina until 1994, under the presidency of Carlos Menem. He finished his compulsory military service at the end of 1981 and was just about to start a university degree in engineering, when he was called up for service following the outbreak of war in the South Atlantic. He should have been exempt from further service, but because the latest batch of conscripts had not been fully trained, the previous year’s intake was recalled.

On his return from the war, Carlos helped found a veterans centre in La Plata, known as the Centro de Ex-Combatientes Islas Malvinas (CECIM), which assists veterans in finding jobs, accessing state services and securing affordable housing. CECIM is also active on the human rights front by searching for military commanders who mistreated common soldiers. Some officers have already been indicted for such crimes.

A Conscript’s Story: the War in the words of Carlos Connell …

“On Thursday 13 April 1982, we left La Plata for the Falklands / Malvinas, arriving three days later. I was immediately posted to Mount Longdon, a location of strategic importance, northwest of Port Stanley. I spent the whole war there, until 12 June, when we retreated after heavy fighting. We continued fighting until the final surrender of 14 June, after which we were repatriated to Argentina by the British ship Continental Canberra.

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“From my impression, the landscape of the Falklands / Malvinas is similar to Ireland, particularly the rock types and the vegetation, but maybe the elevations are not as high as those of Ireland. Mount Longdon is a small rocky outcrop, about 150 metres above sea level, located at twelve to fourteen kilometres towards the northwest of Port Stanley / Puerto Argentino.

“I was a member of Company B of the Seventh Infantry Regiment, and we were supported by a group of the Tenth Regiment of Engineers and an anti-aircraft group of the Fifth Marine Battalion. In total, there were three hundred and ten troops stationed there. Our aim was to form part of a defensive cordon around Port Stanley / Puerto Argentino, the only really important city of the islands.

“The seventy days we spent on Mount Longdon were very challenging. We lived in small tents which accommodated two soldiers. With each passing day, the situation got worse. As the winter wore on, our provisions began to run out. We received more and more British naval bombardment, and we had no change of clothing. Our clothing was usually damp. It really weakened us. To add to the misery, many soldiers were mistreated by their superiors. We had no running water: we had to resort to drinking water from the pools that formed between the rocks. We didn’t have good communication with our families, and our weapons were not great and in some cases inoperable.

“Against this background, on 11 June, the engagement with the British troops took place on Mount Longdon. We were attacked by the Third British parachute regiment at nightfall as we were going to bed. The battle started on the west where we were based, and we fought in hand-to-hand combat with the British troops.

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“It was a tough night. We fought from about 21:00 until the following morning. There were many casualties on both sides. Met by fierce resistance, the British troops pulled back from the western sector of Mount Longdon to re-group.

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“Following the battle of Mount Longdon, there was a major shift in British strategy. From there on in, the British resorted to artillery attacks by land, sea and air. Our regiment and other Argentine regiments were incessantly bombarded from land, sea and air. Amusingly, we were told to avoid using surnames like mine, for fear that the enemy thought we had taken British prisoners. I was lucky enough to return unscathed.

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“In May 2007, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the war, I went back to the Falklands / Malvinas with a group of eight other Argentine veterans. I had a strong desire to revisit the scene of the battles, and I felt a strong sense of belonging to the islands. Accompanied by a TV crew we toured Port Stanley / Puerto Argentino, where we visited the Argentine war cemetery and other landmarks.”

Image descriptionArgentine war graves in the Falkland / Malvinas Islands

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Old Memories …

Argentine and British Veterans Commemorate their Fallen Comrades

Two of those on the islands during the 1982 Falklands / Malvinas War were Andy Brownlee and Ronnie Quinn. Andy is from Belfast and had just moved to live on the islands. Ronnie is from Buenos Aires, of Irish extraction, and had been conscripted into the Argentine army.

Andy and Ronnie both spoke to Buenos Aires-based, Irish journalist, Paul Byrne about the war and its effect on them.

RTÉ Radio - Raidió Teilifís Éireann – podcast …

Image descriptionAndy Brownlee in a DIY store in Port Stanley

Image descriptionAndy Brownlee leading the Falklands Defence Forces anniversary parade Port Stanley 2 April 2012

Image descriptionYoung Ronnie on the evening before Falklands conflict departure 1982

Image descriptionRonnie Quinn visiting the Falklands / Malvinas Battlefields and War Graves during 2012

Image descriptionRonnie Quinn with Micheal O Muircheartaigh
during the Hurling All Stars tour of Argentina 2009

In January 2000 Miguel Savage, an Irish-Argentine veteran of the Falklands / Malvinas War returned to the former positions of the Argentine army above Moody Brook (west of Port Stanley), where he was stationed in June 1982.

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Miguel remembers, “The base of the machine gun was surrounded by lethal craters. Nobody could have survived here. We found two 105-mm cannons. It's amazing that one of them was carried by hand by six conscripts and myself four kilometres upwards Moody Brook. We did it in four days. Now they lie there like old dinosaur skeletons”

Britain’s Annual ‘Remembrance Sunday’

Every year, ‘Remembrance Sunday’ (the Sunday closed to the 11th of November) is celebrated in the Falkland Islands capital, Port Stanley with a religious service at Christ Church Cathedral, followed by a veterans’ march to the Cross of Sacrifice, the Memorial to all those who have laid down their lives for Britain during war, where a public service of remembrance and thanksgiving is held. The customary two minutes of silence is signalled by the firing of artillery, manned by members of the local Falkland Islands Defence Force (British army reservists).

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Falklands Liberation Day

To mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands from Argentine occupation in 1982, the elected government of the Islands has made 14 June a Public Holiday. A ‘thanksgiving service’ is held in Port Stanley’s Christ Church Cathedral.

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This is followed by a parade, which includes: members of the Royal Navy; the Falkland Islands Defence Force; British Army; and Royal Air Force. The Royal British Legion and Associations and Youth Groups also attend, as well as veterans of the 1982 war.

At 11.00am a ceremony is held at the Liberation Monument in front of the Secretariat building. After prayers the British Governor of the Falklands lays a wreath. Wreaths are also laid by a Member of the Legislative Assembly, senior military officers; veterans associations; and by veterans’ relatives; and others wishing to do so.

People attending the Liberation Day ceremonies usually wear their military medals and decorations.

A public reception hosted by the Falkland Islands Government, is held in the Town Hall afterwards.

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Image descriptionBritish Veterans return for to the Falklands / Malvinas for wreath-laying ceremony

Malvinas Day / Día de Malvinas

‘Day of the Veterans and Fallen of the Malvinas War’ (Día del Veterano de Guerra y de los Caídos en la Guerra de las Malvinas), is a Public Holiday in Argentina, celebrated each year on the 2nd of April. The holiday is a tribute to Argentina's soldiers killed in the Falklands / Malvinas War (Guerra de las Malvinas), which began with the Argentine occupation of the islands on 2 April 1982. A total of 649 Argentines, 633 military and 16 civilian, lost their lives during the 74-day occupation.

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Image descriptionMalvinas veterans’ annual commemoration parade in Argentina

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Image descriptionThe cremated remains of Fernando Juan Casado, an Argentine flag, and his sword being presented to his family, long after the Falklands / Malvinas War

Fernando Casado and his BMK 62 Canberra bomber were shot down on 13 June 1982, the day before the end of the conflict, but his remains were not found until 1986, and were returned to Argentina by the British in 2008.

This last Argentine Air Force mission was conducted by two Canberra bombers escorted by two Mirage III fighters. The aircraft departed from Rio Gallegos to bomb Port Harriet House at 21:30 hours, but only one of the bombers returned. Fernando Casado’s companion on the ill-fated Canberra was Roberto Pastrán, who managed to eject and parachute to safety, and was captured by the British. The Canberra was shot down by a ‘Sea Dart’ missile from HMS Exeter in FitzRoy. The following day Argentine forces surrendered in Port Stanley.

Image descriptionFalklands / Malvinas War Memorial Plaza
San Martín, Buenos Aires

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“Lest We forget”