On this day in 1982 there was a war raging on a small British overseas territory some 8,000 miles away – the Falklands War.
In April 1982, British soldiers joined a naval task force sent to re-take the Falkland Islands after its surprise capture by the Argentine military. They went on to play a key part in the land campaign that helped secure victory in the war.
On 2 April 1982, after decades of diplomatic wrangling over the sovereignty of the region, the Argentinian Junta launched a surprise invasion of the Falkland Islands, following this with an invasion of South Georgia the next day.
Then on the 5th April 1982 the first elements of the task force, comprising of some 100 ships, set sail for the South Atlantic. It carried a reinforced 3 Commando Brigade with 2nd and 3rd Battalions, The Parachute Regiment, along with other units including a reinforced troop from The Blues and Royals, under the command of Brigadier Julian Thompson.
Argentina believed – and maintains to this day – that the islands belong to them, therefore considering their military action as an act to reclaim their own territory. The UK government, however, perceived it as an invasion of a territory that had been a Crown colony since 1841, the inhabitants of which mainly consisted of descendants of British settlers, and were in favour of British sovereignty.
Neither side officially declared war, although both governments declared the islands as a war zone.
255 British troops and three Falkland Islanders lost their lives during the Falklands War, lest we forget.