Was Antarctica a factor in the Falklands war?

Was Antarctica a factor in the Falklands war?


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Were Argentina's and the UK's Antarctic territorial claims significant in the Falklands War?


It was not a factor - both the UK and Argentina had signed the Antarctic Treaty, placing all territorial claims south of 60 degrees in abeyance indefinitely.

The full text of the original treaty

I am not aware of either nation having expressed a wish to go back on that treaty, and it was signed over 20 years before the Falklands War.


Although various countries have laid "claims" to various portions of Antarctica, those claims are basically unenforceable, because it is basically uninhabited, except for the occasional visitor, scientist, etc. It's hard to imagine this being worth fighting for.

The Falklands (Malvinas) on the other hand, are a different story. They have some 3,000 people (and something like five times as many sheep). They are also a major port of call for fishermen and cruise tourists from the outside. As a result, the islands have an economy that does about $100 million a year of both import and export trade, an amount way out of proportion to the population. Hence they were reasonably a causus belli.


Argentina, Chile, and the U.K. have overlapping claims on the Antarctic Peninsula, but the Falkands War was limited to the Falklands, South Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands.


There are usually some people who get a feeling of superiority from taking the cynical line, so in this case someone may well say "Of course all the talk of justice, patriotism, standing up to aggressors etc. was phony, it was really all about control of Antarctica's untapped oil reserves."

However, while that might be about 1% of it so far as the UK and Argentine governments were concerned, I doubt it was important as:

  • Wikipedia will confirm that the argument over the Falklands goes back to the eighteenth century. Britain. Spain and France all had claims to them, which Spain asserted by force in the 1770s and Britain reversed, again by force, in the 1830s. Thereafter Spain's successor Argentina kept up a theoretical claim but probably did not dare to start a war over them while Britain was a much the stronger world power in the Nineteenth and early to mid Twentieth Century. For most of this period no one knew or cared whether there was oil or other minerals buried inaccessibly under Antartica. The argument was genuinely about the islands themselves.

  • In the 34 years since the Falklands War neither Britain nor Argentina has seriously attempted to exploit its Antarctic territory commercially, suggesting that any hope of being able to do so was a very remote one and hardly worth the risk of a war on either side.
    It proved a disastrous gamble to the then military Junta ruling Argentina, who brought about their own disgrace and downfall by starting and then losing the war.
    I was later told by someone in our Ministry of Defence that at the beginning they did not really think Britain could succeed in recapturing the islands, yet the Thatcher government took the risk, knowing it must be their political ruin if they lost. Surely neither government would have gambled their existence over the very distant prospect of possibly one day being able to get something of value out of Antarctica.

I am British and was aged 18 or 19 at the time Argentina invaded with very little warning and temporarily seized the Falklands by surprise. Most people subsequently followed the news of the dispatch of a British naval and military task force to the South Atlantic and their eventual victory. The War did divide people, but most in Britain who I spoke to who supported the war did so because they saw it as standing up to aggression and/or hurt national pride.

I remember trying to explain to a puzzled New Zealander why we had fought for remote islands that previously most people in Britain had scarcely known existed. I said he would probably understand why many of us were angry at the surprise Argentinian invasion if he ever woke up to learn that a foreign country had seized by force some equally obscure islands far out in the Pacific over which New Zealand claimed sovereignty.

Whereas the people I encountered in Britain who opposed fighting to recover the Falklands seemed to be of two types: the type of committed 'leftie' to whom their own country is automatically always in the wrong, plus at least some of those old enough to have lived through the World Wars and remember what is was like when their own family or families they knew lost people killed. What I do not remember is anyone caring much about the Antarctic territories.


Antarctic Peninsula was no factor at all -short term. But it's the major factor in the long term perspective.

But the question itself demands a broad discussion.

Let's go on with that - it would be thrilling!

The outcome of the war was a British victory, back status quo, since US wanted it so, even if the task force had got stuck in a long attrition fighting before winning.

The pure actual military fighting shows that Argentina had no plans or resources for winning with strong claims after that on the Antarctic Peninsula, if GB (US) responded military. The military Junta did gamble on a British diplomatic solution -which was perfectly logical, but who could foresee such a bold British response?


Images of a Top Secret WWII Operation to Antarctica to Establish Bases & Keep Argentina out of The Falklands

It’s easy to imagine all the heated battles of World War II’s European Theater taking place in France or Belgium or North Africa – all the campaigns discussed in history class at school.

But other operations took place, too. Some were not known of at all during the war years, because they weren’t talked of openly by governments or in the press.

On a frigid, barren landscape in Antarctica, “Operation Tabarin” took place from 1943-1946. It was just as important, in its way, as any of the infamous battles that happened in Europe and North Africa. It just happened “below the radar,” and wasn’t talked about once it was launched.

The Allies continually worried about the enemy accessing shipping lanes and other waters. That was true in and near Antarctica as well, where Great Britain had a huge stake in territory it had claimed at the turn of the 19th century. Argentina had begun asserting rights to the Falkland Islands by planting its flag on Deception Island in 1942.

Location of Deception Island in the South Shetland Islands.Photo: Apcbg CC BY-SA 3.0

Accordingly, Winston Churchill proposed a secret operation whose purpose was two-fold: watch for enemy ships arriving on Great Britain’s territory in Antarctica, and ensure England’s authority over the Falkland Islands to protect the area from Argentina. Great Britain intended to make it clear that it still had authority in the area, particularly the Falkland Islands.

Operation Tabarin’s 14-man team included a scientist from the British Museum, and his diaries have just been published in a new book, The Secret South. The book details the operation, the establishment of different bases, and the struggles and joys of such an arduous trip.

Offloading stores to establish Base A at Port Lockroy, 1944. (Photographer: Ivan Mackenzie Lamb Reproduced courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey Archives Service. Archives ref: AD6/19/1/A1/29). Copyright: Crown (expired).

Some historians view Operation Tabarin as the most singularly vital expedition ever made by Great Britain to further its research into Antarctica and its resources. It led to the establishment of a cutting edge research facility that examined geography, climate, and other natural sciences.

The operation’s leader, James Marr, was a marine zoologist. He and the British government recruited other men for the trip whose talents and skills lent themselves to the expedition’s goals.

Cdr James Marr, RNVR, Tabarin leader, 1943-44. (Photographer: Ivan Mackenzie Lamb Reproduced courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey Archives Service. Archives ref: AD6/19/1/A7). Copyright: Crown (expired).

Ivan Mackenzie Lamb was one of those adventurous men. He joined the long, intense sledding trips across Wiencke Island, and another 800 mile journey around James Ross Island. Lamb directly contributed to the establishment of manned bases on Deception Island, Hope Bay, and Goudier Island. The bases were slowly erected over the trip’s two-year term.

Captain Andrew Taylor RCE, surveyor and expedition leader during Tabarin’s second year. Taylor assumed command at very short notice and was instrumental in the success of the 1945-46 season. (Photographer: Ivan Mackenzie Lamb Reproduced courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey Archives Service. Archives ref: AD6/19/1/A8/0). Copyright: Crown (expired).

Lamb’s photographs in The Secret South reveal the camaraderie – and the travails – of such a difficult undertaking. But the book’s editors note that in addition to his skill behind the camera and his scientific expertise as a botanist, Lamb brought something more to the trip:

“In some ways,” they write, “perhaps the most important [aspects] of Lamb’s character, at least when judged against the peculiar backdrop of a polar expedition, were his empathy and kindness.”

Victor Marchesi, captain of the expedition support ship, HMS William Scoresby, and 2nd-in-command. (Photographer: Michael Sadler Reproduced courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey Archives Service. Archives ref: AD6/19/2/E402/43a)Copyright: Crown (expired).

The British government insisted that its concern about enemy ships disturbing supply lines was the sole reason for the expedition. However, that wasn’t entirely true.

It was also concerned about Argentina’s insistence that the Falkland Islands were its rightful territory. Operation Tabarin would help secure Great Britain’s rights in Antarctica and the Falklands by establishing permanent, manned bases.

Norman Marshall (zoologist) working in laboratory at Base D, Hope Bay, 1945. (Photographer: Ivan Mackenzie Lamb Reproduced courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey Archives Service. Archives ref: AD6/19/1/D194). Copyright: Crown (expired).

In fact, this secret operation would be one of the reasons Great Britain and Argentina clashed in 1982 during a 10-week conflict called the Falklands War, though neither side ever formally declared war. Still, the matter has never been resolved – each country still believes the territory is rightfully its own.

Lamb’s diaries, published 70 years after his trip to Antarctica, reveal yet another chapter in the hitherto unknown operations carried out by the Allies to deter the Germans at every access point. No enemy ship ever approached while the men were there, and Lamb returned to Great Britain when his two-year contract expired.

William Scoresby approaching Deception Island, 1944. (Photographer: James Edward Farrington, radio operator Reproduced courtesy of the British Antarctic Survey Archives Service. Archives ref: AD6/19/1A/201/3). Copyright: Crown (expired).

The editors also note, “Whatever quixotic objectives motivated him to join the expedition, there can be no doubt regarding Lamb’s contribution to the success of Operation Tabarin.”

Book cover.

The book The Secret South: A Tale of Operation Tabarin is now available on Amazon.


The Falklands War: when was it fought, why did it happen and how was it won?

On 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a remote British colony in the South Atlantic – sparking a short and decisive war that grabbed international headlines, created sizeable politicial drama, and involved great bravery and great tragedy. Explore when and why did the conflict started, how was it won and what it meant for British domestic politics with experts including Sir Max Hastings and Sir Lawrence Freedman

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Published: December 5, 2020 at 12:30 pm

On 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a remote British colony in the South Atlantic. The UK, which had ruled the islands for nearly 150 years (though Argentina had long claimed sovereignty), quickly chose to fight and Britain’s Navy sailed south to retake the Falklands. Writing in BBC History Revealed, Matt Elton explores 9 big questions surrounding the conflict…

When was the Falklands War, and where did it take place?

The Falklands War saw Britain and Argentina battle for control of the Falkland Islands – a tiny archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean made up of two main islands (dubbed East Falkland and West Falkland) and around 776 smaller outcrops.

When was the Falklands War and how long did it last?

The conflict was fought between 2 April and 14 June 1982, lasting for 74 days.

How did the Falklands War start?

On 2 April, Argentina invaded and occupied the British dependent territory of the Falkland Islands, and they took the neighbouring island of South Georgia the following day. However, neither Britain nor Argentina declared a state of war at any point, meaning the conflict remained, officially, an ‘undeclared war’.

Why did the Falklands War start?

From an Argentine point of view, the war was sparked less by an ‘invasion’ and more by a reclamation of territory that was, by rights, theirs. The history of the Falklands is rather convoluted. France was the first nation to establish a colony on East Falkland in 1764, before the British claimed West Falkland as its own the next year. Five years after that, Spanish troops captured the fort of Port Egmont (Britain’s first settlement on West Falkland).

Fifty years on, a mercenary working for the United Provinces of the River Plate – a forerunner of what would later become Argentina – claimed possession of the islands. In 1833, the British reasserted their sovereignty and requested that the Argentine administration leave. Britain retained possession of the Falklands from that point on – but the issue of the islands’ sovereignty remained controversial.

In the early 1980s, Argentina was ruled by a military dictatorship – called a junta – and rocked by political unrest and economic crises. Its leadership believed that reclaiming the Falklands – the islands were about 300 miles off Argentina’s coastline, but over 8,000 miles from Britain’s shores – would appeal to nationalist sentiment and unite an increasingly fractious public behind the government.

Was the Queen opposed to the Falklands War?

In season 4 of The Crown, Queen Elizabeth II is seen looking distinctly unimpressed by events in the Falkland Islands. What did she really think of the war? Historian Dominic Sandbrook explains…

What was the sinking of the Belgrano and why was it controversial?

A Commando unit, SAS troops and members of the Special Boat Squadron retook South Georgia on 25 April. Yet it was the sinking of the Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano by British forces on 2 May that has been remembered as the conflict’s first major engagement – and it proved to be one of the most controversial acts of the war. Despite being discovered by the submarine HMS Conqueror outside of the exclusion zone, the decision was made to torpedo the cruiser – leading to the loss of 323 Argentinian lives.

The Sun’s headline in response to the sinking of the General Belgrano – “Gotcha” – remains one of the newspaper’s most famous (or infamous) front pages.

How did the Falklands War end?

By 12 June 1982, British forces had reached high ground around the capital, Stanley, and surrounded and blockaded its port. A series of short battles ensued, but it was clear that the town was cut off. Argentina surrendered on 14 June. British rule was restored later that year.

How many people died during the Falklands War?

The Falklands War left 650 Argentinian and 253 British people dead. Hundreds more were injured on both sides – the burns suffered by troops such as Simon Weston (a Welsh guardsman serving aboard the RFA Sir Galahad who was left with burns over 46 per cent of his body when his ship was bombed) became some of the most recognisable images of the conflict. Britain also captured around 11,000 Argentine prisoners, all of whom were freed when the fighting finished.

What did the Falklands War mean for Margaret Thatcher?

The conflict had received widespread popular support in Britain, possibly because the opening years of the 1980s had been characterised by bad news: economic recession, decline in industry, and – arguably – declining influence on the world stage. But the victory became a defining moment in British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s tenure.

As she put it in a speech in Cheltenham: “We have ceased to be a nation in retreat … we rejoice that Britain has rekindled that spirit which has fired her for generations past and which today has begun to burn as brightly as before.” It was a victory that was to translate into personal success for Thatcher: in the general election of the next year, her Conservative government won by the most decisive landslide since 1945.

Did the Falklands War resolve the issue of sovereignty?

In a word: no. Although the two nations re-established relations in a joint statement in 1989, Argentina still maintains its claim to the Falklands islands, even adding it to its constitution in 1994. In a 2013 referendum, all but three islanders voted to remain a UK overseas territory – a result dismissed by the Argentine government as a “publicity stunt”.

Matt Elton is the deputy editor of BBC History Magazine

Falklands War timeline: Sir Max Hastings picks 10 key dates in the conflict

19 March 1982 | A group of Argentines (purportedly scrap metal workers) land on South Georgia

2 April | Argentine forces invade the Falklands, capturing the islands after a brief fight

3 April | The UN Security Council calls unsuccessfully for an end to hostilities and an Argentine withdrawal

5 April | The British task force sets sail for the south Atlantic

25 April | South Georgia is recaptured by British commandos. Meanwhile the main task force has reached the vicinity of the Falkland Islands

2 May | Argentine cruiser General Belgrano is torpedoed by British submarine HMS Conqueror, resulting in the deaths of 323. Aerial and naval combat is stepped up

21 May | After the failure of several international attempts to mediate, British troops land on the Falklands at San Carlos and establish a bridgehead

29 May | British troops attack the Argentine positions at Darwin and Goose Green, inflicting heavy losses

8 June | Argentine aircraft raid the British supply ships Sir Tristram and Sir Galahad, killing 48 and injuring dozens more

14 June | Having captured important defensive positions, British troops arrive in Port Stanley, compelling the Argentine garrison to surrender

Sir Max Hastings is a journalist, author and historian, who became a household name reporting on the 1982 battle for the Falkland Islands. Here he shares his memories of what he describes as Britain’s “last really popular war”

The politics of the Falklands War

Sir Lawrence Freedman, official historian of the Falklands War, examines the build up to open warfare

Britain’s first surprise at the start of April 1982 was that it was at war the second that it was able to respond at all to the Argentine seizure of the Falkland Islands.

Argentina believed the British had taken the islands illegally from them in January 1833. In December 1981 a new military junta, led by General Leopoldo Galtieri, determined that the islands should be retaken, if necessary by force, by the 150th anniversary of this event. The British government had shown little interest in the islands, but stood by a commitment to the islanders, made first in 1968, that gave them the final say over whether sovereignty should be transferred to Argentina.

The population was tiny, barely 1,800 and declining. The British government saw little long term future, and was reluctant to invest in making the Falklands prosperous and secure. Yet it could not persuade the islanders to join Argentina, even under a lease-back arrangement that would leave them under Argentine sovereignty but British administration. By 1982 it had no policy other than procrastination, hoping the islanders might one day change their minds.

In March the dispute blew up in unexpected fashion. The island of South Georgia, uninhabited other than by the British Antarctic Survey, was administratively linked to the Falklands and also claimed by Argentina, although its constitutional history was quite different. An Argentine scrap metal merchant had a legitimate contract to clear up an old whaling station. His men were taken to the island by the Argentine Navy avoiding any formalities that would have acknowledged Britain’s sovereignty.

Their aim was to establish a long-term presence as a means of asserting Argentina’s sovereignty. From this a crisis developed that got out of hand. The junta became convinced that the British would use the crisis to reinforce their naval presence in the South Atlantic, thwarting any later attempts to take the Falklands. They decided to implement their occupation plans at once. On 2 April the Falklands was taken and a couple of days later so was South Georgia, after spirited resistance from the small Royal Marines garrison.

A plea by US President Ronald Reagan to General Galtieri not to go ahead was ignored. This was a critical moment for British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. She had gained a reputation for being tough yet was about to preside over the loss of sovereign territory. The Royal Navy came to her rescue. The First Sea Lord, Sir Henry Leach, insisted it would be possible to send a task force to retrieve the islands and that it could leave within days.

The fact that this proved to be the case was testament to an extraordinary effort by the armed forces to pull together people and equipment at great speed. It also reflected poor Argentine timing, because they had picked a moment before British naval cuts agreed in 1981 had taken effect, and when one chunk of the fleet was gathered close to Gibraltar for exercises while the rest was back at port.

The fact that the Prime Minister could announce that a task force was sailing meant that political attention soon moved on from the humiliation of being caught out (helped by the resignation of foreign secretary Lord Carrington) and on to the campaign. The initial assumption was that sending a task force would create conditions for a diplomatic settlement. The US Secretary of State Alexander Haig shuttled between London and Buenos Aires trying to get a deal. Later, even after serious fighting had begun, the UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar also tried. The British agreed to substantial concessions, including a measure of Argentine influence over an interim administration while talks over the long-term future of the islands went ahead. The junta, however, could not bring itself in the end to concede that the talks might not end with a transfer of sovereignty. Diplomatic activity filled the weeks as the British task force sailed south.

How the British won the Falklands War

Sir Lawrence Freedman, official historian of the Falklands War, recounts what happened when the British task force reached the Falkland Islands

If an amphibious landing was going to be undertaken then first it would be vital to reduce the naval and air threat. The reduction of the naval threat was the result of one of the most controversial encounters of the war. As soon as the carrier battle group reached the Falklands area the commander, Admiral Sandy Woodward, managed to draw out the Argentine navy and air force by giving the impression of attempting a landing. The British Sea Harriers demonstrated their superiority in dogfights to the Argentine Mirage and Skyhawk aircraft.

Meanwhile the Argentine navy sought to catch the British fleet in a pincer movement. Woodward’s hope had been that a British submarine would be able to attack the sole Argentine aircraft carrier, but it had not been found. Meanwhile the old Argentine cruiser, the General Belgrano, had been found by a submarine, HMS Conqueror.

As this was outside the “exclusion zone” around the Falklands, within which the British had warned that any Argentine vessel could be sunk, a change in the rules of engagement was needed to permit an attack. This was agreed and the Belgrano was torpedoed by Conqueror on 2 May even though the Argentine pincer movement had by then been called off and the cruiser had turned away. This, and the loss of 323 lives in the attack, led to later controversy, including erroneous claims that the torpedo strike was really about scuppering a new peace initiative. The military effect was exactly as intended, as the Argentine navy never again ventured out.

Argentina gained revenge on 4 May when Super-Etendard aircraft executed an exocet missile attack on HMS Sheffield. The next most deadly bout of fighting came on 21 May, when 5 Commando Brigade was landed at Port San Carlos. The initial landing was unopposed, but soon waves of Argentine aircraft came in. Over the next few days the ships of the task force took a battering, four being sunk and many others damaged. By the end of the month men and equipment were ashore and the fighting switched to land. The first battle, for Darwin and Goose Green settlements, was extremely hard fought, and led to the death of the commanding officer of 2 Para, Colonel “H” Jones.

By 12 June British forces had reached the perimeter defences of the Argentine garrison in Stanley, the Falklands’ capital – achieved with a considerable physical effort by the troops and the use of the limited supply of helicopters and ships, with only one major mishap when Sir Galahad was caught as it was unloading troops at Bluff Cove, with the loss of 47 lives.

The British launched their final push in a series of short but intense battles until finally the Argentine will collapsed. On 14 June 1982 the Argentine garrison surrendered.

The war cost some 650 Argentine and 253 British dead and did not settle the dispute: Argentina still claims the Falklands. If it had left well alone in 1982, depopulation would eventually have left the Falklands unviable. Instead the victory led to firmer British commitment, and so the Falklands is more prosperous and secure than ever before.

Sir Lawrence Freedman is emeritus professor of war studies at King’s College, London


The curious story of the Falkland Islands

Deep in the heart of the Southern Ocean, roughly 500 kilometers due east from the bottom of Argentina, you’ll find the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), an incredibly wild and rocky conglomerate of hundreds of islands, home to some insane wildlife, epic landscapes, and a truly remarkable history, that I’m guessing, you probably don’t know much about.

I unashamedly admit I didn’t know much about the Falklands before we landed here after setting sail from Argentina to begin our adventure to the Antarctic with Quark Expeditions, even though I have a mild polar obsession. My knowledge was limited to vague textbook memories from high school about a war.

What I was greeted with was a remarkable surprise – the Falklands were amazing.

About as different as I could have imagined for being so close to Antarctica, the Falklands are made up of stunning beaches that intersect with rolling green hills with a cottage hidden away here and there, it was a mix of both the old world we are all familiar with and the utterly unknown. A true bridge to the Antarctic.

Often touted as the gateway to Antarctica, the Falkland Islands are well worth visiting on their own right and as an introduction to the subantarctic islands of the Southern Ocean.

There are far more voyages by ship that travel down to the Antarctic Peninsula than to the Falklands and South Georgia .

If you find yourself on a journey to the Falklands, you’ve discovered a place few experience. I applaud you. In fact, I believe the Falklands are the perfect introduction to Antarctica, a place easier to get to and will likely inspire a deep fascination with this part of the world.

We spent the first day at sea with Quark getting to know the ship the Ocean Adventurer, as well as the incredible expedition team and staff. This would be a collective experience for all and we couldn’t wait to get started. For someone who often doesn’t get to sleep in the same bed every night, it was a real treat to settle into my cozy bed in my cabin and tucking all my belongings away for an adventure.

As our wobbly legs and weak constitutions began to harden up, we caught sight of land at the Falkland Islands. It was sunny and warm, and not a cloud to mark the bright blue sky as we boarded the zodiacs for the first time guided by the expert expedition team, to heard to land and begin a exploring a world new to all of us.

We were greeted with friendly faces, white sandy beaches, and a lot of penguins, and it didn’t take long for us to understand that we had arrived at a curious, unique place in the world and we couldn’t wait to get to know it.

The story of these subantarctic islands at the bottom of the world is a fascinating one, utterly distinct from anywhere else on earth. Follow along with me as I introduce you to one of my new favorite places: the Falkland Islands. Enjoy!

The history

Settled, claimed and disputed by many countries over the years, the Falklands are nothing if not controversial. Even chasing to say “Falklands” over “Malvinas” potentially is offensive.

Claimed by Argentina, the islands have been under British control since 1833, which simmered until it erupted in open conflict in 1982 before the Argentinians surrendered after the Falklands War. Nowadays over 98% of people on the islands vote to remain a UK overseas territory.

Also, did I mention the population is less than 3,000 souls? Lovingly nicknamed “Kelpers,” and mostly of British descent living in the only town of Stanley.

The birds

Let’s be honest, I’m just here for the birds.

When people say that the Falkland Islands are home to some incredible wildlife, they mean it. In New Zealand, we freak out if we see one penguin or an albatross. These are species that are super rare and endangered, and you count yourself very lucky to lay eyes on one.

In the Falklands over 220 species of bird live or breed, and you’ll likely to encounter 5 types of penguins. Welcome to this part of the world!

Our first landing on West Point Island brought us on a lovely hike up the hills to some incredible sea cliffs. As we made our way down, suddenly an incredible colony of Black-browed Albatrosses were visible amongst the tall grasses.

Well, if I’m honest, I could smell them before I could see them.

Dozens of albatross sat on nests and huge fluffy chicks were sleeping amongst them along with many rockhopper penguins and their chicks too.

It was a veritable zoo of wild and rare birds. Obviously I freaked out and didn’t know what to do. I had never seen anything like it, and it took several minutes of gazing adoringly at these fat fluffy chicks ooh-ing and ahh-ing to myself before I was even able to take photos.

And this isn’t a unique scenario – later on at our second landing of Saunders Island we encountered even more birds all living together seemingly cohesively, even with some sheep thrown in for good measure! What a place!

Honestly, how angry does this Magellanic penguin look in his hole? Caption contest, anyone?

The beaches

I seriously doubt if you asked anyone to describe what they imagine islands off of the continent of Antarctica to look like and they would reply with white sandy beaches. But here we are.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises for me when we made our first landing on the Falklands were the white sandy beaches. Oh, and all the penguins on the beaches. Not what you expect!

On the first day I had time to catch up with our amazing expedition leader Ali who told me that Saunder’s Island, where we were about to visit, was one of her favorite places on the entire trip. And after spending a day there, wandering amongst many penguins on white beaches, I couldn’t agree more.

Surely there isn’t anywhere else like this on earth?!

As we zoomed close to the shore, the water became clear and turquoise, and you could see straight to the bottom. It looked like a swimming pool. One quick dip of the fingers though or a splash to the face and you’re very much reminded how close to the South Pole you actually are.

As inviting as it looked, you couldn’t pay me to jump in.

Penguins mingle on the white sand making for a truly ironic image that I’ll likely never to forget.

The Defenders

Can someone please explain to me why every other car in the wee town of Stanley are a Land Rover Defenders?

It’s a hipster Instagrammers dream come true.

We had several hours to wander Stanley, take in the sights and enjoy the local pub culture. But what began as a walking tour of the town with just Jarrad and I quickly degenerated into “let’s spot the Defender” photoshoot, both of us unashamed hipster Instagrammers who’s biggest dream would be to own one of these pricy rides.

Defender police car. Defender ambulance. Defender firefighter. Retro landies meet more modern whips. WHY? I must know why there are so many in a town of 2,100 souls.

My theory is that the Falklands are stereotypically British, between all of the Defenders, union jacks and small town pubs and red phone booths, it really felt about as British as you could get, being about as far from Britain as you can possibly get.

You could easily picture the Queen herself rolling on by in one of these rides with a bunch of corgis for company.

The views

The Falklands are also incredibly colorful and full of stunning views around every corner.

In Antarctica, the world is desaturated of color, everything blends into shades of blue, grey and white. But the Falklands couldn’t be more different, vibrant and alive, somewhat reminiscent of places like Ireland with its wild coastlines and green hills.

If only Ireland had less people, more penguins and a incredible population of Defenders.

It’s one of the Antarctic’s best-kept secrets

There is no where quite like the Falklands. If you’re a curious and intrepid traveler like me, always seeking secret spots and getting off the map, it’s for you.

The Falklands are a place that few travelers visit as there aren’t many voyages there, and many aren’t aware of the incredible views and exceptional wildlife opportunities that are available. It’s a place that intrigues and inspires, unlike anywhere on earth and a unique bridge between the modern world we are familiar with the and the vast emptiness of the Antarctic.

These islands are a kept secret of the region and t his definitely won’t be my last visit here.

Have you heard of the Falkland Islands before? Is visiting a place like this on your bucketlist? What’s the most curious place you’ve ever traveled to before? Share!


1982 Invasion of the Falkland Islands

The Falklands War was a conflict between Argentina and the UK over the British Overseas Territories of Falklands Island and South George and the South Sandwich Islands. The war lasted 74 days and was fought from April 2, 1982, and ended on June 14, 1982, with the surrender of the Argentine. The conflict began with the Argentine invasion and occupation of the Falklands Islands and claiming sovereignty over them. The conflict had a severe effect on both Argentina and the UK with Argentina suffering 649 casualties and the UK suffering 255 casualties. The relationship between the two countries has since been restored following the Madrid meeting in 1989, although neither country has changed their positions regarding the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

Falklands Forces Involved in the Invasion

The governor of Falkland, Rex Hunt, was informed of a possible invasion from Argentina on April 1, 1982. The governor summoned senior Royal Marine officers to discuss the option of defending the islands. Major Norman was tasked with the command of the 66 Marines due to his experience. The Marines were reinforced by 25 Falkland Defense Forces with Major Phil Summer as the commanding officer of the FIDF.

Operation Rosario

The Argentine operation began on April 1, 1982, with the ARA Santa Fe disembarking special naval forces. Operation Rosario began with the exploration of Port William on March 31, 1982, with the landing of 14 members of the diverse tactical group on the night of April 1, Santa Fe containing 84 Special Forces troopers and a small party landed at Mullet Creek. The party set towards the Moody Brook Barracks where the Argentine Marines suspected to be housing sleeping Royal Marines. The Argentine forces destroyed the barracks with the sound of grenades catching the attention of the Royal Marines. The Government House was captured early morning on April 2 just before the amphibious landing at York Bay. Major Norman, who was commanding the Royal Marine, surrendered his troops to the Argentine after the Government House had been captured. On April 3, 1982, the Argentine Marines managed to capture South George Island.

British Response to the Invasion

Governor Hunt had a telex conversation with the Ministry of Defense operatives in London informing them of the Argentine invasion of Falklands. A crisis meeting was quickly called by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that discussed the possibility of the British recapturing the Islands. The operation to retake the islands was named Operation Corporate and a task force was also formed to ensure that the operation was carried out efficiently and within the shortest time possible. The UK also drafted a resolution to the UN Security Council condemning the hostilities and asking an immediate withdrawal of the Argentine from the islands. The UNSC adopted the resolution on April 4, 1982. The UK also received support from the European Economic Community which imposed economic sanctions on Argentina. The US provided military weapons to the UK to counter the Argentine’s heavy military. Although several countries supported the British and condemned the actions of the Argentine, some of the countries opted to mediate the crisis.

Consequences of the Invasion

The invasion of the Falkland Islands quickly escalated into a 10-week war which known as the Falklands War. It led to 907 casualties. There was a considerable loss of material and military equipment for both countries. However, the Islanders benefited from the Invasion by acquiring full British citizenship with their lifestyle improved by the British investment on the islands.


Why the Falkland Islands are so Controversial

At first sight, the Falkland Islands – known as Islas Malvinas in Argentina – shouldn’t belong to Great Britain. Only 480kms away from the former, but almost 13,000km from the latter, this wildlife and wilderness haven is, without a doubt, the most controversial foreign territory to fly under the British flag.


The history of contention of the Falklands dates back over three centuries and, despite a short but bloody conflict in 1982, it seems controversy over its ownership is anything but over. It’s no wonder then, that this topic has the ability to irate even the most unbiased of spectators. Fact is, it’s quite impossible to remain subjective when discussing the Falklands – that’s because claims on both sides are valid, and mistakes on both sides were made.

But at the end of the day, when all arguments are exhausted, fact remains that the Falkland Islands are very much British.
So the question begs: How on earth did this splendid archipelago, just off the coast of Argentina, ever end up British anyway?

And, while we’re at, why would anyone make such a fuss about a remote cluster of islands inhabited by more sheep than people.

How did we get here?
Like the rest of South America, the Falkland Islands were part of the colossal foreign colony which the Spanish conquistadores created. There is somewhat proof that first sighting of the archipelago was by the Dutch. Or was it the Portuguese? No-one really knows for sure – although everyone agrees it was neither the Brits nor the Spanish – but for all intents and purposes – it is quite irrelevant. At the end of the day, it was the British – under the rule of Captain John Strong – who landed first in 1690. It was almost a whole century later when the British claimed the islands for King George III, at about the same time the French set up a colony of their own here. All the while, the Spanish were up in arms at both claims, yelling “Hang on, but this is our land!”

Within a couple of years, the Spanish bought out the French but, when the Brits wouldn’t be bought, they were promptly expelled. War was averted – only just – and the Brits were allowed to return and keep their colony. This is the bonafide birthdate of the contention over the Falkland Islands.

Interestingly enough, both the British and the Spanish up and left (1776 the former and 1811 the latter) to take care of their colonial ‘issues’ elsewhere, leaving the Falklands-Malvinas to enjoy their solitude and remoteness in much peace and quiet. Not before each troupe left plaques claiming their own sovereignty over the islands.

On July 8, 1816, Argentina gained independence from Spain and with it, all of the Spanish-claimed territories, very much including the Falkland Islands. Something the Brits begrudged when they promptly returned in 1833, and found someone had shorn all the sheep in their absence!
Argentina had set up a penal colony on the Falklands during this time, and when the Brits puffed up their chest and threatened conflict, the Argentinians simply backed off and left the Queen to deal with a few escaped convicts.

At this stage, we can fast forward 150 years. For a century and a half, the Falklands were peacefully British. It wasn’t until 1982 – at a time when Argentina was suffering a catastrophic economic crisis – that the Falklands came back to the spotlight. Strategists agree: when faced with a domestic crisis, divert the public’s attention to an emotional matter and you can be guaranteed of re-election. So then-President Galtieri, a military man with a big ego, decided now would be a great time to challenge the British over sovereignty of the Malvinas, as he called them. But he hadn’t factored in Margaret Thatcher, her iron fist, or the fact that this ‘cunning plan’ only really works if you end up winning. Which he didn’t. To his defence, it’s arguable that he probably never imagined Great Britain taking such a strong stance over a cluster of remote islands, so far away.

The Falklands War lasted 74 days. In total, 255 British soldiers and 694 Argentinian soldiers were killed. The war cost Britain almost 3 billion pounds, and ensured Thatcher’s re-election…because, apparently, the plan also works if you’re not the one who starts the war in the first place.
Go figure.

How far back should one go?
One of the major issues with hotly-contested territories, anywhere in the world, is that agreement over ‘how far back’ one can go to stake their claim treads on murky waters. Is 100 years enough? How about 200? More importantly, does it even matter? If anything, history has shown us that it’s not who was there first, or who stayed the longest, but who managed to build a big enough army to fight off any possible intrusions. In the world we have created, political boundaries are set based on this credo alone. The one with the strongest friends win. And so it is that the Falkland Islands are nowadays British simply because each and every time Argentina tried to win them back, they lost. Simple as that.

Argentina still claims the Malvinas are theirs because they first belonged to the Spanish (and what was Spanish is now theirs), and Britain claims the Falklands are theirs because they ‘won’ them fair and square.
Watch this space. Something tells us the fight’s not over yet.

What matters most…
The first question which usually pops into most people’s minds is: what about the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands? First of all, it’s worth noting that this archipelago was completely uninhabited when Europeans arrived. Even the sheep have been introduced by foreigners! At the very least, there are no indigenous claims on the islands.

When it comes to Falklanders nowadays – all 2,932 of them – their wishes are what Britain has consistently claimed is the single biggest reason for their continued protection over their land. In referendums held throughout the last decades, the latest being in 2013, the overwhelming majority have always voted to remain British. In 2013, in fact, there were only three votes ‘against’ and there was even a huge uproar with locals demanding the ‘three imposters’ make themselves known. Locals feel British, they like being British and have no desire to be ruled by anyone else.

And isn’t that the only thing that really matters?

**The Falklands

are arguably the most popular addition to Antarctic Cruises, although they’re certainly worth a visit of their own accord. Less than 500km off the coast of Patagonia, they’re brimming with colonies of albatrosses, five species of penguins, seals and countless sheep stations. With its rugged good looks, dramatic coastline, varied wildlife and immensely interesting history, the Falkland Islands are one of the most fascinating add-ons to any Latin America Tour. Wish to include them on your next adventure tour in South America? Ask us how!**

Author: Laura Pattara

“Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 15 years. She’s tour-guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and has completed a 6-year motorbike trip from Europe to Australia. What ticks her fancy most? Animal encounters in remote wilderness, authentic experiences off the beaten trail and spectacular Autumn colours in Patagonia.”


HMS Conqueror’s Surprise Strike on the Belgrano has Been Vindicated

HMS Conqueror. Of the twenty British Navy nuclear powered submarines awaiting final disposal by the Ministry of Defence, the Churchill Class HMS Conqueror has a unique historical distinction.

During the Falklands War in 1982, between Britain and Argentina, its crew made headlines around the world when it sank the warship ARA General Belgrano.

It is the only nuclear-powered submarine to have ever purposefully destroyed an enemy asset. British Prime Minister Thatcher gave the order and on May 2 nd , 1982 of three torpedoes fired by the Conqueror two sank the Belgrano with the loss of three-hundred and twenty-three lives.

ARA General Belgrano underway

The action was deplored by some as a provocation designed to escalate hostilities while others saw it as a strategic victory that helped bring the Falklands Conflict to an early finish.

The ten-week war began with the invasion of the British Overseas Territory on April 2 nd , 1982.

HMS Conqueror Returns From The Falklands To Her Base At Faslane, Scotland, 3 July 1982: GETTY

The Argentine military Junta had set its sights on the archipelago calculating that the eight-thousand-mile distance between it and the UK would mean the British would be reluctant to commit major assets to defend such a remote protectorate.

However, with the strategic position of the islands close to Antarctica and the possibility that there might be oil reserves in the region, the UK government assembled a task force within days and declared the islands a war zone.

The HMS Conqueror set sail from Faslane Naval Base on the 3 rd April and arrived three weeks later with the express mission to seek out Argentine warships, most notably the aircraft carrier the Veinticinco de Mayo.

HM Naval Base Clyde Faslane base harbor view

A week after her arrival the crew spotted the Belgrano Southwest of the islands a little way outside the exclusion zone.

The Veinticinco de Mayo was heading toward the Falklands from the North.

The British suspected an attempted pincer movement, which would have cut off logistical support routes and weakened the task force. Admiral Sandy Woodward, Commander of the British Task Force requested permission to engage.

While the situation was being studied in London, in Buenos Aries it was realised that the aircraft carrier, the Veinticinco de Mayo was not yet battle ready and so the Belgrano retreated from her battle position.

Despite this, British intelligence was certain that this was simply the beginning of a build up to what intercepted messages had described as a ‘massive attack’ on the Task Force.

General Belgrano, sinking

With the evidence mounting the Admiralty gave permission for the HMS Conqueror to attack and sink the Belgrano and so on May 2 nd , 1982 she made history, firing three class 8 torpedoes at the light cruiser.

The explosions knocked out her electrical system and the poor visibility and failing light meant that she was unable to send out a mayday signal.

Deployment of naval forces on 1–2 May 1982 in the South Atlantic

The Argentine government complained to the United Nations that the sinking of their warship had been a contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 502 which had called for a ceasefire.

The public reaction in Argentina was one of shock and as a result the Argentine Navy returned to port and played no further part in the war, likely saving lives and shortening the war.

Argentina maintained aerial hostilities, with HMS Conqueror a priority target, however they were unable to locate the submarine, which continued to monitor aircraft as they were launched from the mainland to engage the British.

In a 2003 interview the Captain of the Belgrano, Hector Bonzo, accepted that the attack on his ship was legitimate as he had been given orders to sink, ‘any British ship I could find’.

Following the loss of the Belgrano the Argentine Air Force were able to sink six British ships and one landing craft before the cessation of hostilities on June 14 th , 1982.

On the HMS Conqueror’s return to Faslane she flew a Jolly Roger as is Royal Navy submarine tradition following a kill.

Campaign to Save Doomed Falklands War Carrier From the Scrapyard

Commander Wreford-Brown said of the sinking of the Belgrano that the Royal Navy had, ‘spent thirteen years preparing me for such an occasion. It would have been regarded as extremely dreary if I had fouled it up’.


The Falklands Factor

The outcome of the 1983 General Election was the re-election of the governing Conservative Party. This was somewhat surprising, given that Thatcher had been regarded until 1982 as the least popular Prime Minister in the history of Great Britain. Nevertheless, the Conservatives managed to maintain the share of the vote received in May 1979. The question dominating analyses of the election surrounded the cause of the turn-around in public support for the government. Different interpretations have emerged, focusing on the effect of the Falklands War on public opinion (the so-called ‘Falklands effect’), the impact the economy on personal expectations or even the changing structure of British society, as possible ultimate causes for this transformation of public opinion.

We will look successively at these different interpretations of the election, but first of all we will survey the theoretical framework in which this debate has taken place. However, a caveat must be offered before we proceed. Implicit in the psephological debates is the problem of establishing causality in the relationship between views on certain issues and partisanship choice. The question is whether people choose a party on the basis of their personal views on certain salient issues, or whether their views on these issues are formed by their choice of party. This problematic will underpin the present analysis, and is indeed implicit in the on-going psephological debates. This has led some political scientists to question the extent to which these debates have progressed at all, for the fundamental question still stands.

In this piece of analysis, we have looked at the contrasting views concerning the importance of the Falklands effect in the re-election of Mrs. Thatcher in 1983. Those working within the framework of an economic model of voting find little influence of the War. In contrast, those inspired by the consumer model of voting argue that the political and economic consequences of the War were very important in bringing a surge in support for the government. Although these views appear irreconcilable, it does seem that all of these different theories of voting can help us to understand electoral patterns. The very fact that these different models of voting have appeared exemplifies the point that people view voting in different ways. Indeed there must be some element of longstanding allegiance in determining one’s vote, but there must also be an element of political fortune. In addition, the role of expectations identified by economic modellers of voting is by no means negligible. Further research might produce some synthesis of these theoretical models, as we can see that there is no clear-cut causal relationship between views on issues and partisan choices. Rather, there seems to be a dynamic interaction between them. In any case, there does seem to be a case for the view that the Falklands War played a role in raising voters’ personal expectations, and so it would seem that the Falklands did have some effect on the outcome of the election. We would not be so bold as to venture an exact figure for its influence on the election however. This being said, the 1982 Budget must not be neglected, for it too played a role.


How accurate is the series’ portrayal of the Falklands War?

Gillian Anderson as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (left) and Olivia Colman as Elizabeth II (right) (Courtesy of Netflix)

The Netflix hit’s depiction of the war departs from historical accounts in several key areas. As the New York Times reports, “The Crown” paints Thatcher’s investment in the Falkland Islanders’ plight as a reflection of her anxiety over the fate of her son, Mark, who had gone missing in the Sahara while competing in an off-road race.

In actuality, Mark found himself stranded in the desert in January, a full two months before Argentinian workers raised their flag on the Falklands. Though the prime minister was understandably concerned about her wayward son, the crisis in no way affected her later response to the Falklands War. A rescue team—paid for, in part, out of Thatcher’s own pocket—located the 28-year-old six days after he was first reported missing.

“The Crown” shows a distraught Thatcher connecting the war to her personal woes by telling an aide, “Our people, far from home, their lives are in danger! Our own. We must do something.” But as Sandbrook tells History Extra, “There has never been even a hint that Margaret Thatcher was emotional or in any way distracted when dealing with the Falklands crisis. Any suggestion that she was is a complete invention.”

The historian describes the war as a high point in Thatcher’s divisive career. Nicknamed the “Iron Lady” for her “hard-driving and hardheaded” approach to governing, as the New York Times noted in her 2013 obituary, the normally abrasive prime minister was “a dream to work with” during the crisis, says Sandbrook. “This was partly because, as a woman, she wasn’t expected to have extensive military knowledge,” he explains, “so for once she didn’t feel the need to ‘show off’ or to dominate, she was quite happy to sit back and listen to the advice of her military men, whom she really liked.”

In “The Crown,” Thatcher strikes a balance between deferring to her advisors and taking charge, agreeing to an admiral’s plan of deploying British sailors immediately but dismissing another official’s prediction that “we will never survive an unnecessary and unaffordable war” with a sharp rebuke: “I say we will not survive not going to war.”

Though the Netflix series finds Thatcher’s royal counterpart, Elizabeth II, expressing disapproval of the Falklands War, her actual public comments on the matter suggest otherwise. In early June, just under a week before Argentina’s surrender, the queen welcomed U.S. President Ronald Reagan to the U.K. with a speech touting her government’s efforts to support “the cause of freedom.” She added, “The conflict in the Falkland Islands was thrust on us by naked aggression and we are naturally proud of the way our fighting men are serving their country.”

The prime minister, for her part, wrote in her unpublished memoir that she “went over to see the Queen at Windsor” upon receiving news of Britain’s victory.

Thatcher recalled, “It was wonderful to be able personally to give her the news that one of her islands had been restored to her.”


Watch the video: The Falklands War The Land Battle Part 3 The Final Battle