Falklands War

Falklands War

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Falklands War (SpanishGuerra de las Malvinas/Guerra del Atlántico Sur), also called the Falklands Conflict/Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentinaand the United Kingdom (UK) over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. The Falkland Islands consist of two large and many small islands in the South Atlantic Ocean east of Argentina; their name andsovereignty over them have long been disputed.

The Falklands War started on Friday, 2 April 1982, with the Argentine invasion andoccupation of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Britain launched a naval task force to engage the Argentine Navy and Argentine Air Force, and retake the islands by amphibious assault. The conflict ended with the Argentine surrender on 14 June 1982, and the islands remained under British control. The war lasted 74 days. It resulted in the deaths of 257 British and 649 Argentine soldiers, sailors, and airmen, and the deaths of three civilian Falkland Islanders. It is the most recent external conflict to be fought by the UK without any allied states and the only external Argentine war since the 1880s.

The conflict was the result of a protracted diplomatic confrontation regarding the sovereignty of the islands. Neither state officially declared war and the fighting was largely limited to the territories under dispute and the South Atlantic. The initial invasion was characterised by Argentina as the re-occupation of its own territory, and by the UK as an invasion of a British dependent territory. As of 2011,[6] and as it has since the 19th century, Argentina shows no sign of relinquishing its claim. The claim remained in the Argentine constitution after its reformation in 1994.

The political effects of the war were strong in both countries. A wave of patriotic sentiment swept through both: the Argentine loss prompted even larger protests against the ruling military government, which hastened its downfall; in the United Kingdom, the government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was bolstered. It helped Thatcher’s government to victory in the 1983 general election, which prior to the war was seen as by no means certain. The war has played an important role in the culture of both countries, and has been the subject of several books, films, and songs. Over time, the cultural and political weight of the conflict has had less effect on the British public than on that of Argentina, where the war is still a topic of discussion.

Relations between Argentina and UK were restored in 1989 under the umbrella formula which states that the islands’ sovereignty dispute would remain aside.

Date 2 April 1982 – 14 June 1982[1][2]
Location Falkland Islands,[3] South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands[4] and surrounding sea and airspace
Result British victory

Commanders and leaders
President Lieutenant General Leopoldo Galtieri
Admiral Jorge Anaya
Brigadier General Basilio Lami Dozo
Vice-Admiral Juan Lombardo
Brigadier Ernesto Crespo
Brigade-General Mario Menéndez
Rear Admiral Carlos Busser
Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse
Rear-Admiral John “Sandy” Woodward
Major-General Jeremy Moore
Brigadier Julian Thompson
Commodore Michael Clapp


Casualties and losses649 killed
1,068 wounded
11,313 taken prisoner
1 submarine
4 cargo vessels
patrol boats
1 spy trawler
25 helicopters
35 fighters
25 COIN aircraft
9 armed trainers258 killed[5]
775 wounded
115 taken prisoner
LSL landing ship
LCU amphibious craft
container ship
24 helicopters
10 fighters

For the Argentines the British possession of the islands – which they called the Malvinas – was a long-standing affront to national pride. They traced their claim back to the days of the Spanish empire, of which both the Falklands and Argentina had been a part.

Lead-up to the conflict

n tOn 2 April 1982, Argentine forces mounted amphibious landings of the Falkland Islands, following the civilian occupation of South Georgia on 19 March, before the Falklands War began. The invasion met a nominal defence organised by the Falkland Islands’ Governor Sir Rex Huntgiving command to Major Mike Norman of the Royal Marines, the landing of Lieutenant Commander Guillermo Sanchez-Sabarots’ Amphibious Commandos Group, the attack on Moody Brook barracks, the engagement between the troops of Hugo Santillan and Bill Trollope at Stanley, and the final engagement and surrender at Government House.he period leading up to the war, and especially following the transfer of power between military dictators General Jorge Rafael Videla and General Roberto Eduardo Viola in late-March 1981, Argentina had been in the midst of a devastatingeconomic crisis and large-scale civil unrest against the military junta that had been governing the country since 1976.[9] In December 1981 there was a further change in the Argentine military regime bringing to office a new junta headed by GeneralLeopoldo Galtieri(acting president), Brigadier Basilio Lami Dozo and Admiral Jorge Anaya. Anaya was the main architect and supporter of a military solution for the long standing claim over the islands, calculating that the United Kingdom would never respond militarily. In doing so the Galtieri government hoped to mobilise Argentines’ long-standing patriotic feelings towards the islands and thus divert public attention from the country’s chronic economic problems and the regime’s ongoing human rights violations. Such action would also bolster its dwindling legitimacy. The newspaper La Prensa speculated in a step-by-step plan beginning with cutting off supplies to the Islands, ending in direct actions late 1982, if the UN talks were fruitless.

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Admiral Jorge Anaya was the driving force in the Junta’s decision to invade.

The ongoing tension between the two countries over the islands increased on 19 March when a group of hired Argentine scrap metal merchants raised the Argentine flag at South Georgia, an act that would later be seen as the first offensive action in the war. The Argentine military junta, suspecting that the UK would reinforce its South Atlantic Forces, ordered the invasion of the Falkland Islands to be brought forward to 2 April.

Britain was initially taken by surprise by the Argentine attack on the South Atlantic islands, despite repeated warnings by Royal Navy captain Nicholas Barker and others. Barker believed that the intention expressed in Defence Secretary John Nott’s 1981 review to withdraw the Royal Navy ship HMS Endurance, Britain’s only naval presence in the South Atlantic, sent a signal to the Argentines that Britain was unwilling, and would soon be unable, to defend its territories and subjects in the Falklands.


Invasion by Argentina

On 2 April 1982, Argentine forces mounted amphibious landings of the Falkland Islands, following the civilian occupation of South Georgia on 19 March, before the Falklands War began. The invasion met a nominal defence organised by the Falkland Islands’ Governor Sir Rex Huntgiving command to Major Mike Norman of the Royal Marines, the landing of Lieutenant Commander Guillermo Sanchez-Sabarots’ Amphibious Commandos Group, the attack on Moody Brook barracks, the engagement between the troops of Hugo Santillan and Bill Trollope at Stanley, and the final engagement and surrender at Government House.

Initial British response to the invasion

Word of the invasion apparently first reached Britain via amateur radio.

The retaking of the Falkland Islands was considered extremely difficult: the main constraint was the disparity in deployable air cover. The British had 34 Harrier aircraft against approximately 122 servicable jet fighters, of which about 50 were employed as air superiority fighters and the remainder as strike aircraft, inArgentina’s air forces during the war. The U.S. Navy considered a successful counter-invasion by the British to be ‘a military impossibility’.

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HMS Invincible, part of the task force.

The United States initially tried to mediate an end to the conflict. However, when Argentina refused the U.S. peace overtures, U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig announced that the United States would prohibit arms sales to Argentina and provide material support for British operations. Both Houses of the U.S. Congress passed resolutions supporting the U.S. action siding with the United Kingdom.

By mid-April, the Royal Air Force had set up an airbase at Wideawake on the mid-Atlantic British overseas territory of Ascension Island, including a sizeable force of Avro Vulcan B Mk 2bombers,Handley Page Victor K Mk 2 refuelling aircraft, and McDonnell Douglas Phantom FGR Mk 2fighters to protect them. Meanwhile the main British naval task force arrived at Ascension to prepare for active service. A small force had already been sent south to recapture South Georgia.

Encounters began in April; the British Task Force was shadowed by Boeing 707 aircraft of the Argentine Air Force during their travel to the south.Several of these flights were intercepted by BAE Sea Harriers outside the British-imposed exclusion zone; the unarmed 707s were not attacked because diplomatic moves were still in progress and the UK had not yet decided to commit itself to armed force. On 23 April a Brazilian commercial Douglas DC-10 from VARIGAirlines en route to South Africa was intercepted by British Harriers who visually identified the civilian plane.

Position of third party countries

The USA provided political support voting for UN resolution 502 requesting the departure of Argentine troops. They also discreetly provided the United Kingdom with military equipment ranging from submarine detectors to the latest missiles.

France provided political support, voting for UN resolution 502. The French also provided dissimilar aircraft training allowing Harrier pilots to train against French aircraft used by Argentina. French and British intelligence also worked to prevent Argentina from obtaining more Exocets on the international market.

New Zealand sent a frigate to relieve a British ship in the Indian Ocean, thus assisting the Royal Navy to meet its commitments in the South Atlantic.

Chile gave support to Britain in the form of Intelligence about Argentine military and radar early warning.

On the Argentine side, Peru and Venezuela sent aircraft spare parts, Brazil leased two P-95 maritime patrol aircraft and Israeli IAI advisors already in the country continued their work during the conflict. The Soviet Union provided intelligence on British military movements, and facilitated the supply by Libya of strela 2 missiles.

Recapture of South Georgia and the attack on the Santa Fe

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The South Georgia force, Operation Paraquet, under the command of Major Guy Sheridan RM, consisted of Marines from 42 Commando, a troop of the Special Air Service (SAS) and Special Boat Service (SBS) troops who were intended to land as reconnaissance forces for an invasion by the Royal Marines. All were embarked on RFA Tidespring. First to arrive was the Churchill-class submarine HMS Conqueror on 19 April, and the island was over-flown by a radar-mapping Handley Page Victor on 20 April.

The first landings of SAS troops took place on 21 April, but—with the southern hemisphere autumn setting in—the weather was so bad that their landings and others made the next day were all withdrawn after two helicopters crashed in fog on Fortuna Glacier. On 23 April, a submarine alert was sounded and operations were halted, with the Tidespring being withdrawn to deeper water to avoid interception. On 24 April, the British forces regrouped and headed in to attack.

On 25 April, after resupplying the Argentine garrison in South Georgia, the submarine ARA Santa Fe was spotted on the surface by a Westland Wessex HAS Mk 3 helicopter from HMS Antrim, which attacked the Argentine submarine with depth chargesHMS Plymouth launched a Westland Wasp HAS.Mk.1 helicopter, and HMS Brilliant launched a Westland Lynx HAS Mk 2. The Lynx launched a torpedo, and strafed the submarine with its pintle-mounted general purpose machine gun; the Wessex also fired on the Santa Fe with its GPMG. The Wasp from HMS Plymouth as well as two other Wasps launched from HMS Endurance fired AS-12 ASM antiship missiles at the submarine, scoring hits. Santa Fe was damaged badly enough to prevent her from submerging. The crew abandoned the submarine at the jetty at King Edward Point on South Georgia.

With the Tidespring now far out to sea and the Argentine forces augmented by the submarine’s crew, Major Sheridan decided to gather the 76 men he had and make a direct assault that day. After a short forced march by the British troops, the Argentine forces surrendered without resistance. The message sent from the naval force at South Georgia to London was, “Be pleased to inform Her Majesty that the White Ensign flies alongside the Union Jack in South Georgia. God Save the Queen.” The Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, broke the news to the media, telling them to “Just rejoice at that news!

Black Buck raids

On 1 May British operations on the Falklands opened with the “Black Buck 1” attack (of a series of five) on the airfield at Stanley. A Vulcan bomber from Ascension flew on an 8,000-nautical-mile (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) round trip dropping conventional bombs across the runway at Stanley and back to Ascension. The mission required repeated refuelling, and required several Victor tanker aircraft operating in concert, including tanker to tanker refuelling. The overall effect of the raids on the war is difficult to determine, and the raids consumed precious tanker resources from Ascension.[41] The raids did minimal damage to the runway and damage to radars was quickly repaired. Commonly dismissed as post-war propaganda,[42] Argentine sources were originally the source of claims that the Vulcan raids influenced Argentina to withdraw some of its Mirage IIIs from Southern Argentina to the Buenos Aires Defence Zone. This dissuasive effect was however watered down when British officials made clear that there would be no strikes on air bases in Argentina.

Of the five Black Buck raids, three were against Stanley Airfield, with the other two anti-radar missions using Shrike anti-radiation missiles.

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Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Sea Harrier FRS1. The flamboyant paint scheme was altered to a duller one en route South.

RAF Avro Vulcan B.Mk.2 strategic bomber.

Escalation of the air war

The Falklands had only three airfields. The longest and only paved runway was at the capital,Stanley, and even that was too short to support fast jets. Therefore, the Argentines were forced to launch their major strikes from the mainland, severely hampering their efforts at forward staging,combat air patrols and close air support over the islands. The effective loiter time of incoming Argentine aircraft was low, and they were later compelled to overfly British forces in any attempt to attack the islands.

The first major Argentine strike force comprised 36 aircraft (McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawks,Israel Aircraft Industries DaggersEnglish Electric B Mk 62 Canberras, and Dassault Mirage IIIescorts), and was sent on 1 May, in the belief that the British invasion was imminent or landings had already taken place. Only a section of Grupo 6 (flying IAI Dagger aircraft) found ships, which were firing at Argentine defences near the islands. The Daggers managed to attack the ships and return safely. This greatly boosted morale of the Argentine pilots, who now knew they could survive an attack against modern warships, protected by radar ground clutter from the Islands and by using a late pop-up profile.

Meanwhile, other Argentine aircraft were intercepted by BAE Sea Harriers operating from HMS Invincible. A Dagger (piloted by Osvaldo Ardiles‘ cousin Jose), and a Canberra were shot down


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Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Sea Harrier FRS1. The flamboyant paint scheme was altered to a duller one en route South.

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Argentine Air Force Mirage IIIEA. Their lack of aerial refuelling capability prevented them from being used effectively over the islands in the air-air role.

Stanley was used as an Argentine strongpoint throughout the conflict. Despite the Black Buck and Harrier raids on Stanley airfield (no fast jets were stationed there for air defence) and overnight shelling by detached ships, it was never out of action entirely. Stanley was defended by a mixture of surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems (Franco-German Roland and British Tigercat) and Swiss-built Oerlikon 35 mm twin anti-aircraft cannonsLockheed Hercules transport night flights brought supplies, weapons, vehicles, and fuel, and airlifted out the wounded up until the end of the conflict. The few RN Sea Harriers were considered too valuable by day to risk in night-time blockade operations, and their Blue Fox radar was not an effective look-down over land radar.

The only Argentine Hercules shot down by the British was lost on 1 June when TC-63 was intercepted by a Sea Harrier in daylight when it was searching for the British fleet north-east of the islands after the Argentine Navy retired its last SP-2H Neptune due to airframe attrition.

Various options to attack the home base of the five Argentine Etendards at Río Grande were examined and discounted (Operation Mikado), subsequently five Royal Navy submarines lined up, submerged, on the edge of Argentina’s 12-nautical-mile (22 km; 14 mi) territorial limit to provide early warning of bombing raids on the British task force.


A Royal Navy Sea King helicopterrescues Sqn Ldr Jerry Pook, after he was forced to bail out over the sea. His Harrier GR.3 had been hit by ground fire west of Stanley on 30 May.

Sinking of ARA General Belgrano

Two separate British naval task forces (surface vessels and submarines) and the Argentine fleet were operating in the neighbourhood of the Falklands, and soon came into conflict. The first naval loss was the World War II vintage Argentine light cruiser ARA General Belgrano. The nuclear-powered submarine HMS Conqueror sank the Belgrano on 2 May. Three hundred and twenty-three members of Belgrano‘s crew died in the incident. Over 700 men were rescued from the open ocean despite cold seas and stormy weather. The losses from Belgrano totalled just over half of the Argentine deaths in the Falklands conflict and the loss of the ARA General Belgrano hardened the stance of the Argentine government.

Regardless of controversies over the sinking, it had a crucial strategic effect: the elimination of the Argentine naval threat. After her loss, the entire Argentine fleet, with the exception of the conventional submarine ARA San Luis, returned to port and did not leave again for the duration of hostilities. The two escorting destroyersand the battle group centred on the aircraft carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo both withdrew from the area, ending the direct threat to the British fleet that their pincer movement had represented.

In a separate incident later that night, British forces engaged an Argentine patrol gunboat, the ARA Alferez Sobral. At the time, the Alferez Sobral was searching for the crew of the Argentine Air Force English Electric Canberra light bomber shot down on 1 May. Two Royal NavyLynx helicopters fired four Sea Skua missiles against her. Badly damaged and with eight crew dead, the Sobral managed to return to Puerto Deseado two days later, but the Canberra’s crew were never found.

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The ARA General Belgrano, sinking.

Sinking of HMS Sheffield

On 4 May, two days after the sinking of Belgrano, the British lost the Type 42 destroyerHMSSheffield to fire following an Exocet missile strike from the Argentine 2nd Naval Air Fighter/Attack SquadronSheffield had been ordered forward with two other Type 42s to provide a long-range radar and medium-high altitude missile picket far from the British carriers. She was struck amidships, with devastating effect, ultimately killing 20 crew members and severely injuring 24 others. The ship was abandoned several hours later, gutted and deformed by the fires that continued to burn for six more days. She finally sank outside the Maritime Exclusion Zone on 10 May.

The incident is described in detail by Admiral Sandy Woodward in his book One Hundred Days, Chapter One. Woodward was a former commanding officer of Sheffield.

The tempo of 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 Sheffield had a profound impact on the British public, bringing home the fact that the “Falklands Crisis”, as the BBC News put it, was now an actual “shooting war”.

SAS operations

Given the threat to the British fleet posed by the Etendard-Exocet combination, plans were made to use Special Air Service troops to attack the home base of the five Etendards at Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego. The operation was code named “Mikado“.[56] The aim was to destroy the missiles and the aircraft that carried them, and to kill the pilots in their quarters. Two plans were drafted and underwent preliminary rehearsal: a landing by approximately fifty-five SAS in two C-130 Hercules aircraft directly on the runway at Rio Grande; and infiltration of twenty-four SAS by inflatable boats brought within a few miles of the coast by submarine. Neither plan was implemented; the earlier airborne assault plan attracted considerable hostility from some members of the SAS, who considered the proposed raid a suicide mission.[57]Ironically, the Rio Grande area would be defended by four full-strength battalions of Marine Infantry of the Argentine Marine Corps of the Argentine Navy some of whose officers were trained in the UK by the SBS years earlier

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French-built Super Etendard of theArgentine Naval Aviation.

After the war, Argentine marine commanders admitted that they were waiting for some kind of landing by SAS forces but never expected a Hercules to land directly on their runways. However they would have tried to pursue British forces even into Chilean territory if they were attacked.

An SAS reconnaissance team was dispatched to carry out preparations for a seaborne infiltration. A Westland Sea King helicopter carrying the assigned team took off from HMS Invincible on the night of 17 May, but bad weather forced it to land 50 miles (80 km) from its target, and the mission was aborted. The pilot flew to Chile and dropped off the SAS team, before setting fire to his helicopter and surrendering to the Chilean authorities. The discovery of the burnt-out helicopter attracted considerable international attention at the time.

On 14 May the SAS carried out the raid on Pebble Island at the Falklands, where the Argentine Navy had taken over a grass airstrip map forFMA IA 58 Pucará light ground attack aircraft and T-34 Mentors. The raid destroyed the aircraft there.

Landing at San Carlos—Bomb Alley

During the night on 21 May the British Amphibious Task Group under the command of Commodore Michael Clapp (Commodore, Amphibious Warfare – COMAW) mounted Operation Sutton, the amphibious landing on beaches around San Carlos Water, on the northwestern 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 4,000 men of 3 Commando Brigade were put ashore as follows: 2nd battalion of the Parachute Regiment (2 Para) from the RORO ferry Norland and 40 Commando (Royal Marines) from the amphibious ship HMS Fearless were landed at San Carlos (Blue Beach), 3 Para from the amphibious ship HMS Intrepid were landed at Port San Carlos (Green Beach) and 45 Commando from RFA Stromness were landed at Ajax Bay (Red Beach). Notably the waves of 8 LCUs and 8 LCVPs were led by Major Ewen Southby-Tailyour who had commanded the Falklands detachment only a year previously. 42 Commando on the ocean liner SS Canberra was a tactical reserve. Units from the Royal ArtilleryRoyal Engineers etc. and tanks were also put ashore with the landing craft, the Round table class LSL and mexeflote barges. Rapier missilelaunchers were carried as underslung loads of Sea Kings for rapid deployment.

By dawn the next day they had established a secure beachhead from which to conduct offensive operations. From there Brigadier Thompson‘s plan was 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 bomber planes until the last day of the war (14 June).

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An Argentine Air Force A-4C Skyhawkflying to the islands.Note the 494 Kg bomb

At sea, the paucity of the British ships’ anti-aircraft defences was demonstrated in the sinking ofHMS 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 from a logistics perspective. Also lost on this day was HMS Coventry, a sister toHMS 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 HMSBrilliant were badly damaged. However, many British ships escaped terminal damage 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 fuzes 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 never exploded, as there was insufficient time in the air for them to arm themselves. 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. 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 two. The fuze for a retarded bomb requires a minimum time over which the retarder is open to ensure safe separation. The pilots would have been aware of this, but due to the high concentration levels required to avoid SAMs and AAA, as well as any British Sea Harriers, many failed to climb to the necessary release point. The problem was solved by the improvised fitting of retarding devices, allowing low-level bombing attacks as employed on 8 June.

In his autobiographical account of the Falklands War, Admiral Woodward blames the BBC World Service for these changes to the bombs. The World Service reported the lack of detonations after receiving a briefing on the matter from a Ministry of Defence official. He describes the BBC 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 BBC after they disclosed the impending British attack on Goose Green by 2 Para. Jones had threatened to lead the prosecution of senior BBC officials for treason but was unable to do so since he was himself killed in action around Goose Green.

Thirteen bombs hit British ships without detonating. Lord Craig, the retired Marshal of the Royal Air Force, is said to have remarked: “Six better fuses and we would have lost”[68]although Ardent and Antelope were both lost despite the failure of bombs to explode. The fuzes were functioning correctly, and the bombs were simply released from too low an altitude. The Argentines lost 22 aircraft in the attack.

Battle of Goose Green

From early on 27 May until 28 May, 2 Para, (approximately 500 men) with artillery support from 8 (Alma) Commando Battery (Royal Artillery), approached and attacked Darwin andGoose Green, which was held by the Argentine 12th Infantry Regiment. After a tough struggle that lasted all night and into the next day, 17 British and 47 Argentine soldiers were killed. In total 961 Argentine troops (including 202 Argentine Air Force personnel of the Condor airfield) were taken prisoners.

The BBC announced the taking of Goose Green on the BBC World Service before it had actually happened. It was during this attack thatLieutenant Colonel H. Jones, the commanding officer of 2 Para was killed while charging into the well-prepared Argentine positions at the head of his battalion. He was posthumously awarded theVictoria Cross.

With the sizeable Argentine force at Goose Green out of the way, British forces were now able to break out of the San Carlos bridgehead. On 27 May, men of 45 Cdo and 3 Para started aloaded march across East Falkland towards the coastal settlement of Teal Inlet.

Special forces on Mount Kent

Meanwhile, 42 Commando prepared to move by helicopter to Mount Kent.[71] Unknown to senior British officers, the Argentine generals were determined to tie down the British troops in the Mount Kent area, and on 27 May and 28 May they sent transport aircraft loaded with Blowpipe surface-to-air missiles and commandos (602nd Commando Company and 601st National Gendarmerie Special Forces Squadron) toStanley. This operation was known as Operation AUTOIMPUESTA (Self-Determination-Initiative).

For the next week, the Special Air Service (SAS) and Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre of 3 Commando Brigade waged intense patrol battles with patrols of the volunteers’ 602nd Commando Company under Major Aldo Rico, normally 2IC of the 22nd Mountain Infantry Regiment. Throughout 30 May, Royal Air Force Harriers were active over Mount Kent. One of them, Harrier XZ963, flown by Squadron Leader Jerry Pook—in responding to a call for help from D Squadron, attacked Mount Kent’s eastern lower slopes, and that led to its loss through small-arms fire. Pook was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.[72]

The Argentine Navy used their last AM39 Exocet missile attempting to attack HMS Invincible on 30 May. There are claims the missile struck,[73][74] however the British have denied this, some citing that HMS Avenger shot it down.[75][76]

On 31 May, the Royal Marines Mountain and Arctic Warfare Cadre (M&AWC) defeated Argentine Special Forces at the Battle of Top Malo House. A 13-strong Argentine Army Commando detachment (Captain Jose Vercesi’s 1st Assault Section, 602nd Commando Company) found itself trapped in a small shepherd’s house at Top Malo. The Argentine commandos fired from windows and doorways and then took refuge in a stream bed 200 metres (700 ft) from the burning house. Completely surrounded, they fought 19 M&AWC marines under Captain Rod Boswell for forty-five minutes until, with their ammunition almost exhausted, they elected to surrender.

Three Cadre members were badly wounded. On the Argentine side there were two dead including Lieutenant Ernesto Espinoza and Sergeant Mateo Sbert (who were decorated for their bravery). Only five Argentines were left unscathed. As the British mopped up Top Malo House, down from Malo Hill came Lieutenant Fraser Haddow’s M&AWC patrol, brandishing a large Union Flag. One wounded Argentine soldier, Lieutenant Horacio Losito, commented that their escape route would have taken them through Haddow’s position.

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The abandoned hulk of RFA Sir Tristramin Fitzroy.

Fall of Stanley

Notable battles:

On the night of 11 June, after several days of painstaking reconnaissance and logistic build-up, British forces launched a brigade-sized night attack against the heavily defended ring of high ground surrounding Stanley. After 3 Para took Port Stanley, units of 3 Commando Brigade, supported by naval gunfire from several Royal Navy ships, simultaneously assaulted in theBattle of Mount HarrietBattle of Two Sisters, andBattle of Mount Longdon. Mount Harriet was taken at a cost of 2 British and 18 Argentine soldiers. At Two Sisters, the British faced both enemy resistance and friendly fire, but managed to capture their objectives. The toughest battle was at Mount Longdon. British forces were bogged down by assault rifle, mortar, machine gun, artillery fire, sniper fire, and ambushes. Despite this, the British continued their advance.

During this battle, 13 were killed when HMS Glamorgan, straying too close to shore while returning from the gun line, was struck by an improvised trailer-based Exocet MM38 launcher taken from ARA Seguí destroyer by Argentine Navy technicians. On this day, Sgt Ian McKay of 4 Platoon, B Company, 3 Para died in a grenade attack on an Argentine bunker, which earned him a posthumous Victoria Cross. After a night of fierce fighting, all objectives were secured. Both sides suffered heavy losses.

The night of 13 June saw the start of the second phase of attacks, in which the momentum of the initial assault was maintained. 2 Para withCVRT support from The Blues and Royals, captured Wireless Ridge at the Battle of Wireless Ridge, at a loss of 3 British and 25 Argentine dead, and the 2nd battalion, Scots Guards captured Mount Tumbledown at the Battle of Mount Tumbledown, which cost 10 British and 30 Argentines dead.

With the last natural defence line at Mount Tumbledown breached, the Argentine town defences ofStanley began to falter. In the morning gloom, one company commander got lost and his junior officers became despondent. Private Santiago Carrizo of the 3rd Regiment described how a platoon commander ordered them to take up positions in the houses and “if a Kelper resists, shoot him”, but the entire company did nothing of the kind

A cease fire was declared on 14 June and the commander of the Argentine garrison in Stanley, Brigade General Mario Menéndez surrendered to Major General Jeremy Moore.

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A pile of discarded Argentine weapons in Port Stanley.

Surrender of Corbeta Uruguay

On 20 June the British retook the South Sandwich Islands, (which involved accepting the surrender of the Southern Thule Garrison at theCorbeta Uruguay base) and declared hostilities to be over. Argentina had established Corbeta Uruguay in 1976, but prior to 1982 the United Kingdom had contested the existence of the Argentine base only through diplomatic channels.


In total 907 were killed during the 74 days of the conflict:

Of the 86 Royal Navy personnel, 22 were lost in HMS Ardent, 19 + 1 lost in HMS Sheffield, 19 + 1 lost in HMS Coventry and 13 lost in HMS Glamorgan. Fourteen naval cooks were among the dead, the largest number from any one branch in the Royal Navy.

Thirty-three of the British Army‘s dead came from the Welsh Guards, 21 from the 3rd Battalion, theParachute Regiment, 18 from the 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, 19 from the Special Air Service (SAS), 3 from Royal Signals and 8 from each of the Scots Guards and Royal EngineersOnly one dead was from the 1st battalion/7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles.

Two more British deaths may be attributed to Operation Corporate, bringing the total to 260:

  • Captain Brian Biddick from HMHS Uganda underwent an emergency operation on the voyage to the Falklands, was repatriated by an RAF medical flight to the hospital at Wroughton where he died on 12 May.[96]
  • Paul Mills from HMS Coventry suffered from complications from a skull fracture sustained in the sinking of his ship and died on 29 March 1983; he is buried in his home town of Swavesey.

Thirty-three of the British Army‘s dead came from the Welsh Guards, 21 from the 3rd Battalion, theParachute Regiment, 18 from the 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, 19 from the Special Air Service (SAS), 3 from Royal Signals and 8 from each of the Scots Guards and Royal EngineersOnly one dead was from the 1st battalion/7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles.

Two more British deaths may be attributed to Operation Corporate, bringing the total to 260:

  • Captain Brian Biddick from HMHS Uganda underwent an emergency operation on the voyage to the Falklands, was repatriated by an RAF medical flight to the hospital at Wroughton where he died on 12 May.[96]
  • Paul Mills from HMS Coventry suffered from complications from a skull fracture sustained in the sinking of his ship and died on 29 March 1983; he is buried in his home town of Swavesey.


The Argentine Military Cemetery, on East Falkland.


The British Military Cemetery at San Carlos on East Falkland.


‘Monumento a los Caídos en Malvinas’ (Monument for the fallen in the Falklands) inPlaza San Martín, Buenos Aires; a member of the historic Patricios regiment stands guard.


As well as memorials on the islands, there is a memorial to the British war dead in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral, London.[98] There is a memorial at Plaza San Martín in Buenos Aires for the Argentine war dead,[99] another one in Rosario, and a third one in Ushuaia.

During the war, British dead were put into plastic body bags and buried in mass graves. After the war, the bodies were removed with 14 reburied at Blue Beach Military Cemetery and 64 returned to Britain. Argentine dead were reburied at the Argentine Military Cemetery west of the Darwin Settlement. The United Kingdom offered to send the bodies back to Argentina, but Argentina refused, knowing that the remains would ensure a continuing Argentine presence on the islands.

There were 1,188 Argentine and 777 British non-fatal casualties. Further information about the field hospitals and hospital ships is at Ajax BayList of hospitals and hospital ships of the Royal NavyHMS Hydra. On the Argentine side beside the Military Hospital at Port Stanley, the Argentine Air Force Mobile Field Hospital was deployed at Comodoro Rivadavia and the Argentine Navy ships ARA Almirante Irizar and ARA Bahia Paraiso were converted to Hospital ships

There are still 117 uncleared minefields on the Falkland Islands and UXOs are scattered all over the battle fields due to the soft peat ground. No human casualties from mines or UXO have been reported in the Falkland Islands since 1984, and no civilian mine casualties have ever occurred on the islands. The UK reported six military personnel were injured in 1982 and a further two injured in 1983. Most military accidents took place while clearing the minefields in the immediate aftermath of the 1982 conflict or in the process of trying to establish the extent of the minefield perimeters, particularly where no detailed records existed.



This brief war brought many consequences for all the parties involved, besides the great loss of human life and materiel.

In the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher won the time and support she required for her economic measures (which tackled inflation but sent unemployment to its highest postwar levels) to take effect, national pride received a big boost of confidence and assurance, the Royal Navy proved its value once more. The success of the Falklands campaign was widely regarded as the factor in the turnaround in fortunes for theConservative government, who had been trailing behind the SDP-Liberal Alliance in the opinion polls for months before the conflict began, but after the success in the Falklands the Conservatives returned to the top of the opinion polls by a wide margin and went on to win the following year’s general election by a landslide.[101]

Subsequently, John Nott‘s proposed cuts to the Royal Navy were abandoned.

The islanders subsequently had full British citizenship restored in 1983, their lifestyle was improved by investments Britain made after the war and the liberalisation of economic measures that had been stalled through fear of angering Argentina. In 1985, a new constitution was enacted promoting self-government, which has continued to devolve power to the islanders.

The war for Argentina also had an effect in the form of avoiding a possible war with Chile and, more importantly, the return of democracy with the 1983 first free general elections since 1973. It had a major social impact, destroying the military’s image as the moral reserve of the nation that they had maintained through most of the 20th century.

Public relations


Selected war correspondents were regularly flown to Port Stanley in military aircraft to report on the war. Back in Buenos Aires newspapers and magazines faithfully reported on “the heroic actions of the largely conscript army and its successes”.


Gente’s “Estamos ganando” headline (“We’re winning”).

Officers from the intelligence services were attached to the newspapers and ‘leaked’ information confirming the official communiqués from the government. The glossy magazines Gente and Siete Díasswelled to sixty pages with colour photographs of British warships in flames – many of them faked – and bogus eyewitness reports of the Argentine commandos’ guerrilla war on South Georgia (6 May) and an already dead Pucará pilot’s attack on HMS Hermes (Lt. Daniel Antonio Jukic had been killed at Goose Green during a British air strike on 1 May). Most of the faked photos actually came from the tabloid press. One of the best remembered headlines was “Estamos ganando” (“We’re winning”) from the magazine Gente, that would later use variations of it.

The Argentine troops on the Falkland Islands could read Gaceta Argentina—a newspaper intended to boost morale among the servicemen. Some of its untruths could easily be unveiled by the soldiers who recovered corpses.

The Malvinas course united the Argentines in a patriotic atmosphere that protected the junta from critics, and even opponents of the military government supported Galtieri; Ernesto Sabato said: “Don’t be mistaken, Europe; it is not a dictatorship who is fighting for the Malvinas, it is the whole Nation. Opponents of the military dictatorship, like me, are fighting to extirpate the last trace of colonialism.” The Madres de Plaza de Mayo were even exposed to death threats from ordinary people.

HMS Invincible was repeatedly sunk in the Argentine press, and on 30 April 1982 the Argentine magazine Tal Cual showed UK’s PM Thatcher with an eyepatch and the text: Pirate, witch and assassin. Guilty!

Three British reporters sent to Argentina to cover the war from the ‘other side’ were jailed until the end of the war.

United Kingdom

Seventeen newspaper reporters, two photographers, two radio reporters and three television reporters with five technicians sailed with the Task Force to the war. The Newspaper Publishers’ Association selected them from among 160 applicants, excluding foreign media. Due to the hasty departure, not all of them were “the right stuff”; two journalists on HMS Invincible were interested in nothing but Queen Elizabeth II’s son Prince Andrew.

Merchant vessels had the civilian Inmarsat uplink, which enabled written telex and voice report transmissions via satellite. Canberra had a facsimile machine that was used to upload 202 pictures from the South Atlantic over the course of the war. The Royal Navy leased bandwidth on the US Defense Satellite Communications System for worldwide communications. Television demands a thousand times the data rate of telephone, but the Ministry of Defence was unsuccessful in convincing the US to allocate more bandwidth. TV producers suspected that the enquiry was half-hearted; since the Vietnam Wartelevision pictures of casualties and traumatised soldiers were recognised as having negative propaganda value. However the technology only allowed uploading a single frame per 20 minutes – and only if the military satellites were allocated 100% to television transmissions. Videotapes were shipped to Ascension Island, where a broadband satellite uplink was available, resulting in TV coverage being delayed by three weeks.

The press was very dependent on the Royal Navy, and was censored on site. Many reporters in the UK knew more about the war than those with the Task Force.

The Royal Navy expected Fleet Street to conduct a World War Two style positive news campaign[110] but the majority of the British media, especially the BBC, reported the war in a neutral fashion.These reporters referred to “the British troops” and “the Argentinian troops” instead of “our lads” and the dehumanised “Argies”.[112] The two main tabloid papers presented opposing viewpoints: The Daily Mirrorwas decidedly anti-war, whilst The Sun became notorious for its jingoistic and xenophobic headlines, including 20 April headline “Stick It Up Your Junta!”,[105] and was condemned for the “Gotcha” headline following the sinking of the ARA General Belgrano

File:The empire strikes back newsweek.jpg

Cultural impact

There were wide-ranging influences on popular culture in both the UK and Argentina, from the immediate postwar period to the present. The words yomp and Exocet entered the British vernacular as a result of the war. The Falklands War also provided material for theatre, film and TV drama and influenced the output of musicians.

Photo montage of the Falklands War.

Clockwise from top left: The sinking of the ARA General Belgrano; the RFA Sir Tristram; Argentine prisoners of war;Margaret Thatcher; British cemetery at San Carlos (inset shows satellite image of the Falkland Islands); War memorial in Buenos Aires; Members of the Argentine Third Military Junta; British Royal Marines surrendering at Government House.



Argentinian weaponry at Goose Green


Argentinian prisoners of war returning home on June 17

By 5 April the first of more than 100 ships set sail for the South Atlantik

carrying 27,000 personnel. The UN Security Council threw its

weight behind the British claim to the islands and US

Secretary of State Alexander Haig attempted to find a diplomatic solution.



Falkland Islands/Malvinas Islands

Falkland Islands

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Falkland Islands (pronounced /ˈfɔːlklənd/SpanishIslas Malvinas)are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located approximately 250 nautical miles (460 km; 290 mi) from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago, consisting of East FalklandWest Falklandand 776 lesser islands, is a self-governing British Overseas Territory. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland.

Ever since the re-establishment of British rule in 1833Argentina has claimed sovereignty. In pursuit of this claim, which is rejected by the islanders,Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in 1982. This precipitated the two-month-long undeclared Falklands War betweenArgentina and the United Kingdom and resulted in the defeat and withdrawal of the Argentine forces.

Since the war, there has been strong economic growth in both fisheries and tourism.

Falkland Islands
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: “Desire the right”
Anthem: God Save the Queen
(and largest city)
51°42′S 57°51′W
Official language(s) English
Ethnic groups 61.3% Falkland Islander[a]
29.0% British
2.6% Spaniard
0.6% Japanese
6.5% Chilean & Other[1]
Demonym Falkland Islander
Government British Overseas Territory (constitutional monarchy andparliamentarydemocraticdependency)
Monarch Queen Elizabeth II
Governor Nigel Haywood
Chief Executive Tim Thorogood[2]
British rule re-established 5 January 1833
Argentine invasion 2 April 1982
Liberation 14 June 1982
Constitution 18 April 1985
Current Constitution 1 January 2009
Total 12,173 km2 (162nd)
4,700 sq mi
Water (%) 0
July 2008 estimate 3,140[3] (220th)
Density 0.26/km2 (240th)
0.65/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
Total $75 million (223rd)
Per capita $25,000 (2002 estimate) (not ranked)
HDI n/a
Currency Falkland Islands pound[b](FKP)
Time zone (UTC-4)
Summer (DST) (UTC-3)
Drives on the left
Internet TLD .fk
Calling code 500
a. ^ The majority are of British origin.
b. ^ Fixed to the Pound sterling (GBP).

The Falkland Islands took their English name from “Falkland Sound”, the channel between the two main islands, which was in turn named after Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount Falkland by Captain John Strong, who landed on the islands in 1690. The Spanish name, Islas Malvinas, is derived from the French name, Îles Malouines, named by Louis Antoine de Bougainville in 1764 after the first known settlers, mariners and fishermen from the Breton port of Saint-Malo in France. The ISO designation is Falkland Islands (Malvinas) and its ISO country code isFK.

As a result of the continuing sovereignty dispute, the use of many Spanish names is considered offensive in the Falkland Islands, particularly those associated with the 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands. General Sir Jeremy Moore would not allow the use of Islas Malvinas in the surrender document, dismissing it as a propaganda term.


he islands were uninhabited when they were first discovered by European explorers, but there is evidence that Patagonian Indians may have reached the Falklands in canoes.[13] Artefacts including arrowheads and the remains of a canoe have been found on the islands. There was also the presence of the Falkland Island fox, or Warrah (now extinct), but warrahs may have reached the islands via a land bridge when the sea level was much lower during the last ice age. A group of islands appeared on maps in the Falkland Island region from the early 16th century, so either Ferdinand Magellan or another early expedition may have sighted them. In 1519 or 1520, Esteban Gómez, a captain in Magellan’s expedition, encountered several islands that members of his crew called “Islas de Sansón y de los Patos” (“Islands of Samson and the Ducks”). These were probably the Jason Islands, northwest of West Falkland, and the names “Islas de Sansón” (or “San Antón,” “San Son,” and “Ascensión”) were used for the Falklands on Spanish maps during this period. Piri Reis, a Turkish admiral of the time who drew reasonably accurate maps, showed islands that may well have been the Falkland Islands.

Early explorers

There is some dispute about which European explorer first set foot on the islands. The islands appear on numerous Spanish and other maps beginning in the 1520s. The English explorerJohn Davis, commander of the Desire, one of the ships belonging to Thomas Cavendish‘s second expedition to the New World, is recorded as having visited the islands in 1592. He was separated from Cavendish off the coast of what is now southern Argentina by a severe storm and discovered the islands. For a time the islands were known as “Davis Land”. In 1594, the English commander Richard Hawkins visited the islands. Combining his own name with that of Queen Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen”, he gave them the name of “Hawkins’ Maidenland.” Many give the credit to Sebald de Weert, a Dutchman, who discovered the islands in 1600.

In January 1690, Captain John Strong of the Welfare was heading for Puerto Deseado (now in Argentina). Driven off course by contrary winds, he reached the Sebald Islands instead and landed at Bold Cove. He sailed between the two principal islands and called the passage “Falkland Channel” (now Falkland Sound), after Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount Falkland, who as Commissioner of the Admiralty had financed the expedition (Cary later became First Lord of the Admiralty). The island group later took its English name from this body of water.

First settlers

The first settlement on the Falkland Islands, named Port St. Louis, was founded by the French navigator and military commander Louis Antoine de Bougainville on Berkeley Sound, in present-day Port LouisEast Falkland in 1764.

File:John Byron-Joshua Reynolds-1759 .jpg

John Byron, by Joshua Reynolds, 1759.

In January 1765, the British captain John Byron, unaware of the French presence, explored and claimed Saunders Island, at the western end of the group, where he named the harbour of Port Egmont. He sailed near other islands, which he also claimed for King George III. A British settlement was built at Port Egmont in 1766. Also in 1766, Spain acquired the French colony, and after assuming effective control in 1767, placed the islands under a governor subordinate to theBuenos Aires colonial administration. Spain attacked Port Egmont, ending the British presence there in 1770. The expulsion of the British settlement brought the two countries to the brink of war, but a peace treaty allowed the British to return to Port Egmont in 1771 with neither side relinquishing sovereignty.

In 1774, as a result of economic pressures leading up to the American Revolutionary War, the United Kingdom withdrew unilaterally from many of her overseas settlements, including Port Egmont.[18][19] Upon her withdrawal in 1776 the UK left behind a plaque asserting her claims. From 1776 until 1811 Spain maintained a settlement administered from Buenos Aires as part of the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata. On leaving in 1811, Spain also left behind a plaque asserting her claims.

On 6 November 1820, Colonel David Jewett raised the flag of the United Provinces of the River Plate (Argentina) at Port Louis. Jewett was a privateer from the United States in the employment of Buenos Aires businessman Patrick Lynch to captain his ship, the frigate Heroína (Lynch had obtained a corsair licence from the Buenos Aires Supreme Director José Rondeau). Jewett had put into the islands the previous month, following a disastrous eight month voyage with most of his crew disabled by scurvy and disease. After resting in the islands and repairing his ship he was relieved of command and returned to South America.

In 1828 Luis Vernet founded a settlement seeking authorisation from both the British and Argentine authorities. Modern Argentina claims the United States warships destroyed this settlement in 1831 after Vernet seized US seal hunting ships during a dispute over fishing rights (the Captain of the Lexington reports destroying a powder store and spiking the settlement guns). In November 1832, Argentina sent Commander Mestivier as an interim commander to found a penal settlement. Mestivier was killed in a mutiny after 4 days.

British settlement

In January 1833, British forces returned and informed the Argentine commander that they intended to reassert British sovereignty. The existing settlers were allowed to remain, with an Irish member of Vernet’s settlement, William Dickson, appointed as the Islands’ governor. Vernet’s deputy, Matthew Brisbane, returned later that year and was informed that the British had no objections to the continuation of Vernet’s business ventures provided there was no interference with British control.


Road sign to the capital.

The Royal Navy built a base at Stanley, and the islands became a strategic point for navigation around Cape Horn. A World War I naval battle, the Battle of the Falkland Islands, took place in December 1914, with a British victory over the smaller Imperial German Asiatic Fleet. DuringWorld War II, Stanley served as a Royal Navy station and serviced ships which took part in the 1939 Battle of the River Plate.

Sovereignty over the islands again became an issue in the second half of the 20th century. Argentina saw the creation of the United Nations as an opportunity to present its claim to the islands to the rest of the world. When signing the UN Charter in 1945, Argentina stated that it reserved its right to sovereignty of the islands, and its right to recover them. The United Kingdom’s response was to state that the Falklanders first had to vote for the British withdrawal in areferendum and that this was an essential precondition for the fulfilment of UN Resolution 1514 (XV) on de-colonising all territories still under foreign occupation.

Talks between British and Argentine foreign missions took place in the 1960s, but failed to come to any meaningful conclusion. A major sticking point in all the negotiations was that the two thousand inhabitants of mainly British descent preferred that the islands remain British territory.

One result of the these talks, however, was the creation of the islands’ first air link. In 1971, the Argentine Air Force (FAA), which operates the state airline LADE, began amphibious flights between Comodoro Rivadavia and Stanley using Grumman HU-16 Albatross aircraft. The following year, Britain agreed to allow Argentina to build a temporary air strip, which was completed that November. Flights between Stanley and Comodoro Rivadavia continued twice a week using Fokker F27 and later Fokker F28 aircraft following the construction of the permanent air strip until 1982.During the same period, YPF, the Argentine national oil and gas company, now part of Repsol YPF, supplied the islands’ energy needs.

Falklands War

On 2 April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands and other British territories in the South Atlantic (South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands). The military junta which had ruled Argentina since 1976 sought to maintain power by diverting public attention from the nation’s poor economic performance and exploiting the long-standing feelings of the Argentines towards the islands.[29] Several British writers hold that the United Kingdom’s reduction in military capacity in the South Atlantic also encouraged the invasion.

The United Nations Security Council issued Resolution 502, calling on Argentina to withdraw forces from the Islands and for both parties to seek a diplomatic solution. International reaction ranged from support for Argentina in Latin American countries (except Chile and Colombia), to opposition in theCommonwealth and Europe (apart from Spain), and eventually the United States.

The British sent an expeditionary force to retake the islands, leading to theFalklands War. After short but fierce naval and air battles, the British landed at San Carlos Water on 21 May, and a land campaign followed until the Argentine forces surrendered on 14 June 1982.

File:Argentine POWs guarded by 2 Para.jpg

The war resulted in the deaths of 255 British and 649 Argentine soldiers, sailors and airmen, as well as of three civilian Falklanders.

After the war, the British increased their military presence on the islands, constructing RAF Mount Pleasant and increasing the military garrison. Although the United Kingdom and Argentina resumed diplomatic relations in 1992, no further negotiations on sovereignty have taken place.


File:Falkland Islands Coronation Stamp.jpg

Executive authority is vested in the Queen and is exercised by the Governor on her behalf. The Governor is also responsible for the administration of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, as these islands have no native inhabitants. Defence and Foreign Affairs are the responsibility of the United Kingdom. The current Governor is Nigel Haywood, appointed October 2010.

Under the Constitution, which came into force on 1 January 2009(replacing the 1985 constitution), there is an Executive Council and a Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands. The Executive Council, which advises the Governor, is also chaired by the Governor. It consists of the Chief Executive, Financial Secretary and three Legislative Assembly Members, who are elected by the other Legislative Councillors.

The Legislative Assembly consists of the Chief Executive, Financial Secretary and the eight members elected by universal suffrage, of whom five are from Stanley and three from Camp, for four-year terms. It is presided over by theSpeaker, currently Keith Biles.

The United Nations Committee on Decolonization includes Falkland Islands on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

Relations with Argentina

The dispute over control of the islands has continued since the war. Diplomatic relations between Argentina and the UK were resumed in 1992, and embassies were reopened in London and Buenos Aires. In 1994, Argentina added its claim to the islands to the Argentine constitution, stating that this claim must be pursued in a manner “respectful of the way of life of their inhabitants and according to the principles of international law”[35] (see: 1994 reform of the Argentine Constitution).

In 1998, in retaliation for the arrest in London of the former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean government banned flights between Punta Arenas and Port Stanley, thus isolating the islands from the rest of the world. Uruguay and Brazil refused to authorise direct flights between their territories and Port Stanley. This forced the Islands’ government to enter negotiations with the Argentine government and led to Argentina authorising direct flights between its territory and Stanley, on condition that Argentine citizens be allowed on the islands.[36]One flight a month, operated by LAN Airlines, travels between RAF Mount Pleasant on East Falkland and Río Gallegos in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina.

Since the war, successive Argentine governments have stated their intention to pursue their claim to the islands by peaceful means. On the 22nd anniversary of the war, Argentina’s President Néstor Kirchner gave a speech insisting that the islands would become part of Argentina. Kirchner, campaigning for president in 2003, regarded the islands as a top priority. In June 2003 the issue was brought before a United Nations committee, and attempts have been made to open talks with the United Kingdom to resolve the issue of the islands.


Cristina Fernandez with Gordon Brown

In 2007 (exactly 25 years after the Argentine invasion), Argentina renewed its claim over the Falkland Islands, asking for the UK to resume talks on sovereignty. In March 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown stated in a meeting with Argentine President Cristina Fernándezthat there would be no talks over the future sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.[38] As far as the governments of the UK and of the Falkland Islands are concerned, there is no issue to resolve. The Falkland Islanders themselves are almost entirely British and maintain their allegiance to the United Kingdom.

On 22 September 2007, The Guardian reported the UK government was preparing to stake new claims on the sea floor around the Falklands and other UK remote island possessions, in order to exploit natural resources that may be present. In October 2007, a British spokeswoman confirmed that Britain intended to submit a claim[42] to the UN to extend seabed territory around the Falklands and South Georgia, in advance of the expiry of the deadline[43] for territorial claims following Britain’s ratification of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention. If the claim is disputed, the UN will suspend the claim until the dispute is settled.[42] The claim is largely theoretical and does not affect the Antarctic Treaty or confer new rights upon Britain. Neither does it permit the exploitation of oil or gas reserves, since these are banned by a protocol to the treaty. It would enable Britain to police fishing within the zone to prevent over-exploitation of natural resources by commercial fishing in line with Britain’s obligations under the treaty.Professor Klaus Dodds of the University of London, commenting in The Guardian, has suggested that the move goes against the spirit of the Antarctic Treaty. Argentina has indicated it will challenge any British claim to Antarctic territory and the area around the Falkland Islands and South Georgia. Argentina made a similar claim in 2009, and the United Kingdom quickly protested against these claims.

In February 2010, the Argentine government announced that ships traversing Argentine territorial waters en route to the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands would require a permit, as part of a dispute over British oil exploration near the Falklands. The British and Falkland governments stated that Falklands-controlled waters were unaffected.

Geography and ecology

File:Falkland Islands topographic map-en.svg
Map of the Falkland Islands
Satellite image of the islands taken by Terra on 2011-01-23.
File:2386116148 1de2537b92.jpg

San Carlos Water, one of many inlets on East Falkland. The islands are heavily indented by sounds and fjords

The Falkland Islands comprise two main islands, West Falkland and East Falkland(in Spanish Isla Gran Malvina and Isla Soledad respectively), and about 776 small islands.[50] The islands are located 185 nautical miles (343 km; 213 mi) from theIsla de los Estados in Argentina (and 250 nautical miles (463 km; 288 mi)[52] from the Argentine mainland); 264 nautical miles (489 km; 304 mi) from Chile; 582 nautical miles (1,078 km; 670 mi) west of the Shag Rocks (South Georgia) and 501 nautical miles (928 km; 577 mi) north of the British Antarctic Territory(which overlaps with the Argentine and Chilean claims to Antarctica in that region).

The total land area is 4,700 square miles (12,173 km2), slightly smaller thanConnecticut or Northern Ireland, with a coastline estimated at 800 miles (1288 km).

The two main islands on either side of Falkland Sound make up most of the land. These are East Falkland, which contains the capital, Stanley, and most of the population; and West Falkland. Both islands have mountain ranges, the highest point being Mount Usborne, 705 metres (2,313 ft) on East Falkland. There are also some boggy plains, most notably in Lafonia, on the southern half of East Falkland. Virtually the entire area of the islands is used as pasture forsheep.

Smaller islands surround the main two. They include Barren IslandBeaver IslandBleaker IslandCarcass IslandGeorge IslandKeppel IslandLively IslandNew IslandPebble Island,Saunders IslandSealion IslandSpeedwell Island,Staats IslandWeddell Island, and West Point Island. The Jason Islands lie to the north west of the main archipelago, and Beauchene Islandsome distance to its south. Speedwell Island and George Island are split from East Falkland byEagle Passage.

Numerous flora and fauna are found on the Falkland Islands. Notable native fauna include colonies of theMagellanic Penguin. For more details see Fauna of the Falkland Islands.

The islands claim a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles (22.2 km; 13.8 mi) and an exclusive fishing zone of 200 nautical miles (370.4 km; 230.2 mi), which has been a source of disagreement with Argentina. Biogeographically, the Falkland Islands are classified as part of the Neotropicalrealm, together with South America. It is also classified as part of the Antarctic Floristic Kingdom.


Surrounded by cool South Atlantic waters, the Falkland Islands have a Maritime Subarctic climate (Koppen Cfc) that is very much influenced by the ocean in that it has a narrow annual temperature range. The January average maximum temperature is about 13°C (55°F), and the July maximum average temperature is about 4°C (39°F). The average annual rainfall is 573.6 millimetres (22.58 in) but East Falkland is generally wetter than West Falkland.Humidity and winds, however, are constantly high. Snow is rare but can occur at almost any time of year. Gales are very frequent, particularly in winter. The climate is similar to that of the Shetland islands in the United Kingdom, but with less rainfall and longer and slightly more severe winters.


The largest company in the islands used to be the Falkland Islands Company (FIC), a publicly quoted company on the London Stock Exchange. The company was responsible for the majority of the economic activity on the islands, though its farms were sold in 1991 to the Falkland Islands Government. The company now operates several retail outlets in Stanley and is involved in port services and shipping operations.

Except for defence, the islands are self sufficient; exports account for more than $125 million a year (2004 estimate).


File:Falklands one pound coin.JPG

Reverse of a one-pound coin from the Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands Government issues the Falkland pound, the local currency that is fixed at parity with the pound sterling. Falkland notes and coins are produced in the United Kingdom[61]and are equivalent to the United Kingdom sterling coinage but with local designs on the reverse. Both the Falkland Pound and the pound sterling circulate interchangeably on the islands. For more information about currency in the region see The Sterling Currency in the South Atlantic and the Antarctic.

The Falkland Islands also issue their own stamps, which are a source of revenue from overseas collectors.


Farmland accounts for 4,339.73 sq mi (1,123,985 hectares), more than 90% of the Falklands land area. Since 1984, efforts to diversify the economy have made fishing the largest part of the economy and brought increasing income from tourismSheep farming was formerly the main source of income for the islands and still plays an important part with high quality wool exports going to the UK. According to the Falklands Government Statistics there are over 500,000 sheep on the islands with roughly 60% on East Falkland and 40% on West Falkland.



Map of the Falkland Islands economic zone in relation to her neighbours

The government has operated a fishing zone policy since 1986 with the sale of fishing licences to foreign countries. These licences have recently raised only £12 to 15 million a year in revenue, as opposed to £20m to £25m annually during the 1990s. Locally registered fishing boats are also in operation. More than 75% of the annual catch of 200,000 tonnes (220,000 short tons) aresquid.


Tourism has grown rapidly. The islands have become a regular port of call for the growing market of cruise ships with more than 36,000 visitors in 2004. Attractions include the scenery and wildlife conservation with penguins, seabirds, seals and sealions, as well as visits to battlefields,golf, fishing and wreck diving.


A 1995 agreement between the UK and Argentina had set the terms for exploitation of offshore resources including oil reserves as geological surveys had shown there might be up to 60 billion barrels (9.5 billion cubic metres) of oil under the sea bed surrounding the islands. However, in 2007 Argentina unilaterally withdrew from the agreement. In response, Falklands Oil and Gas Limited has signed an agreement with BHP Billiton to investigate the potential exploitation of oil reserves. Climatic conditions of the southern seas mean that exploitation will be a difficult task, though economically viable, and the continuing sovereignty dispute with Argentina is hampering progress. In February 2010, exploratory drilling for oil was begun by Desire Petroleum, but the results from the first test well were disappointing. Two months later, on 6 May 2010, Rockhopper Exploration announced that “it may have struck oil“. On Friday 17 September 2010 Rockhopper Exploration released news that a flow test of the Sea-Lion 1 discovery was a commercially viable find.


The UK provides defence and British military expenditures make a significant contribution to the economy.


File:IMG 0688-ch-whalebone-arch.jpg

Christ Church Cathedral with the Whale bone arch, Stanley

Census figures show that the population rose from an estimate of 287 in 1851 to 2272 in 1911. It was 2094 in 1921 and 2392 in 1931 but then it declined and in 1980 the population was 1813. The population then rose and was 2955 in 2006. The 2006 census recorded 2115 people in Stanley and 477 in Mount Pleasant, 194 in the rest of East Falkland, 127 in West Falkland and 42 people in all the other islands. These figures exclude all military personnel and their families, but includes 477 people who were present in the Falkland Islands in connection with the military garrison.The American CIA stated that in July 2008, the population was estimated to be 3,140.

About 70 per cent are of British descent, primarily as a result of Scottish and Welsh immigration to the islands. The native-born inhabitants call themselves “Islanders”; the term “Kelpers“, from the kelp which grows profusely around the islands, is no longer used in the Islands. People from the United Kingdom who have obtained Falkland Island status are known locally as ‘belongers’.

A few Islanders are of FrenchGibraltarianPortuguese and Scandinavian descent. Some are the descendants of whalers who reached the Islands during the last two centuries. There is also a small minority of South American, mainly Chilean origin, and in more recent times many people from Saint Helena have also come to work and live in the Islands.

The main religion is Christianity. The main denominations are Church of EnglandRoman Catholic,United Free Church, and Lutheran. Smaller numbers are Jehovah’s WitnessesSeventh-day Adventists and Greek Orthodox; with the latter being due to Greek fishermen passing through.[citation needed] There is also a Bahá’í congregation.The islands are the home of the Apostolic Prefecture of the Falkland Islands.

With retrospective effect from 1 January 1983, as provided in the British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983, the islanders have been fullBritish citizens. For the Argentine position on Falklanders’ citizenship, see Current claims.


Education is compulsory and free between five and sixteen, and follows the English system. There is a primary school and a secondary school with boarding facilities in Stanley. There are also several rural settlement schools, travelling teachers for children living remotely and a primary school for children of service personnel at RAF Mount Pleasant. After 16, suitably qualified students may study at two colleges in England for their A-levels or for vocational qualifications. The government pays for older students to attend higher education, usually in the UK.

Medical care

The Falkland Islands Government Health and Social Services Department provides medical and dental care for the islands. The King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH) is Stanley’s only hospital. It was partially military operated in the past but is now under complete civilian control.[81] Specialist medical care is provided by visiting ophthalmologists, gynaecologists, ENT surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, oral surgeons and psychiatrists from the United Kingdom. Patients needing emergency treatment are air-lifted to the United Kingdom or toSantiago (Chile).

Broadcasting and telecommunications


Penguins at Gypsy Cove


Radio services are operated by the Falkland Islands Radio Service, formerly the Falkland Islands Broadcasting Service, and the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS). FM stereo broadcasting using the UK allocation is standard. Medium Wave broadcasting using 10 kHz steps (standard in ITU Region II).

The only terrestrial channel available is BFBS1PAL television, using the UK UHF allocation standard. There is also a cable television service in Stanley operated by KTV Ltd.


The Falkland Islands has a modern telecommunications network providing fixed line telephone,ADSL and dial-up internet services in Stanley. Telephones to outlying settlements use microwave radio. A GSM 900 mobile network was installed in 2005[84] providing coverage to Stanley, Mount Pleasant and surrounding areas. It is operated under the Touch Mobile brand.

Cable & Wireless Worldwide is the sole telecommunications provider in the Falkland Islands.


There are more than 30 different sports clubs on the Falklands, including badminton, clay-pigeon shooting, cricket, football, golf, hockey, netball, rugby union, sailing, swimming, table tennis and volleyball. The Falklands compete in the Commonwealth Games and in the biennial Island Games Louis Baillon is the only Falkland Islander to have become an Olympic champion, as a member of the British field hockey team which won a gold medal in 1908.



The Falkland Islands have two airports with paved runways. The main international airport is RAF Mount Pleasant, 27 miles (43 km) west of Stanley. There are weekly flights, operated by LAN Airlines, to Santiago, Chile, via Punta Arenas. Once a month, this flight also stops in Río Gallegos, Argentina.

The Royal Air Force operates flights from RAF Mount Pleasant to RAF Brize Norton inOxfordshire, England, with a refuelling stop at RAF Ascension Island. RAF flights are on TriStarsalthough charter aircraft are often used if the TriStars are required for operational flights. At presentOmni Air International operates the RAF air link, using DC-10sBritish International (BRINTEL) also operate two Sikorsky S61N helicopters, based at RAF Mount Pleasant, under contract to the United Kingdom Ministry Of Defence, primarily for moving military personnel, equipment and supplies around the islands.

The British Antarctic Survey operates a transcontinental air link between the Falkland Islands and the Rothera Research Station on theAntarctic Peninsula and servicing also other British bases in the British Antarctic Territory using a de Havilland Canada Dash 7.

The smaller Port Stanley Airport, outside the city, is used for internal flights. The Falkland Islands Government Air Service (FIGAS) operatesIslander aircraft that can use the grass airstrips that most settlements have. Flight schedules are decided a day in advance according to passenger needs. The night before, the arrival and departure times are announced on the radio.

The road network has been improved in recent years. However, not many paved roads exist outside Stanley and RAF Mount Pleasant. Speed limits are 25 mph (40 km/h) in built-up areas and 40 mph (64 km/h) elsewhere.

Landmines and ordnance

Depending on the source, between 18,000 and 25,000 land mines remain from the 1982 war. One source says that Argentina placed 18,000 landmines.[91] The British Government stated that all but one of their anti-personnel mine were accounted for.[92] The land mines are located in either 101 or 117 mine fields, that are dispersed over an area of 7.7 sq mi (20 km2) in the areas of Port Stanley, Port Howard, Fox Bay and Goose Green (these areas are now well marked).[93] Information is available from the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Operation Centre in Stanley.

Some beaches were mined, and there have been concerns the tides could have moved some mines. Mines near rivers may also have been washed out of the marked area by flooding. As well, there is ordnance from the war. Between 1997 and 2002, 248 antipersonnel mines were destroyed in the Falklands, 16 were destroyed in 2003, one in 2005 and six antipersonnel mines were destroyed in 2006.

In February 2005, the charity Landmine Action proposed a Kyoto-style credit scheme, which would see a commitment by the British government to clear an equivalent area of mined land to that currently existing in the Falklands in more seriously mine-affected countries by March 2009. This proposal was supported by Falkland Islanders, for whom landmines do not pose a serious threat in everyday life.[95] The British government has yet to declare its support or opposition to the idea.

In November 2008, Landmine Action opposed Britain’s request for a ten year extension on the deadline for clearing the landmines. It accused the British Government of not demonstrating “any evidence of serious plans to complete, or even begin, this work” and stated “Allowing a well-resourced, technically capable State such as the United Kingdom to effectively ignore its responsibilities would set a dangerous and ethically unacceptable precedent.” However, in 2008, the UK Government argued that in stark contrast to minefields elsewhere, “There have never been any civilian injuries in almost 26 years” in the Falklands.

On 30 November 2009 the Falkland Islands Government announced that mine clearance was due to begin at Surf Bay on 2 December 2009, and further clearances were to take place at Sapper Hill, Goose Green and Fox Bay. The British company BACTEC International was chosen to carry out the project, “The work began on 4 December 2009 and is expected to be completed in the middle of 2010.” (Hansard 5 January 2010). The workers are using Argentine and UK records to help determine the location of mines.



There is a British military garrison stationed on the Falkland Islands, but the islands also have their ownFalkland Islands Defence Force. This company sized force is completely funded by the Falklands government. It uses vehicles such as: quad bikesinflatable boats and Land Rovers to traverse the islands’ terrain. The Falkland Islands Defence Force uses the Steyr AUG as its main assault rifle.

A 2009 front-page report in RAF News[102] that Prince William of Wales would serve a 3-month tour of duty in the Falkland Islands, following completion of his 18-month training with the RAF Search and Rescue Forcedrew a critical response from the Argentine government in January 2009. However, the Ministry of Defence denied that any decision on the Prince’s deployment had been made.

Jules Verne goes populuxe

By Annalee Newitz

Jules Verne goes populuxe

Jules Verne goes populuxe

This is steampunk turned inside-out. In the early 1960s, illustrator Peter P. Plascencia wanted to bring Jules Verne’s ninteenth century visions to life for a Space Age audience. So he trimmed all the curlicues off, de-bronzed everything, and gave us these very Mad Men-looking pictures of a Verne adventure.

Thanks to illustrator Ward Jenkins, who scanned these images in from a 1964 book called Jules Verne: The Man Who Invented the Future, written by Franz Born and illustrated by Peter P. Plasencia.

We’ve got a gallery.

You can see more on Ward Jenkin’s site.

Jules Verne goes populuxe

Jules Verne goes populuxe

Jules Verne goes populuxe



FAQ: Inside NASA’s Valentine’s Day Visit to Comet Tempel 1

FAQ: Inside NASA’s Valentine’s Day Visit to Comet Tempel 1


Mike Wall
, SPACE.com Senior Writer
– Thu Feb 10, 4:45 pm ET

On Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14), NASA’s Stardust-NExT spacecraft will make a close flyby of comet Tempel 1, zipping to within just 124 miles (200 kilometers) of the icy wanderer.

The mission will mark the second time a spacecraft has visited two different comets (Stardust’s original mission was to the comet Wild 2) during its lifetime.  It’s also the first time two different spacecraft have visited the same comet after years of spaceflight.

NASA’s Deep Impact mission sent a spacecraft to rendezvous with comet Tempel 1 in 2005 to intentionally slam a probe into the icy object to look inside the comet. The Deep Impact spacecraft was later recycled to visit another comet – Hartley 2 – in 2010.

Here’s a brief overview of the spacecraft and its mission.

Does Stardust-NExT have anything to do with NASA’s old Stardust mission?

Yes — it’s the same spacecraft with a different mission. NASA’s Stardust probe launched back in February 1999, tasked with gathering bits of dust and gas from around comet Wild 2 (pronounced “Vilt 2”) and sending the sample back to Earth in a return canister.

The original Stardust did its job. It flew by Wild 2 in January 2004, and the comet material it collected made it to Earth two years later. Since the probe was still in good shape and had a fair amount of fuel left, NASA gave it a new mission in 2007 — to meet up with comet Tempel 1 this year.

Along with that new mission came a new name: Stardust-NExT (for “Next Exploration of Tempel”).

Why Tempel 1? And what does the new mission hope to accomplish?

Another NASA mission, called Deep Impact, visited Tempel 1 back in 2005. But it did more than visit: Deep Impact slammed an impactor into Tempel 1’s surface, then studied the ejected material to get an idea of what the comet is made of.

Researchers hope Stardust-NExT will give them an idea of how Tempel 1 has changed during this time. They also hope to get a good look at the crater Deep Impact created; the previous mission was not able to see it well, as the huge cloud of ejected debris obscured the new feature.

Another aim is to extend geologic mapping of Tempel 1’s surface, adding to the work done by Deep Impact. Through making these and other observations, Stardust-NExT can contribute to scientists’ understanding of how comets formed at the solar system’s birth and how they have evolved since then, researchers have said.

How big is Comet Tempel 1?

Comet Tempel 1 is 3.7-mile-wide (6 kilometers). It completes an orbit every 5 1/2 years, so it has circled the sun once since Deep Impact’s visit.

How will Stardust-NExT fly by the comet?

Stardust-NExT will make its closest approach to Tempel 1 around 11:40 p.m. EST on Feb. 14 (0440 GMT on Feb. 15). At that time, the probe — zooming through space at around 22,400 mph (36,000 kph) — will come within 124 miles (200 km) of the comet, snapping pictures and making measurements all the while.

The probe will take 72 high-resolution images during the flyby and begin transmitting them to Earth an hour after the closest pass. It will take about 12 hours for all the pictures to reach scientists on the ground, researchers have said.

This NASA video describes the Stardust-NExT probe’s Valentine’s Day encounter with Comet Tempel 1.

How was Comet Tempel 1 discovered?

Comet Tempel 1 was discovered onApril 3, 1867 by Ernst Wilhelm Leberecht Tempel of Marseilles, France. Because of its periodic nature, 19th-century astronomers kept a close watch on Tempel 1.

They observed its return to the inner solar system in 1873 and then again in 1879, but by 1881 gravitational interactions with other objects had changed its orbital period to 6 1/2 years. The comet was then “lost” to observers, according to NASA. Attempts to spot it in 1898 and 1905 failed.

In the 1960s, the late comet hunter Brian Marsden studied Tempel 1’s disappearance and predicted it would return in 1967 and 1972. Indeed, the comet was returned on June 8, 1967, then again in January 1972.

Tempel 1 now has the official designation comet 9P/Tempel 1. Its orbit has settled into its current 5 1/2-year period and carries the comet between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Is there another comet encounter in Stardust-NExT’s future?

Not likely. The Stardust-NExT probe will burn up almost all of its remaining fuel chasing down Tempel 1, so this will almost certainly be its last comet encounter mission, researchers have said.

The probe has been a model of reliability and longevity, lasting 12 years in space and putting about 3.7 billion miles (6 billion km) on its odometer. So if all goes well on Feb. 14, Stardust-NExT can drift off into the cold depths of space with its head held high.


Kin of famous Lucy had feet like modern people

Kin of famous Lucy had feet like modern people


By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer – Thu Feb 10, 2:31 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Lucy’s feet were made for walking.

That’s the word from a team of researchers who got a first look at a foot bone from this human relative who lived 3 million or more years ago, and concluded this ancestor was fully comfortable with life on the ground, rather than the trees.

Carol Ward of the University of Missouri, and colleagues, report in Friday’s edition of the journal Science that the discovery shows that ancient Australopithecus afarensis had feet similar to modern humans.

The famous fossil Lucy is the poster girl for her group of ancient hominins. The study of her other bones showed she was able to stand upright. But no foot bones were found with her skeleton, so researchers have puzzled over whether she walked like modern people or was a blend of ground- and tree-dweller.

The new discovery shows these relatives “were fully humanlike and committed to life on the ground,” Ward said in a telephone interview from Africa. “It lays to rest the idea that they were a compromise.”

The new bone, discovered with other A. afarensis bones at Hadar, Ethiopia, is a metatarsal, one of the long bones connecting the toes to the base of the foot.

It shows that Lucy’s kin had arches stiffening their feet like modern people, as opposed to apes whose feet are more flexible for grasping tree branches.

This was an important step in evolution, Ward explained. “This shows our early ancestor walked like we would walk. They were not shuffling, they were walking upright . which is a key feature of our branch of the family tree.

“Now that we know Lucy and her relatives had arches in their feet, this affects much of what we know about them, from where they lived to what they ate and how they avoided predators,” said Ward, a professor of integrative anatomy.

“The development of arched feet was a fundamental shift toward the human condition, because it meant giving up the ability to use the big toe for grasping branches, signaling that our ancestors had finally abandoned life in the trees in favor of life on the ground.”

Richard Potts, director of the human origins program at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of NaturalHistory, called the report “an impressive paper for just one bone.”

“Every once in a while you do get one piece of the puzzle that helps you fill in something. This bone really fills in a missing piece,” said Potts, who was not part of the research team.

“Where this article is a game-changer, to me, is that it correctly notes that there has been this discussion about whether Lucy’s species had compromised two-legged walking. This shows that it wasn’t compromised walking,” said Potts.

That doesn’t mean A. afarensis didn’t climb trees, he added. It was probably a very adaptable creature, using trees when they were available but being quite comfortable on the ground.

A. afarensis still retained the well-muscled arms that would have been useful in trees, Potts noted.

Meanwhile, the Smithsonian museum was welcoming artifacts of Australopithecus sediba, another human ancestor who lived in Africa about 2 million years ago, a million years after Lucy and her relatives.

The previously unknown A. sediba was first reported last year, and casts of those skeletons arrived at the museum Thursday, donated by the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.

The arrival means that researchers will be able to study the casts at the Smithsonian, and they will also be on display to the public, Potts said,

This undated handout combination photo provided ...

This undated handout combination photo provided …

This undated handout combination photo provided by the journal Science shows four images of the fourth metatarsal, a long bone in the foot that shows Austraopithecus afarensis had an arched foot, indicating it was fully adapted to life on the ground rather than in the trees. Lucy’s feet were made for walking. That’s the word from a team of researchers that has gotten the first look at a foot bone from an human relative that lived three million or more years ago.

(AP Photo/Science)


Egypt’s museums and monuments are deserted

Egypt’s museums and monuments are deserted


By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press – Thu Feb 10, 10:22 am ET

CAIRO – One of the world’s great museums resembled a military camp on Thursday, with soldiers patrolling behind its wrought iron gates and armored vehicles parked nearby. Inside, workers with white coats and latex gloves delicately handled artifacts that were damaged in the chaos sweeping Egypt.

The country’s priceless trove of antiquities has emerged mostly unscathed from the unrest so far, but tourism, a pillar of the Egyptian economy, has not. Tens of thousands of foreigners have fled Egypt, many on evacuation flights organized by their governments, draining a key source of employment and foreign currency.

An Egyptian restorer fixes one the pieces that ...

Egyptian restorer fixes one pieces that

An Egyptian restorer fixes one the pieces that was broken by looters at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. Would-be lootersbroke into Cairo’s famed Egyptian Museum on Saturday, Jan. 29, ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging about 75 small artifacts before being caught and detained by army soldiers.

(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti) 

Egypt’s most famous tourist attraction, the Pyramids of Giza, reopened to tourists on Wednesday after a 12-day closure. But few came to visit. The heavily guarded and shuttered Egyptian Museum in Cairo is next to Tahrir Square, a protest encampment that draws hundreds of thousands of people on some days.

“We will open the museum after the strike is finished. I don’t know when the strike is finished,” said Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass, referring to the upheaval. “I need things to go back to normal.”

Egypt’s conflict pits autocratic President Hosni Mubarak against protesters who want him out now. Anti-government demonstrators and Mubarak supporters battled in front of the Egyptian Museum’s pink-walled facade last week, raising fears of widespread destruction of the most coveted artifacts from the age of the pharaohs.

In earlier unrest, the adjacent headquarters of the ruling party was set afire, and its blackened shell looms over the museum.

Some 70 objects at the Victorian-era Egyptian Museum, many of them small statues, were damaged after looters broke into the museum and smashed showcases in late January. On Thursday, several dozen items lay on tables in a conservation room, examined by experts with small tools and adhesive.

Some were funerary items of Yuya and Tuya, parents of a queen. Their tomb was found in the Valley of the Kings at Luxor in 1905, though that remarkable find was eclipsed by the discovery of Tutankhamun’s well-preserved tomb by British archaeologist Howard Carter less than two decades later.

Hawass said “the only important piece” that was damaged was a statue of Tutankhamun, the boy king, on a panther. The figure of the standing king, one arm broken off, lay separate from that of the panther.

“The skilled hand of this man will return everything back,” the minister, gesturing at a colleague. “This is the most damaged piece of the group.”

Workers also planned to restore a walking stick of Tutankhamun that was stripped of its thin gold sheeting when it was thrown on the floor.

The Victorian-style building is a place of marvels, even if the lighting is poor and there are none of the interactive displays and other novelties of modern museums. Faded, typewritten cards perch in the corners of display cases, explaining the heritage in tiny print.

On a normal day, the museum is jammed with foreign tourists, surveying treasures of an ancient civilization — mummies, alabaster caskets, granite statues, chariots and gold sheet thrones. One bed incorporates wildlife shapes — the head of a hippopotamus, a leopard’s body and the back and tail of a crocodile.

But on Thursday, the majestic stone faces and forms lining the halls had the place largely to themselves.

Only a few museum workers, soldiers and journalists walked the dimly lit chambers. In their haste and in the darkness, looters had rampaged just a few feet from the room containing Tutankhamun’s gold burial mask and other invaluable pieces. Its padlock was intact.

Hawass said the looters were looking for gold and a fictitious substance called “red mercury” that, according to local lore, can be found in the throats of ancient mummies. Some people think it has magical powers and can be used to summon spirits.

“They live thinking about it. They could kill each other to get it,” Hawass said. “When I enter any place in Egypt, people ask me all the time about this.”

The museum is still checking to determine whether any items are missing. On his website, Hawass said an additional five items that were stolen from an archaeological storage site in Qantara, near the Suez Canal, were apparently discarded in the desert and police returned them Tuesday.

Authorities have recovered a total of 293 objects at the Qantara site, and an inventory was under way.

Hawass sought to project a sense of normalcy, reaching high for comparisons. He suggested that other great repositories of culture — the British Museum and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art — were equally vulnerable to plunder or destruction.

“It can happen to any place in the world,” said Hawass, who faces demands for higher wages from antiquities workers who demonstrated outside his office this week.

To match Interview EGYPT/ANTIQUITIES

To match Interview EGYPT/ANTIQUITIES

A member of the Egyptian special forces walks past a mummy in the Egyptian Museum near the opposition stronghold of Tahrir Square in Cairo February 10, 2011. Egypt’s pharaonic treasures have survived the unrest almost unscathed and restoration work has started on the few artefacts damaged in a raid on the Egyptian Museum, the head of antiquities said on Wednesday. To match Interview EGYPT/ANTIQUITIES REUTERS/Steve Crisp

(EGYPT – Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST SOCIETY IMAGES OF THE DAYA member of the Egyptian special forces stands ...

Member of Egyptian special forces

A member of the Egyptian special forces stands guard on the main floor of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. Would-be looters broke into Cairo’s famed Egyptian Museum on Saturday, Jan. 29, ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging about 75 small artifacts before being caught and detained by army soldiers.

(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
To match interview EGYPT/ANTIQUITIES

Member moves past mummy, located

A member of the Egyptian special forces moves past a mummy in the Egyptian Museum, located near the opposition stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. Egypt’s pharaonic treasures have survived the unrest almost unscathed and restoration work has started on the few artefacts damaged in a raid on the Egyptian Museum, the head of antiquities said on Wednesday. To match interview EGYPT/ANTIQUITIES REUTERS/Steve Crisp


An Egyptian restorer fixes one the pieces that ...

Egyptian restorer fixes one pieces

An Egyptian restorer fixes one the pieces that was broken during a recent demonstration, at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. Would-be looters broke into Cairo’s famed Egyptian Museum on Saturday, Jan. 29, ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging about 75 small artifacts before being caught and detained by army soldiers.

(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

An Egyptian restorer fixes one the pieces that ...

Egyptian restorer fixes one pieces that

An Egyptian restorer fixes one the pieces that was broken by looters at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. Would-be lootersbroke into Cairo’s famed Egyptian Museum on Saturday, Jan. 29, ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging about 75 small artifacts before being caught and detained by army soldiers.

(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

A member of the Egyptian special forces  patrol ...

Member of Egyptian special forces patrol

A member of the Egyptian special forces patrol on the main floor of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. Would-be looters broke into Cairo’s famed Egyptian Museum on Saturday, Jan. 29, ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging about 75 small artifacts before being caught and detained by army soldiers.

(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

A member of the Egyptian special forces stands ...

Member of Egyptian special forces

A member of the Egyptian special forces stands guard on the main floor of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. Would-be looters broke into Cairo’s famed Egyptian Museum on Saturday, Jan. 29, ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging about 75 small artifacts before being caught and detained by army soldiers.

(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)