Remembering The Falklands War with Peter Johnston | History Hit LIVE on Timeline

published on June 30, 2020

hello everybody welcome welcome it's

another beautiful afternoon here in the


midway through June we almost coming up

the anniversary of the Battle of

Waterloo but we're not talking about

today no we're not we're talking about

another conflict a more recent one we're

gonna be talking about the Falklands War

which was fought when I was at my first

memory my first memory is of watching

the victory parade my little tiny

crackling black-and-white TV in the

early 90s that's how old I am everyone

greetings from Chile hello Irish lass in


good to see hello in a humid London good

to see it Elizabeth in DC as ever hello

in Trinidad in the West Indies thanks

for joining us we've got a real treat

for you here in London we got the

National Army Museum and we got a

curator exploring from there called

Peter Johnston absolute legend you're

gonna be hearing from him talking all

about the Falklands War I said next week

we're not are we doing three times a

week because the deadly you know the

lockdown is lifting all over the world

it's gonna be interesting time so what

we're gonna do is we're gonna drop down

to Friday's we're gonna do 8 am

Pacific time on Friday 11 am Eastern

4:00 pm UK time on Fridays so let us

know what topics you would like us to




hey welcome back good hello in an ocean

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Finland look at that and in a midnight

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anyway if you ask questions we'll pick

them up and we will put them to peter

johnson um

pizza how are you yeah I'm really good

thanks thanks for having me it's great

to hear how many people are are tuning

in across the world hello to everybody

or good morning to some of you if you're

up if you're up late or getting up early

it's complicated and I never quite know

what what the I never quite know what

that where everyone is and what time it

is um let's talk about this will first I

just want to start a little quick the

fact that we're interested in this was

not just clear British and we're a bit

eccentric and Rhoni interest knowing

what this will matter in the great

scheme of things I mean I think all wars

matter and all wars have a big impact on

the societies to fight them but also in

the wider context I think in particular

with the Falklands War and we can

probably delve into this a little bit a

little bit later in more depth I think

because of the context of which where it

came in you know Britain's decline

throughout the 70s its lack of certainty

about its role in the world but also its

position whilst it was also trying to

maintain an active presence in the Cold

War meant that the Falklands was this

real flashpoint that yes what it was a

short war and it was fought very far

away and there was no direct threat to

mainland Britain in the same way as

patch from the Cold War or from the

Second World War going back further it

still allowed Britain to establish a

precedent about what it would do when

challenged militarily it was a test for

Britain's armed forces which they passed

with flying colors

and it was an extreme test I mean you

know yourself down pounding down there I

mean the let alone the Argentine's and

we'll talk about the Argentine's I'm

sure a bit later on but the shared

challenge of waging war in that climate

in that environment is enormous and as

such I think it's certainly worthy of us

remembering it talking about it

exploring it because it had a huge

impact on on on Britain and on the

British military in particular so I was

lucky enough to go back maybe ten years

ago now this is the Falklands this is

two sisters and I was there with this

veteran up here who was the guy made

famous by the photograph which I'll

share with you later on so he marched

along some of the route that he marched

back during the war

but let's talk about the geography you

mentioned the extreme environments where

are the Falklands and how on earth did

they come to be fought over well the the

Falkland Islands are east of an

archipelago of islands and Sandwich

Islands all down it right down in the

southern ocean towards Antarctica 8,000

miles from the UK now what was quite

interesting is when the ocean times

invaded the Falklands and the news

percolated through there actually quite

a lot of people in the British military

who will be immobilized to go down there

and take them back who were asking the

question of well how on earth did the

Argentine's invade islands off the coast

of Scotland how did they get there you

know these were places and islands that

just weren't really in the public

consciousness until they were thrust so

violently forward by the events of April

1982 you know this was the issue the

Falkland Islands is probably best

described as contested you know you can

go back to 1765 when a British captain

first sort of lays lays claim to them

but you know throughout the scene in

years they sort of passed back and forth

those various disputes and it's really

from December 1965 onwards that things

become slightly more pressing and more

significant that's the year that

resolution to 0-6 5 is passed by the UN

which calls on Britain the Argentine and

Argentina to find a peaceful solution to

the Falklands or Malvinas as they're

known in Argentina conundrum about who

owns them came in sovereignty that sort

of thing and what then began with

decades of diplomatic wrangling whereby

the Argentine's were incoming increasing

exasperated increasingly frustrated by

seeming lack of British commitment both

to the process but also to the islands

themselves it's quite remarkable

all that you know for a long time for

example the Argentine's would maintain

this great consistency in the people

they would send to these diplomatic

meetings summits and discussions and yet

the British were constantly changing

the people they were sending forward and

even you know large scale things that

were seemed to be may even breaking the

deadlock things like the communications

agreement which was this plan

established in 1971 about increasing

links between the Falklands and the

Argentine mainland i given the

Argentine's a sense of greater proximity

to the Falklands but also the Falkland

Islanders this sense well if they had an

air link they could better sell produce

they'd have better access to school in

medical care all of this sort of thing

in mainland Argentina now that was

devised by a civil servant and he

presented it as this plan and the origin

times quite liked it however it was

bought by a Foreign Office civil servant

it wasn't a minister it wasn't a

diplomat or anything like that and a

Treasury refused to pay for it and so

that just fell down and it was yet

another I think sort of link in the

chain of constant British disappointment

offering to the are certain times in

these negotiations that this led an

increase this this frustration building

of course the situation in domestic

Argentina at this stage meant that

increasingly they were coming under

pressure the Argentine government the

hunter the military dictatorship were

coming under pressure to actually do

something as well because obviously they

were in the middle of their

counterinsurgency their dirty war and

the idea for them was if they could

seize that the Malvinas in a coup dermat

and present this to the the internet the

international community as something

they'd achieved than perhaps they could

dissuade amiss quite heavy domestic

tourism at the same time so did it come

so obviously it was building did it did

the invasion on the 21st of March 1980

to come out of the blue does it shock

the British government well I think in

the you know in the in those weeks of a

march and then into April 82 there is a

long-standing discussion within

Argentine about what they're going to do

and how they do and they are building up

their military forces obviously Britain

maintained an active intelligence

network they know what's going on they

are reading Argentine codes throughout

all this time but I think there's just a

general assumption the origin times

won't actually go

through with it there's been saber

rattling before noticeably that the

British had sent a nuclear submarine

down which is sort of you know happen to

let its periscope be spotted in Stanley

Harbor just to let people know it was

there and they'd put down these these

markers that they were gonna they would

be willing to stand and fight for the

Falklands if required and so that they

perhaps thought that this was nothing

more than saber rattling and yet when

the invasion happens and the islands are

seized it does seemingly take British

the British by surprise that there was

ample warning you know I think the

governor of the Falklands Rex hunt even

when he's briefing the raw Marines when

it looks like they're the Argentine

invasion is gonna happen even says you

know it looks like the buggers mean it

so you know for their millions very much

this idea that actually maybe this has

come out of the blue but there's a lot

of great historiography feel about this

so hubris Janos written a brilliant book

about some of the intelligence failings

around preparing for the Falklands War

on behalf of the British and it requires

a pretty rapid response from them to to

formulate a military option we're gonna

hear about that response just after

watching this short clip we've got a

really remarkable film available on

timeline the documentary that was made

just a couple of years after the

Falklands War so it's pretty old now and

we're gonna hear from an argent

Argentinean conscript who was

interviewed for that project let's check

it out the Falklands became an armed


in their thousands young conscript

arrived from Argentina

the premier working gracias por lo y que

todo lo que bien the first time I went

into Port Stanley

I noticed that everything was English

there was practically nothing there to

remind me of Argentina I remember

picking up a little nail and it had made

in England I written on it yes yeah so I

started wondering what it all meant I

thought where am I what is this I had

been told that we were going to the

Malvinas to defend our people but it

turned out that they weren't our people

at all so you had to ask yourself who

would the invaders us well welcome back

we're talking to Peter Johnson is a

curator at the National Museum in London

town so that was a just hearing from a

from one of the Argentinian conscripts

that was sent across during the invasion

how Peter is does the British government

and the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

respond to that invasion initially with

a lot of uncertainty to be honest there

is an immediate question about how the

British respond and whether it even

could respond you know there's a very

famous story about how this really falls

to the First Sea Lord so Henry leach at

the time the chief of defensive staff is

actually flying back at the overnight on

the 2nd of April and so he can't be

reached and he can't offer his advice to

the government so so Henry leach goes to

speak to Thatcher and key ministers and

he basically says this is what we can do

and this is how we can build this

military response this is how we can

take the islands back and he faces

severe skepticism but he pretty much

single-handedly convinces Thatcher that

the islands could and should we fought

for and when he's asked why he says

because if we do not and if we push you

foot in our actions and do not achieve

complete success in another few months

we shall be living in a very different

country whose word counts for little and

these are really strong words and you

know leach realized that Britain still

had overseas territories in Belize in

Hong Kong obviously he had commitments

there in Cyprus and if it did not stand

up and at least make a show and

effort to defend its territory then the

repercussions could be huge of course

the reason the political will is lacking

initially is there is a severe fear

about Britain being in a state of

decline already that it could not take

another international humiliation you

know what if they failed or worse and

this is primarily amongst the thinking

of Thatcher and the ministers what if

the Americans forced the British to back

down you know the Americans had

intervened in the suez crisis and that

has led to an enormous humiliating climb

down the fall of Eden as Prime Minister

and the those foods were still raw it's

mentioned a few times in the emergency

House of Commons debate that takes place

on the 3rd of April 1982 Saturday the

day after the invasion but actually

there's this huge resolve and actually

really that the work of bleach goes a

long way to giving Thatcher the sort of

the courage and the resolution that she

needs which she then carries into

Parliament which then builds a political

consensus and then behind that political

behind that political consensus a media

consensus builds alongside with it so

Britain is going to respond it is going

to formulate a task force and go down

there the real challenge though is what

unit what they're going to use and how

are they going to get there you know the

Falklands are 8,000 miles away British

defensive thought at this stage is

entirely geared towards fighting the

Cold War the defence review of 1981 just

a year previously and actually basically

planned to only fight in Europe in the

Cold War and so all the assets required

for expeditionary warfare of this type

were going to be mothballed or sold off

the Britain didn't have a large aircraft

carrier anymore because it was believed

that all their cover could be generated

from land either from bases in Germany

or from from mainland Britain so yacht

royal have been scrapped in 78 and

replaced with sort of the rather

euphemistically named through debt

cruisers which are small aircraft

carriers that operated the sea harrier

vs tol aircraft but that's unproven in

combat it's only available in small

numbers limited range because of the

small amount of fuel it could carry the

amphibious assault ships that would be

necessary to land any raw Marine

Commandos on the islands to seize them

back had actually been tasked for being

sold and mothballed as well so the the

invasion really comes at a crux in in

Britain's defensive policy about what

it's actually doing what it can be

capable of doing fortunately it does

still have these

that's available and they're quickly

formulated into a taskforce a large part

of the Navy was actually currently

training on its spring exercise spring

train in Gibraltar so they could be

retasked and sent south straight away as

well and rapidly Britain's installed

naval rapid response units the nuclear

submarines were dispatched and sailed

south – this was a conflict and a war

that was developing in a entirely

different hemisphere – where the British

expected the fight and so there's gonna

be a huge amount of adaptability as they

sailed south for all of them for people

– but everybody can involve to reorient

themselves to plan to come up with new

tactics and strategies about how they

were going to win and also they just

like they lacked basic intelligence

about the islands themselves there were

very few maps fortunately they had the

services of a Royal Marine you in South

Beach area who had been you laughs me

I'm sure you know him you know he'd been

he'd been stationed on the islands and

his free time he'd sailed around them

and help chart them and map them so they

were able to you know this is the level

of knowledge that they've got there

there are no satellites there's no you

know nothing like this there's no

intelligence gathering on the ground at

this stage before the Special Forces can

be inserted so it's quite a scramble for

the British initially and there this

task force set off in drips and drabs it

sets off in some haste and it sort of

gathers and concentrates at Ascension

Island in the in it down there towards

the you know in in the middle of the

Atlantic to restock to rearm to

reorganize all the stores it will need

and when they push on and stay along

from there if you speak to the veterans

if you read the accounts that's where

the vast majority of people begin to

think yeah okay we're gonna fight this

is where we're actually in a fight the

time for a show of force is over the

time for talk and words it's over from

here on in it's gonna be serious and

obviously there are events that overtake

that the sinking of the Belgrano on the

2nd of May the Sheffield being hit on

the 4th of May the shooting wards

effectively begun and that's what its

gonna be required to inject the are

sometimes from the islands so what was

going on as that task force is sailing

south there was there was a assumption

that there might be some sort of

peaceful solution right it wasn't it

wasn't assumed they were gonna be

shooting what would start what was going

on in the UN what was going on in

Washington DC so let me talk about the

Falklands I think

actually one of the great under satan

and perhaps less well-known triumphs of

the british effort in the Falklands War

was the diplomatic effort waged by anti

Parsons who was the British ambassador

the UN at the time and pretty quickly

afterwards he managed to convene an

emergency debate that passed an

emergency mandate that basically said

that that effectively gave the British

the moral high ground in the

international community and that was

absolutely key for giving the British

government and the British military the

freedom to maneuver to go down because

they were suddenly presented as being

the wronged party they were going to be

the people who needed to return the

these group of Islanders back to who

wanted to be British they were going to

return them back to to British control

and that was really key and I think that

court Argentina by surprise and another

diplomatic failure that the Argentine's

made is they expected that the US would

reign the British in or effectively

stopped them from doing anything

obviously the the Britain is a key ally

of the US and was a key ally but so was

Argentina Argentine was a major bulwark

against the expansion of communism in

South America heavily supported by the

Americans and this meant that they

needed the Argentine's believe that

therefore the Americans would never let

Britain fight Argentina and potentially

weaken one or the other and the role

that they have played in the

international cold war and the Americans

for a long time tried to negotiate a

settlement you have hey who's the

Secretary of State who is working for

Reagan do no huge amount of shuttle

diplomacy you know moving back between

the various capitals trying to build

some kind of peaceful settlement what

yet all the while the brochures are

sailing south you know they are they've

they've seized the initiative and they

are moving and they because they know

that if they are seen to be doing

something then international opinion

will stay on their side the longer they

sit and do nothing

the stronger the Argentine claim begins

to effectively have everything presented

as a fait accompli let's look now we've

got a another clip from the documentary

we're going to we're going to check out

the the bit of the documentary which

refers to the US attempts negotiate and

Thatcher's insistence that she was going

to maintain British soul reimpose

British sovereignty

anxious to avoid a war between two of

its closest allies the whole conflict

seemed to be strange it seemed to be

much less important then it obviously

seemed to both sides because the

Falkland Islands by themselves did not

seem to be objectively that important if

I may say so to anyone and yet suddenly

they had become the focus of this

enormous intense conflict Alexander Haig

desperately sought a negotiated

settlement on board his pea shuttle was

David comfort well of course the most

memorable recollection one has about

London was mrs Thatcher herself and the

way she presided over the War Cabinet

and spoke for Britain in the

negotiations she would allow others to

speak to address particular aspects of

it based on their expertise but in all

cases she would have the final word and

in some cases she would explicitly

overrule a senior member of her cabinet

she was never in any doubt that may have

been those of us who would one moment

rather thought should we just give a

little bit more would it finally and the

problems which we hadn't yet faced of

actually invading from ships in the

South County but she was totally

resolute in London and we did not find a

very positive disposition toward

negotiation and the view there quite

simply was foreign troops have occupied

land over which Her Majesty's Government

is responsible and the issue at hand is

the removal of the troops not the

negotiation of the conditions after

those troops are going and that's about

all we received by way of encouragement

in London

so we're back with Peter Johnston

curator at National Museum that we've

we've heard about the diplomacy didn't

work out a shooting war broke out we

have initially initially it so thank you

very much saying for your um for your

question and your donation that's an

interesting question let's come to that

at the end um initially it's an SSC

combat but the troops duel and

amphibious force duel and what what are

the what are the British expecting in

terms resistance and how are they met

with that resistance so the British

don't actually know a huge amount about

what the Argentine capabilities are they

basically as soon as they get within

helicopter range they are inserting

Special Forces SAS SBS to conduct

reconnaissance missions about both where

they could potentially land but also

where the Argentine's are in strength as

well if anybody's familiar with the map

of the Falklands the the island in

particular are so sparsely populated and

the majority of settlements are at East

Falkland but really the only way you can

win the campaign would be to take back

control of Sam in the capital yet the

British can just sail straight there

it's too heavily defended they're gonna

have to land somewhere else and they

choose san carlos san carlos water which

is a sheltered Bay on sort of the on the

western side of East Falkland Island and

from there they're going to expect to

advance over land to find and neutralize

the Argentine defenses and recapture

Stanley now that is the plan in simple

terms but actually what becomes rapidly

apparent is that they don't have enough

land forces necessary to do this so a

second Brigade has been sent you know 3

3 commando brigade is already on its way

but first infantry brigade is

constituted and sent down behind them

and this is going to be the weight of

punch of manpower and the British land

in sandcastle on 21st of May and from

there on the Argentine Air Force's both

from their naval aviation but also their

Air Force begin to the Battle of San

Carlos San cost becomes nicknamed bomb

alley because it's so heavily attacked

and this is exactly as you say this is a

this is a sort of a sea to air war and

really the fighting is more akin to

creet in a second war okinawa in 45 than

it is to to modern warfare but the

British are sure and that's the key

thing and it's quite surprised at the

art sometimes make absolutely no effort

to eject them and pretty soon the

British begin to understand that what

the isin times will do is they will

probably stand and they will fight but

they're not gonna move there's gonna be

no maneuver there's gonna be no big

counter-attack and so it didn't become a

hold on the British to eject them

they're racing against time they're

racing against winter and one of the big

fears is they're forced into a bit of a

stalemate international opinion which is

what we talked about just now will turn

against them a peace and peace will be

forced and with the Argentine's in

possession of Stanley they'll have the

stronger hand to negotiate from so

they've got to get to Stanley quickly

and they've got to do it now the best

way in which they can do that and

particularly as the British are taking

casualties amongst their ships is to

begin to attack and neutralize some of

these Argentine Garrison's there's

enormous political pressure being

exerted on the military and in

particular on the ground commander

Julian Thompson brigadier Julian

Thompson at this stage and so that's

what leads to the first attack on goose

cream which is the the Darwin and goose

screen the settlement on the 28th of May

by 2 para and then rapidly while that's

taking place elements of 3 Commando

Brigade or avant across the north on

foot because by this stage the the ship

Atlantic conveyor which has been

carrying all of the heavy lift

helicopters the Chinook helicopters the

Britain the British need to move across

the islands that's been sunk so pretty

much every move all movements gonna have

to be done by very little very minimal

helicopter lifts there's one Chinook

left and there's sea kings and analyst

and the rest is gonna have to do on foot

and they are slogging and they up and

moving and ultimately what they've got

to do is they have to seize the high

ground finally they have to find the

Argentine Garrison's which are

concentrated on the high hills around

Stanley places which we now know from

military history you know Longdon two

sisters Mount Harriet tumbled down and

once the British are in possession of

those they'll be able to force their way

into Stanley the idea initially is that

because the are sometimes are conscripts

they with you know if the door is kicked

hard enough they'll all collapse unfold

and what goon screen shows actually is

that whilst the Argentine's may be

conscripts they can still stand and

fight and they will stand and fight a

veteran of four – commando actually in

the attack mount Harriet he told me that

you know a go

with a bow and arrow could be dangerous

if you're at the other end and so I

think when we remember the Falklands War

and we talk about the Argentine

conscripts and a lot of them are

conscripts there it does a bit of a

disservice that they were easily swept

aside it doesn't disservice to the

British and the efforts they put into

actually removing them but also does a

disservice to the way that tenacity with

which the Argentine's stood their ground

so for those of you who missed the

beginning that's me on two sisters about

ten years ago one of the hilltops that

we just heard mentioned can I just ask

about that we've had a few questions at

Elizabeth for example from Washington DC

as asked and was there any resistance

from the Islanders who nearly all of

them were thoroughly against opposed to

occupation by Argentinians was there any

active resistance or collaboration with

the British forces or special forces yes

there was some of the organizers had

been obviously interned in nivara

settlements in Goose cream famously they

were interned in the village hall whilst

the battles going on which must have

been terrifying others in the more

isolated sort of farmsteads around the

what's known as the camp which is the

area outside Stanley are waiting for the

British to arrive they're listening to

the BBC World Service they picked up all

the news about the British coming closer

and closer and they're essentially just

waiting for the day when they can get

there and they help the British wherever

they can they provide tractors and

trailers to help them move their

equipment famously the from estancia

house the the farm as their own as there

goes up with free power when they begin

their attack on London and he actually

takes part in the battle as well but

there's a lot of parcel of intelligence

that's going on there's a lot of passive

resistance to generally to the

Argentine's in Stanley itself because

what the Argentine's have done is

they've renamed all the roads they've

changed all that puts up the scientist

banished and they've tried to force the

Islanders to drive on the other side of

the road and so you know one act of

passive resistance at the island as did

is they will continue to drive on the

left and try and force the Argentine's

out of the road and this sort of thing

so this is all going on you know the

British are quite the British are

certainly gonna be welcomed as saviors

when they get there it's just going to

be it takes take some

I'm for them for them to do that now I

want to just ask about some of the naval

losses because I know you're an army man

and I respect that

and we're going to talk a lot about them

slogging across East Falkland doing all

the hill battles but there was some of

the I think the first British ships to

be lost in career I'm not sure and and

pretty nasty to be on a ship ship hit by

an excerpt or any yeah I mean and again

and I think this is really where that's

Soviet centric thinking a dominated

British military thought was was at play

and having an impact here you know what

was the Royal Navy at this time designed

to do it was really designed to conduct

anti-submarine warfare in the North

Atlantic and the Baltic and it was and

also to track high-level Soviet bombers

that were flying over on their way to

attack Britain and so the ships

themselves just weren't built for this

kind of war I am when I was a when I was

doing my PhD I suppose somebody was an

electronic warfare officer on Coventry

which is son combat on the 25th of May

and he said that you know it was his job

to track radar signatures of aircraft

and missiles and then you know probably

plot them figure out what they were but

they were being bombed from 50 feet with

an iron bomb and there is no radar

signature on that and so some of these

people's jobs and their training was

completely redundant as they're forced

into this situation and the Navy were

forced to adapt heavily you know they

found that for example some of the the

the see dark missile system the sea slug

missile system that some of the ships

are equipped with really struggled to

lock on to some of the low-flying

aircraft because it is used to having

obviously be able to track onto

high-flying aircraft that the Soviets

use and the Soviet tactics similarly you

know they were having to find out new

ways of protecting the carrier's because

the if Britain had lost one of the

carriers that would have been a terminal

terminal effect on the ability to wage

war and so what you've got with the

Royal Navy here is a real adversity but

then at the same time showing all the

great traditions that the Navy is always

shown about adaptability in the face of

the enemy and the ability to change and

learn and continue the fight and it

wasn't without cost you know there are

there are six ships lost many more

damaged lots of sailors sadly lose their

lives and that takes place right through

throughout the conflict because

ultimately and yeah as I work for the

Army Museum that this you know this is

it's just pay me to say initially but

this is ultimately a naval war you know

the Navy are required to get you there

and the Navy is certainly gonna be the

ones who bring you home so you know the

the naval contribution certainly can't

be overlooked when we look at the

Falklands I'm Peter that was so great

we're gonna check out a clip of this

documentary that's available on timeline

now it's about the sinking of one

particular naval vessel that was

delivering Welsh Guards to land at a

place called Fitzroy Cove let's check

this long march the Welsh Guards were

moved aboard the ship Sir Galahad it set

sail for a place called bluff Cove due

to bad weather the Sir Galahad was

diverted away from bluff Cove into a

small Inlet called Fitzroy major UN

South Bay Taylor was horrified by the

ships arrival crammed full of troops in

broad daylight it was in grave danger of

Argentine air attack he wanted the men

moved urgently off the ship to the

safety of the shore just 200 yards away

and I put it to a senior officer that I

could find on this turn of of the gun

ahead that my considered in professional

opinion as al anakata officer and

somebody involved in if he was warfare

four or missile my career was that they

should get off first and then wait he

was adamant that bluff Cove was his

destination and not fitzroy i was

equally adamant that i was not going to

take him to bluff Cove in anything in

daylight and

of course tragically proved correct and

if you ask later when I minded my card

for sunk I pointed out that was only 200

yards where it would take maybe only 20

minutes to get all his men off he said

he wouldn't put his men in in a mixed

layer of ammunition but we heard from so

Tristram but we had the baits alongside

to take the men off I explained to him

that this is war

we didn't operate to peacetime

restrictions during war and that the men

were in grave danger and I think that

was probably the most serious and most

often made point that I could hand

eventually in a fit of extreme anger I

told him that he was behaving extremely

responsive to and that I would not be

held responsible for what happened to

his men and of course tragically 3 or 4

station had proved absolutely


so here we are we're back we're back in

the room now that was that was the

sinking of the segala had at Fitzroy

which was a very very dark moment wasn't

it Peter an example of the potency of

Argentinean airpower absolutely it's the

single worth loss of life for the

British in the whole war the single

worst event and the the whole saga that

led up to the movement of fifth Infantry

Brigade the confusion the the lack of

landing craft the lack of heavy lift the

all these things really came together at

Fitzroy in quite tragic circumstances

and that resulted in you know two

companies of the world scarred still

being on board in broad daylight I went

to the Falklands actually last last year

with with the army and I went to Fitzroy

and it was beautiful clear evening you

could see for absolute miles and you

just know that that when with the

Argentine's he was still on the high

ground before the British had taken it

that that could all be overlooked and

seen and at that stage 5th Infantry

Brigade of whom the Welsh Guards were

part had not seen what the Argentine Air

Force's could do they've been a real

lull the weather had forced a lull of

their attacks and sadly the capabilities

of the are sometimes have reinforced

with such devastating consequences on

that day but the hill battles progress

Mount London tumble down we've we heard

the names to Harriet what stage does it

become clear that the British are going

to retake Port Stanley or was it in debt

in doubt till the very end that's a

really interesting question actually I

mean in some in some ways you could say

that there was no doubt the British were

gonna retake Port Stanley from the 21st

of May when they first set foot on East

Falkland and established the bridgehead

and they're still there

twelve hours later after the the ghooost

green the 28th have made the British

certainly had a psychological ascendancy

over the Argentine's but they still had

to the ocean tides still had to be

defeated they still had to be ejected

from these positions and that's what

takes place here and what the British

adopts is effectively a two-pronged

assault they come from both north and

from the south

and there's there's an outer ring of

high ground and an inner ring and it's a

it's a two phase attack between taking

all the hills concurrently on the Outer

Ring on one night and then all the hills

on the inner ring forty-eight hours

later once

the ammunition and the guns have been

moved and the stocks have been

resupplied because the British are

actually finding logistically this is

incredibly difficult battle goose green

the three guns have been phoned forward

to support goose cream with firepower

and they'd run over they had only had

less than a thousand rounds with them

and it was discovered to simply not be

enough and so the need to stockpile

ammunition for the guns meant that the

British were not able to simply attack

everything at once it had to be done in

stages and so that's where the these

high grounds and these hills were taken

you know we talked about three power in

long-term which is an incredibly

difficult battle Longden has a lot of

folks crests and bowls and second ridge

lines and so fighting over all of that

in the dark against our sometimes in

well-prepared defensive positions

extremely difficult they have more

success someone like two sisters which

is where you you showed that picture

earlier from where again naval gunfire

support and artillery support is

absolutely crucial four four four five

commandos attack on there in fact so

much so that when he gets up there that

they're their Co kind of Whitehead

turned around says near fifty Royal

Marines I could have died of old age

defending this place but that's the

professionalism and the firepower of the

British in full effect mount Harriet is

another one to fall on that same night a

little bit further south and that's one

of the most outstanding operations of

the war you know the the 42 commando

take that with just two killed and if

you are the casualties they capture 300

prisoners from the Argentine defenders

they effectively move an entire

battalion or well battalion-sized group

of of commandos on a completely

different axis to attack from mount

harriet from a place for the Argentine's

aren't expecting they do this in the

dark with absolutely no sound and then

we've Mabel gun for our support they're

able to carry their objective two and

then after that it's then a question of

changing focus of looking in places like

tumble down which the Scots Guards

attack and again an incredibly difficult

fight in a in a in a gale sub-zero

temperatures against though a well

entrenched Argentine marine infantry

battalion so again a very difficult

enemy to overcome but once the Sun comes

up really

on the 14th of June and these positions

are in British hands overlooking Stanley

it becomes pretty obvious that from that

on the Argentine's comm can't hold on

they can't win the lager beer to

counter-attack they don't have the as

much they didn't have the the

organizational culture to even mount a

counter-attack the British and the high

ground they've got artillery fire that

could bring they can bring down any

Argentine troops moving out in the open

any kind of concentration and Menendez

who is the Oceanside commander at the

time is simply forced to sue for a

ceasefire and then surrender and so

jeremy moore is it comes forward to get

this signed out and bring it into the to

the hostilities and let's so let's check

out another clip from our documentary

now looking at the Argentine surrender

entonces la conciencia yeah we realized

that it was pointless to carry on we had

no more cards to play ray lucida a penis

a VSO our artillery was down to about 10

or 12 guns opposed radio directo we had

no air support nothing less a man the

British were just of our shows shelling

us pray for surf appropriate way goes

our men were exhausted they had fought

hard and had lost much of their

equipment if we carried on we would just

have been wasting lives that is the

conclusion I reached so then I discussed

it with the high command before

accepting the British offer of a

ceasefire and the start of negotiations

pressure via acceptance a self way off

Sao Paulo Singh racism arteries blue

heron la conversación correspondents

doesn't Unicaja Miranda premiered it

really hurt we had been defeated and I

felt defeated what really stuck in my

mind was seeing the Union Jack

flying after the surrender that was

quite a blow

I was so angry and frustrated that I

broke down in tears

I remember thinking about all I had been

through the hunger and the cold

loneliness and the death of so many of

my friends and after all that there was

the British flag flying over us it was

unbearable to me eventually went to the

top floor of a little house which we

requisitioned which we shared with one

of the companies of tu perra and during

the night we turned on one of our radios

to the BBC World Service and we heard

about the surrender from the BBC 8,000

miles away which was being conducted in

a building 800 yards from where I was

sitting and we all felt most enormous

sense of relief and my main feeling was

that no more young men were going to

have to die it was not like winning a

football match or anything like that it

was just a normal sense of relief that

it was over we could all go home

well extraordinary extraordinary clip

there in saw celebrating Brits at the

end we saw one end and into the menendez

there which I'm not simple that's

fascinating stuff make sure you'll go

and watch that documentary on timeline

and awesome awesome it'd be best History

Channel mutually and check it out now we

should probably talk about the effect in

Argentina first what if what did it what

did it mean to the Aventine in

government in people to lose this war

fairly comprehensively

I mean 907 people were killed fighting

for the Malvinas and so while the cause

was just and the Argentinian people did

think the cause was was just it's the

the defeat in the Falklands in

particular which is really what can be

seen as being a major factor in the

overthrow in the military hunter and

Galtieri who is the the military

dictator at the time is effectively

forced to step down and there are

elections that take place the following

year and a semblance of democracy and

more and civic rights are extended to

Argentina so there's a complete

political change in Argentina

domestically as a result of their defeat

but it's interesting the cause never

goes away

it's the cause it's not seen as being

something futile in fact what is seen as

is that these young boys who were sent

off to fight for their for their country

were betrayed by government didn't equip

them properly didn't look after them

properly didn't prepare them properly

but the cause was still just and and

that's why for example you will still

see that occasionally it will crop up in

political discourse diplomatic discourse

even now it wasn't that long ago that

the issue of the Falklands Malvinas was

brought up again and so that hasn't gone

away and what about what about Britain

did it do it matter

yeah so it mattered a lot for Britain I

think the way in which you can break

this down is it has a huge effect

domestically in terms of British

politics it's attributed suggested that

productivity went up during the

Falklands for the feelgood factor for

example that came from re-establishing

national pride and Britain's global role

in the conflict Thatcher obviously

secures a landslide victory in the 83

election although as a historian is

debatable about how much

some macroeconomic factors were at play

with met regard to but these things were

really important in searing the

Falklands in the British national psyche

you know the British had stood alone

really you know in the Britain haven't

fought a war by itself for a long period

before then and it wouldn't fight a war

by itself for a long period afterwards

in fact the basically still hasn't and

as such the the Falklands allowed the

British military and the British people

to say well this is us this is our

identity and this is what we're still

capable of which was an enormous ly

significant event particularly after a

period of long decline and then

obviously the Falkland Islands

themselves the vast majority of whom if

not all of them did wish to remain in

within their status as British shows

true and and still do there was a

referendum not too long ago when they

voted overwhelmingly to remain British

although interest in the British

nationality of act of 1981 was going to

strip the offer the Falkland Islanders

of the British citizenship but in 1983

there's a British nationality Falkland

Islands act that extends British

citizenship to the Islanders so that is

a direct connection as a result of the

war then of course there's the huge

investment in terms of infrastructure

that was maintained to this day the

Mount Pleasant complex airport for

example was built and completed in 1985

so a short period after this and Britain

maintains its active military presence

in the South Atlantic to this day so I'm

gonna ask question that Shane asked up

and when he donated on YouTube it

happened again today would Britain fight

or could Britain fight very short answer

what do you reckon Peter does it have a

capability of sending an expiratory

force all that way short answer yes if

the political will was there to to send

the military forces and they would the

military doesn't operate by itself you

know it goes and fights wherever it's

sentient where it's told it doesn't

decide that it's a political decision to

commit it so if the political will was

there then the British would go and also

bari mansion there's now big old runway

there so you can search a lot of troops

down there very quickly

and another question the Gurkha is doing

a little comments not to go because they

were Gurkhas Nepalese go because there

were the British they won't work yet

from the 7th Gurkha Rifles

battalion the goes down there

interestingly there was a debate about

whether they were going to be allowed to

go because of the particular status the

Gurkhas have in the British Army there

was a risk that by sending them it would

be portrayed as selling mercenaries to

fight this colonial war and Britain

would lose this propaganda war

essentially in the court of public

opinion but you know the Gurkhas are

phenomenal soldiers there while they may

be jungle experts they're really tough

they're capable of marching long


they're very well-trained and as such

they're really ideal for this sort of

environment and therefore they are sent

and actually they become the subject of

Britain's own psychological operations

against the Argentine's you know there's

articles about how to commune the

cookery it comes out then it can only it

must taste blood before it could be

she's and again and all this sort of

stuff things designed to make the art


more fearful in fact when to power of

taking Goose Green and the Gurkhas come

through to relieve them some summer to

para stop playing jokes on the Argentine

POWs telling them that if they see a

Gurkha smiling at them it means he's

going to eat them and they just use that

to terrify them a bit more

luckily last question is always the

beginning forgotten story here the

French were the French the secret allies

of the Brits very very useful yeah so

the French were often I think I'm fairly

malign sometimes the idea that they know

that they were actively trying to sell

the Argentine's of equipment during

during the war and the campaign itself

you know the so John not did actually

sanction British intelligence operatives

to bid on the open market for any

weaponry that the Argentine's might be

trying to get sort of to outbid them and

secure it but what the French also did

is yes they've sold the Argentine's

military equipment before the war began

but so at the British you know the

origin times actually operated to type

42 destroyer 's exactly the same as the

British had that and their crews have

been trained in Britain so this was just

part of the international arms trade at

the time what the French did is they

helped the British prepare before they

went down by you because they had

similar aircraft so they there was an

exercise called Welsh Falcon that French

aircraft came over for him and simulated

being low-flying Argentine aircraft I

helped with that and also they they

stopped aren't they an arms embargo was

put on by the European Union of the

European community as was then to

prevent any further shipments of weapons

go into Argentina of which the French

could have been towed if they wanted to

maturity lovely thank you very much

Peter Johnston that was a ton of force

from the curator at the National Museum

thank you very much everyone for joining

us I lost discussion in the comment

section and thank you for donations

thank you for watching we're back back

on Friday at the normal time and you can

always always go to history hit TV I've

got lots of interviews with Falklands

veteran and so that's the extraordinary

stories on that get history hit TV

it's like Netflix mystery news the code

timeline you get a special introductory


in the meantime everyone see you next

time thank you


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