Useful Notes: The Falklands War

"The Empire Strikes Back"
Newsweek headline (19 April 1982), after declaration of war.

The 1982 war between Argentina and the UK over a bunch of British-owned islands in the South Atlantic.

The Argentine military junta launched an invasion of the islands it called the Malvinas, thinking that the British military wouldn't be able to respond effectively (if they'd left it a year later, they wouldn't have been able to). Margaret Thatcher dispatched a Royal Navy task force, which arrived in May.

Diplomatic efforts failed, as neither side was willing to back down. It's also possible that war was what both sides truly wanted, since it actually helped both sides politically-speaking. "The military junta" and Margaret Thatcher needed to regain their popularity, and fighting a war helps to boost a leader's popularity.note  For the Argentine junta, this naturally failed spectacularly with their defeat, and they were toppled the next year.

The British Task Force retook the islands after an intense land, sea and air battle, which introduced the world to Exocet anti-shipping missiles and saw the Harrier dominate against Argentine Skyhawks. Fast Roping also made its debut here.

Resulted in 255 British and 649 Argentine deaths, as well as those of three civilians. The British lost several ships, including three Type 42 Destroyers. The most notable Argentine loss was of the cruiser General Belgrano (which had survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as the American USS Phoenix) outside the pre-arranged war-zone to a British submarine - their navy played little part in the war after that.

A useful and comprehensive website about the war can be found here.

The Falklands War in fiction:

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  • Bloom County did a plot-arc set on the islands during the war, with the resident penguins offering perplexed comments on the fighting, "You're fighting for rocks? They're such plain... rocks." Opus' mother seemingly perished in the Falklands War. However, she survived with amnesia and was taken by a cosmetics company. (Despite this, Opus was originally from Antarctica, not the Falklands.)
  • Steve Bell's very left-wing Guardian cartoon strip If... was born during the Falklands War and still runs today; its first and most enduring plot-arc is of the mutinous sailor Kipling who serves in the War and brings back a Falklands penguin, who returns to London with him and becomes the series' acid commentator on the idiocies and dogmatic lunacies of Thatcher's Britain and a consistently subversive comment on right-wing mentality and government in general.
  • A story arc in the comic strip Doonesbury featured the characters Duke and Honey attempting to run a charter boat down to the Falklands for people to watch the war.
  • Billy Butcher of The Boys served in the Falklands, and apparently did not come back entirely sane - after his return, he is shown starting fights with strangers, or even his own friends, for absolutely no reason; one of his assaults gets him court-martialled. On the other hand, just how sane he was before he went to war is at best questionable.
  • The Falklands War plays a role in the first arc of Batman Inc - the British Government sent a patriotic team there to stop the supervillain Doctor Daedalus. Memories of the war also cause tension between the Hood (who's British) and El Gaucho (Argentinean).

  • Serves as a backdrop for This Is England. The youthful main character's father died in the war, and frustration with the country's involvement is part of what incites the Skinhead movement. To paraphrase Combo, it was a pointless war against FUCKIN' SHEPHERDS.
  • Argentine Iluminados Por El Fuego about the musings of a shell-shocked veteran.
  • The 1989 British drama Resurrected, starring David Thewlis. Fun fact: It's an early work of Paul Greengrass.
  • Part of The Iron Lady shows the war from Thatcher's point of view.
  • Referenced in Tomorrow Never Dies. Elliot Carver tries writing a headline for the potential British/Chinese armed conflict, at one point writing "The Empire WILL Strike Back" in homage to the page quote headline.
    Carver: I rather like the last one. It isn't even mine.

  • A number of Jack Higgins's thrillers after 1982 mention this war, most of all Exocet.
  • The Falklands War is mentioned and often discussed in the early Adrian Mole books. Adrian's father panics after hearing the news about the outbreak of war... until Adrian reassures him that the Falklands are located by the shore of South America and not Scotland.
  • The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman by Raymond Briggs retells the war as a children's picture book.

    Live Action TV 
  • The Falklands Play
  • Tumbledown (1988) - A teleplay starring Colin Firth in one of his first lead roles, portraying Robert Lawrence MC, who survived a sniper shot to the head. The film was controversial due to the portrayal of the government allegedly neglecting Falklands vets.
  • An Ungentlemanly Act (1992), filmed on the islands and at Ealing Studios, written and directed by Stuart Urban. Ian Richardson portrayed the 1982 governor Rex Hunt and Bob Peck played Major Mike Norman, the commander of the Royal Marines based at Stanley. The film was closely based on the historical record, and all of the major incidents portrayed were drawn from contemporary accounts by those who took part. It won the 1993 BAFTA TV Award for Best Single Drama.
  • Mentioned in Ashes to Ashes, where Shaz objects to Ray's cheering the sinking of General Belgrano pointing out that the Argentine sailors are only conscripts. When HMS Sheffield is lost later in the episode, Ray points out that they're clearly not all conscripts.
  • On Yes, Minister in the episode "The Bed of Nails", Jim Hacker opines that, if he takes on the traffic problem in Britain, "...if I succeed, this could be my Falkland Islands" — to which Sir Humphrey replies, "And you could be General Galtieri."
  • In the final episode of The New Statesman, Alan B'Stard arranges to have a porn director stage a fake French invasion of the Falklands in order to trigger a war that will a) drive the value of his shares through the roof, b) secure an election victory for his new party, and c) let him declare himself Lord High Protector and effectively take over Britain for life.
  • The British documentary series Line of Fire had an episode dedicated to the Battle of Goose Green (complete with bits of battle reenactment).
  • The British TV documentary film Falklands' Most Daring Raid tells the story of the crew of an Avro Vulcan bomber (XM 607) during Operation Black Buck.

  • The Iron Maiden song "Como Estais Amigos" is an somber expression of solidarity with the Argentinian people (Maiden is, of course, British) and discusses the conflict.
  • The war, as well as the terrible conditions of the UK in the early in 1980s, form the backdrop for the Pink Floyd album, The Final Cut. Several of its songs, like "Southampton Dock" and "The Gunner's Dream", are written from the point of view of the schoolteacher from The Wall, a shellshocked World War II veteran, who watches young soldiers go off to fight in the Falklands for no reason, and expresses dismay that no one has learned from history and that England failed to fulfill the post-war promise to promote peace instead of fighting and bloodshed. "Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert" and "The Fletcher Memorial Home" directly blast both sides of the war and various world leaders in general, condemning Galtieri and Thatcher (and Reagan, and Begin, and Brezhnev, and so on) as "colonial wasters of life and limb" who make War for Fun and Profit with an inhuman disregard for people's lives.
  • The Sabaton song "Back In Control" is about the war from the perspective of the British military.
  • The most famous protest song in response to the war, however, is "Shipbuilding", written and first recorded by Elvis Costello, but best known in the version by Robert Wyatt.
  • Anarcho-punk band Crass viciously criticised the war with the singles "How Does It Feel to Be the Mother of a Thousand Dead?", "Sheep Farming in the Falklands" and their last album Yes Sir, I Will.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Harpoon has a entire book for its fourth edition on scenarios related to the war, entitled South Atlantic War.

    Video Games 
  • Unsurprisingly, various British computer games of the 1980s took their inspiration from the war, including the flight sim Harrier Attack! and the (darkly hilarious) Frogger clone Yomp, in which you guide a paratrooper across a dirt road with speeding army trucks and then across a minefield.
  • The Falklands War from the indie war Simulation Game studio Shrapnel Games. Besides recreating actual missions and battles from the war, it also offers several Alternate History takes on various engagements, including greater use of armed vehicles on the islands.
  • Another upcoming indie war simulation about the Falklands conflict is Jet Thunder, a combat flight sim. Besides featuring all planes and engagements flown in the war, it will also have a dynamic singleplayer campaign, where the player's achievements can influence the war into Alternate History directions.
  • Project Reality, a mod of Battlefield2, has an expansion that focuses on this conflict, with players able to play both the British and Argentine Army factions.
  • The enviroments (islands with a subarctic climate and overall atmosphere) and the time frame in which Operation Flashpoint takes place are inspired by various aspects of this war, even though the plot is quite different (a small-scale NATO and Soviet showdown threatening to erupt into World War III). The game had several Falklands-themed Game Mods over the years, directly featuring both militaries and various battles of the war. If you own the Game of the Year edition of OFP, you can grab the Falklands War total conversion here (mod) and here (update/patch) and run it from a custom mod folder. Sadly, the Development Hell it had gone through prevented its creators from making a proper campaign, so you'll have to play one of the three available missions or make your own in the game's editor. An archived version of the project's website can be seen here.
  • The Cold War campaign in the Thrones and Patriots expansion of Rise of Nations has the US or Soviet Union (whomever the player picked) become much more involved in the Argentina police action.
  • The war usually gets a scenario or two's worth of coverage in the modern-era Steel Panthers games.

    Western Animation 
  • Referenced in The Simpsons:
    • In one episode, Krusty takes a night off filming his show and sticks on a re-run, figuring that no one will notice; unfortunately for him, it happens to be the edition that was playing the night the Falklands War was declared, and he interrupted the show to deliver an Author Filibuster about it.
    • The second Treehouse of Horror episode has a segment in which Lisa uses a wish to bring peace to the world, and the resulting montage includes a conversation between the British and Argentine ambassadors at the UN:
      "Eh, sorry about the Falklands, old boy."
      "Oh, forget it. We kind of knew they were yours."
    • An issue of The Simpsons comic has Mr. Burns remark "Oh, this is almost as fun as that Falklands War I started!"
  • In Histeria the Falklands War is represented as two men trying to shove each other with Argentinean and British flags.
  • La Asombra Excursión de Samba en las Islas Malvinas, ("Samba's Amazing Adventure in the Falkland Islands") features the titular schoolboy traveling back in time to witness the events of 1982. As this is a children's educational cartoon series funded by the Argentine government, the episode includes such factual highlights of the War as the bombing of HMS Invincible by a lone Argentine Etendard and the Gurkha Regiment's defeat in hand-to-hand fighting with Argentine conscripts at the Battle of Mount Longdon.
    • The episode itself is freely available online, a dubiously accurate English-language subtitled version is viewable here.

Alternative Title(s):

Falklands War