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Useful Notes / The Falklands War
aka: Falklands War

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

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

On April, 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. 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 newest junta and Margaret Thatcher needed to regain their popularity, and fighting a war helps to boost a leader's popularity (assuming they win, that is).note  For the Argentine junta, this naturally failed spectacularly with their defeat, and they were toppled the next year.note 

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 totaling to six ships and one landing craft, including two Type 42 Destroyers, while Argentina lost 9 ships total, including a trawler. The British also lost 11 airplanes and 24 helicopters (totaling to 35) while Argentina lost 75 airplanes and 25 helicopters (totaling to 100). (Keep in mind that the British had at the time modern weaponry, training and material while Argentina used outdated equipment, sent untrained, barely legal and inexperienced conscripts, many still in school, instead of its actually dangerous regulars and used ordnance that sometimes didn't even work.) The most notable Argentine loss was of the cruiser ARA General Belgrano (which had previously survived the attack on Pearl Harbornote ) outside the pre-arranged war-zone to the British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror. The Argentine Navy played little part in the war after that. In the wake of the conflict, Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges described it as "a fight between two bald men over a comb."

Notable for being the last armed-conflict in which the United States of America officially declared neutrality, though that neutrality wasn't exactly "neutral" per se. Having been recently gutted by budget cuts, some of the Royal Navy brass were unsure about just how much force they could project into the South Atlantic. Though it turns out that they were able to handle things just fine by themselves, the concern was significant enough for Thatcher to obtain an unofficial agreement with the Reagan Administration that would have Fleet Air Arm Harriers operating from a US Navy aircraft carrier (the United States wouldn't be involved in hostilities, just making sure the British jets didn't get lost...or run out of ammo) in the event that a British carrier couldn't be made ready in time. The agreement was rendered unnecessary when HMS Invincible commenced flight operations in the Falklands Theater. There is also a rarely-quoted and even-more-rarely-believed conspiracy theory claiming that ARA General Belgrano was secretly sunk by the Americans. The theory alleges that only the Americans would've known how to sink a Brooklyn-class cruiser so quickly—because seriously, who would've known that blowing her bottom out with a bunch of torpedoes would work so well?

Incidentally, the Falklands conflict was technically a rematch between Britain and Argentina. Britain invaded Argentina during The Napoleonic Wars when Argentina was still a Spanish colony, part of the Viceroyalty of the Rio de la Plata, and Spain was allied to France. The invasion was an embarrassing defeat for Britain, particularly since the Spanish colonists (led by the French expatriate Santiago de Liniers) fought it off by themselves without any help from Spain. The colonists' irritation at the lack of Spanish aid was one of the reasons for their later revolution.

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).
  • Crossed:
    • Jackson fought in the war during his time with the SBS; it was there that he first met his lover and the woman whom he claims created the Crossed virus, Magda. Given his self-admitted insanity, and the fact that Magda had nothing to do with the virus it is hard to say how much of what he says is true but he is genuinely capable and lethal.
    • Harry narrates that he has an ancestor who has fought in near every single British campaign, including his own father who fought at Goose Green and Wireless Ridge.


  • 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.
  • First Among Equals has two of the central characters act as the Defense Minister and Foreign Secretary under Thatcher during the Falklands War.
  • Is an Alt history story where 3 Sherman Fireflies mistakenly get transferred to the Falklands Islands after World War 2.

    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 (2008), 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."
  • Likewise in House of Cards (UK). Prime Minister Urquhart says the same thing when a crisis blows up in Greece. However things don't go according to plan.
  • 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.
  • Walter Blunt of Blunt Talk fought in the war with the British Army, along with his valet Harry, who still calls him 'Major'.
  • Part of Doctor Rick Dagless, M.D.'s backstory in Garth Marenghis Darkplace is that he served in the Falklands War. Sanchez apparently fought there too, but Lucien Sanchez isn't exactly a traditional English name, which implies a case of Worthy Opponent and Defeat Equals Friendship.

  • 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 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.
  • The Def Leppard song "Die Hard the Hunter" is about veterans of the Falkland War returning home and finding it difficult to readjust to civilian life after the fighting.
  • The Dire Straits song "Industrial Disease" features a scene where a protest singer sings a Protest Song alluding to the war, claiming that it's simply a tool to fuel the Thatcher administration's exploitative interests.

    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 Battlefield 2, 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.
    • Falklands mods are available for each of the games in the ARMA series as well.
  • 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.

  • Mentioned in Aqua Regia, when Daniel asks if Argentina still has mercenaries, a clerk replies to him that yes, there's still mercenaries, and one of the reasons why they still live on dictatorship and they never stopped being a militarized nation, 70+ years and counting, it's because while Galtieri proposed it, Videla flat out shut him down. Daniel lampshades that he can't even imagine his country going to war with "a piece of land". In other words, this was the decisive event that made the story setting possible.

    Western Animation 
  • Referenced in The Simpsons:
    • In "Burns' Heir", 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 a Character Filibuster about it.note 
    • In the "Treehouse Of Horror II" segment "Lisa's Nightmare", 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:
      British Ambassador: Eh, sorry about the Falklands, old boy.
      Argentine Ambassador: 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 Asombrosa Excursión de Zamba 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.
      • Granted, many Argentines worth their salt in Argentine military history and with a reliable source of info knows that said cartoon is also biased here and there.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Falklands War


The General *Ahem*

Michael Heseltine and Margaret Thatcher have a coded discussion about the Falklands War.

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