Great Falklands Gamble


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On April 2nd 1982 Argentina invaded the Falkland Islandsin the South Atlantic,8,000 miles from the UK. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher decided to send a naval taskforce to liberate the islands. In this programme, senior officers who served in the campaign, among them Major-General Julian Thompson, reveal how appalling weather, overstretched British air defences, poor communications and even incompetence sometimes stacked the odds heavily against the British. Veterans of some of the bloodiest battles talk us through the fighting. Their personal accounts reveal how professionalism and sheer courage overcame these problems. The film reveals chilling parallels with current government budget cuts. In 1982, Defence Minister John Nott was on the brink of scrapping Britain’s amphibious warfare capabilities. If the Argentinians had invaded just eight weeks later, the ships and equipment needed for the operation would already have been decommissioned. There are also shocking accounts of British warships destroyed by Argentinian bombs, men burnt alive, bombs crashing through the decks of ships, night attacks up mountainous slopes and merciless hand to hand fighting, all made worse by unsuitable equipment and shortages of helicopters. By explaining the hair raising realities of individual battles, this programme sheds new light on a decisive and historic British victory.