Sunday, 27 April 2014

How the British recapture South Georgia

On the 3rd April 1982 23 Royal Marines, commanded by Lieutenant Keith Mills RM, surrendered to the Argentinians after putting up a brave resistance in the face of air and naval support, armed as they were with only infantry weapons. The Marines did not lose a single man in the action, but destroyed two helicopters and did severe damage to the ARA Guerrico, a frigate operating in support of the Argentine Marines attacking Grytviken. Given that there was still a small hope of the conflict being resolved in the United Nations, the recapture of South Georgia was seen as the first logical step in recovering all the British territories in the South Atlantic. It was hoped that a successful operation on the remote and forbidding island may give the Argentine leadership pause for thought, and prove that the British Task Force now sailing south and approaching the Falkland area rapidly, was serious in both capability and intent.Therefore, on the 7th April Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse was ordered to plan the islands recapture. It was known that the Argentine forces that remained on South Georgia were based at Leith and Grytviken, and had limited if any naval and no air support. Because of the terrain of South Georgia, described as a cross between the volcanic areas of Iceland and the dark side of the Moon, along with the frequently inhospitable and dangerous climate, it was also known that the Argentine troops did not stray far from these places. The Argentine force was commanded by a naval engineering officer named Lt. Commander Alfredo Astiz. Astiz had a poor reputation as an officer and a military commander, but to be fair the forces under him were insufficient to properly occupy and control the whole island. As a result, members of the British Antartic Survey (BAS) and 2 women from ITV, Cindy Buxton and Annie Price, who were already on assignment for the 'Survival' nature programme on the island, had remained at large and undetected.Read more HERE