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The Falklands - MiniWars #1

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07:29   |   Oct 22, 2017

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The Falklands - MiniWars #1
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  • Hi, English mariner John Strong.
  • Hi, Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount of Falkland.
  • I would very much like for you to go to Chile and locate the wreck of a Spanish treasure ship for me.
  • Okay.
  • (♪ cheerful music ♪)
  • Hey! I found some islands!
  • (♪ intro music ♪)
  • The English were probably not the first to discover the Falklands,
  • but they were the first to write it down.
  • They found it to be cold, wet and miserable. "Just like home!"
  • So they established a colony in 1765, unaware that the French had also
  • discovered the islands, and done the same a year earlier.
  • And, for a while, the two were unaware of each others' existence, until, presumably,
  • there was an awkward moment where they ran into each other.
  • Then the Spanish showed up, and told the French that a couple of hundred years earlier,
  • the Pope drew a line on a map and said, "All of this belongs to Portugal,"
  • "and all of this belongs to Spain," and that the island was in Spain's territory
  • and they would like the French to hand over their settlement.
  • Now, since the two were good friends, and Spain was willing to pay in cash money,
  • the French obliged, but since they were still a little bitter about the recent Seven Years' war thing,
  • they made sure to warn the Spanish not to let those dirty English on the other side of the island take over.
  • So Spain went over to the English and explained,
  • "Pope, line on map, Spain's island". And the English said,
  • "Yeah right, this is our island." But the Spanish had more guns and they kicked them off anyway.
  • But then England threatened to go to war.
  • So Spain went to their friends in France and said
  • "Hey,
  • "It looks like stuff is about to go down
  • "You in on this?"
  • And the French minister of war said
  • "Yeah!"
  • "And we'll launch a full-scale invasion on England
  • "And party like it's 1066!"
  • But then King Louis XV said
  • 1) You're insane
  • And 2) You're fired
  • "Sorry Spain, but we're not ready for a war right now,"
  • So Spain had to give the English their settlement back, saying
  • "It's still our island,"
  • And the English said
  • "No, it's our island,"
  • Then some colonists in North America got a bit rowdy, so the English had to leave their settlement to go focus on that
  • But they left behind a plaque that said
  • "This is totally still our island,"
  • So the island was in Spanish hands
  • But then a French guy
  • No, not that one
  • That one
  • Turned on the Spanish, took over most of the country, and captured King Ferdinand VII
  • And in response, the Spanish colonies in South America started vying for independence
  • So Spain had a little bit on its hands and also had to leave the islands.
  • And for a couple decades the islands were left uninhabited, except for the penguins, some fishermen and the Gauchos
  • Which were basically, like, cowboys but cooler and Spanish-er
  • A merchant from Hamburg, living in the now-independent United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata
  • Heard about the feral cattle roaming the Falklands, and thought it would be a good way to make some money
  • So he got permission from both Buenos Aires and the British Government to set up trade there as a 'private venture'.
  • Some American ships came down and began hunting whales and seals around the islands, and Vernet wasn't too happy about it.
  • So he asked Buenos Aires for some military assistance in defending the island
  • But Buenos Aires said "Meh, do it yourself,"
  • Gave him some weapons
  • And appointed him Governor of the island
  • So he seized the US ships, and arrested their crews
  • In response, two things happened:
  • First, America came down and said
  • "Nice settlement you have there
  • "Would be a shame if someone destroyed it,"
  • And then they destroyed it
  • Second, Britain heard Vernet had been appointed Governor
  • Meaning the United Provinces, actually now the Argentine Confederation
  • Were officially claiming the island as theirs
  • So Britain showed up and said
  • "Hey!
  • "Didn't you see our plaque?"
  • And since they had more guns, they kicked them off the island.
  • And the Falklands remained firmly in British hands for the next century
  • They officially became a crown colony in 1840
  • Port Stanley became the island's capital in 1845
  • The cattle hides from the island weren't worth much, so they imported sheep from Britain in 1851
  • Two world wars came and went, and all this time the Argentinians never rescinded their claim over the islands.
  • Now it's 1976, and after a couple civil wars, a new brutal military dictatorship, sponsored by the US fight against communism, has taken control in Argentina.
  • And by 1981, this guy (Leopoldo Galtieri) was in power
  • The economy had been struggling for a long time, and Galtieri had been unable to improve the situation
  • Now, if you ever find yourself the brutal military leader of a struggling South American country, and you start getting into hot water, here is a bit of advice that has been tried and tested throughout the centuries:
  • Start a war to distract everyone from their miseries!
  • Galtieri knew how popular he would be if he could finally take back Argentina's Las Malvinas from the occupying British
  • There had been proposals to cut British military spending, and the ice patrol vessel HMS Endurance had been withdrawn from the area
  • So the Argentinians assumed that the British may not even bother doing anything about the invasion.
  • After easily capturing the largely-uninhabited South Georgia Island
  • 600 Argentine troops were sent to the Falklands
  • The small number of Royal Marines and other British Forces stationed there put up a small amount of resistance, but in the end had to surrender to the larger Argentine force
  • Crowds in Argentina celebrated the news, but they were wrong to assume the British would do nothing, because the person in charge of the United Kingdom at the time was this lady
  • Thatcher was a somewhat controversial prime minister, but whether you loved her or hated her, there was no denying she was tough
  • Like metal. Iron, for example
  • She immediately declared an exclusion zone around the islands and organised for a task force of over 100 ships to set sail for the Falklands.
  • The United Nations expressed concern at the Argentine invasion
  • All south American nations, apart from Chile, backed Argentina
  • And since the United States had propped up the Argentine dictatorship, Reagan went to Thatcher and said
  • "Could you maybe just let them have the islands?"
  • And Thatcher said "No,"
  • "Okay here, have some weapons,"
  • Fighting a war over 8000 miles from home was a logistical challenge for the British
  • They requisitioned civilian cruise ships and containers
  • And they used British-owned Ascension Island as a forward base
  • By the time they arrived in the Falklands in May, the Argentine forces had had time to entrench themselves
  • The first task for the British was to gain control of the seas, which they did easily
  • On the 2nd May, a British submarine sank an Argentine cruiser
  • The sinking was controversial, as it occured outside the British Exclusion Zone
  • It was also the largest loss of life in a single incident during the war
  • And in response, the Argentine navy withdrew from the island
  • The next task for the British was to gain air superiority
  • While the Argentine Air force controlled the skies, they were able to inflict considerable damage on the Royal Navy below
  • Days after the sinking of the General Belgrano, two Argentine Super Étendards carried out a raid on the HMS Sheffield, and sank it with an Exocet missile
  • For weeks, the Argentine Air Force would continue to carry out raids and inflict heavy casualties on the Royal Navy
  • With British Sea Harriers doing their best to take out as many of the Argentine Aircraft as they could
  • While the battle in the skies raged on, San Carlos was chosen as the best landing site for the British ground forces
  • An SAS raid took out Argentine defences in Pebble Island
  • And the HMS Alacrity sailed through Falklands down to flush out any Argentine supply ships.
  • The landings began on May 21st, with Argentine aircraft carrying out full-scale raids on the task force ships taking part in the landing, damaging several and sinking a few
  • But anti-aircraft cannons and sea Harriers shot down down many of the aircraft in what became a major turning point for air superiority
  • And a beach head was successfully formed.
  • Then the ground troops began their movement out of San Carlos
  • Across the North towards Stanley and South toward to Argentine Stronghold at Goose Green
  • In the following battles, a clear trend emerged
  • The Argentine conscripts put up a good fight, and with the rough muddy terrain, the war was by no means easy for the British
  • But with highly skilled Royal Marine Commanders and Parachute Regiment troops, the British would often find themselves taking on larger numbers of Argentinian soldiers
  • But would still come out victorious with minimal casualties.
  • The 14 hour long Battle for Goose Green commenced on the night of May 28th
  • The battle ended with a decisive British victory, with over 900 Argentinians surrendering
  • Then, with 5000 reinforcements arriving from the 5th infantry brigade, the British started preparing for their final assault on Stanley.
  • In a series of hard-fought battles, they took control of the hills and mountains surrounding the towns,
  • as the Argentine forces withdrew, with British ships shelling their positions from offshore
  • Utterly surrounded, on the 14th of June, the Argentinians surrendered.
  • And the war was over.
  • The two-month-long war claimed hundreds of lives
  • And left the islands strewn with minefields that still pose a problem to this day
  • Argentina still claims the islands,
  • But in 2013 a referendum was held, and the islanders voted 99.8% in favor of remaining British
  • Plus, oil was just found near the islands, so the British probably aren't going to give them up anytime soon
  • *cha-ching!*

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