Special Exhibition: Falklands 25

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“We can recover the Islands … and we must!”

Sir Henry Leach, the First Sea Lord to Mrs Thatcher, Prime Minister, 31 March 1982

Photograph of dusk falling in San Carlos Bay
HMS Fearless and SS Canberra in San Carlos Bay, Falklands

Controlling the sea was key to the military recapture of the Falkland Islands. The Navy provided over 18 000 of the 30 000 British forces in the war and assembled a ‘Task Force’ of over 100 ships. This Task Force faced not only the Argentinians but also the stormy seas of the South Atlantic and a long supply line.

The Navy had not expected to fight this kind of war and had to learn fast. It had prepared its men, ships and strategy against Soviet submarines in the ‘Cold War’. Instead But in the Falklands it had to support landings in distant, hostile territory.

This meant for example that ships’ crews faced attack without airborne early warning radar. They landed troops under constant threat from Argentinian aircraft. They defended themselves with weapons that had never been tested in war. Many men and their families paid a heavy price for the lessons learnt from the conflict.

This online exhibition examines the Navy’s part in the war.