On this day in history : 25th April 1982 – Royal Marines land on the island of South Georgia and re-establish a British presence in the Falkland Islands….

On the 19th of March 1982 a group of 40 Argentinian scrap metal workers had landed on South Georgia and raised the Argentine flag…. Some believe they were an advance party for what was to come…. Two weeks later Argentinian forces arrived and Royal Marines stationed on the island were forced to surrender…. South Georgia had fallen under Argentine control – as had the rest of the Falkland Islands….

South Georgia Islands – Image credit: Danny Pabst CC BY-SA

On the 5th of April the British dispatched a naval task force – comprising of 127 ships: 43 Royal Navy vessels, 22 Royal Fleet Auxiliary and 62 merchant ships – to engage the Argentine Navy and Air Force….

‘Operation Paraquet’ – the code name for the recapture of South Georgia — was put into motion on the 25th of April…. Helicopters attacked the Argentine submarine ‘Santa Fe’ and the Royal Navy provided a bombardment lasting a couple of hours…. At 16.00hrs, London time, British Special Forces and Marines landed by helicopter at Grytviken on South Georgia…. Within two hours they had taken control, the Argentine forces on the island surrendered with little resistance….

The victory message sent to London said : “Be pleased to inform Her Majesty that the white ensign flies alongside the Union Jack in South Georgia. God save the Queen”….

Royal Marines of M Company, 42 Commando,at Grytviken after liberating South Georgia (recoloured from original black and white photograph) – Fz81z6 CC BY-SA 4.0

There were no British casualties in the South Georgia operation – although some Argentinians were injured on the Argentine submarine….

An announcement was made outside 10, Downing Street by Defence Secretary John Nott, with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher by his side…. When reporters fired questions at her afterwards her response was to cut them short by replying “Just rejoice at that news and congratulate our forces and the Marines”….

HMS Antrim – one of the Royal Navy vessels which took part – image U.S. Navy – Public domain

The Falklands War was to last for a total of ten weeks; a cease-fire was called on the 14th of June and Argentina finally surrendered on the 20th…. 907 were killed in the conflict: 649 Argentinians, 255 British servicemen and 3 Falkland Islanders….

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