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Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announcing victory in the Falklands Conflict 1982

 

On 14 June 1982, Margaret Thatcher made a speech to Parliament on the victory of British forces against Argentina who had invaded the Falkland Islands, British territory, on 2 April 1982.

 
Speech

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement on the Falkland Islands.

Early this morning in Port Stanley, 74 days after the Falkland Islands were invaded, General Moore accepted from General Menendez the surrender of all the Argentine forces in East and West Falkland together with their arms and equipment. In a message to the Commander-in-Chief Fleet, General Moore reported:

“The Falkland Islands are once more under the Government desired by their inhabitants. God Save the Queen.”

General Menendez has surrendered some 11,000 men in Port Stanley and some 2,000 in West Falkland. In addition, we had already captured and were holding elsewhere on the islands 1,800 prisoners, making in all some 15,000 prisoners of war now in our hands.

The advance of our forces in the last few days is the culmination of a determined military effort to compel the Argentine Government to withdraw their forces from the Falkland Islands.

On the night of Friday 11 June, men of 42 and 45 Commandos and the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, supported by elements of the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers, mounted an attack on Argentine positions on Mount Harriet, Two Sisters and Mount Longdon. They secured all their objectives, and during the next day consolidated their positions in the face of continuing resistance.

I regret to inform the House that five Royal Marines, 18 Paratroopers and two Royal Engineers lost their lives in those engagements. Their families are being informed. Seventy-two Marines and Paratroopers were wounded. We have no details of Argentine casualties. Hundreds of prisoners and large quantities of equipment were taken in these operations. The land operations were supported by Harrier attacks and naval gunfire from ships of the task force which made a major contribution to the success of our troops. In the course of the bombardment, however, HMS “Glamorgan” was hit by enemy fire. We now know that 13 of the crew died in this attack or are missing.

Throughout Sunday 13 June, the 3rd Commando Brigade maintained pressure on the enemy from its newly secured forward positions. Meanwhile, men of the 5th Infantry Brigade undertook reconnaissance missions in preparation for the next phase of the operations. HMS “Hermes” flew her one-thousandth Sea Harrier mission since leaving the United Kingdom.

The Argentines mounted two air raids that day. The first was turned back by Harriers of the task force before it could reach the Falklands. In the second raid A4 aircraft made an unsuccessful bombing run and one Mirage aircraft was shot down.

During the night of Sunday 13 June the second phase of the operations commenced. The 2nd Battalion the Parachute Regiment secured Wireless Ridge and the 2nd Battalion the Scots Guards took Tumbledown Mountain by first light on Monday 14 June. The 1st/7th Gurkhas advanced on Mount William, and the Welsh Guards on Sapper Hill. At 2 pm London time large numbers of Argentine troops were reported to be retreating from Mount William, Sapper Hill and Moody Brook in the direction of Port Stanley.

British forces pressed forward to the outskirts of Port Stanley. Large numbers of Argentines threw down their weapons and surrendered.

At 4 o'clock the Argentine garrison indicated its willingness to talk. Orders were given to our forces to fire only in self-defence. Shortly before 5 o'clock a white flag appeared over Port Stanley.

Initial contact was made with the enemy by radio. By midnight General Moore and General Menendez were talking. The surrender of all the Argentine forces of East and West Falkland was agreed at 1 am today London time. Some of our forces are proceeding to West Falkland to organise the surrender of the Argentine forces there.

We are now tackling urgently the immense practical problems of dealing with the Argentine prisoners on the islands. The weather conditions are severe, permanent accommodation is very limited, and much of the temporary accommodation which we had hoped to use was lost when the “Atlantic Conveyer” was sunk on 25 May. We have already repatriated to Argentina almost 1,400 prisoners, and the further 15,000 now in our custody are substantially more than we had expected. With the help of the International Red Cross, we are taking urgent steps to safeguard these prisoners and hope to evacuate them as soon as possible from the islands, in accordance with our responsibilities under the Geneva Convention. This is a formidable task.

We have today sent to the Argentine Government, through the Swiss Government, a message seeking confirmation that Argentina, like Britain, considers all hostilities between us in the South Atlanticand not only on the Islands themselvesto be at an end. It is important that this should be established with clarity and without delay.

We must now bring life in the islands back to normal as quickly as possible, despite the difficult conditions and the onset of the Antarctic winter. Mines must be removed; the water supply in Stanley is not working and there will be other urgent tasks of repair and reconstruction.

Mr. Rex Hunt and members of the Islands Council at present in this country will return as soon as possible. Mr. Hunt will concentrate on civilian matters. General Moore will be responsible for military matters. They will in effect act as civil and military commissioners and will, of course, work in the closest co-operation.

After all that has been suffered it is too early to look much beyond the beginning of the return to normal life. In due course the islanders will be able to consider and express their views about the future. When the time is right we can discuss with them ways of giving their elected representatives an expanded role in the government of the islands.
We shall uphold our commitment to the security of the islands; if necessary, we shall do this alone. But I do not exclude the possibility of associating other countries with their security. Our purpose is that the Falkland Islands should never again be a victim of unprovoked aggression.

Recognising the need for economic development, I have asked Lord Shackleton to update his 1976 report on the economic potential of the islands. He has agreed to do this as a matter of urgency. I am most grateful to him.

The House will join me, Mr. Speaker, in expressing our deep sense of loss over those who have died, and our sorrow for their families. The final details will not become clear for a few days yet, but we know that some 250 British Service men and civilians have been killed. They died that may live in freedom and justice.

The battle of the Falklands was a remarkable military operation, boldly planned, bravely executed, and brilliantly accomplished. We owe an enormous debt to the British forces and to the Merchant Marine. We honour them all. They have been supported by a people united in defence of our way of life and of our sovereign territory.
 
Margaret Thatcher - June 14, 1982