This book gripped me from the outset, telling the story of when in 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, which Britain held sovereignty since 1833, having taken over from the Spanish, who were sold the islands by the French for £250,000 in 1767, who had claimed the islands for themselves in 1764. Argentina regarded the Falklands as theirs, calling them Las Islas Malvinas.
The military junta of Argentina saw the return of the Falklands as strengthening moral of their country and planned to take Las Islas Malvinas with a quick invasion, especially as Britain had only a small garrison to guard the islands, and anyway, Britain was relinquishing sovereignty to other countries within their Empire.
An Argentinian entrepreneur and scrap metal merchant jumped the gun on the junta before they could finalise plans, by landing on the Falklands for its’ rich pickings of old whaling ships and equipment. The result was a hasty invasion by Argentina, and a British reply of “no the Falklands are ours”.
It was decided by the British Government that the sovereignty of the Falklands would stay in British hands, and despite many days of the USA trying diplomatic means to solve the problem, war broke out.
Britain assembled a task force of naval ships, and the army to send down to the southern hemisphere, and the RAF were tasked with a special mission to show Britain meant business, to show that Argentina were vulnerable to strikes by British Forces, and to have the Argentina junta having to redeploy their forces to protect their mainland.
The result was the longest ever bombing flight ever undertaken at that date.
This well researched book tells the story of how the RAF undertook the task, the training, the modification of old soon to be scrapped Vulcan planes, the operation itself.
Avro Vulcan bomber of the RAF
I was gripped by the story, better than a action fiction book, with true heroism throughout, as the story unfolded. I practically read the book in one sitting.
Yes it was my history, and the whole thing made a lot of sense to me, as I recalled driving passed RAF Waddington only a few years before the conflict began, seeing the Vulcan’s sitting waiting to get airborne, and I remember the pride in my heart on arriving in Saudi Arabia for work in early 1983, only months after the conflict had ended, and seeing the Argentinian flag flying above their embassy, proud to be British.
Rowland White writes that RAF Wing Commander Simon Baldwin, the flight commander of RAF Waddington, had stated “only 30 percent of what was being reported was accurate”, when reviewing the TV, newspapers and media after the event, I think that the book makes it near 100 percent.
Yes the book captures the story and history of the RAF’s involvement, and good it was, but as I read I began once again to think that the book is from the British point of view, and yes I am British and nationalistic as you are to your country, and I wonder what are the views of the Argentinians, their story. Perhaps the book only gives 50 percent of the story, the British side.
Oh well, that leads me further on, more research and reading to find out.