The Falklands War is the first war that I remember particularly well as it was fought as I finished school in the UK. I remember being swept up in a rage against Argentina as the UK was brought together as a single entity against what was considered a common foe. It is very seldom that the people of a country are brought together and so strangely I would thank Argentina for giving me that sense of belonging, I suspect it also had the same effect on the Argentines. This war that cost so many lives, especially on the Argentine side fought over some small islands in the South Atlantic about 400 miles from Argentina at it closest. Haynes the car repair manual publisher has released a title looking at this conflict.
This offering is of the usual good standard provided by Haynes. It is a hard back book in a portrait style with 172 pages. The paper is of a good quality with a semi gloss finish. The text is well written and clear even for my old eyes. The book breaks down into 13 main sections which are further broken down into very specific sections. The contents breakdown as follows:
2. The Tactical Challenge
Preparations for invasion
Argentine invasion of the Falklands - Operation Rosario
Invasion of South Georgia Operation Paraquet
Argentine defensive arrangements
3. Task Force Logistics and Deployment
Assembling the Task Force
Task Force departures and movements
4. Air Power Operations
British air assets
The Black Buck raids
Air to air combat
5. Naval Operations
Sinking the General Belgrano
The Exocet onslaught
Argentine air attacks
Naval gunfire support
6. Land Forces Kit and Equipment
Force multipliers missile systems
The air defence controversy
Uniform and personal equipment
7. Amphibious Assault and Setting Up Bases
Pebble island and SF reconnaissance
The San Carlos landings
Battle of Darwin and Goose Green
8. Land Combat Ops- The Advance to Stanley
Moving forward and the arrival of 5 bde
The plan of attack
The battle of Mount Longdon (11/12 June)
The battle of Two Sisters (11/12 June)
Battle of Mount Harriet (11/12 June)
The battle of Wireless Ridge (13/14 June)
Battle of Mount Tumbledown (13/14 June)
9. Medical Services
10. Glossary of abbreviations
12. Select bibliography and further reading
The introduction is a nice cover for the book as a whole and I remember how quickly we went from scraping naval units to putting them into action. Perhaps the most important aspect of the introduction as far as the British are concerned is HMS Hermes, an aircraft carrier that was going to be taken out of service and that if it had been got rid of the British would most likely have been unable to fight the Falklands War, at the very least we would have had to fight without air coverage other than helicopters.
The tactical challenge element of the book looks at the ease with which Argentina was able to strike out at the Falkland Islands. The distance from the mainland could easily be traversed by aircraft of the day and the islands themselves only had a very small garrison of Royal Marines to defend them. This gave the Argentines a clear advantage in air power up until the British fleet got on station. A look at why the British and Argentines fought over ownership is looked at here, but it seems a muddled history to say the least. Perhaps the worst aspect of this war is that so many Argentines died due to a government that wanted to deflect attention away from them. Dont get me wrong the Argentines did want the Falkland Islands or Malvinas as they call them, but they where sent to war for reasons other than intended.
The Task Force Logistics and Deployment is a section that due to living near to the Main NAAFI distribution centre in the UK I knew something about. The warehouse worked 24/7 in order to get supplies to the right places in time. The military pulled together and worked closely in order that everyone and everything was where it was needed. I remember a large quantity of the supplies sent out went down with the Atlantic Conveyor when she was attacked and sunk by Argentine forces. This section does show how the British can come together and get a job done when they need to. It does however show the ongoing short sightedness of the British Government that continues to this day in the reduction of armed forces, if the Falkland Islands had been invaded a year later chances are that the British would not have been in a position to react effectively. I thought we were supposed to learn from history.
The Air Power Operations section looking at the air assets of both sides is an area where I would have liked to see more attention placed on the Argentines. The aircrews of the Argentines were well trained and had good aircraft for the most part and having had the chance to listen to some pilots talking about them they were accomplished in the roles they performed. A look at the British Black Buck Operations shows them in two lights the one where they were an un needed and not cost effective op and also as ops that made the Argentines feared bombing ops on the Argentine mainland.
The Naval Operations section looks at the ships of the Task Force in terms of type and role and provides the information in a very clear manner. One section here looks at the sunk and damaged ships of the Task Force, and this section provides an insight into the cost of naval conflict. The Argentine naval activity is looked at, but it concentrates on the sinking of the General Belgrano which was I believe the single greatest lose of Argentine lives and resulted in the Argentine Navy staying out of the conflict.
The section covering the Land Forces Kit and Equipment is possibly the area of most interest to the members of Armorama and I found it and good reference area of the title. This is however another area of the title where I would have liked to see more depth on the subject. One aspect that may surprise many is that the DML boot issued to British troops was not the greatest when it came to keeping the soldiers feet dry in the conditions found in the Falklands, the result of this was large occurrences of trench foot.
The section covering Amphibious Assault and Setting Up Bases is another great section of this offering from Haynes due to the wide spectrum it covers. The landing assets of the British military is an aspect I know very little about and so I found the information very interesting. Unfortunately the Argentines get very little mention here.
Land Combat Ops- The Advance to Stanley is an area of the title that make for interesting reading. The images here clearly show how dejected the Argentines were, but the weary look of British troops is clearly visible. One image shows a British soldier giving an instruction to a POW that shows that tempers had been strained by lack of sleep and the poor conditions in which the war took place. With all that said the pictures do tell a story of just how hard a fight this was. The result of this was large occurrences of trench foot. The last section covering the medical services show just how poor they were in respects due to the rush in which vessels had to be made ready for the role. The usual approach was to treat and stabilise injured personnel and then getting the most severely injured to the ships for further treatment.
The last sections of the title are clearly explained by their title.
I found this book of interest and I liked the selection of photographs used. The text is well written and easy to read without being dull. The British aspect of this war is very well covered in this title and should meet the needs of most readers with a general interest in the subject. The only down side for me is the Argentine part of the story which I would have liked to see covered in more detail. By this I mean I would have liked to see more information and pictures from the Argentine view point.
Highs: A great look at the Falklands War from a British perspective.Lows: I would have liked to see more of the Argentine forces covered in the title.Verdict: A nice addition for anyone with an interest in this war.
About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70s, I have had lots of opportunitie...