San Carlos Water was the site of a major battle between aircraft and ships that lasted for five days in 1982 as a British amphibious force landed to recapture the Falkland Islands from the Argentine invaders.
For the first time in history, a modern surface fleet armed with surface to air missiles and with air cover backed up by STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) carrier based aircraft, defended against full scale air strikes. The British fleet sustained severe losses and damage, but were able to land and consolidate the beachhead.
With the successful landing of the British amphibious forces on the Falklands, victory was only a matter of time. There remained however, the capture of Port Stanley itself and the Argentine army had strongly fortified the surrounding hills to protect the town. The task of clearing the way was given to 3 Para, who, under the command of Lt Col Hew Pyke, launched a night attack on the enemy bunkers. The bloody hand to hand battle with bayonet and grenade that followed led to the final surrender of Argentine forces on the islands.
Much has been written about the heroism and bravery displayed by the British landing forces in the recapture of the Falkland Islands, but there was another war, just as deadly taking place at sea and in the air, that, if lost, could end both Britain’s attempts to recover the islands and her standing as a world power.
The Falklands war began on the 2nd of April 1982, when Argentine forces invaded and occupied the islands of Falkland and South Georgia. In doing so, the Argentine leadership hoped to mobilise the people’s long standing patriotic feelings and historic claim on the islands. It was also hoped that this would divert public opinion away from the country’s economic problems and its contentious military ruling junta.