Invasion of South Georgia – 1982

18 Mar

With only a fortnight to go to the 30th anniversary of Argentina’s last invasion of the Falkland Islands, the war of words continues apace. Argentina attempting to muster whatever support it can get, while Britain reaffirms its committment to the Falkland Islanders and their right to determine their own future.

It is also worth remembering however, that the Argentine attack was planned well before the invasion itself and that a series of events led up to the Falklands War. Most of which actually concerned South Georgia.

This part of the story goes back to November, 1979 when a Buenos Aires based scrap metal dealer gained a contract to dismantle one of the old whaling stations on South Georgia. Constantino Davidoff’s subsequent actions have raised questions about his links to the military and can certainly been seen as the precursor to Argentina’s invasion. The excuse, as it were.

Davidoff didn’t do anything about his contract until December, 1981 when, without the permission of the British authorities administering South Georgia, he sailed to the Island to ‘assess’ the work that needed doing. His visit caused Britain to protest to Argentina’s Government which denied any knowledge of what Davidoff was up to. In February, 1982, Argentina rejected Britain’s protest, although Davidoff did apologise to the British Embassy in Buenos Aires.

In the March however, Davidoff informed the Embassy that he intended to send a small party of workers to South Georgia to start work on the old whaling station. The Embassy gave permission only on the understanding that the workmen report to the British authority at Grytviken on their arrival. Despite this, on March 19th Davidoff’s workers arrived off Leith Harbour in an Argentine naval vessel, the Bahia Buen Suceso, and landed with a group of navy personnel. Shots were fired and the Argentine flag raised.

This incident quickly escalated into a major diplomatic spat between Britain and Argentina, with Argentina claiming that the Island belonged to it and that Britain should take no action. The escalation culminated in the invasion 0f April 2nd.

There has been much speculation about just how much Davidoff was involved in the plan to invade the Falklands, speculation which he has always denied. The fact, however, is that the action on South Georgia was Argentina’s excuse to invade the British South Atlantic territory, an action resulting in nearly 1000 dead and an embarrassing retreat by Argentina.


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