The Falklands War

The Falklands War began on the 2nd April 1982 when Argentina invaded and occupied the British governed Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic sea. It ended two months later on the 14th June 1982 when the Islands returned to British control.

The British had no contingency plan for an invasion of the Falkland Islands so the task force was quickly assembled from available personnel and vessels. The British operation, led by Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse was code-named Op Corporate. A Naval Task Force with 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines embarked, was quickly despatched, followed later by 5th Infantry Brigade.

Some 649 Argentine 255 British military personnel, and three Falkland Islanders died during the hostilities. Diplomatic relations between the UK and Argentina were not restored until 1989. 

The role of Royal Signals

Altogether 600 members of the Corps took part in Op Corporate, about 500 of whom were on the Falklands during the campaign, and eight were killed.

Before the main force arrived, Royal Signals personnel were in action with the SAS, carrying out reconnaissance, intelligence gathering and sabotage on Argentine installations. The conflict was to provide a severe test of the Royal Signals’ versatility. The Corps needed to ensure that there were sound communications in the UK between the various HQs, ports, airfields, logistics depots and the forward operating base in Ascension Island, 4,000 miles away. The Royal Marines largely delivered their own communications, but the Corps needed to set up

communications for a new divisional HQ, for a new 5th Infantry Brigade and rear links 8,000 miles back to the UK.

A signal troop of two officers and 61 men, commanded by Maj Keith Butler, was formed for HMS Fearless, the command ship for land operations. They ran radio nets and the Land Forces Commcen, provided four vehicle-borne rebro detachments and a three-vehicle divisional tactical HQ. The Divisional HQ met for the first time at Ascension Island en route to the Falklands.

 

5th Infantry Brigade

 

5th Infantry Brigade was a home defence formation that had only existed for four months when it deployed and was still equipped with Larkspur radios. Two of its battalions (2nd and 3rd Battalions, the Parachute Regiment) had been transferred to 3 Commando Brigade and several of the key staff were new. The Corps needed to re-equip the two parachute battalions and the new 5th Infantry Brigade (comprising battalions from the Scots Guards, the Welsh Guards and the Brigade of Gurkhas) with Clansman radios and train them on the journey south. Then, during the war, 5th Infantry Brigade HQ and Signal Squadron needed to readjust when their OC was killed and again when Landing Craft Utility (LCU) F4 was sunk, taking with it 16 man-pack and seven vehicle radio stations, six Land Rovers and trailers, most of its line, lighting and power equipment and its cryptographic material.

Altogether 600 members of the Corps took part in Op Corporate, about 500 of whom were on the Falklands during the campaign, and eight were killed.

 

Falklands and The Corps today

As at 2020, the Corps maintained a permanent staff of four (OC, TOT, Foreman and a staff officer) and a body of 60 rotating every six months spread over the Falkland Islands and Ascension Island.

A significant part of this article is reproduced with permission from the Corps centenary book ‘Roger So Far’

SAMSUNG - Falklands exhibition Royal Signals Museum, Blandford
Some of the equipment used in the Falklands War is on display at the museum.

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