Falklands War 40th anniversary: Falklands War dates, casualties, and why did it start?

In the midst of its 40th anniversary, here’s a summary of the key events and causes of the Falklands War.

Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 11:23 am
The missile magazines on board British Royal Navy Type 21 frigate, HMS Antelope, explode in San Carlos Water, off East Falkland, after attacks by the Argentine Air Force during the Falklands War, 24th May 1982. Photo: Martin Cleaver/Pool/Getty Images.
The missile magazines on board British Royal Navy Type 21 frigate, HMS Antelope, explode in San Carlos Water, off East Falkland, after attacks by the Argentine Air Force during the Falklands War, 24th May 1982. Photo: Martin Cleaver/Pool/Getty Images.

The Falklands War was a ten-year, undeclared war between Argentine and the United Kingdom. It was centred around two British dependent territories in the South Atlantic, the Falkland Islands, giving the war its name, and its territorial dependency, South Georgie and the South Sandwich Islands.

Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the war, both the BBC and Channel 4 have dedicated documentaries to exploring the war and the effect it still has on veterans and locals today. The Falklands conflict remains one of the largest air-naval operations since the end of World War Two to this day. Here’s what you need to know about the conflict, 40 years on.

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The Landing Ship Logistic RFA Sir Galahad ablaze after the Argentine air raid on June 8th at Bluff Cove near Fitzroy settlement on East Falkland. Photo: Martin Cleaver/PA Wire.

When was the Falklands War?

Lasting for 74 days, the Falklands War began on April 2nd, 1982 and lasted until June 14th of the same year.

What was the Falklands War about?

The conflict was sparked when Argentina occupied the Falkland Islands on April 2nd, then South Georgie the following day. On April 5th, the British responded by deploying a naval task force and launching simultaneous land and sea assaults on the islands.

Argentina asserted that the islands were Argentinian territory and that the occupation was reclamation of its own land, rather than an invasion. However, the UK maintained that the area had been a Crown colony since 1841. The local inhabitants were also largely descendants of British colonisers.

Despite the conflict, neither side officially declared war but the area was declared a war zone. The war lasted 74 days and was concluded with an Argentinian surrender on June 14th 1982.

Today, the UK and Argentina have brokered a diplomatic peace but neither side has changed its stance on the status of the islands. In fact, in 1994, Argentina declared the Falklands Islands one of its provinces by law. Nonetheless, the region remains a self-governing British Overseas Territory to this day.

Falklands War casualties

907 people were killed throughout the conflict. This includes 649 Argentinian soldiers and members of the Border and Coast Guard, 225 British servicemen, and three Falkland Island civilians, with one being a British citizen.

The three civilians were killed by accident by British Shelling on June 11th and 12th, just before the end of the war.