Falkland Islands

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In 1843, the first iron ship, the SS Great Britain, designed by engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was launched. For many years it plied the UK / Australia route before being sold to the Falkland Islands Company. She was beached in Sparrow Cove in 1937 and used as a wool store. The Great Britain was towed back to the UK in 1970 where she was restored and now lies in Bristol dock on permanent display. Part of her mizzen mast is mounted on display on the waterfront at Stanley in the Falklands.
The Falkland Islands have been involved in several major conflicts during the 20th  Century. In December 1914 during the Battle of the Falkland Islands, the Royal Navy squadron at Port Stanley defeated the German fleet under Admiral Graf Spee, controlling the South Atlantic for the rest of the first World War. In 1940, the Battle of the River Plate was won by a squadron that  moved to the Falklands afterwards for repair. Britain then controlled the South Atlantic for the remainder of the second World War. In April 1982, Argentine forces invaded the Islands.  There were only 80 Royal Marines and a local volunteer force to take them on. Despite a spirited show of resistance, the Islands were placed under Argentinian rule.  It is a personal opinion that had the United Kingdom Government reacted to advance warnings that the invasion was going to happen, many lives could have been saved.  Instead, 258 Britons were killed and many others were disfigured for life.  It should not be forgotten that many hundreds of Argentinian military personnel also died. With midwinters day approaching , June 14th saw the surrrender of  the 12,000 Argentinian troops after fierce land, sea and air battles. Since 1982 there has been a much larger military presence on the Islands. Originally located around the old airport at Stanley, they are now based at Mount Pleasant airfield, about 30 miles (50Km) to the South of Stanley, they provide a defence force to protect the Falklands against further action by Argentina.