Argentine Military Cemetery

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The Argentine Military Cemetery on East Falkland.
Falkland Islands (Spanish: Islas Malvinas)[1]
Cementerio Argentino de Puerto Darwin.jpg
The Argentine Military Cemetery, on East Falkland
For Argentine forces
Location 51°47′49″S 58°56′26″W / 51.79694°S 58.94056°W / -51.79694; -58.94056

The Argentine Military Cemetery, Spanish: Cementerio de Darwin [2] (Darwin Cemetery), is a military cemetery on East Falkland that holds the remains of 237 Argentine combatants killed during the 1982 Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas). It is located west of the Darwin Settlement close to the location of the Battle of Goose Green.

After the conflict the United Kingdom offered to send the bodies back to Argentina, but Argentina refused, knowing that the remains would ensure a continuing Argentine presence on the islands.[3]

History[edit]

The Cemetery in 2008

In December 1982 the British government commissioned a firm of civilian undertakers to consolidate all of the temporary Argentine graves on the Islands to a single location. Assisted by the armed forces, they identified each Argentine grave site and brought the bodies to Port Darwin. At the time this was the largest single Argentine grave site, with the bodies of the 47 Argentine soldiers, killed at the Battle of Goose Green and buried there soon after the battle.[4]

Many of the bodies collected were without dog-tags, so best efforts were made to identify each soldier from personal effects found on the body. Single items were not considered conclusive, but collections were. All were given a Christian burial with full military honours. Each grave is marked by a white wooden cross with the name of the soldier on it if known, but 123 of the crosses simply state Soldado Argentino Solo Conocido Por Dios ("An Argentine Soldier Known Unto God"). Conscious of the sensitivities of the Islanders, wooden crosses were employed, rather than headstones, as this would have implied permanence.[citation needed]

Up until 2004 the cemetery was surrounded by a small white picket fence. The plot is now protected by a walled enclosure with a cenotaph including an image of Argentina’s patron saint, the Virgen del Lujan. Surrounding the graves, the names of the 649 Argentine soldiers, sailors and airmen who lost their lives in the conflict, are inscribed on glass plaques, with no indication of military rank or service, as requested by their families.

Since the end of the conflict the bodies of three more Argentine Pilots have been interred:

  • Capitán Jorge Osvaldo García successfully ejected from his Argentine Skyhawk after being shot down by a Sea Dart surface-to-air missile on 25 May 1982 but was not recovered from the water. His body was washed ashore in a dinghy at Golding Island in 1983.
  • Lt. Giménez, a Pucará pilot, whose body was not found until 1986. His burial was attended by his family, the first Argentine relatives to visit the Falklands since the end of the war[5]
  • Lt Jorge Casco video, another Skyhawk Pilot, who crashed in bad weather on South Jason Island and was buried on 7 March 2009[6] In the case of Lt. Casco, his family requested that his remains be buried on the Falklands even after they were returned to Argentina in July 2008 for DNA testing in order to confirm his identity.

On 9 November 2002 Prince Andrew, himself a Falklands War Veteran, made a point to visit the Argentine cemetery and laid a wreath.[7] During the visit the Prince said, "I lost friends and colleagues and I know what it must be like for the great many Argentines who have shared the same experience."[7]

Since the UK-Argentine joint statement on 14 July 1999[8] Argentine families are responsible for the cemetery's upkeep and in 2007, Sebastián Socodo, an Argentine married to a Falkland Islander, was employed to do the job of cemetery maintenance.[9][10]

There is a replica of the Cemetery at Berazategui.[11]

2012 vandalism[edit]

In July 2012 the glass casing protecting a figure of Argentina’s patron saint, the Virgin of Luján, at the head of the cemetery was smashed with what appeared to be an axe.[12] Argentina presented a formal protest to the British government and informed the United Nations and the International Red Cross. Sebastián Socodo, responsible for the cemetery’s upkeep, said families were notified and that it was not clear when it occurred or who the perpetrators were. Police in the Falklands held an investigation and the case was repaired.

State of interments[edit]

'Monumento a los Caídos en Malvinas' (Monument for the fallen on the Falkland Islands) in Plaza San Martín, Buenos Aires.[13]

In total 649 Argentines were killed during the 74 days of the conflict.[14]

237 are buried at the Darwin Cemetery.

ARA General Belgrano[edit]

323 [15]

  • By far the greatest loss of life in the war was in the sinking of the Argentine Navy cruiser ARA General Belgrano, with 321 members of crew and 2 civilians on board at the time, with most of these going down with her.

Buried other places[edit]

  • Argentine Navy Lt Carlos Benitez was killed on May 3 when he crashed with his Aermacchi MB-339 attempting to land at Port Stanley. He was buried at Stanley cemetery,[16] before being re-interred at Darwin Cemetery, after the war [17]
7 are interred at separate locations
  • Argentine Navy Lt Cmdr Carlos María Zubizarreta was killed in Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego on May 23 when his parachute did not fully open when he ejected from his A-4Q Skyhawk after a tyre burst on landing due to his bombs still being loaded. The plane stopped by itself and did not suffer any damage.[21][22]
  • Argentine Air Force captain Fernando Casado was copilot of Canberra bomber B-108 shot down on June 13. His remains were found in 1986 and held in the Stanley police station until 2008 when DNA testing confirmed his identity. He was returned to Argentina and buried at Cordoba Province in the Malvinas mausoleum of Villa Carlos Paz cemetery [23]
16 died on the mainland
  • Argentine Army Adjutant Sergeant Alberto Antonio Sanagua (RI 24) cardiac arrest at Punta Loyola, Santa Cruz on May 18
  • Argentine Army Sublieutenant Juan Omar Abraham (Esc Exp Cbl 1) accident near Puerto Deseado, Santa Cruz May 24
  • Argentine Army Lieutenant Julio Cesar Auvieux (B Ing 601) clearing a mine field near Rio Grande airbase, June 1982
  • Argentine Army Conscript Sergio Oscar Gomez (HQ 1 Brig) accident at Comodoro Rivadavia, date unknown
66 were lost with aircraft or ships and their remains were not recovered
Incident Casualties
Canberra Bombers 2[25]
ARA Alférez Sobral 8
Spy trawler Narwal 1
Aérospatiale Puma. 3
ARA Isla de los Estados. 22 [26]
C-130E Hercules 7
A-4B/C Skyhawks 12
IAI Daggers 5
A-4Q Skyhawk 1
Learjet 5

References[edit]

  1. ^ "WordReference, English-Spanish Dictionary. ''Falklands: the Falklands, las (islas) Malvinas''". Wordreference.com. Retrieved 2010-03-15. 
  2. ^ gov.ar cementerio de darwin
  3. ^ Peter Snow, Dan Snow (16 July 2008). "1982 Falklands" (in English). [Century Battlefields]. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007t0w9. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  4. ^ Suplemento de Historia Argentina (Spanish)
  5. ^ "One of their aircraft is missing". Archived from the original on 7 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  6. ^ "UK military honours for Argentine Pilot". Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  7. ^ a b Savill, Richard (2002-11-09). "Prince's Falklands tribute to Argentine dead". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  8. ^ "UK-Argentina exchange of letters". Retrieved 2009-11-09. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Simple service pays respect to the Argentine dead". Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  10. ^ "Love bridges Falklands divide". BBC News. 4 April 2007. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  11. ^ La réplica del cementerio de Darwin, ubicado en el cementerio de Berazategui, un muro en el que están plasmados los nombres de los siete soldados berazateguenses que fallecieron
  12. ^ Argentina will formally protest vandalism at the Darwin cemetery in Falklands
  13. ^ Buenos Aires War Memorial is at coordinates 34°35′37″S 58°22′29″W / 34.59373°S 58.374782°W / -34.59373; -58.374782 (Buenos Aires War Memorial)
  14. ^ Full list of Argentine Casualties, accessed November 2009
  15. ^ List of the missing crew
  16. ^ Villarino, Horacio: Exocet ISBN 950-10-0116-4 (Spanish)
  17. ^ [The Falklands War, Then and Now by Gordon Ramsey]
  18. ^ at Cerrillos, Salta
  19. ^ Evans, Michael (2007-10-05). "Marine killed Argentinian in Falklands war blunder". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-04-25. 
  20. ^ http://www.wildisland.gs/sgcems/gd09a.htm
  21. ^ 3ra. Escuadrilla Aeronaval de Caza y Ataque
  22. ^ "Carlos Zubizarreta". Archived from the original on 17 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-06. 
  23. ^ Argentina honors last airman downed in Falklands war
  24. ^ Argentine Army Aviation condecorations 1
  25. ^ B-110 May 1st: 1st Lt Mario Hipolito Gonzalez & Lt Eduardo de Ibañez. Third ejected Capt. Fernando Casado (B-108 June13) was returned to Argentina in 2008
  26. ^ Rol de honor

External links[edit]