Bombing of Plaza de Mayo
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Civilian casualties on June 16, 1955
|Date||June 16, 1955|
|Location||Plaza de Mayo|
|Participants||Argentine Naval Aviation
Argentine Air Force
At 12:40 pm, a number of aircraft from the Argentine Navy and Air Force strafed and bombed Plaza de Mayo square in Buenos Aires, in what remains to this day the largest aerial bombing ever on the Argentine mainland. The attack targeted the adjacent Casa Rosada, the official seat of government, as a large crowd was expressing support for president Juan Perón. The strike took place during a day of official public demonstrations to condemn the burning of a national flag allegedly carried out by detractors of Perón during the recent procession of Corpus Christi. The action was to be the first step in an eventually aborted coup d'état.
Thirty-four Argentine Naval Aviation and Air Force airplanes, consisting of 22 North American AT-6, five Beechcraft AT-11, three Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boats, and four Air Force Gloster Meteor joined the attack.
A total of 9.5 tonnes of ordnance were dropped, killing 364 (mostly civilians) and injuring more than 800. Fire ceased at 5:20 pm local time. Three planes were shot down by hastily-mounted anti-aircraft guns. Nine Mounted Grenadiers, members of the presidential guard, were killed in action. One AT-6 was shot down by a loyal Gloster Meteor over the Río de la Plata.
Meanwhile, Argentine marines attempted an assault on Casa Rosada, but were repelled by loyal forces. The rebels withdrew towards the premises of the Ministry of the Navy, where they were forced to surrender in the evening along with the leader of the ill-fated coup, Vice-Admiral Samuel Toranzo Calderón. His second in command, Vice-Admiral Benjamín Gargiulo, committed suicide.
In September of that year, the bulk of the armed forces would join in the Revolución Libertadora, which overthrew president Perón and started a period of military rule that ended in the 1958 presidential elections, won by Arturo Frondizi of the UCRI. Even though the Peronist party was not allowed to enter the ballot, Frondizi's victory was influenced by Perón's instructions to his loyal base, given from his exile in Madrid, to tactically vote for Frondizi.
Bullet and shrapnel marks are still visible on some buildings on the south side of the square as of 2013.
- (Spanish) El bombardeo de Plaza de Mayo
- (Spanish) Galasso, Norberto (2005). Perón. Ediciones Colihue. ISBN 950-581-399-6