Argentine surrender in the Falklands War

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Argentine prisoners being guarded by 2 PARA. (maroon berets)

The last stage of the Falklands War was the surrender of the Argentine Governor at Port Stanley.

Background[edit]

With the last natural defence line at Mount Tumbledown breached, the Argentine town defences of Port Stanley began to falter. In the morning gloom, one company commander got lost and his junior officers became despondent. Private Santiago Carrizo of the 3rd Regiment described how a platoon commander ordered them to take up positions in the houses and "if a Kelper resists, shoot him", but the entire company did nothing of the kind.[1]

At 2100 hours on 14 June 1982, the commander of the Argentine garrison in Stanley, General Mario Menéndez, surrendered to the Major General Jeremy Moore. The surrender was in conflict with the Argentine Army code stating that a surrender was illegal unless more than 50% of the men were casualties and 75% of the ammunition was spent.[2]

The terms of the surrender document were slightly changed after negotiation by General Menéndez. The phrase unconditional surrender was changed for the term surrender. The Argentines were granted:

HMS Andromeda and SS Canberra outside Port Stanley on 16 June 1982
  • The Argentines units will retain their flags.
  • The units will remain under control of their respective officers
  • The surrender ceremony will be private (not public)
  • The Argentine officers will retain their sidearms.
  • The final point about the returning of the 11,313 prisoners of war in their own ships was not accepted and 4,167 of them were repatriated to Argentina on the ocean liner Canberra alone. The Junta had falsely claimed that the liner had been crippled during the Battle of San Carlos.

Surrender document[edit]

Present at the signing of the letter of surrender were:

The letter of surrender read:[4]

Headquarters, Land Forces
Falkland Islands

INSTRUMENT OF SURRENDER
I, the undersigned, Commander of all the Argentine land, sea and air forces in the Falkland Islands [Menéndez's signature, scribbled over the crossed-out word of "unconditionally"] surrender to Major General J.J. MOORE CB OBE MC* as representative of Her Britannic Majesty's Government.

Under the terms of this surrender all Argentine personnel in the Falkland Islands are to muster at assembly points which will be nominated by General Moore and hand over their arms, ammunition, and all other weapons and warlike equipment as directed by General Moore or appropriate British officers acting on his behalf.

Following the surrender all personnel of the Argentinian Forces will be treated with honour in accordance with the conditions set out in the Geneva Convention of 1949. They will obey any directions concerning movement and in connection with accommodation.

This surrender is to be effective from 2359 hours ZULU on 14 June (2059 hours local) and includes those Argentine Forces presently deployed in and around Port Stanley, those others on East Falkland, (Menendez's signature) West Falkland and all outlying islands.

[Menéndez's signature] Commander Argentine Forces
[Moore's signature] J. J. MOORE Major General
[Pennicott's signature] Witness
2359 hours 14 June 1982

Confiscated Argentine equipment[edit]

A pile of discarded Argentine weapons in Port Stanley.

Quantities are approximates:

Some of the equipment was rendered useless by Argentine personnel before the surrender.

The Argentine Rattenbach commission (Spanish: Informe Rattenbach) [5] was assembled after the war to investigate the causes of defeat. It recommended serious penalties for some of the officers in charge, but its influence on the later trial was practically nil.[6]

Aftermath[edit]

On 20 June, the British retook the South Sandwich Islands and declared hostilities to be over after removing Argentina's Southern Thule garrison at the Corbeta Uruguay base. Corbeta Uruguay was established in 1976, but the Argentine base was only contested through diplomatic channels by the UK until 1982.

The war lasted 74 days, with 255 British and 649 Argentine soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen, and three civilian Falklanders killed.

The British Government decreed that all classified information would be available to the public in the year 2082. However, following the Freedom of Information Act, a great deal of formerly classified material is now available.

The surrender document is on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.[7] As noted in the museum, the time of surrender was backdated three hours in order that both Zulu time (UTC) and the local time were recorded as 14 June even though technically it was already 15 June in London, in order to prevent possible confusion by Argentine troops who might have mistakenly thought that they were permitted to keep fighting until the next day, 15 June 1982.

Relations between the UK and Argentina were not restored until 1989 and only under the umbrella formula which states that the islands sovereignty dispute will remain aside.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Max Hastings & Simon Jenkins, The Battle For The Falklands, p. 307
  2. ^ "That under the military code of conduct Menendez would not be expected to surrender until he had lost half his men and three-quarters of his ammunition, otherwise he should expect to be court-martialled." - Freedman, Lawrence: Signals of war (1990) Faber and faber. ISBN 0-571-14144-7
  3. ^ Vicecomodoro is a rank equivalent to wing commander in the Royal Air Force
  4. ^ Document of surrender facsimile
  5. ^ Informe Rattenbach (Spanish)
  6. ^ Rattenbach report
  7. ^ Extract from the Surrender document - IWM Retrieved 2004-03-24