Virtually nothing went right with what is now known to every British schoolchild as the "Falklands Folly".
The skies were clear the day the task force arrived, which, to a people less accustomed to rain and gray skies, might have been taken for a good sign.
Things started out well enough but almost immediately went into an irreversible downward spiral.
In the early morning US Nimrod intelligence informed the British that 2 Canberras had taken to the air. 2 Harriers were scrambled and the threat was averted as the Canberras averted in the face of superior British airpower.
Admiral Fieldhouse decided to attempt to interdict Argentine supplies but the transports managed to slip by all three Harriers. That was the kind of performance that British aviators would frequently display during the entire Falklands escapade.
As the second day of the conflict dawned Downing Street received a call from the Secretary-General of the United Nations asking, privately, for a 48-hour ceasefire so that a peaceful solution could be negotiated. Thatcher, displaying the kind of reckless disregard for sense that has made her -- according to recent polls -- the least popular European political figure since World War 2, told the Secretary-General that she "had no intention of letting those pissant Argie coons have their way." This was, of course, quickly leaked by the Secretary-General to the world press.
In order to forestall peace talks, Thatcher ordered the Task Force -- over the objections of her commanders and advisors -- to advance to the immediate vicinity of the Falklands even though reinforcements were nearly 3 weeks away.
[I drew the Operation Sutton sit-rep card on Day 2; I think this makes it effectively impossible to win.]
This was the beginning of the end.
Early in the morning, the ARA San Luis surprised Fieldhouse by opening fire on the HMS Spartan. The torpedos missed but it showed that the Argentines weren't going to roll over and that British combat readiness was largely show.
In fact, Brigadier-General Crespo had devised a bold and daring plan that would have shocked his commanders if he hadn't mislead them about his true intentions.
30 minutes later Admiral Fieldhouse received a report from Chilean intelligence that 3 Mirages had launched. Since he had received no confirmation of such an event from US Nimrod or SAS forces he thought the Chilean's were mistaken or, worse, trying to embarrass him. As such, he did not scramble any Harriers to intercept the Mirages.
12 minutes later the HMS Sheffield and HMS Antrim were sunk. Only then did SAS intel confirm a major Argentine air mobilization but without direction Fieldhouse found it difficult to direct his Harriers to where they were needed.
The HMS Arrow and HMS Coventry were both bombed by Daggers but sustained only superficial damage. The HMS Glasgow was sunk by a flight of 3 Skyhawks. The HMS Brilliant was sunk by another flight of 3 Skyhawks.
By 9:30am four British ships were in flames with other 100 British dead. British broadcasts interrupted evening shows to bring the shocking news that Britain was truly involved in a shooting war. Chest thumping was one thing but Ms. Thatcher had gotten a lot of British boys killed over a rock no one wanted!
Modern historians say that the only thing was on Britain's side over the next few days was the weather. An incoming storm front meant steadily worsening weather that curtailed Argentine air operations somewhat.
A single Skyhawk slipped past British defenses to conduct another bombing run on the HMS Alacrity but the pilot, overeager perhaps, dropped his bombs a few meters too early where they exploded harmlessly.
By this point, relations between the US and British had deteriorated rapidly. The British demanded to know why they had received no information from Nimrod on any of these Argentine air raids. The Americans mumbled something about technical interference caused by strange barometric readings.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the opening of East German Stazi archives, however, modern historians know the true story: the Stazi had a sleeper agent within US Intelligence that was privy to Nimrod fight plans. The KGB wanted desperately to humiliate Great Britain in general, and the Tories in particular, and twisted some arms to convince the Stazi to risk this asset by passing information along to the Argentines.
The skies were grey and the weather continued to worsen but the Argentines, emboldened by their earlier success, launched another series of crippling raids.
This marked their first use of the devastating Exocet missile. The HMS Yarmouth was destroyed, adding another 50 British dead to the evening news.
Three other air raids were deflected by British air assets, with no help from either SAS or Nimrod.
Clouds rolled in as the storm neared.
The ARA San Luis slipped past the pickets into the Central Task Zone and fired upon the Geestport. The captain of the Geestport, one of the few British involved in the conflict to be commended for his actions over these seven days, managed to dodge the torpedo.
The commanders of the carriers were caught flat footed and returned fire but did not damage the San Luis.
Towards noon two Skyhawks surprised the HMS Plymouth and sunk it.
At this point, the gaping holes in the perimeter made effective defense impossible. Admiral Fieldhouse urgently requested permission to withdraw to a more tenable position but Ms. Thatcher refused his request, recalled him to London, and placed Read-Admiral Woodward in charge of the Task Force.
That kind of rash decision and meddling is endemic to Thatcher's handling of the Falklands. While the chain of command was confused the Argentine's struck again with a series of raid.
Another Exocet missile was launched but shot down. A flight of 4 Canberras evaded both pickets and Harrier CAP to conduct bombing runs on the HMS Invincible and the Geestport, though both ships suffered only minor damage. Four Daggers targetted, and sank, the HMS Broadsword.
Harriers were scrambled but failed to shootdown a single aircraft on the day.
To add insult to injury the Tartan 3 was lost during recovery in the stormy seas.
The long heralded storm finally arrived. Woodward thought the weather would give him a chance to realign his command and come up with a smaller line of defense that his dwindling numbers could protect.
Shortly after 5pm the HMS Conqueror made the first detection of an Argentine sub and sunk the ARA Santa Fe in coastal waters. This would be the only significant loss of life for the Argentine military in the conflict.
Despite the poor weather, Crespo dispatched two retaliatory air strikes to avenge the ARA Santa Fe. A flight of 4 Daggers targeted the Geestport and the HMS Invincible again but once again these lucky ships emerged unscathed. A second flight of 3 Skyhawks attacked the Geestport, the HMS Invincible, and the St. Edmunds. Again, the ships miraculously avoided any significant damage. The Geestport's captain in particular distinguished himself for bravery while under fire.
The British suffered another blow when the Harrier Red 1 was severely damaged during recovery in the rough weather and knocked out of action for several weeks.
The storm broke and sunny weather was to be the end of British military adventurism in South America.
The day began, as had become common, with an Argentine sub attack. The ARA San Luis slipped into the Central task force zone but its commander aborted the attack at the last minute when he received news of major Chilean naval activity.
In the late morning, a pair of Super Etendards sunk the HMS Coventry with an Exocet.
There were also bombing runs on the St. Edmunds (twice over the course of the day), Contender Bezant (twice also), the seemingly indestructible Geestport, the HMS Hermes, and the HMS Glamorgan.
10 major British assets were destroyed. Hundreds dead. 2 Harriers lost. British military had prided itself on being small but well trained but that had been shown to be empty vanity. When it came to real world application, every aspect of British military preparedness was shown to be lacking.
The next day Parliament had a vote of no confidence in Thatcher and her handling of the war. The Task Force sailed home. Over the next year there were nearly a half-dozens courts-martial regarding the possibly criminal incompetence of British commanders during the "Falklands Folly".
Labour won handily on a platform of isolationism leading to nearly 22 years of uninterrupted rule until the BNP put together a coalition even more adamant about isolationism and took over Parliament in 2003.
Thatcher's economic policies were abandoned. Nott's cuts to the British navy were expanded in scope.
The continuing problems with the Nimrod system led to a serious breakdown in US-British relations, leading to the next government following France's lead and withdrawing British troops from NATO.
The Argentine junta was reinvigorated by their stunning victory over the British. Galtieri's plans to attack Chile next were finalized and the Beagle conflict became the Beagle War of 1983.
Brigadier-General Crespo contrasted his successes with the cowardice of the Argentine navy (not a single Argentine navy asset other than submarines was deployed during the 7 days) to boost his position until he was able to lead a coup against Bignone in 1984.
He has now been in power for 26 years and has driven his country into destitution. Now that his eldest son is in charge of the oil extraction of the reserves recently found in the Falklands it appears he is manouevering to ensure control of the country stays in his family.
Great AAR. Sounds like a wild and wooly game.
One thing you might want to check though; you shouldn't be drawing the Operation Sutton card on Turn 2.
The Sit. Rep. cards are overturned sequentially, (1-16, then Operation Sutton as the FINAL card), as you move towards the Islands. It's only the Event Cards that are drawn randomly.
That would also explain why the Argentines came at you so hard right from the start.
- Last edited Sat Mar 6, 2010 10:01 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Mar 6, 2010 10:00 am
Yes, I realized that pretty quickly but thought it would be fun to play it out and see how bad things got.
Also, you shouldn't be interdicting Argentine supply on turn 1. See 15.0.
Dude! I can't believe you gave this game a score of 1!