Weather Forecast Falkland Islands above - South Georgia / Grytviken below
Falkland Islands - British Islands in the South Atlantic
Operation Keyhole / Falkland War 1982
After the capitulation of the Argentine Forces on South Georgia at 25 April 1982 and the end of the Falkland War at 14 June 1982, there was only one remaining British Territory occupied by Argentina – the Argentine Base Corbeta Uruguay on Southern Thule, one of the South Sandwich Islands. This base was illegally opened 1977.
For South Georgia it was a busy time until the capitulation of the Argentine Forces and the days after that with visits of ships to bring stores and troops for the Falklands. The great passenger liner Queen
Daynes cover from the Gurkhas on board of Queen Elizabeth 2. The Gurkhase sailed from UK with the QE2 and arrived in the night of 27/28th May 1982 in Cumberland Bay. At 28th may they were crossdecked to MV Norland for delivery to San Carlos Waters, Falkland East
Elizabeth 2 entered Cumberland Bay and anchored beside SS Canberra, which delivered the troops on QEII to San Carlos Water, as the famous Gurkhas (see cover and photo).
From 2nd June HMS Antrim acted as guardship, a ship with Exocets. A lot of tankers, repair ships, troop carrier, tugs etc. filled Cumberland Bay.
Canberra (in the background) in Cumberland Bay, a picture out of an unknown newspaper/journal
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Only one day after the signature under the capitulation document in Government House in Stanley, Admiral Woodward received order to evict the Argentines from Southern Thule.
A difficult task given to Captain Barker, the Captain of HMS Endurance, which patroled mid June at South Georgia, not because of the not known military presence of the Argentines in that base but because of the weather. Satellite pictures showed the seasonal pack-ice only about thirty miles south of Southern Thule.
For the task were available:
HMS Endurance, the only ship common with the hard weather conditions at the beginning of the winter,
the Salvageman as rescue tug,
tug Salvageman, a very very powerful ship for pull out ships of ice, the photo pictured with kind permission of Kingston Mouldings - and ship's cachet below
fig. 3 ____________________________________
the frigate HMS Yarmouth and
the tanker RFA Olmeda.
On board was Lieutenant Keith Mills, the leader of the defenders of South Georgia at the Argentine occupation with his RM detachment, who was back at South Georgia and was very keen to evict the Argentines. Keith Mills detachment was augmented by a small element of “M”-Company.
A few helicopters were on board the ships, the only possibility to reach South Georgia in the case of bad ice conditions and to land the RM on the South Sandwich Islands.
HMS Endurance and Salvageman reached Southern Thule at 19th June. HMS Yarmouth and RFA Olmeda were awaited in the morning of 20th June.
It was not known how many base personal was in Corbeta Uruguay. It was estimated between 10 and 80.
Philatelic cover of the Argentine Base Corbeta Uruguay - one of the last known dates in 1982 - fig. 4
Cover of the M-Company at 14th May 1982 on board HMS Endurance
M-Company occupied Mt. Larsen behind the Argentine station at June 19th and had to suffer night temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius, with the chill factor it was -52.
Next morning Yarmouth and Olmeda arrived. Captain Barker of HMS Endurance put his ship close to the shore in front of the base, when 3 white flags were waved out of the base.
10 prisoners were evacuated to the Olmeda and Marines of the M-Company hoisted the Union Jack – see fig. 5 - and the last military action of the Falkland War had ended on Southern Thule without casualties on both sides.
But the work wasn't done on the South Sandwich Islands and the men had to hurry up because of the approaching pack-ice.
Royal Marines on South Sandwich Islands and the Red Plum - HMS Endurance
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The same day, June 20th, a John Daynes cover, a British Forces Mail Aerogramme, was struck with a boxed cancel of the RM Detachment of HMS Endurance.
British Forces Mail Aerogramme cancelled with the cachet of the RM Detachment of HMS Endurance at 20th June 1982, the day of the recapture of the Argentine Station Corbeta Uruguay at Thule / S. Sandwich Islands
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While the 10 captured Argentines were guarded on the Olmeda, the tanker and HMS Yarmouth departed immediately for South Georgia, while the Endurance and the Salvageman remained off Thule until 22nd June to close the former Argentine Station and to make it weatherproof.
By 24th June, HMS Endurance and the tug were back in Cumberland East Bay.
HMS Yarmouth after the recapture of Southern Thule on it's way back to the Falklands
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The Argentine South Sandwich Islands Station Corbeta Uruguay 1982 - Wikipedia
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Further interesting covers are pictured in the POLAR POST, mentioned in the References below.
- Operation Paraquat, Roger Perkins, 1986
- The Forces Postal History of the Falkland Islands & the Task Force, J.A. Daynes 1983
- POLAR POST, Vol. 31, No. 1, CD-ROM of the Polar Postal History Society of GB
Copyright © 2010 - Klaus Hahn
The copyright of that article published on my website remains with the author (Klaus Hahn) and the society (FIPSG)
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