Falklands can be defended with pre-1914 rifles, said MoD

Discussion in 'History' started by LancashireHussar, Feb 16, 2006.

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  1. I'd never heard this one before. Very interesting reading.


    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/12/29/nnat429.xml

    Falklands can be defended with pre-1914 rifles, said MoD
    (Filed: 29/12/2005)

    A highly classified file released today reveals the secret weapon relied upon by the Government in 1975 to defend the Falkland Islands from an Argentine invasion - the pre-1914 Lee Enfield rifle.



    A top secret assessment by British military planners carried out seven years before the invasion caused dismay in Whitehall by concluding that the islands could properly be defended only by the deployment of a full brigade.

    But ministers baulked at the proposal on the grounds of its cost and the risk that the impending arrival of an effective garrison might provoke the Argentines into staging a pre-emptive invasion.

    Both the Ministry of Defence, which was wedded to Nato operations in Europe and the North Atlantic, and the Foreign Office, which was anxious to seek an accommodation with Buenos Aires, preferred to ignore the Argentine threat.

    Instead, they decided to continue to rely on a "tripwire" force, consisting of a platoon of Royal Marines and the grandly-named Falkland Islands Defence Force.

    The latter was 100 civilian men scattered across an area the size of Wales, with only about 30 in Port Stanley, the obvious target for an invasion.

    A Foreign Office file from May 1975 shows how the department fought with the MoD over the cost of equipping the defence force with modern self-loading rifles, as used by the British Armed Forces. Despite the tiny cost, the MoD refused to pay. That left the sheep farmers with a collection of antiques, including "pre-1914 303 rifles", one "ancient Vickers machine-gun" and more 303s and Bren guns from the Second World War.

    The military planners concluded that should an invasion take place, the recovery of the islands would be a "major operation", although "far from impossible".

    The Foreign Office was far less sure, arguing: "Defence against a full-scale Argentine invasion is not considered a realistic course of action and recovery of the islands after a successful invasion would be so costly and risky as to be impracticable.

    "In the last resort the solution to the Falkland Islands dispute must be political rather than military."
     
  2. The talk of the old 303 rifles and that era well the Navy was still shooting the ex WW2 Lee Enfield till about 1968 .

    They didn't get the SLR 7.62 untill they dismembered the old TA and got their weapons!!

    The days of cut the defence costs -----the Falklands war Task force was a real eye opener -------------I think they had already flogged the Hermes to India and renaged on the deal so they could keep it for the Harriers.
     
  3. Greenie, it was Invincible and the Australians.

    The idea that emerged from the Nott Review, IIRC, was that the RN should have two CVS, rather than the three that were originally planned for. The Australians were retiring HMAS Melbourne (which had developed some problem that made it impossible to conduct ops safely with the RAN's A-4s), and were on the look out for a carrier - which meant either Invincible or Invincible, since there was nothing else practiable out there for them to buy.

    Invincible was to go at about the time that Illustrious entered service, and Hermes would stay on until Ark Royal was commissioned, whereupon it would then be paid off. Again, relying on hazy memory here, but I seem to think that the Indians were expected to be willing buyers, since they wanted a second carrier capable of operating the SHAR.
     

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