British garrison in the Malvinas/Falkland Islands

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panzertruppe2001
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British garrison in the Malvinas/Falkland Islands

Post by panzertruppe2001 » 17 May 2004 20:24

Which was the British garrison in Malvinas during the war? I know that some of the ships that were damaged by the Graf Spee came for the Malvinas, so i suppose that there were a great garrison there.

Thanks
Last edited by panzertruppe2001 on 17 Oct 2005 02:36, edited 1 time in total.

Lobscouse
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Post by Lobscouse » 18 May 2004 04:02

A good question. The islands had little or no strategic value, as they were far from the Empires shipping lanes. Argentina was a friendly nation and a valuable larder for frozen meat for a hungry Britain. Except for the odd German armed merchant raider cruising those latitudes, early in the war, there were no threats to the islands.

It would be interesting to learn what the situation was, exactly, in those days.

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redcoat
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Post by redcoat » 18 May 2004 22:40

I haven't found much in the way of evidence, but from what I have found it seems that it wasn't a large garrison, but I did find a picture of a ww2 gun position on the web
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Post by ohrdruf » 09 Jun 2004 13:57

The Battle of the Falklands in December 1914 resulted from a failed attempt by Admiral Graf von Spee's East Asian Cruiser Squadron composed of the armoured cruisers "Scharnhorst", "Gneisenau" and the light cruisers "Nuernberg", "Leipzig" and "Dresden" to capture the islands. The intention to land troops from "Gneisenau" and "Nuernberg" was recognised by a lookout at Fort William and reported to Port Stanley, where the British had two battlecruisers and four cruisers on standby.

Churchill wrote between the wars that he could not really see what the Germans hoped to achieve by seizing the Falklands. However, properly fortified as a U-boat base in either war they would have been difficult to recapture and were strategic, since a base there would have posed a threat to merchant traffic in the South Atlantic generally. Argentina though neutral until March 1945 would probably have come into the Axis once things looked really promising.

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Post by Zygmunt » 09 Jun 2004 14:28

ohrdruf wrote:Churchill wrote between the wars that he could not really see what the Germans hoped to achieve by seizing the Falklands.
Wasn't there a strategic significance to their position astride the route that merchant ships took when carrying Sodium Nitrate ("Chilean saltpetre") to Germany? Before the Haber process could be properly harnessed, I believe that exports of these nitrates from South America were important to German explosive- and fertiliser-manufacturing capability.

I understand though that by 1939 this trade had dwindled to almost nothing.

Zygmunt (collecting guano)

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Post by ohrdruf » 09 Jun 2004 18:30

Zygmunt

As you say, before Haber saved their bacon, the German armed forces were in a desperate position in 1915 because of their shortage of Chilean nitrates.

What is your suggestion? Northbound merchant vesels would have picked up a battle-cruiser escort at the German Falklands naval base for the run to Europe? Fascinating if true. Do you think this was this the real reason?

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Leo Niehorster
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Post by Leo Niehorster » 09 Jun 2004 19:27

I don't think there were any British military forces in the Falkland Islands during WWII. There was, however, a local militia unit, namely the Falkland Islands Defence Force, based at Port Stanley.

Cheers
Leo

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Post by Zygmunt » 09 Jun 2004 20:59

ohrdruf, I was thinking simply that perhaps the German forces were afraid that Britain would use the Falklands as a base from which to interdict German supplies of nitrates - any German action against the Islands in the First World War would have been to prevent it from being used like that. I think the aim was to deny the Islands to the British rather than to use them for anything particular. This would of course still leave the problem of how merchant ships would get past the blockade in the North Sea, but maybe they were planning to jump that hurdle when they came to it...

Apologies to all - I'm taking this off topic by only talking about the First World War.

Zygmunt

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Post by ohrdruf » 10 Jun 2004 15:22

Zygmunt

This seems on the face of it a good argument.

However, under the various treaties of neutrality, the merchant ships of a belligerent nation were allowed to sail without hindrance through neutral waters, where international law provided them with immunity from attack. German nitrate carriers could have sailed from Iquique right round to Natal in Brazil and never once have left neutral waters.

I think this might leave the door ajar to what the real purpose was.

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Post by Zygmunt » 10 Jun 2004 15:32

ohrdruf wrote:However, under the various treaties of neutrality, the merchant ships of a belligerent nation were allowed to sail without hindrance through neutral waters, where international law provided them with immunity from attack.
Perhaps Germany wasn't sure it could trust Britain to respect that neutrality? Perhaps navigating through strictly neutral coastal waters would prove difficult - especially considering the terrible weather frequently found down there.
I think this might leave the door ajar to what the real purpose was.
You're referring to the U-boat base you posited earlier? I suppose so. Perhaps it was also combat for the sake of it - to drive home to the enemy that they were at war? Perhaps it was intended as the first in a series of attacks on British colonial possessions... I don't have any concrete answer.

Zygmunt

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Post by ohrdruf » 11 Jun 2004 15:16

Zygmunt

It was an awfully long way for a German merchant ship to voyage from Iquique to Europe (destination port was where?) during wartime. The Atlantic part from Cape Horn northwards was very dicey and, as you say, perhaps relying on neutrality treaties was asking a lot. And once past the Azores the chances of making port very slim, I think as low as 10%.

Maybe the idea was for German battlecruisers to make the second leg themselves, possibly as escorts or even carrying the nitrate. A safer route for the first leg from Iquique-Falklands might have been westwards across the Pacific.

Very interesting that the real reason has never been discovered.

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Post by Andy H » 11 Jun 2004 15:46

One of its strategic importances was its posistion in relation to coaling stations, certainly in WW1 and for merchant ships in WW2, which still mainly used coal.

Andy H

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Post by ohrdruf » 11 Jun 2004 16:30

Andy H

As you rightly observe, this question of fuel always bedevilled a nation without overseas bases in either world war. Coaling at sea was extraordinarily complicated. But in 1914/15 the Etappen system of coal supply set up in neutral countries along the Chile - Argentina - Brazil route had not been compromised. How easy would it have been to secure the approaches to the Falklands as a known German coaling station?

The nitrate situation in 1915 was desperate for Germany. I believe the shortage was the motive for the first use of battlefield gas that year, and for the attempt to impose unrestricted submarine wafare around British and Irish waters which resulted in the sinking of the "Lusitania".

I get the feeling that the run from Cape Horn to some port in Europe could not have been achieved without a warship escort, or having a battlecruiser carry the nitrate. The haul from the loading port, Iquique, to the Falklands, was enormously long and dangerous. What interests me about this whole mystery is the fact that the purpose of a German occupation the islands remains a top secret. To me this implies a political involvement.

If we look at the iron ore route from Narvik to Germany, we have an overland route from Sweden to Narvik before the sea passage. Admiral von Spee received his orders to invade the Falklands while his ships were at Valparaiso in Chile. Was there some kind of secret accord with Chile and Argentina for a road link from Iquique to Buenos Aires where the material would be put aboard ship and then escorted to Europe by battlecruisers based at the Falklands? Road transport across neutral territory was far swifter and safer than bringing the material by sea.

All opinions gratefully received.

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 12 Jun 2004 17:08

Ok guys thats enough of the Malvinas/Falkland jokes, I'm sure were all adult enough to see the joke from both sides of the fence.

Lets get back on topic

Andy H

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Post by Andy H » 12 Jun 2004 18:01

After recieving yet more PM's regarding the Malvinas/Falkland issue, I have removed those posts which were causing friction on both sides.

Let's please keep to the thread topic, and any repeat postings concerning the description of the islands as either Malvinas/Falkland will be removed.

Andy H

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