Friday, June 15, 2007

Belgrano Captain: We Did Pose a Threat to Task Force

A myth has built up that the General Belgrano posed no threat to the British Navy. It was torpedoed outside the exclusion zone and was sailing away from it. Ergo, it posed no threat. Well, that's if you are a raving leftie who knows bugger all about military matters. Charles Moore, in this week's Spectator, recounts a recent interview between ITN's James Mates and the Captain of the Belgrano, Hector Bonzo, in which the good Captain tells it how it was. Astonishingly, ITN has chosen not to let the interview see the light of day. James Mates asks whether it is true that his ship posed 'a real threat' to the task force.
Captain Hector Bonzo: "Yes, I agree with that statement. I think we posed a real threat... we never had any intention of going back to shore; we were only waiting for the right moment to act."
No doubt hearing it from the horse's mouth won't be enough for the likes of Tam Dalyell and the women who ambushed Lady Thatcher on TV during the 1983 election (Diana somebody?). But to all sensible thinking people this statement demonstrates that Admiral Woodward was quite right to give the order to sink the Belgrano.

80 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thatcher's problem with the lady is that she defended herself by saying that the Belgrano was sailing towards the fleet & refused to acknowledge that she had made a slip there. She should have corrected herself & retired to the perfectly defencable position that this was a war & that is what you do in wars.

I think if politicians were to acknowledge their own errors the public would ultimately have more trust in them.

Not a sheep said...

I wrote an article on this last Saturday http://notasheepmaybeagoat.blogspot.com/2007/06/general-confusion.html and covered this point and some others that may be of interest. The comments I have received on my blog show how this matter still resonates.

Anonymous said...

On last night's BBC TV 10pm news, there was no sight nor mention of Lady T in the coverage of the memorial service.

However, on the C4 7pm news, there were shots of Cherie B, dressed up for a chavs' cocktail party, oh no, sorry for a memorial service.

Laurence Boyce said...

General Belgrano . . . British Navy . . . raving leftie . . . Charles Moore . . . Hector Bonzo . . . a real threat . . . Lady Thatcher . . . to all sensible thinking people . . . Admiral Woodward . . . quite right.

Anonymous said...

Ian this is 2007 not 1983. Tories fighting old battles again?

Anonymous said...

Still doesn't alter the fact that the whole thing was a farce given that :

1/ Most of us didn't know we actually 'owned' islands in the South Atlantic

2/ We were looking to ditch them any way, as they were costing us too much to run.

3/ The only conceivable reason for saving them was that oil rights might have been a factor later on.

If the whole population had been offered a £ 50, 000 bounty to go and live on the Scottish Western Isles [which are crying out for people] most would have jumped at the chance, especially given the crap education they get there.

Easy to get sentimental when a few British soldier's lives have been lost - but the pragmatic reality is that they are waste of money and we should have negotiated a settlement.

Anonymous said...

I understand that Cherie didn't curtsey to the Queen - shoot her for treason, I say...

Kris said...

I see the armchair admirals are out again.

Look muppets: War is about crushing the enemy. Sorry that's not huggy enough for those who have the luxury of criticising the way in which their freedom to do so is delivered.

Anonymous said...

Woodward did _not_ give the order to sink the Belgrano. Submarines were under the direct control of Northwood. He requested it sure but the actual order came from HQ

Hughes Views said...

Judith C4, in their long and rather moving coverage of the service, had shots also of Lady T but, like other news outlets, out of respect for her age and frailty they didn't linger on her. I guess by 10 pm other stories had become more pressing (or aren't you at all interested in the Middle East?) and anyway the show is only half the length of C4's. As for your comments about Mrs B looking like a chav, I guess it takes one to know one...

Anonymous said...

I always thought this 'debate' was a big 'so-what' moment. The Gbel was a WARSHIP. What were our lot meant to do- ask if they wanted an escort back to Argentinian waters?

Paul Evans said...

From everything I've read about it, I quite agree, and obviously this just goes to confirm that we were right to do what we did. I would like to note though that Diana Gould did not “ambush” Thatcher (why would you use that term?) she asked a question with passion and conviction, and left the Prime Minister shaken. Right or wrong (in this case, wrong) – that’s actually rather impressive.

Roger Thornhill said...

I was 18 at the time and even I knew it was a threat.

This event should not be forgotten as it is a clear example of the infestation of self-loathers in our society.


p.s. Alistair McSporran and now Hector Bonzo. A great day for names.

Anonymous said...

As a 'raving leftie' who knows 'bugger all', I'd like to rectify your rather excitable statements concerning the Falklands war.

1. It was a Conservative set up.

2. A few Argentine scrap men refused to have their passports stamped with the British stamp on St. Gerorgia.

3. Thatcher deliberately pulled out our only sign of British interest from the islands (scientific ship).

4. We did not bomb the innocents of Beunis Aries, we chose to sink a ship going nowhere.

5. This was a deliberate act to unify our Country in preparation for the miners.

6.More British servicemen were killed in the conflict than in Iraq at present.

Newmania said...

I spotted that as well , and funnily enough I thought , I would blog on that if I still had the time. Even had he not admitted the truth , it would still have been a reasonable guess and even if it was a mistake so what ; it was a war. Andrew Marr the rat traitor pinko whore he is ,claimed it sacrificed the chance for a negotiated settlement(Yeah right wee bit late I feel). He plonked on about death by burning and so on , implying Margaret Thatcher committed a war crime to ditch negotiations for the sake ( as he stated ) of saving her career. What a loathsome cowardly slimeball he is . I am astonished Iain you were so kind about his wet little pop Britain history straight form the big BBC book of left wing lies.


Anon 11.12, they were our territory , they were invaded by a foreign power , we had the means and will to defend them and we did. End of .
I really must pop by and punch your stupid prattling mouth . It will be well worth it to listen to your attempt to negotiate by giving me money and getting out of my way, as you brilliantly suggest.You clown!

Anonymous said...

The Belgrano's captain had said several times before that his ship was not at sea just to see the pretty lights shining from Port Stanley. It had heavy guns, and missiles and its commander Hector Bonzo was prepared to use them. Once The Belgrano was sunk the 25 de Mayo (the Argentine aircraft carriet) didn't venture out of Argentine waters, nor did the relatively modern Type 43 destroyers. The sinking of the Belgrano effectively snapped the offensive capabiities of the Argentine navy.

On the other hand sinking enemy vessels is what the RN have done over the centuries - don't suppose the lawyers were out in force after the RN attacked Oran or the other French North African ports in 1940.

Imagine the consternation there would have been if the sub commnader had merely observed the Belgrano, and allowed it to move closer back to San Carlos.

Anonymous said...

Missing the point.

The ship was in international waters and not inside the 200 mile exclusion zone.

Why not sink the ships in port?

Man in a Shed said...

The BBC is doing its best to put over the aggressive Argentine stance on the Falklands.

They never criticise the claim made on Islands that are further away from Argentina than Berlin is from England.

Anonymous said...

This is one of those bell weather issues that separates the intellectual men from the boys. There is so much evidence and logic supporting the decision to sink the Belgrano that it cannot be argued against unless you are wilfully ignorant of the facts or have another agenda and are willing to ignore logic and reason to pursue it. Therefore someone prepared to argue against the sinking then is clearly not someone to be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

I think it is important that the myth of the Belgrano is not aloud to stand. If half truths are paraded as facts the next generation enshrines them in thought-law. Politicians will then make sure that schools teach it and everyone will forget that our territory was invaded. Under international law we had a right, not only to defend ourselves, but to ensure that the enemy were unable to strike again. The Argies were lucky we didn't invade Buenos Aires.

Denying our right to defend ourselves in this instance, and the subsequent bleeding heart claptrap over an enemy battleship sounds like treason to me - something akin to holocaust denial.

Guthrum said...

La Thatcher told a bare faced lie about the position of the Belgrano and was caught out. However we were at War, and it was a hostile ship and was therefore a legitimate target, I have always wondered why the Punta Arenas airfield was not attacked as well. Moral of the story don't declare exclusion zones, don't lie to the press, dont pretend it was a police action, it was a War. We now have got to the point where lawyers are trying to apply the discredited Human Rights Act to War. They will be telling us next we cannot fight wars because we cannot get insurance

Anonymous said...

Diana Gould

Anonymous said...

As a raving leftie, I have to say I had no doubt at the time that it was justifiable to sink the Belgrano, regrettable though the lives lost were. War is, unfortunately, like that. But Neil Craig was right to point out that it was Thatcher who confused matters at the time.

Anonymous said...

Anon@11:12 ...

"If the whole population had been offered a £ 50, 000 bounty to go and live on the Scottish Western Isles [which are crying out for people] most would have jumped at the chance, especially given the crap education they get there."

I presume, as you remain anon, that you'll not be posting any reference material to support that erroneous statement.

Or perhaps you have first-hand evidence - have you been to the Falklands ?

I have and I spoke to many islanders and your statement has no grounding in truth.

If you don't know, don't comment.

Anonymous said...

A few people have mentioned that we did not attack the mainland.I have a half memory that ,early on, a helicopter with SAS men ended up in Chile.I don't remember much being said afterwards.Am I correct?

Newmania said...

lawyers are trying to apply the discredited Human Rights Act to War.

Yes and this reaches a point of absurd assymmetry when your enemy is not in uniform and is sub state and recognises absolutely no human moral or decent laws .The US are then required to treat these prisoners who are worse by far than prisoners of war as if they were civil criminals.


Wrinkled W - I agree . It is all part of the need of the left to hate our own country and thererby elevate themselves above it. The moral aspect of it is greatly exaggerated it is more often a class marker showing your suitability for jobs at the BBC , ....that sort of thing .
The Belgrano ? I cannot even take it seriously , its like Thierry Henri , he lurks on the offside line he darts this way and that and every now and then he is bound to get blown up .

Same Fing

Newmania said...

ROGER THORNHILL- I think that makes you the same age as me . We will always be that vital bit younger than Iain Dale

Anonymous said...

Newmania..
"It is all part of the need of the left to hate our own country and thererby elevate themselves above it."

You have touched on words that, in this context, I think is crucial to the understanding of the spirit of the age.

"elevate"
"hate"

Equality is fine. OK. Just dandy. What is not is this pyramid of hegemony whereby Gays denounce Muslims, Humanists denounce Christians and Christians denounce Gays and so on and so on, all in the name of "rights".

We must all conquer the basic desire to make scapegoats of people not like us, by charging them with being "homophobic" "islamophobic" "sexist" "racist" etc. Political Correctness is just as much a hate crime as any of the above.

Dialogue and the space for dialogue is essential, not "elevation"

Some people display an alarming tendency to side with the haters, perhaps for fear of being hated themselves.

Anonymous said...

Nelson saw a threat in the Danish -Norwegian fleet at Copenhagen in 1801 and dealt with it.

At Mer-el-Kebir the French fleet was seen as a threat to the Royal Navy and sunk in 1940

Sinking the Belgrano is so obvious that it seems puerile to even question the logic of doing so. The Argentine Navy stayed out of the way after HMS Conqueror dealt with Belgrano and ARA Veinticinco de Mayo the former-British aircraft carrier stayed in port.

All in all superb work by H MS Conqueror

Chris Paul said...

This is hardly hot off the press. It's old old old. And it doesn't really settle the question of whether the loss of life in this particular event, never mind the war as a whole, was necessary or avoidable.

Never mind. As a result my mate got to run the marathon for the Falklands twice in Commonwealth Games. So that's alright then.

And I was able to write my first major news feature for the Guardian-NUS Award Winning Mancunion. Looking back 12 months on at Lady T's own Ascension Island.

Geezer said...

I entirely on the side of the "what the hell was the fuss about!" viewpoint. They sunk an armed Battleship of a nation that we were at war with FFS! If it had been sunk on the other side of the world, it would have been perfectly justified. The general public had no qualms whatsoever with that decision. It was, as usual, the idiot Left who made a big deal about it, and their representatives in the BBC, who tried to misrepresent the arguments and make it into some sort of war crime, because they desperately were looking for sticks to beat Mrs T with.
The fact that ITN haven't shown the interview with the captain, shows how the pernicious left-wing influence still infects broadcast news. They are doing their best to re-write history to fit with their warped socialist viewpoint. It's sinister and dangerous, because of the influence that Broadcasters have on the opinions of the poorly informed and ignorant.

Anonymous said...

GOTCHA!

Anonymous said...

"Easy to get sentimental when a few British soldier's lives have been lost - but the pragmatic reality is that they are waste of money and we should have negotiated a settlement. "

P1ss off. Traitors like you make me sick. We've lost enough of our glorious empire as it is.

We have a duty and obligation to keep as much of the remaining terrority British as we can. The more of the world that is British ruled and governed, the better. We're damn good at it. It maintains our influence around the globe and ensures our values and culture spreads. It makes the world a BETTER place.

Do you want the Chinese and Yanks to have all the glory?? Never!

Go forth ye good Christian gentlemen!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Penlan is quite correct. SAS did enter Chile and spy on Argentine forces and movements.

This is why Thatcher always protected the CIA puppet Dictator and human rights abuser, General Pinochet. (for services rendered to the Crown).

Point remains that if the 'Belgrano' was adhering to the instruction not to enter the 200 mile exclusion zone, then why was she sunk as she sailed away from it?

Revenge and a 'human rights' abuse by Thatcher's Tories.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

In a recent interview Bonzo said that our sub should have issued a warning just before sinking the Belgrano. He also said that the attack was a war crime. Given that the Belgrano was escorted by anti sub destroyers equiped with the latest depth charges Etc and would have attacked our sub as soon as she rose to make the warning, then it sounds like this Bonzo chap is a butty short of a picnic! Also the escorts ran away at the first sign of trouble and did not return for 36hrs! So not only were they stupid they were also cowards! There is only one party to blame for the sinking and that is the EVIL FACIST DICTATORSHIP of Argentina. The leftist revisionist rabble who are still trying to help Argentina in its illegal claim only show themselves up for the sad opportunist traitors they are.

PS, I served in the FI just after the war to help clear up the mess the FACISTS made and still today landmines litter the landscape!
PPS,That supposed EU ally Spain has come out in favour of Argentinas fake claim! So much for EU unity.

Iain Dale said...

Cut it out. Any post containing a swear word will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

Do you want the Chinese and Yanks to have all the glory?? Never!

Empire Loyalist, Iain Dale won't let me tell you what you are, but it's a gynaecological pejorative of Anglo-Saxon origin. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

How on Earth is the Belgrano commander's opinion crucial to this debate? Admiral Woodward a man of far greater intelligence, ability and integrity than the snivelling lefties posting on this blog was only in a position to infer the intentions of the Belgrano battlegroup (consisting of cruiser (not battleship) and two exocet-armed destroyers) from observations of its movements over time (to which its instantaneous course or location was wholely irrelevant) and his reasonable opinion was that their intention was to close on the British forces when an opportunity arose.
The total exclusion zone applied to all shipping irrespective of its alleged purpose; it was not an implied safety zone for belligerent forces.
The Belgrano battlegroup could almost certainly outrun the Conqueror, so catch up was not an option if contact were lost or if the destroyers had split off to launch their missiles, bearing in mind the whole group was only about five hours sailing outside its exocet missile range of the task force.

Anonymous said...

Brief detour, but something that Thatcher would have had an opinion about:

Blair now says NO to any referendum on the EU Constitution.

What a sell out - is he going to be the new EU 'El Presidente'? Heath had his yacht - Blair his vanity trappings.

Newmania said...

Gary you are quite right the whole war could and should have been avoided. It was unnecessary bloodthirsty act of sabre rattling by a dishonest far right government
The Argentine government.
What is it with you cringing pink gimps. Show you a Fascist Dictator and you just cannot wait to assume the position .

Anonymous said...

The General Belgrano was a cruiser not a battleship. Its course at the time of engagement was irrelevant as it could change course at any time to close with our ships. It and its escorts where armed and posed a threat to our ships and sinking it was a legitimate action in a time of war.
On another topic I have just seen a report that Hazel Blears has accepted defeat in the labour Deputy contest.

Anonymous said...

penlan said...
A few people have mentioned that we did not attack the mainland.I have a half memory that ,early on, a helicopter with SAS men ended up in Chile.I don't remember much being said afterwards.Am I correct?

The intention was to land an SAS reconnaissance team on the Argentine mainland but the mission was aborted because of bad weather. The helicopter had insufficient fuel to return to the task force so the pilot carried on to Chile where he and the SAS team surrendered to the Chileans.

That doesn't really constitute an attack on the mainland, though it was a preliminary to a planned attack.

Anonymous said...

We 'snivelling lefties' would rather stick to the truth of the matter and insist upon the accuracy of Thatcher's legacy.

Admiral Woodward did not give the order to sink the Belgrano.

The order was given from a 'side room at chequers'.

The Conqueror is a Nuclear submarine and is therefore at the behest of the PM of the day and not the Captain.

Please explain why Chamberlain/Churchill did not sink the Graf Spee on the iver Plate, Montevideo in the South atlantic in 1939 when we were at total war with Germany?

Was it because it was anchored in a Neutral port in Neutral waters?

Iain Dale said...

Gary Elsby, thank you for sharing your exacting historical insights. We can all sleep happily in the knowledge that you have enlightened our day. Not.

Geezer said...

The left are so bitter because their Trot hero, Foot, got whacked at the '83 GE, and it was all the Falklands fault! Nothing to do with Foot wanting to make Britain a Soviet satellite then!!.

If the British had not of tried to re-take the Falklands, or even if they had negotiated a handover to the Argentinean junta, What would have the usual Lefty rabble said??

They would have said that they had handed over those poor Islanders to the nasty right-wing, anti-communist, fascist dictatorship of the Argentinean generals. The BBC would have done documentaries into how horrible Margaret Thatcher was for leaving the Falklanders at the mercy of the Argentinean fascists!

Instead the Islanders were saved from that fate, and the military junta was ousted not long after and replaced by democracy, largely as a result of losing the Falklands war. That rather important bit of history, that the lefty scum conveniently forget. Shows what a bunch of hypocrites the Left are, After all, you'd think that they would be glad that an ant-communist military junta had been deposed. But, no.

Anonymous said...

My thanks to Aardvak.I could not now remember much about it.In retrospect , politically,it was probably no bad thing that the mission never took place.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Iain, you are a one!

Arrdvark: Please do not accept the 'accepted version' of a helicopter crashy thingy by the historical revisionists.

It was a deliberate landing on Chile and is now the version that is accepted by everyone, including Thatcher. Why not ask her?

Freedom of information?

Athos said...

Gary,
I will try not to be patronising, but the raw simplicity and childishness of your expressed opinions makes that very hard indeed.

We could use such simple arguments as the fact that in the era of missiles and naval turrets, the direction in which the ship's bow is pointed is largely irrelevant to its attacks.
The Belgrano's attack group consisted of three ships, they were moving to join up with three more ships to attack together as a bigger group: her captain has stated this outright.
This does not represent the first time in warfare that an enemy moving in directions other that 'straight towards us' has not represented an offer of a peace treaty.

Sorry, your argument does not hold up to even the slightest form of armchair military analysis.

Dave Cole said...

This is a really odd debate.

On the exclusion zone - international law is, I think, coming round to the idea that people don't really declare war any more. What matters is belligerency, and on that, international law is quite clear - the heading of a vessel has no bearing on whether it is belligerent or not. The exclusion zone was something the UK set for itself - it could abandon it at any time or declare it - legally - as a ruse de guerre.

Anonymous 11:12 said that we were looking to ditch the islands anyway and someone else that the Falkland Islanders would have been happy to have taken money to go somewhere else. That's as may be, but it doesn't mean that Argentina could just waltz in and take the Falklands. The Galtieri regime was a military dictatorship and the geographic distance of the Falklands from the UK is irrelevant - democracy is better than dictatorship. There is a lot of process to go through that is important in and of itself.

Had Thatcher ceded the Falklands, if the conflict hadn't occured, she'd have been no better than the Argentinians.

I'm no fan of Thatcher, but I think the Falklands conflict has to be put in context - beyond strategic sheep-rearing purposes, they had no value. Lots of arguments can be made about whether this was planned to help her with the 83 election and so on, but until 2082 (when I understand the papers concerning the Falklands will be released) it is all speculation and hearsay.

It's legitimate to say that the Falklands War shouldn't have been fought for various reasons, but you can't expect an air-conditioned jungle - people, including sailors on the Belgrano, die in wars. If that's the objection, it applies as much to the British deaths at Argentine hands.

Speaking as a 'snivelling leftie' and one who is generally opposed to nationalism all the time, it doesn't help the case that the sinking of the Belgrano was legitimate to start making references back to Horatio Nelson - Britain wasn't really democratic in 1801, was it? The situation isn't really comparable, is it?

Newmania - human rights are fundamentals that shouldn't be broken. Before we even go near due process and innocent until proven otherwise, your comments about the human rights act suggest that it would be acceptable to torture someone to death for information - kinda like Argentina under the junta.

Meh.

xD.

Chris Paul said...

Five hours sailing out of range? And outside an Exclusion Zone. Doesn't sound like the timing or indeed action to contribute to a Nobel peace prize.

But worked extremely well on the home front, election wise.

Don't have to be a snivelling pinko to believe that the sinking of the General Belgrano was not our finist hour.

And as Neil points out in the very first comment Maggie also fibbed about the events.

If there hadn't been any survivors she might have got away with that. But, alas, there were.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that it is right to suggest that the Falklands has no value.
The land mass of South Africa and South America were once as one and Antarctica was also in there.
Gold and vast riches have been found in South Africa....

Secondly, the Falklands were and remain of great strategic value. Most of the Welsh steam coal that ran our empire was dumped on the falklands for a rainy day. That day came in WW1.

Third, we stole the Falklands from Argentina. Why? Just because we could do, thats why.

Iain Dale said...

Chris and Gary - have you ever heard the saying that goes something like this?...

When you are in a hole, stop digging.

Anonymous said...

Iain, did you know that most German pilots shot down during the second world war told rivetting stories about how they were shot down by spitfires (made in stoke btw)?

Almost all were shot down by Hurricanes. So why tell porkies about spitfires and thier obvious airial superiority? A bit better than being downed by a cabbage crate, don't you think?

It was a bit like shaking the hand of Bobby Charlton after having him put one in your own net.

I would like to hear this story of the Belgrano's 'importance' in the Falklands war.

yes, I really do.

Newmania said...

gary
I didn't say you were snivelling I said you were a "cringing pink gimp".
I notice that the gimps crazed idea that evil Thatch deliberately tempted the Argies into the war to take on the miners , is not a million miles away form what Andrew Marr suggested. Good old BBC who were pretty much on Argentinas side in the first place. He also suggested that Margaret Thatcher was personally responsible for the decision and . He previously outright stated that the expedition force left to save her carreer.Unbelievably offensive.
Rear Admiral J. F. Woodward, ordered Conqueror to sink Belgrano. The message was intercepted by Northwood, the Royal Navy's fleet command centre .The British government, after some debate, allowed the decision to proceed. The basis for the decision was that the Royal Navy feared a pincer-style attack with Belgrano attacking from the south, and the Veinticinco de Mayo from the north. Also Belgrano could have escaped from Conqueror by sailing across shallow waters, and it could have then attacked the British Task Force.

The BBC still cannot let its old hatred go and I think this the first time anyone noticed that it was a politically campaigning organization editorializing the news from Liberal Left standpoint.

your comments about the human rights act suggest that it would be acceptable to torture someone to death for information - kinda like Argentina under the junta

Human rights are a political manoeuvre and exist in context, they are not fundamentals , there is no such thing. It might certainly be morally justifiable to torture a prisoner under certain circumstances. In fact it would be immoral not to. THis is at the very least an entirely reasonable moral arguement , not an unquestioned axium . A Terrorist threat of some magnitude is an obvious example.
Why would someone opposed to nationalism care anyway. As this 'nation' is simply a carpark for any aggressor to pitch up in why would we bother defending ourselves at all ? After all its just a piece of meaningless dirtof no special value to you.

Its not as if the left have no history of betraying the country is it ?

Iain Dale said...

Gary, One effect of the sinking of the Belgrano was that it meant that the entire Argentine Navy remained in port for the rest of the conflict and didn't venture out to endanger our ships. Even you have to see that as a 'good thing'.

Newmania said...

(BTW My uncle flew a Hurricane.)

The Spectator made the point that the Captains story was not new and not in itself conclusive. It simply said the James Mates interview should be broadcast.It is certainly evidence unknown to many
Only those religiously determined to hate ever triumph of the Thatcher miracle would be suprised though. Had the Capotain said the reverse we would be hearing about his sad sollemn testimony

Unity said...

Gary:

Thatcher DID NOT order the sinking of the Belgrano. She authorised a change in Conqueror's terms of engagement to permit its captain to follow an order issued by Woodward (who, incidentally, exceeded his command authority in issuing the order and could have been right in it had Thatcher not backed his decision) to sink the Belgrano.

As far international law, belligerency trumps any notional exclusion zone, which was merely a political device to keep the UN sweet.

Argentina accepted the legality of the attack in 1994, Bonzo's view has been a matter of record since 2003 and Iain is doing his party leader proud with his commitment to recycling old material here.

The sinking of the Belgrano is one of the most well-documented military actions in history and the sinking itself much the least interesting and controversial element in it.

What is interesting is the political farrago that followed, which Iain neglects to mention, in which the government placed itself in the situation of engaging in a cover up of the fact that it had done nothing wrong in the first place, which resulted, first, in the Ponting trial and subsequently in amendment to the Official Secrets Act which removed the option of the public interest defence on which Ponting was acquitted.

Those amendments are, of course, both a key reason why two men were recently convicted for passing the Al-Jazeera memo to a member of parliament, as it denied them an otherwise legitimate defence, and in direct breach of a view of OSA expounded by Churchill which holds that it should never be used for the purpose of coving up political incompetence and/stupidity.

Oh, to be clear, the incompetence to which I refer in the case of the Belgrano is that of the cover-up, not the sinking itself.

Unity said...

Oh, and for the Mates/ITN thing, has anyone thought to ask ITN (nicely) about its thinking on this?

If the answer is because its completely uninteresting and add nothing to our understanding of the event then my reaction is, fair enough.

Anonymous said...

Wars are won in that moment when the enemy secretly despairs, because he knows, in his heart, that defeat is certain.

For the Argentine dictator and his armed forces, that moment came when the Belgrano, the pride of their navy, was sunk. From then on, the outcome was never in doubt.

The suggestion that Margaret Thatcher sank the Belgrano to sabotage any possible negotiations is contemptible. Not a shred of evidence has ever been found to support this wicked lie.

Anonymous said...

ITN sits on a pro-Thatcher interview and one person comments on it. If it had been the BBC would the comments saying about "traitors in the midst" etc be numbering around 70?

Isnt beating ITN as fun?

Anonymous said...

Argentina was the aggressor and make no bones about it they would have sunk one of our Aircraft Carriers or troopships if given the chance. The fact is that nobody made Argentina invade the Falklands and once they made this decision Britain was completly in the right to regard their forces, aircraft and vessels as hostile and legitimate targets whether or not they were in the exclusion zone or not. It is totally immaterial whether or not "The General Belgrano" was steaming towards the task force or away from it. It was a potent threat and the correct decision was made to sink it. The blame for the loss of lives lays squarely with Galtieri and the rest of his junta NOT the British Prime Minister or Government.

Geezer said...

BBC Fan said...
"ITN sits on a pro-Thatcher interview and one person comments on it. If it had been the BBC would the comments saying about "traitors in the midst" etc be numbering around 70?
Isnt beating ITN as fun?"


ITN are NOT publicly funded and are not nearly as influential as Al Beeb. But Braoadcast news (all three main suppliers in the UK) like to follow the same Lefty PC orthodox set of opinions.

But I am forced, by law, to pay for BBC pinko twitterings, Not ITN and Sky's!!

Roger Thornhill said...

Wrinkled W: Some people display an alarming tendency to side with the haters, perhaps for fear of being hated themselves.


There, you have a vital part of what makes the self-loather.

Anonymous said...

gary elsby said...
Iain, did you know that most German pilots shot down during the second world war told rivetting stories about how they were shot down by spitfires (made in stoke btw)?

Almost all were shot down by Hurricanes. So why tell porkies about spitfires and thier obvious airial superiority?


I think you are confusing the Battle of Britain and the Second World War as a whole. Hurricanes shot down more German aircraft in the Battle of Britain (75% - hardly almost all); mainly because there were far more Hurricanes than Spitfires in service at that time.

From 1941 onwards there were relatively fewer Hurricanes in front line service, so probably overall the Spitfires shot down roughly the same number of German aircraft.

Anonymous said...

gary elsby, you are quite pathetic. Admiral Woodward took the decision to sink the Belgrano.
Northwood did not countermand and neither did Thatcher since both were far more concerned about the safety of our forces than anything else.
As to the Graf Spee, I simply dont understand your point; the British warships had no reason or justification in sailing into Montevideo, since through diplomatic representation they knew the Graf Spee was obliged to leave without time for either repairs or reinforcements; that is why the ship was scuttled.
But where exactly is the parallel here or are you suggesting the South Atlantic outside the exclusion zone was "Neutral waters", whatever that's supposed to mean, or perhaps the territorial waters of Argentina with whom we were at war?

Anonymous said...

Geezer said "I am forced, by law, to pay for BBC pinko twitterings, Not ITN and Sky's!!"

Well if you own a TV you have to have a TV licence. But you dont have to watch the "pinko twitterings" of the BBC, do you?

I guess you one of those people who mutter about Big Brother, so you dont watch it. Well if you dont like what the BBC says then dont watch or read it. Simple really.

Anonymous said...

BBC fan. Why should I pay for something I don't watch which pushes a political agenda I don't subscribe to?

Anonymous said...

The first duty of a Captain of one of Her Majesty's ships is "To burn, sink or destroy the vessels, property and chattels of the enemy. Wheresoever they may be found". ARA General Belgrano, an enemy warship engaged in combat operations was located and sunk. Any problems, shouldn't have started a war should you.
The Falkland Islands were British prior to Argentina existing as an independent nation. Argentina's claim is based on the decision of a POPE, dividing the world between Portugal and Spain. Anyone want to tell the Chinese they belong to Portugal? The islands are BRITISH in perpetuity along with any minerals etc. in accordance with International Law not a Papal Bull.

Have a nice weekend,
Michael

Anonymous said...

Dear Gary Elsby,

Your hatred of the British is blinding you to even the most simple facts! Your revisionist and spiteful view of history seems equal to the British communist view in WW2. The Graf spee was on a convoy raiding mission sinking cargo ships when she was found by three British cruisers. A battle followed in which two of our ships were badly damaged as was the Graf spee which then fled to a neutral port to repair battle damage. The captain of the Nazi ship was led to believe that a large RN force was waiting and rather than face destruction he sank his own ship. The "total war" you speak of was a German invention in 1943 to stiffen Nazi resolve in the face of certain defeat by the allies. I struggle to find the reason why you and your fellow leftist/marxists hate your own country so much that you would side with an evil Facist junta rather than your own country! Many brave British men paid with their lives to defend the freedoms and liberty that you not only take for granted but seem to take a perverted pleasure in spitting in the faces of all the brave sailors who "gave their today for your tommorow". I truly pity you for the hate filled existence you choose to endure.

2br02b said...

As Mandy Rice Davis might have put it, the Belgrano's captain would say that anyway, wouldn't he?

Nelson said about a similar incident, "No captain can go very far wrong by closing with the enemy."

It's called the Nelson Touch, and summed up in one sentence what made the Royal Navy ruler of the waves.

2br02b said...

The "total war" you speak of was a German invention in 1943 to stiffen Nazi resolve in the face of certain defeat by the allies.

Uh... no.

When Generalfeldmarschall Paul von Hindenburg became Oberste Heeresleitung (OHL) (Supreme Army Command) he appointed General Erich Ludendorff as his Generalquartiermeister (Deputy Chief) of the Gro├čer Generalstab (German General Stass). Ludendorff invented the expresion 'Totaler Krieg' (total war) to describe the situation at that point in the First World War.

However, most military historians consider the first actual practitioner of total wor was Union Army Major General William Tecumseh Sherman during the Civil War... in particular the harshness of the 'scorched earth' policies (including the burning of Atlanta) he employed during his famous march through Georgia to the sea in 1865.

Sherman himself called these harsh tactics 'hard war': In modern parlance, 'total war'.

Sir Francis Walsingham said...

A few facts -

1) The Belgrano was part of an attempted attack on the Task Force. The idea was to create a threat on 2 axes to divide the defences. A standard and classic tactic. This has been stated many times by the head of the Argentine navy at the time, and the Captain of the Belgrano.

2) The co-ordination of the attack was suffering some problems - hence the Belgrano wandering about a bit. Chiefly, the carrier couldn't get enough of wind across the deck to launch. Fortunately, her steam catapults were ashore, being repaired. In Scotland.....

3) Adm Woodward put an order on the satellite network to HMS Conqueror to sink the Belgrano. He had no authority to do so, and the order was pulled. Such orders worked rather like email, they would stay on the network until Conqueror went to periscope depth to pick them up . They remained on the net for some hours... The intention in issuing the order was to make Northwood (HQ) realise just how serious he was about wanting the ship sunk.

4) There was a heated discussion at cabinet level about sinking the Belgrano. The request to sink her came from the military. See here for why they wanted to sink her -

http://sirfranciswalsingham.blogspot.com/2007/04/killing-tradition.html

5) The discussion lasted some hours.

6) The relevant logs of orders on Conqueror and at Northwood got lost. This makes the timings hard to establish.

The laws of libel protect the living. I think it quite obvious what *may* have happened. An order on the network, a delay in removing it, a discussion that lasted too long... Who wants to be Troubridge?

In any event the Belgrano was a legitimate target - that is the Argentine government position, incidently. As rule, do not be rude to governments, they will break your toys if they can.

Anonymous said...

Having been born in '61, delivered, and read newspapers from an early age, I voted for Thatcher, once, in '83 (according to history, but I haven^t got a clue what year it was).

I only spent a year on active service, I missed the Falklands even though I was on 48 hours standby to go.

Thank fuck.

It was obvious to anyone but an idiot that the Belgrano was a threat, subsequnetly confirmed by its captain, according to you. Which is no surprise to me.

I have great admiration for Thatcher's premierships, except for her cowardice.

Why not just say, 'We are at war, death is the currency of war'. End of story.

Same in Northern Ireland, all the denials about 'shoot to kill', and I know it was our 'mode of operation'.

Blair didn't have a problem. Seven bullets in the head of an innocent man on the tube in central London but no one seems to give a fuck about that.

Sorry about the swearing, PTS.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Ian this is 2007 not 1983. Tories fighting old battles again?

June 15, 2007 11:11 AM


While I'm here.

It's the 25th anniversary you See You Next Tuesday.

Anonymous said...
Still doesn't alter the fact that the whole thing was a farce given that :

1/ Most of us didn't know we actually 'owned' islands in the South Atlantic

2/ We were looking to ditch them any way, as they were costing us too much to run.

3/ The only conceivable reason for saving them was that oil rights might have been a factor later on.

If the whole population had been offered a £ 50, 000 bounty to go and live on the Scottish Western Isles [which are crying out for people] most would have jumped at the chance, especially given the crap education they get there.

Easy to get sentimental when a few British soldier's lives have been lost - but the pragmatic reality is that they are waste of money and we should have negotiated a settlement.

June 15, 2007 11:12 AM

Mostly true, maybe. However, once screwed. Who are you going to let screw you the second time, third, fourth, etc?


Lastly, the people who died in the Helicopter that crashed in Chile were colleagues of mine, I will never forget them.

What I heard was that they were replaced. Our fighters took off well in time, because their replacements were on Argentine airfields communicating any movements to the task force.

Thats what they were doing in Chile, on their way to Argentina.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the submariners on the Conqueror would maybe wish to turn the clock back if they could.

The result of the sinking of the Belgrano was a tragedy. The ship was not at battle stations and bulkhead doors were left open. The ship sunk like a brick. Many who died should have been saved.

The Belgrano was a legitimate target to attack. HMS Conqueror did so. However, it does not mean that there should be rejoicing - verging on gloating - with regard to the loss of life. Even the Sun withdrew the "Gotcha" headline once the scale of loss of life was known. God bless all those of all sides lost in the Falklands campaign.

Anonymous said...

Spot on, Iain. I have never understood this rubbish about the Belgrano. Why was I supposed to get really angry that the Royal Navy had sunk an enemy ship?

Anonymous said...

I was particularly put out by 'English Democrat'(if you say so)and his assertions of me being a traitor and I hate my people.

This is the penalty of having an opinion and it's something I have to live with.

1. I am gobsmacked at you Tories for believing that a captain or Admiral (or whoever) gave the initial order to sink the Belgrano.
Don't be silly. It came from Chequers and Thatcher had the keys.

2.I firmly believe that the Falklands are British and not Argentinian property and must be defended accordingly. This does not mean to say I agree with the sale of them at any price, which was a consideration of Thatcher.

3. It is a matter of record (Hansard) that the emergency debate into the invasion made very serious and substantiated claims that the Tories gave every signal to the Junta, that if they invaded, Britain would not respond.

These are definite facts and the removal of the 'Endurance' was the primary signal for the Junta to act.

It was a Conservative set up that cost 255 British lives and for many led to the 'illegal' sinking of a ship in Neutral waters.

I am not the traitor here. The Tory party is and will remain so forever in history.

There are many people over here who can lay claims to Thatcher's silence (enforced)on many current issues due to the blackmailing tactics of Falklands witnesses.