According to the Sunday Express wartime prime minister Winston Churchill feared the opening of a new front in the Falkland Islands and was so concerned about the matter that he sent about 1.000 soldiers to protect the Islands and ensure Britain would not have to retake them.
Churchill’s South Atlantic nightmare is revealed by historian Stephen Haddelsey in his book Operation Tabarin: Britain’s Secret Wartime Expedition To Antarctica.
Apparently Churchill told his commanders he was worried the South Atlantic islands would be invaded by Japan, and used as a base to attack allied shipping.
The Sunday Express then quotes the Falkland Islands Government Office representative in London, Sukey Cameron who underlines that “in the ¬Second World War there were more troops on the Falklands than now. It just shows how ¬strategically important the -Falklands have always been”.
In 1942 Hitler’s armies were ¬blitzkrieging through the Soviet Union, Nazi U-boats were threatening to starve Britain out, and the UK suffered arguably its greatest defeat when its forces had to surrender ¬Singapore to the Japanese.
Two months later Churchill told his commanders that he feared Japan would turn to the Falklands. At the time the Islands’ only defense was provided by 300 local volunteers, armed with a few dozen rifles.
With British forces overstretched, America and Canada turned down his requests to provide a garrison. Churchill then ordered a battalion of soldiers on the way to India to be diverted and sent to the Falklands.
The military presence was scaled down in 1944, but Royal Navy explorers were sent to the region in a top-secret mission called Operation Tabarin to underline the validity of British claims to the Falklands.
According to Haddelsey: “the expedition was intended to bolster a sovereignty that had been weakened by decades of apathy and indecision by successive British administrations.”