Monday, May 12th 2014 - 06:54 UTC

Churchill feared in 1942 the Falklands could be taken over by the Japanese

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.

Sukey Cameron: “more troops in the Falklands during WWII than nowadays”.

 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.”

35 comments Feed

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1 Britworker (#) May 12th, 2014 - 08:28 am Report abuse
One would think if Argentina had always historically claimed them, then the onset of world war 2 would surely have been the best time to take them, being that the British fleets were so stretched around that time.
Maybe historically and around that time they just weren't that bothered about them?

I can't imagine the two airports, future port, rich fishing grounds, strategic proximity to antartica, thriving economy and their future oil fields would have made them more desirable in the last 30 years????????

The grass is always greener 400km out to sea.
2 lsolde (#) May 12th, 2014 - 09:19 am Report abuse
Never heard this one before.
l know Churchill was worried that the Japanese would take over Madagascar.
lf they had done so, they could have threatened, or even landed in East & South Africa.
3 Livingthedream (#) May 12th, 2014 - 09:57 am Report abuse
Most in the UK never heard or cared of the FI before 1982.
4 Islander1 (#) May 12th, 2014 - 10:20 am Report abuse
Isolde- A 70yrs old story - the author is only 3 generations behind the times!The West Yorkshire Regt arrived here in 1942 and started to leave late 1944
again. Stanley started to prepare for their arrival early 1942.
Some of the old half-round corrugated steel “nissen huts” still exist today as peoples garden sheds etc.
The people in the War Office in London did not have a clue where the Falklands were - so it equipped the West Yorks with cold and hot climate clothing kit - and hoped the Royal Navy would know where to escort the ships to!
Links continue- todays FI Defence Force wears the West Yorks Lanyard as part of their uniform.
5 Conqueror (#) May 12th, 2014 - 10:55 am Report abuse
@3 Most in the UK only heard or cared about argieland in 1982. When we wanted it totally destroyed.

But Operation Tabarin was good. Prior to the start of WW2, German aircraft had dropped markers with swastikas across Queen Maud Land in an attempt to create a territorial claim. When that failed, Hitler told Peron to make a “claim”. After all, Germany would win the war and argieland could have whatever it wanted. A couple of years later, when argieland was invaded and became another nazi territory, Germany would own everything. And then the rest of South America. Various latinos would welcome the nazis. Until there was time for them to be shot or gassed. Must be worth remembering that half-breeds were “undesirable”. And what are argies (apart from stupid bastards) except undesirable? It is possible to “desire” an argie. Dogs have to eat!

Dogs can return argies to their natural state. First they eat. Then original argies are produced. Lump by lump!
6 Anglotino (#) May 12th, 2014 - 11:13 am Report abuse

You are just plain weird and bitter. God I hope you don't have access to any children.
7 ChrisR (#) May 12th, 2014 - 11:38 am Report abuse
I bet there are more Asians coming ashore now off the jiggers than would have made it to the beaches with the West Yorks entrenched there.
8 redp0ll (#) May 12th, 2014 - 02:18 pm Report abuse
@4 thanks islander for the aclaration.
As far as inca find out the battalion in question was the 11th (Service) Bn of the West Yorkshires. Those hostilities only lads from Leeds and Bradford must have been bored stiff on the Falklands. The song about troops stationed on Orkney comes to mind, I.e “Bloody Orkney” by Capt Hamish Blair RN. This was later adapted with rather stronger language to the isolated town of Halkirk in Caithness and entitled “Fucking Halkirk”
Church ills fear of the Japs invading the FI sounds far fetched until one remembers that as First Lord of the Admiralty he had to deal with an enemy naval squadron which had sailed from China until it was defeated in 1914 at the Battle of the Falkland Islands
9 Islander1 (#) May 12th, 2014 - 03:47 pm Report abuse
8Redpoll- Churchill,s fear was that having advanced already well across the Pacific that Japan would move down and around to the Falklands to “link-up” with Germany so to speak in control over the main shipping routes. It was plausable and he was covering options as best he could I think. I think the troops enjoyed their time here in a way - they were not getting shot at!
10 knarfw (#) May 12th, 2014 - 04:13 pm Report abuse

Chapter 2 -Page 79 onwards.
11 Mendocinovino (#) May 12th, 2014 - 04:25 pm Report abuse
Presumably Churchill knew nothing about Hitler “giving” Argentina the Falklands and South Georgia in exchange for joining the Axis?
12 paulcedron (#) May 12th, 2014 - 05:12 pm Report abuse
“...Nazi U-boats were threatening to starve Britain out...”

and the one who saved the british from starvation was...argentina.
we are still waiting for the british to pay those food shipments.

anyway, the worst thing is that britain used the same criminal strategy with germany during world war I.

The Politics of Hunger:
The Blockade and Attempted Starvation of Germany
13 reality check (#) May 12th, 2014 - 05:33 pm Report abuse
We are still waiting for the British to pay.

So in fact you didn't save us, you sold it to us, bit of a difference I think.

As for payment, 1947, you were given Meteor Aircraft and Labcaster Bombers,
In lieu of payment, you still have the Meteors in your museums and as gate guards at your bases. That put you in the same league as only 7 other countries to posses jet technology and the only SA country to posses it for a decade.

You were paid a hundred a times over!

You saved no one, you profited from WW2 more than any one else, so do me a favour and do not try to paint yourselves as some philanthropic saviour, because you weren't.

You were just war profiteers and frankly I do not care, because at that time our forefathers would probably have bought from the devil himself, if he had been willing to sell!
14 Usurping Pirate (#) May 12th, 2014 - 05:36 pm Report abuse
@12 : Didn't you win the war single handed ?
15 reality check (#) May 12th, 2014 - 05:50 pm Report abuse
Mass criminal strategy? Stopping your enemy from obtaining strategic materials, materials that prolong the conflict, resulting in more death, criminal?
Hmmm! Interesting take on morality of war.

No wonder they lost in 82.
16 paulcedron (#) May 12th, 2014 - 06:02 pm Report abuse
they paid?
after declaring inconvertibility of the sterling pound.
it was like paying with toy money.
so argentina sent food, provisions, etc, for 3500 million dollars and they paid with devalued currency, impossible to be exchanged for dollars.

not a surprise though.
in the end we are talking of britain.

and do not forget to add the 4000 artgentinian soldiers, pilots and nurses who helped the uk in ww2.
17 reality check (#) May 12th, 2014 - 06:21 pm Report abuse
Like paying with toy money, now there's a laugh.

You accepted the technology in lieu of currency and you did very well from it.

Your efforts using Nazi Jet Scientists and Lufftwaffer refugees to create Your own jet industry into the 50's did not meet with great success if I remember right.
When was it you stopped flying the Meteor?

As for the 4000 expats who came here to fight with us, we will always be grateful to them, just as we are grateful to the citizens of countries who were not belligerents, who chose to come and fight with us for a cause they knew was right.

Especially those who paid the ultimate price.

At the going down of the sun and in morning, we will remember them.
18 paulcedron (#) May 12th, 2014 - 06:55 pm Report abuse
80 gloster meteor for 3500 million dollars of ...1945
LOL. are you joking?

and what expats are you talking about?
all of them were 100% argentinian, some of british ancestry, but the vast majority were of a mix of ancestries like most of us.
19 reality check (#) May 12th, 2014 - 07:02 pm Report abuse
Perhaps if our financial experts of the 40' s had known of your amicable way of doing business they would have given you thirty year bonds. at 50% more of the the debt and on maturity and in lhe late 70's, paid you 25% of there value on the dollar.

After all you seem to have no problem with that way of doing business.
20 paulcedron (#) May 12th, 2014 - 07:14 pm Report abuse
perhaps if our financial experts of the 40´s had taken into account the treaty roca- runciman, they would have known that doing business with england is the worst thing ever.
21 reality check (#) May 12th, 2014 - 07:47 pm Report abuse
Now your being naive, where else could you feather your Swiss Bank Accounts from, how were you to know all that lovely Nazi money would be winging your way just a few short years later.

Did very well from both sides it by all accounts!

Food to the Brits, Passports to the Natzis.

Is that what the Economists call Diversifying?
22 BOTINHO (#) May 12th, 2014 - 08:28 pm Report abuse
An interesting historical article, which I had not read previously.

Mr. Churchill had access to good, secret information, including Enigma-machine decrypts between the Germans, Italians, and Japanese. This included German naval and diplomatic decrypts that cargo ships ” from the rich graineries of South America (Argentiana, Brasil, and Uruguay) were being identified daily and course-plotted ” as targets for the Germany Navy in the South Atlantic. These ships, and other cargo ships became the targets in the South Atlantic by the Admiral Graf Spee.


A far more likely scenario might have been a German raid, or a German takeover of the Falklands, especially as HMS Cumberland was outfitting there at the start of WW2, and the Battle of the Rio de la Plata, or river Plate. The HMS Ajax, badly damaged from that battle by the Admiral Graf Spee, later retired to the Falklands for repairs. Why ?

1.) There was a strong German Naval force in the South Atlantic.
2.) Convoys were supplying food GB from South America.
3.) A German occupation of the Falkland Islands could have been re-supplied much more easily from Europe, or Latin America than Japan.

Hard to imagine Japanese soldiers eating sheep sushi on the Falklands in Winter, but then again they did occupy and fight the Americans with determination in the Kurile islands off Alaska, without resupply or reinforcement from Japan.
23 lsolde (#) May 12th, 2014 - 09:23 pm Report abuse
l knew that the Germans were a threat to the Falklands but l had not considered the Japanese.
The Falklands was recognised as a great place for a base then,
lt is recognised as a great place for a base now.
Of course the RGs want it.
(of course they are not going to get it!)
We are blocking their ambitions.
24 paulcedron (#) May 12th, 2014 - 10:02 pm Report abuse
“how were you to know all that lovely Nazi money would be winging your way just a few short years later.”

there were more nazis (including their money) going to the states and britain than to argentina.
read some books once in a while.
you can start with this:

Justice Delayed: How Britain Became a Refuge for Nazi War Criminals
25 BOTINHO (#) May 12th, 2014 - 11:04 pm Report abuse
Paulcedron -

Thank you for posting the link. I have that book in my collection.

I've seen the author, Professor David Cesarani in many English-language documentaries on WW 2. Having read this book, I think he is a better speaker than a writer, as some of his chapters get a little off-track. But you are correct about the need to broaden one's knowledge and point of view with a little reading.

Like it or not there were German and Italian agents living and working in South America before, and during the war. Many would take daily trips out into the harbours to note ship information, which was then passed onto to be coded and sent out to Occupied Europe. Most if not all in Brasil were known and watched, and then arrested immediately after Brasil entered the war along with the Allies. Despite very aggressive, and physical “interrogations, ” most of those not deported elected to remain and become Brasilian citizens post-war, as they had nothing left to return to. But at least they could eat here and not starve.

During that war by the way, German, Japanese, and Italian history and language-only schools were made illegal. The well-known Hermann Goering Flying Clubes in South America surprisingly closed down one by one, due to a sudden lack of interest.

It was better to start from scratch here than in post-war Europe. Rudel and others went on into Argentina and other countries: In fact most of the Admiral Graf Spee crews were taken in to German-founded towns such as Villa General Belgrano, etc. in Argentina. Many there also stayed on post war, but in very poor circumstances.
26 paulcedron (#) May 12th, 2014 - 11:28 pm Report abuse
you are welcome.
“In fact most of the Admiral Graf Spee crews were taken in to German-founded towns such as Villa General Belgrano, etc. in Argentina.”
you are right.
many of the dead during the batalla del rio de la plata were also buried in the cementerio alemán.
anyway, they were not war criminals but german seamen.
27 BOTINHO (#) May 13th, 2014 - 12:13 am Report abuse
Sad but true Paulcedron.-

Triste pero cierto..
28 reality check (#) May 13th, 2014 - 05:38 am Report abuse

So a few guards and minions managed to hide themselves amongst the thousands of others in the UK and US.

History knows where the planners, facilitators and the top echelon ended up living out their days. Thanks in no small way to the help from the RCC.

Mossad got a few of them, but not enough, no where near enough.
29 lsolde (#) May 13th, 2014 - 09:12 am Report abuse
@28 reality check,
They will pay for it, the next time around.
People really have to realise, there is no escape from wickedness.
“The Mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine.”
30 redp0ll (#) May 13th, 2014 - 02:51 pm Report abuse
@25,26. Errors of fact.
The German dead from the Graf Spee about 50 I think were buried in the Cemeterio del Norte in Montevideo.
Tothe reins aclassic photo of the funeral where Lansdorf gives the classic naval salute and receives a very dirty look from Langman, the German Minister whose fist is firmly clenched in the Nazi salute. I think one of Langsdorfs captured captains ( Dove, SS Africa Shell) marched in the funeral cortège.and a wreath was sent by the released captured seamen inscribed “To our brother of the Sea”
Goebbels reported this but changed it saying the British had thrown a dead dog into the grave.
Langsdorf later shot himself in a BA hotel wrapped in the battle ensign of the Graf Spee, not the Nazi flag
Many of the surviving German crew of the Spee and her tender were interned at Sarandi del Yi, an up country town in the Dept of Durazno, Uruguay, the last survivor Gustavo Quick dying in 2009.
As regards German espionage there is an intriguing mystery as to why the Germans built a lighthouse as part of the hydro dam construction at Rincón del Bonete which is 240 kms from the sea.
If anyone is interested I can go into that in another post.
31 Keith York (#) May 13th, 2014 - 03:00 pm Report abuse
hear hear.
32 Briton (#) May 13th, 2014 - 06:54 pm Report abuse
What Paul seems to imply is--
if we sell it to you, we saved you,

but if you sell it to us, its just trade,
theirs logic in that somewhere there must
33 BOTINHO (#) May 13th, 2014 - 09:44 pm Report abuse
Ola redpoll -

Attached is a helpful wiki link in English which includes the specific foto you mention of Captian Langsdorff at the funeral:

At the bottom of this article is the following paragraph:

“ On 22 December 1939, over 1,000 sailors from Graf Spee were taken to Buenos Aires and interned there; at least 92 were transferred during 1940 to a camp in Rosario, some were transferred to Club Hotel de la Ventana in Buenos Aires Province and another group to Villa General Belgrano, a small town founded by German immigrants in 1932. Some of these sailors later settled there.[16] There are many stories, but little reliable information, about their later wartime activities, including escapees illegally returning to the German armed forces, espionage, and clandestine German submarine landings in Argentina. After the war, many German sailors settled permanently in various parts of Uruguay, some returning after being repatriated to Germany. Rows of simple crosses in the Cementerio del Norte, in the north of the city of Montevideo, mark the burial places of the German dead. Three sailors killed aboard Achilles were buried in the British Cemetery in Montevideo, while those who died on Exeter were buried at sea. ”

I have another book in my collection from one of the German sailors, who having escaped his guards, hiked over the Andes into Chile, and later returned to sea, only to be captured once again.

Back on topic again, I did read somewhere that the UK had stationed 1,000+ soldiers and civilian shipwrights on the Falklands during WW2 for the duration. The revelation about Churchill's fears of the Japanese is new.

I am curious if any of our members here know how many soldiers stationed there during the war, may (if any) have returned to reside in the Falklands post-war.
34 redp0ll (#) May 14th, 2014 - 12:25 am Report abuse
@33 Boitino thank you for the wiki link.
Now to pick some holes in their article. No way were 1,000 sailors evacuated from the Graf Spee even though the contemporary photo of the tug “Gigante” entering BA harbour with German bluejackets crowded on to the gunwales would seem to give that impression.
The full complement of the Spee was 1,073 officers and men of whom 50 were battle casualties.
Langsdorf,even though he had resolved to scuttle his ship didn't know what was waiting for him outside Montevideo harbour so sailed the Spee to her final destiny with a skeleton crew of about 200 men.
Previously he had transferred about 800 of his men ashore in Montevideo or to his tender the Tacoma. This ship was promptly interned by the Uruguayan Navy after the Spees destruction.
Such a decision by Langsdorf would be fully in accord with his humanitarian principles
So what happened to them I wonder?
That apart what's the title of the book of the German escaper who crossed the Andes? Sounds a bit of a parallel to the adventures of Lt Wilhelm Canaris, later Nazi admiral who escaped interment in Chile in 1914 after the sinking of the SMS Dresden.
As to Yorkshire conscripts returning to the FI, I doubt it. Please reread my post @8, but I may be wrong.
35 BOTINHO (#) May 14th, 2014 - 07:18 am Report abuse
Ola Redpoll -

You are quite correct about the numbers.

The crew complement of 1, o73 minus 50 casualties, would leave 1,023 crew total. That would be too large a number required just to weigh anchor and then scuttle the Admiral Graf Spee away from the docks.

An interesting fact is that when later repatriated from Argentina, 100+ submarine sailors were found to be amongst the crew of the Admiral Graf Spee.
No one of course, could explain that slight “error.”

I think it suggests that under the skilled hands of Capt. Dietrich Niebuhr, the German Naval Attaché to Argentina, his assistants Hans Napp and Ottomar Mueller, Gen. Friedrich Wolf, the German Military Attache, and Johannes Siegfried Becker, an S.D. officer sent clandestinely to Argentina from Germany, there was much support and room for the accurate numbers to be manipulated, and purposely inaccurate.

Either side did it's best to get back as many skilled aviators, seamen, soldiers, and officers, using any trick that could be employed.

The German individuals above were identified as the principal agents in Argentina for espionage, by the way, and for the axis powers. The Allies no doubt had the winning hand ultimately, in this game of cards.

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