During the war, the British captured about 10,000 Argentine prisoners, all of whom were released afterwards. Argentina sustained 655 men killed, while Britain lost 236. Argentina’s ignominious defeat severely discredited the military government and led to the restoration of civilian rule in Argentina in 1983.
The sinking of the Belgrano was a defining moment in the Falklands War in 1982.
Two out of the three Mark 8 torpedoes fired from HMS Conqueror struck the warship at 4pm on May 2, sinking her and killing 323 of the 1,138 sailors onboard...
The attack sparked a huge controversy after it emerged the 13,645-ton ship had been sunk 40 miles south-west of the Total Exclusion Zone – where forces from both sides were meant to be safe from enemy fire.
The British Task force reached the South Atlantic on 1st May and quickly retook South Georgia and then prepared for the more difficult task of retaking the main islands. The British chose to land on the other side of the island to the capital Port Stanley in a narrow stretch of water called San Carlos Sound which [lies] between the two main islands. The landing started on the 21st May and was hardly opposed. British elite units such as the Parachute regiment and Royal Marine Commandos faced a weak, mainly conscript, Argentinean army, which proved to have poor morale... The ground phase took 3 weeks and the British fought their way across the island with an Argentine surrender on 14th June 1982.
On 2 April 1982, the day Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, destroyers and frigates exercising off Gibraltar were ordered south by Rear Admiral ‘Sandy’ Woodward. They were joined by the carriers HMSs Hermes and Invincible, loaded with Sea Harrier fighters and amphibious ships. Merchant ships were taken up from the trade (STUFT) for use as troop transporters. These were also three nuclear powered submarines to cover the surface ships...
The first task was to retake the island of South Georgia, a mission that included helicopters sinking the Argentinian submarine Santa Fe.
One [Argentinian] government slogan on the radio, broadcast along with the usual admonitions about paying taxes and vaccinating dogs, said a country achieved maturity only through war...
Britain, too, had been longing for a good fight since humiliation at Suez. The British Task Force sailed for Ascension Island, the only landfall in an eight-thousand-mile progress to the Falklands.
British forces had known of the imminent attack and had pooled their resources mainly around Government House. British forces were comprised of 57 marines, 11 Royal navy sailors and between 25 and 40 Falkland Island Defence Force members.
By 4.30pm on the 2nd [of April] the islands fell under Argentine control, despite stiff resistance.
To Buenos Aires, it appeared that Britain had lost interest in the rocky islands. By the early 1980s, the Royal Navy’s Falklands patrol ship HMS Endurance was scheduled for withdrawal and the new British Nationality Act had denied UK citizenship to many islanders.
Things came to a head when a group of Argentine scrap metal workers landed on British-controlled South Georgia, 810 miles east of the Falklands, on March 19 1982.
They hoisted Argentina’s blue-and-white national flag, prompting an angry response from Falklands governor Rex Hunt.
...virtually all observers agree that significant failures of intelligence occurred on the British side and that the principal error by the British decision makers was simply ignorance of the background of the dispute and its salience for the Argentines... The foreign policy bureaucrats never raised the ante sufficiently because they were not convinced themselves that the Argentines would ever do more than talk. These officials seriously misread the signals from Buenos Aires in the two years prior to the outbreak of hostilities and were uncharacteristically naive in failing to perceive how the Argentines would read the signals the British had been sending concerning the British attitude toward the conflict and the most likely British response to an act of aggression.
...the entire decision-making leadership [of Argentina] was remarkably ignorant of the U.S. political system and of how decisions are made in the United States. That error led them to take some careless remarks by Senator Jesse Helms's legislative assistant and by Secretary of State Alexander Haig's personal emissary, General Vernon Walters, as ironclad assurances by the U.S. government that in return for support in Central America, the United States would back Argentine efforts to recapture the Malvinas--even if force were necessary--and that the United States would make sure the British did not overreact.
Argentina's claim on the Falklands (which it calls the Malvinas Islands) was based on sheer proximity to Argentina's mainland and its purported "inheritance" of sovereignty from the failed 1810 Spanish government. This claim had great emotional significance for the Argentinean public, and had been part of public school history curricula for generations. The actual motivation for Argentina's April 1982 invasion was a more immediate threat to General Leopoldo Galtieri's ruling military junta: internal instability in Argentina threatened to topple his dictatorship. Galtieri needed a uniting diversion, an outside conflict to distract the public and maintain domestic control.