History

29 MAY 1982: Battle of Goose Green

1982

On the 29th May 1982, Major Chris Keeble accepted the surrender of 1,100 Argentine soldiers at the battle of Goose Green.

After 14 hours of hard fighting, the Argentine troops had been driven back in all quarters, but the battle was not yet over and the situation was critical. The British forces were dispersed, exhausted and so low on supplies it was seriously questioned whether they even had the ammunition, food and water to continue the battle.

The three artillery pieces held by 29 Commando Regiment, Royal Artillery had provided intense fire support during the battle and had used nearly all of the 960 shells they brought. Harrier strikes from the RAF had only been moderately successful. One had been shot down by Argentine anti-aircraft fire and other missions flown has missed their intended target.

Major Keeble, who had now assumed command of 2 Para, faced a difficult decision. The main Argentine force had withdrawn in reasonably good order and still held the settlement of Goose Green itself. Keeble called on the Argentine commander to surrender, making it clear that should he not do so, he would “flatten Goose Green” with everything he had at his disposal.

This was something of a bluff and one can only speculate at the relief he must have felt when the the Argentine forces agreed.

19822

Having survived the landings at San Carlos, the exhausting, freezing march South, a full day of heavy fighting and now critically low on supplies, he can not have relished the thought of advancing against the largest Argentine formation on the isthmus.

The first land battle of The Falklands War was over. British forces had lost 18 men (16 Paras, 1 Navy pilot and 1 Commando Sapper) with 64 more being wounded. The Argentine casualties were twice that. Lieutenant Colonel Jones was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, Major Keeble was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and a number of other paratroopers were decorated for gallantry.

The victory was a resounding success for the British government and military and the first step in winning the land campaign.

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