The Corner

Re: Thatcher and The Falklands

It’s not the case, I believe, that the entirety of the Admiralty (or what was left of it in the Ministry of Defense) had given up on the Falklands. At that meeting on March 31, 1982, the First Sea Lord, Sir Henry Leach, had basically invited himself and in full uniform was able to tell anyone who would listen that he could get a task force off to the Falklands in 72 hours. After the discussion had gone back and forth, just after midnight, Mrs Thatcher asked, “First Sea Lord – what precisely is it you want.” Sir Henry replied, “Prime Minister, I would like your authority to form a task force which would, if you so required, be ready to sail for the South Atlantic at a moment’s notice.” “You have it,” she said. Defense Secretary John Nott, who had plenty of tangles with Leach over cuts to the Navy, credits him in his memoirs with turning the tide of the meeting, although he also says he expressed doubts about Leach’s judgment. From what I’ve read I’m not sure even Mrs T would have been able to stand up to the defeatists if it hadn’t been for Leach’s complete confidence in the Royal Navy.

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