On 31st March the Prime Minister was told of intelligence that suggested an invasion was about to take place. Mrs. Thatcher asked President Reagan to speak to the Argentine President, General Galtieri, but preparations began to ready the fleet.
At 3.30pm on 1st April, Governor Hunt was informed that an invasion was likely to begin the following morning. He called in his Royal Marine officers and began planning the defence of the Islands.
At 8.15pm Governor Hunt made an announcement to the public warning of the situation. Active members of the FIDF were asked to report to the Drill Hall, and everyone else was told to remain calm and stay at home. The radio station would broadcast throughout the night – which it did, with Senior Broadcaster Patrick Watts feeding Islanders the latest news as it became available.
The first report of possible Argentine activity came at 2.30am when the Forrest (on radar watch in Port William) reported a large contact off Mengeary Point.
At 4.15am the Governor declared a State of Emergency. Shortly afterwards the observation point on Sapper Hill reported possible helicopter activity in Port Harriet, followed by more reports of shipping approaching and entering Port William. The Argentine invasion had begun with marines being put ashore near Port Harriet while the amphibious force would land at the beaches to the east of Stanley.
Just before 6.00am firing had been heard at Moody Brook and soon after Government House came under fire. Norman ordered two of his forward sections back to cover GH and moved there himself.
There was no way of resisting the landing and soon the airport was in Argentine hands. A large force drove towards Stanley. The Marines, who had been trying to delay the advance, were forced to fall back towards the outskirts of Stanley and then to Government House.
Faced with limited options and worried at the prospect of unnecessary loss of life, the Governor decided to begin negotiations. Hector Gilobert, the LADE representative (who professed ignorance of the situation) acted as an intermediary and with Dick Baker, the Chief Secretary, went to meet the Commander of the Argentine Marines who said he had 800 men ashore with more to come. At 9.25am the Governor ordered the Royal Marines to cease firing and lay down their arms.
That afternoon, General Garcia informed Hunt that he had taken over as Governor of “Las Malvinas”. Hunt said that he had landed unlawfully and should leave with his troops forthwith.
The Governor and his family were flown out of the Islands that evening – having been driven to the Airport in the Governor’s official taxi, flying the Falklands flag.
74 days of occupation had begun, during which time Islanders would suffer the indignities of having their homes taken over and vandalised, and their streets over-run with invading Argentine troops.
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