Falkland Islands Museum & National Trust
The historic heart of Stanley
The Second World War
The people of the Falklands first heard of the outbreak of war on the BBC World Service News at 7am on the morning of Sunday 3rd September 1939 and a proclamation was immediately issued, calling out the Defence Force. Moves for the defence of the Islands happened rapidly, with gun batteries and signal stations set up at a number of points around Stanley. Sixteen coastwatching stations were established in Camp. Mounted Rifle Sections of the Falkland Islands Defence Force were established on both East and West Falklands.
From a population of just over 2,300, more than 150 men and women left to join His Majesty’s Forces - 24 did not return. Volunteers served with the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, various units of the Army, and the Merchant Navy. Others worked in factories, became nurses, or joined the Land Army. Many became involved in Civil Defence duties.
In July 1944 volunteers serving in the armed forces were given shoulder flashes bearing the name Falkland Islands.
Islanders endured many of the same restraints and problems as their compatriots in Britain - blackout times were advertised in the Weekly News, ration books and billeting notices made their appearance, postal censorship and travel restrictions were introduced.
A Civil Defence Force was organised, the hospital prepared for emergency action by appealing for materials and organising extra staff and a Canteen for sailors was opened in the Church Hall. The public were urged to use extra ground to grow as many vegetables as possible to supply the garrison.
In January 1942, with the entry of Japan into the war, Stanley children were evacuated to Camp. More than 200 children were distributed between 14 different settlements. By September it was considered safe to return the children to Stanley and by December they were all back in their homes.
Fund-raising was eagerly supported. In 1940 Legislative Council voted £50,000 from Colony funds for the purchase of 10 Spitfires for the Royal Air Force and money for a further Spitfire was raised by the Fellowship of the Bellows. By 1945 the local branch of the Red Cross had raised over £20,000 for the War Effort.
The Falkland Islands Garrison
In 1942 a garrison was posted to protect the Islands in case of attack by the Japanese. The main body of this garrison was the 11th Battalion of the West Yorks, replaced by a smaller garrison of the Royal Scots in 1944. The garrison was housed in Nissen huts that were built on almost every available open space in Stanley, including Arch Green and the foreshore of Ross Road - the HQ was situated just in front of the present Museum. A large camp was also built on the Camber.