28 December 2012
Newly-released government papers show that the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982 took the then British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, by surprise.
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Margaret Thatcher's private reflections about the Falklands War are contained in evidence she gave to a committee of inquiry after the conflict.
"I never never expected the Argentines to invade the Falklands head-on," she said. "It was such a stupid thing to do ... I did not think it would happen."
But two days before Argentine forces went ashore Mrs Thatcher was told an invasion was imminent. She thought this was the worst moment of her life. And she said at the time no-one could tell her whether British forces could retake the Falklands.
The government records also describe her determined efforts to prevent France from selling Exocet missiles to Peru because of fears they would be passed on to Argentina.
In a confidential telegram to President Mitterrand in May 1982 Mrs Thatcher warned him that if it became known that France was releasing the weapons, it would have a devastating effect on the relationship between Britain and France.
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thoughts and memories
information given to a court as part of a process of discovering what happened in a particular situation
- committee of inquiry
group of selected people that hears testimonies in order to establish the facts
- to invade head-on
to use military forces directly to occupy another territory
- went ashore
landed on the island
official documents with details of meetings and so on
advised of danger