Invasion of the Falklands: the untold story revealed at Probus meeting

Bill Muir with his medals.
Bill Muir with his medals.

On Tuesday President Ian Stewart welcomed 47 members of Forfar Probus Club to hear about the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands in 1982 from Bill Muir of Letham.

Bill, a native of Alyth, was brought up on a sheep farm in Glenisla and joined the Royal Marines in 1964 at the age of 16.

He was deployed to hotspots around the world, mainly with 45 Commando Arbroath, and rose to the rank of Sergeant-Major. By the end of the 1970s things were a bit quieter for Bill as a recruitment officer ashore and in 1981 he volunteered for a year’s tour of duty with the garrison force on the Falkland Islands, a place he’d always wanted to visit. He never imagined how the Argentina/Britain/Malvinas situation would deteriorate and plunge the islands into war in the spring of 1982.

Bill described, with detailed maps, the final 12 hours defence of Stanley by 79 Marines and Navy personnel with rifles, sub-machine guns, hand-held rocket launchers and mortars against 700-800 invading Argentinian troops with heavy armament. Commander Sanchez-Sabarot’s Amphibious Commandos Group hit the beaches by landing craft and high ground by helicopter, encircling the capital Stanley, blowing up the troop barracks and threatening Government House, official residence of Sir Rex Hunt and C.O. Major Norman’s H.Q. The Marines dug defensive positions in a wide arc to protect the civilian population and the airstrip. A fierce firefight followed with five Argentinians killed and 17 injured. Amazingly there were no British casualties, but the troops were too thinly spread and faced impossible odds. They’d held out for 12 hours, but after consultation with Sir Rex concerning possible civilian deaths they surrendered.

The Argentinian flag was prepared for hoisting above Stanley, ironically its rope snapping in the breeze, an omen not lost on the cheering Brits and Falklanders below.

Bill was taken prisoner and treated well in South America. Two months later after repatriation he was to return to Stanley as part of the victorious troops and given the honour of raising the Falklands flag once more above Government House on the June 14, 1982. Greig Mitchell proposed the vote of thanks for a memorable talk.