Britain 'had been sick man of Europe' Admiral Lord West recalls incredible effort it took to reclaim Falklands

Lord West said that the feeling within the Ministry of Defence was that "nothing could be done to recover the islands"

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Lord Alan West has told GB News' Nigel Farage how Britain had been "the sick man of Europe" in the run up to the Falklands War.

The former Chief of Defence Intelligence, Commander in Chief of the Royal Navy and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Security and Counter-Terrorism recalled the events leading up to the conflict.

He said: "The feeling within the MOD because the Chief of Defence staff was actually in New Zealand, was that nothing could be done to recover the islands. Britain had become the sick man of Europe in a sense through the 70s…

“There was a meeting held in Parliament which the Secretary of State for Defence and the Foreign Secretary and the MOD representatives were telling Margaret Thatcher there was no way that anything could be done.

"Henry Leach, the First Sea Lord heard this was happening rushed to Parliament in his uniform and was taken up there.

"Margaret Thatcher said ‘what are you doing here First Sea Lord?’ And he said “Ma’am I understand you’re discussing the invasion of the Falklands by the Argentinians, I’m here to tell you that I can assemble a task force within four days to sail for the Falklands and we can capture those islands.

Lord Alan West
Lord Alan West
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets veterans at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire before a service to mark the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets veterans at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire before a service to mark the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the Falkland Islands

“He shouldn’t have said the next bit but he said: ‘I think we should or we’ll be a different nation.’

“Margaret Thatcher, that was what she loved to hear, she grabbed that and said: 'Right!’

"The first two carriers sailed five days later. Quite amazing.”

The attack came on April 2, as Argentinian forces targeted the islands located 8,000 miles from the UK mainland, deep in the South Atlantic.

Just three days later, a vast combined arms British task force – Task Force 317 – steamed from Portsmouth intent upon re-taking the British overseas territory.

The British effort eventually involved 26,000 troops and 3,000 civilian personnel.

The conflict claimed 907 lives in total, including 649 Argentines and three Falkland Islanders.

More than 2,000 were wounded during the fighting, and many more suffered – and still live with – the unseen injuries of conflict.

During fierce fighting on land, in the air and at sea, a total of seven British ships were lost, including the RFA Sir Galahad, HMS Coventry and HMS Sheffield, which was struck by an Exocet anti-ship missile.