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Excerpt from Chapter 11

Excerpt from pp. 217-8,  Chapter 11, After the Surrender, describing some of what the British confronted and now needed to fix:

. . . By then, a handful of others had arrived in Stanley to join Moore, including Colonel Ian Baxter, his deputy chief of staff for logistics, who had the unique experience of drafting the terms of surrender that Moore presented to Menendez. He arrived via helicopter on the same prearranged route about twenty minutes after Moore. It would have been a surreal scene had anyone been there to observe the Brits disembark their helicopters in battle uniforms that evening and walk across the sports field on which they had landed. Some Argentine soldiers were milling around, still armed, as others continued to straggle on to the streets from the surrounding hills. And although they surely anticipated they would find damage, it must have been particularly surreal and unnerving for the newly arrived Brits to see the carnage, filth and disorder then characterizing the capital.

Walking from the landing area across the muddy sports field that evening, Baxter could see dozens of shipping containers on side streets, their doors open and their insides stuffed with things like sides of beef and bacon, bottles of olive oil, cases of wine, clothing and other items clearly different from the supplies Argentine conscript soldiers in the field had been receiving. But some containers also were filled with crates of ration packs that had never made it to the front lines. Now Argentine soldiers were looting these containers, taking whatever they wanted. Vehicles packed streets that were ankle-deep in mud. Weapons, ammunition, dead men, occasional body parts and debris littered the town. Even more startling, perhaps, was the complete degradation of sanitation. Argentine leaders had not enforced basic sanitary measures in units during their occupation; forces had built no field latrines in the two and a half months since the invasion. Soldiers therefore had been defecating wherever and whenever they pleased – on the streets, in the town hall, in the hospital, the post office, on jetties, in virtually all public places as well as in houses where they were staying. Artillery, cannon fire and bombs, coupled with Argentine sabotage, had crippled local services, including plumbing. Permeating the air was the stench of garbage, carcasses rotting in freezers without power at the town’s slaughterhouse, dead bodies and human excrement. If there was any moment of peace and quiet in the scene before the new arrivals, it was when they saw a white horse tethered near the Secretariat Building eating grass. The following day, they would discover that someone had shot the horse dead. Stanley had become a horrible place.

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