Tag Archives: FIDF

Echoes of Victoria in the Falklands

The Falklands, of course, have a key page in naval history due to the events of 1914 surrounding Graf Spee’s Squadron and an entire chapter involving the events of 1982. However, there is also another, older facet of the Royal Navy that endures in Port Stanley.

From the Falkland Islands Defense Force:

The FIDF, a volunteer Territorial force in the islands, operates two saluting guns on Victory Green marking key ceremonial occasions and acts of remembrance.

The guns are Hotchkiss 3-Pounder [47mm] Quick Firing guns manufactured in 1896 and marked with Queen Victoria’s Royal Seal on the breech. The guns reportedly arrived in the late 1990s from Gibraltar to “replace the previous guns that were in poor condition.”

Now that’s a beautiful mount

The guns were originally used as torpedo boat busters in the Royal Navy and a number endure around the Commonwealth as saluting guns and gate guards. The saluting cases are reloaded and restamped war shots, with the FIDF having some cases with manufacture dates going back to the 1920s.

During public events, each gun is normally crewed by two FIDF members, and the guns are commanded by the FIDF Company Quartermaster Sergeant(CQMS) who is also responsible for maintenance.

Argentine Marine in Tommy splash, armed via HAFDASA

THE FALKLANDS CONFLICT, APRIL - JUNE 1982 (FKD 2935) Argentine snapshot showing an Argentine soldier from Batallon de Infanteria Marina 5 (5 BIM) on Mount Tumbledown during the Argentine occupation of the Falkland Islands. The soldier is wearing a British Second World War style helmet (probably looted as a souvenir from the Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF) stores in Port Stanley) and is carrying a Ballestos Molina pistol under his left arm. Thi... Copyright: � IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205018702

THE FALKLANDS CONFLICT, APRIL – JUNE 1982 (FKD 2935) Copyright: � IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205018702

“Argentine snapshot showing an Argentine from Batallon de Infanteria Marina 5 (5 BIM) on Mount Tumbledown during the 1982 Argentine occupation of the Falkland Islands. The soldier is wearing a British Second World War style helmet (probably looted as a souvenir from the Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF) stores in Port Stanley) and is carrying a Ballestos Molina (sic) pistol under his left arm. This photograph was one of many confiscated from Argentine prisoners by 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines Intelligence Section.”

Argentina’s “almost 1911,” the Ballester Molina of Hispano-Argentina Fábrica de Automóviles S.A. (HAFDASA) was adopted in the 1930s by not only the Argentine Army, but the Navy, police forces, and coast guard. They were also exported to Latin American countries without their own arms making plants, such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru with some 113,000 made altogether.

Ironically enough, it seems that at least 8,000 and possibly as many as 15,000 Argentine made .45s were sold to the British government for use by commando units hungry for mean looking and reliable hardware to fight the Germans in occupied Europe. These guns were meant for the Special Operations Executive (SOE), known as Churchill’s Secret Army.

And the British versions are sought after today.

British owned "B-prefix" Ballester Molina made in Argentina for the Brits in WWII. Via the National Firearms Museum

British owned “B-prefix” Ballester Molina made in Argentina for the Brits in WWII. Via the National Firearms Museum