Spotlight On: Falklands conflict

ADM series: Falklands conflict, 1982. Catalogue ref: ADM 202/930/1.

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We hope you enjoyed watching our Education Service video with the Head of Military Records, William Butler, looking at records from the Admiralty. This is a war diary of the events relating to a Royal Marines Unit, 40 CDO RM, during the 1982 Falklands conflict.

Now try and answer the following questions: 

  • What records are held in the ADM collection at The National Archives?
  • What examples of records does this collection include?
  • Why does The National Archives hold these ADM records?
  • What is the official military operational name for the Falklands conflict?

Document 1

A page from the war diary of the events relating to a Royal Marines Unit, 40 CDO RM during 1982, Falklands conflict. Catalogue ref: ADM 202/930/1

The term ‘ANNEXES’ refers to supporting documents which have been attached to the diary as supporting information.


  • What period does this Commander’s Diary cover?
  • What is the name of the Unit recorded in this diary?
  • What is the ‘Narrative’ section of this war diary?
  • What additional information is provided by the ‘annexes’? [Clue: see note above]
  • What is the value for a military unit of creating a war diary?
  • What is the value a war diary for researchers/historians/family historians of this conflict?

Go to the National Archives online catalogue put in the search term ‘Operation Corporate’.

  • How many records refer to the Falklands conflict?
  • Can you see a selection of different record series? Do you know what they stand for?



ORIGINAL) Strike out where

DUPLICATE) not applicable




Unit or Formation:       40 CDO ROYAL MARINES

From      31 MARCH 1982        TO      11 JULY 1982


Narrative (AF C2118)                                                                                                                              …


A* Duty Officer’s log

B* Messages connected with log.

C Operation orders and instructions issues

D Operation orders and instructions received

E* Sitreps issues  [Situation reports]

F Orders of Battle and location reports issued

G Intelligence reports and summaries issued; Appreciations made

H Administrative orders and instructions issued

J Administrative orders and instructions received

K Administrative reports and bulletins, ammunition returns; field strength returned

L* Standing orders issued.

M Commander’s policy and demiofficial letters

N Action reports (if required)

O Other papers, e.g., Maps and Diagrams, air photos, reports from subunits

P Periodical summaries of operations

Z Top Secret Supplementary Diary


*Only to be included during operations.

+Cross out whichever is not applicable.

Document 2

Extract from the war diary of the events relating to a Royal Marines Unit, 40 CDO RM, during 1982, the Falklands. Catalogue ref: ADM 202/930/1


  • What is the purpose of the commander’s narrative in the war diary?
  • Look at the entry for 1130 hours, why do you think the company was given this advice?
  • What does this extract reveal about the role of this unit, 40 CDO RM?
  • Compare this war diary to a unit war diary of the British Army in the First World War held by The National Archives in record series WO 95. Do you spot any similarities or differences?


[Abbreviations are defined in square brackets]


This form will be enclosed with the annexes AF C 2119. If it is not available, the cover will be prepared in manuscript.





Place and grid reference Day Hour Event or information
21 (cont.) Had registered SF targets
22 0200 Mov [movement] on the shoreline in the vicinity of FERN VALLEY CREEK was observed by B Coy [company] through IWS. [In water Survey]. Two men were waist deep in water and  a third man was ashore. A subsequent investigation by daylt [daylight] revealed nothing.
0909 Early this morning 40 Cdo RM were ordered to be responsible for the def [defence] of a RAPIER [surface to air missiles] Det [detachment] at LOOKOUT HILL, GRID 595882 with effect fm [from] first lt. [light] A coy was given the task and c/s 31 was detailed.
1050 Before first lt the CO [Commanding Officer] ordered all rifle coys to make max use of GPMG [general purpose machine gun] against PUARA [aircraft used by the Argentine air force] ac [aircraft] since the coys themselves were well protected from the air.
1130 The coys were also advised today that because the en [enemy] has 3 lt [light] attack hels [helicopters] of the Augusta Bell type, which are similar to Lynx, en [enemy] hels are not be engaged unless positively ident [identify] as such.
1430 The rifle coys were passed a ptlg prog [?] by hand. Throughout the day prep of defence contd [continued] apace without any interference fm en air. The underground GP [general purpose] was almost complete and was finally occupied after last lt.


Document 3

Photograph A

Photograph showing supplies and equipment for the units 40 & 42 Commando Royal Marines, the 3rd Parachute Regiment, smaller units from the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines Band. Personnel and supplies were transported on SS Canberra which left Southampton on 9th April 1982 for the Falkland Islands. Catalogue ref: ADM 202/930/3.

Photograph B

Photographing showing training exercises on board the SS Canberra, Catalogue ref: ADM 202/930/3.

Photograph C

Photograph showing San Carlos beach head where the units landed and helicopters were used to move supplies, Catalogue ref: ADM 202/930/3.


Look at each photograph.

  • What does the photograph infer about the conflict?
  • Why do you think this photograph was taken?
  • What is the value of this photograph as evidence for the Falklands conflict?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of photographs as historical sources? Comment on Photographs A, B & C.
  • What other sources could you use to find out more about these events? Explain why this would be valuable?

Connections to curriculum

Key stage 3

Challenges for Britain, Europe, and the wider world 1901 to the present day.

Key stage 4

AQA GCSE History Britain: Migration, empires and the people: c790 to the present day: Britain in the 20th century: The Falklands war

Key stage 5

AQA GCE Modern Britain, 1979–2007: Foreign Affairs: the Falklands.

Edexcel GCE Britain transformed, 1918–97: Impact of Thatcher’s governments (1979–90).

OCR GCE : Britain 1930–1997: Britain’s position in the world 1951–1997: The Falklands War

External links

A short history of the Falklands conflict from the Imperial War Museum.

Find digitised sources in collections at the Imperial War Museum relating to the Falklands conflict.

A short history from The National Army Museum on the British Army and the Falklands conflict.

Oral testimony about serving on SS Canberra and related topics from the Greenwich Maritime Museum.

Related resources