The World at War



1675April London merchant Anthony de la Roche may be the first person to sight South Georgia Island. During a voyage from Lima to England, his ship is blown south as it rounds Cape Horn. He and his crew report seeing ice-covered mountains laying the basis for British claims by right of discovery.
1756June 29 South Georgia is sighted by the crew of the Leon, a Spanish treasure ship chartered by the Sieur Duclos Company of Saint Malo, which was blown off course during a voyage from Lima to Cadiz, Spain. The Spaniards name their discovery Isla de San Pedro and lay the basis for future Spanish and Argentine claims.
1775January Captain James Cook makes the first recorded landing on South Georgia. Cook and his crew land at three places around Possession Bay. Cook, realizing that he had not found the southern continent but an island, names the southern tip Cape Disappointment.
Captain James Cook sights the South Sandwich Islands and takes formal possession of the territory on behalf of King George III. After a week of exploration in them, he turns north for England.
1877September Austrian Heinrich Klutschak arrives in at South Georgia aboard the Cape Verde manned schooner Flying Fish. He stays until the following February making later published observations of sea elephants and penguins.
1882A group of German scientists spend a year at Royal Bay, South Georgia as part of the 1st International Polar Year. They make extensive records of South Georgia's geology, biology, meteorology and topography, and prepared detailed maps of part of the hinterland around Royal Bay. This is the first major attempt to define the island's natural characteristics.
1887Falkland Islands Governor Thomas Kerr receives an inquiry from retired naval officer, Captain C.D. Inglis, who wants to buy South Georgia or least rent it for 99 years. Inglis wants to produce wool and mutton for export. Kerr passes the request to the Colonial Office without objection but the captain loses interest in the project before London replies.
1902Members of the Swedish South Polar Expedition pay a winter visit to Cumberland East Bay on South Georgia to conduct a mapping and geological survey. They name the island’s main settlement Grytviken.
1904November 16 The first land-based whaling station at South Georgia is established in Grytviken by the Compañia Argentina de Pesca. Whaling becomes a major activity on the island. About 175,250 whales are processed there over the next 61 years.
1906January 1 Great Britain formally confirms the de facto situation on South Georgia by granting a whaling concession to the Compañia Argentina de Pesca.
1907Norwegian whaling company Sandefjord Hvalfangerselskab anchors a floating factory at Stromness, South Georgia.
December 24 Tonsbergs Hvalfangeri (Norway) anchors a floating factory at Husvik, South Georgia which continues in operation until 1913.
1908January 1 The Falkland Island’s government grants whaling station leases to the Norwegian concerns Sandefjord Hvalfangerselskab at Stromness and Tonsbergs Hvalfangeri at Husvik on South Georgia.
January 8 Bryde & Dahls Hvalfangerselskab (Norway) purchases the South Georgia Exploration Company's lease and establishes a floating factory and small shore station at Godthul, South Georgia.
July 21 Great Britain formally annexes South Georgia, the South Orkneys, South Shetlands, South Sandwich Islands and Graham Land by Letters Patent and declares them dependencies of the Crown Colony of the Falkland Islands.
1909January 1 The Compañia Argentina de Pesca is granted a lease at Jason Harbor, South Georgia. The site is not used for a whaling station but the whale catchers its lease permits are deployed from Grytviken. Only one small hut is erected.
September 13 Christian Salvesen Limited, a Norwegian whaling concern chartered in Britain, opens a shore station at Leith Harbour, South Georgia.
October 26 Hvalfangerselskab Ocean, a Norwegian whaling concern, establishes a shore station at New Fortune Bay, South Georgia.
November 20 J. I. Wilson is named Stipendiary Magistrate and Postmaster of South Georgia. The first Post Office in the Falkland Island Dependencies is opened. The volume of mail from South Georgia equals that of Port Stanley.
During the Year Seven whaling companies operate on South Georgia, the industry expands rapidly, and with it the largely seasonal and mostly Scandinavian population.
Norwegian whaling company Tonsbergs Hvalfangeri’s shore station at Husvik, South Georgia goes into operation.
1911August 1 Southern Whaling and Sealing Co. of South Africa establishes a floating factory at Prince Olav Harbor, South Georgia.
October 21 – December 11
The 2nd German Southpolar Expedition led by Wilhelm Filchner arrives at Grytviken, South Georgia aboard the Deutschland, captained by Richard Vahsel. The party explores the coastline and reopens the observatory established at Royal Bay in 1882 before departing for the Weddell Sea.
1912December 19 The 2nd German Southpolar Expedition returns to Grytviken, South Georgia after being trapped in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea for nine months.
During the Year Sandefjord Hvalfangerselskab begins construction of a shore station at Stromness, South Georgia.
1913March Sandefjord Hvalfangerselskab’s shore station at Stromness, South Georgia goes into operation.
1914December 5 The Imperial Transantarctic Expedition led by Ernest Shackleton leaves Grytviken, South Georgia intending to cross Antarctica by foot from the Weddell to the Ross Sea via the South Pole.
1916May 8 Ernest Shackleton and five other members of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition sight the west coast of South Georgia after a two week 800 mile journey in stormy seas aboard the 22 ½ foot lifeboat James Caird.
May 10 The sea subsides enough to allow the Shackleton party make a landing at King Haakon Bay, South Georgia completing their 800 mile journey from Elephant Island in the South Shetlands.
May 20 Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley, and Tom Crean arrive at Stromness whaling station after a 17 mile, 36 hour nonstop trek across the 4,500 foot high glacier-clad mountains of South Georgia.
May 23 Shackleton, Worsley, and Crean depart South Georgia on the Southern Sky hoping to rescue the remaining members of their expedition from Elephant Island but are stopped by ice 100 miles short of their destination.
During the Year The whaling station at New Island in the Falklands is dismantled and shipped to Leith Harbour, South Georgia.
1917Sandefjord Hvalfangerselskab’s shore station at Stromness, South Georgia is subleased to the Southern Whaling & Sealing Company for the next two seasons.
1920Vestfold Hvalfangers A.S. (Norway), a new company formed by the merger of Sandefjord Hvalfangerselskab and Hvalfangerselskab Ocean takes over operation of the Stromness, South Georgia whaling station.
1922January 4 Sir Ernest Shackleton returns to South Georgia as leader of the Shackleton-Rowett Expedition which plans to circumnavigate Antarctica.
January 5 Sir Ernest Shackleton, age 48, dies of a heart attack at Grytviken, South Georgia. The expedition decides to return his body to England for burial but at the request of Shackleton’s widow turns back after reaching Montevideo. March 5
The body of Sir Ernest Shackleton is buried in the whaler’s cemetery at Grytviken, South Georgia.
1927January 1 The Compañia Argentina de Pesca’s whaling concession at Jason Harbor, South Georgia reverts to the Government of the Falkland Islands.
1929April 24 Bryde & Dahls Hvalfangerselskab’s whaling lease at Godthul, South Georgia lapses and the site reverts to the government. 1931
April 12 Whale processing ends at Vestfold Hvalfangers’s Stromness, South Georgia station. The property is subleased to the South Georgia Company for use as a ship repair station. Whale processing ends at Tonsbergs Hvalfangeri’s Husvik, South Georgia station.
1943Autumn A 14 man Norwegian military garrison is stationed on South Georgia to protect the island from a Japanese invasion.
1944April 3 The first postage stamps are issued for the Falkland Islands Dependency of South Georgia.
Autumn The Norwegian military garrison is withdrawn from South Georgia.
1965December 15 The South Georgia whaling industry comes to an end with the closure of the Christian Salvesen Limited, Leith Harbour station.
1969November 13 The magistrate appointed by the Falkland Islands Government is withdrawn from South Georgia. The administration of the territory is turned over to the British Antarctic Survey.
1976Argentina sets up illegal and clandestine military base on Southern Thule, a Falkland Islands Dependency situated south of South Georgia.
1981British Antarctic Survey announces that budget cuts mean closing their base at Grytviken, South Georgia.
Argentine businessman Constantino Davidoff contracts with the Scottish company of Christian Salvesen to clear away scrap whaling material littering parts of the island.
1982March 19 Constantino Davidoff and his crew of Argentine scavengers arrive at Leith Harbour aboard the fleet transport Bahia Buen Suceso. The ship anchors and lands Davidoff's party without observing the usual formalities of reporting to South Georgia's Magistrate at King Edward Point near Grytviken.
A British Antarctic Survey team reports the Argentine landing at Leith Harbour to Falkland Islands Governor Rex Hunt who orders the Magistrate to inform the Argentines that they must obtain proper authorization or withdraw. The Argentines refuse to do so.
March 21 The ice patrol ship HMS Endurance sails for South Georgia with a party of thirteen Royal Marines and nine members of the Falkland Islands garrison.
The British Antarctic Survey team establishes an observation post overlooking Leith Harbour and observes the Bahia Buen Suceso sail away leaving behind some of the scavengers.
March 24 HMS Endurance reaches Grytviken and relieves the British Antarctic Survey team at the observation post above Leith with Royal Marines flown in by helicopter.
March 25 The Argentine icebreaker Bahia Paraiso arrives at Leith Harbour with orders to protect Davidoff's workers. A party of 100 Marines under the command of Lieutenant Commander Alfredo Astiz goes ashore. The Bahia Paraiso's Alouette helicopter begins to shadow HMS Endurance.
March 31 HMS Endurance lands a detachment of Royal Marines at King Edward Point to prepare the defense of South Georgia then slips past the Bahia Paraiso and heads for Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands in anticipation of an Argentine invasion.
April 2 HMS Endurance learns of Port Stanley's capture by the Argentines and reverses course.
The Argentine frigate Guerrico joins the Bahia Paraiso at Leith Harbour.
April 3 The Guerrico and Bahia Paraiso carrying most of the Argentine Marines from Leith Harbour anchor off Grytviken. The Argentine commander, Captain Trombeta, radios the British Magistrate to demand his surrender. The Magistrate passes authority over the island to Lieutenant Mills who refuses to surrender.
The first 20 Argentine marines land near King Edward Point around noon. Small arms fire brings down one Argentine helicopter. The Guerrico moves in to support the landings but is forced to retreat by small arms fire and anti-tank guns.
Guerrico, now out of range of British fire, uses its 100mm gun to fire on the Royal Marines while the Argentine shore party circles around the Cove, through the whaling station at Grytviken and closes in. Lieutenant Mills decides to surrender. Twenty two Royal Marines and 13 British civilians are taken prisoner.
HMS Endurance arrives late in the day following the surrender. The ship's helicopter ferries a party to the Antarctic Survey base on Cumberland Bay opposite Grytviken where the crew observes the Argentines.
April 5 HMS Endurance sails north to resupply and rendezvous with the British South Atlantic Task Force.
April 19 The Royal Navy nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror begins patrolling the waters off South Georgia.
April 20 A Royal Air Force Victor based on Ascension Island begins radar reconnaissance flights over South Georgia but fails to spot any Argentine ships.
April 21 A Royal Navy Task Group consisting the destroyer HMS Antrim, frigate HMS Plymouth and the patrol ship HMS Endurance arrives off South Georgia in the morning.
SAS mountain troops are flown in to establish observation posts near Leith and south of Grytviken. The troops are landed safely on Fortuna Glacier at mid-day by helicopter but are forced to camp overnight in blizzard conditions.
April 22 The British lose two helicopters during early morning attempts to pickup the SAS troops at Fortuna Glacier. A third helicopter manages to rescue the stranded party later in the afternoon.
April 23 The Argentine submarine Santa Fe sails for Grytviken with reinforcements and supplies.
HMS Endurance stays stays close to the coast among the ice while the rest of the task force including the main landing force on HMS Tidespring sails away.
April 24 An Argentine Air Force Boeing 707 flies over HMS Endurance. HMS Antrim, HMS Plymouth and the newly arrived HMS Brilliant are ordered to close on South Georgia to deal with the Santa Fe leaving the Tidespring some 200 miles away in comparative safety.
The Santa Fe sails into Grytviken during the evening.
April 25 The Santa Fe is caught on the surface off Cumberland Bay. The submarine is damaged by depth charges and torpedoes and forced back to Grytviken where it is abandoned at the King Edward Point jetty.
The Royal Navy task force bombards the Argentine positions at King Edward Point in the early afternoon to cover the landing of a 75 man landing party of Royal Marines and SAS paratroops, The first wave of the advances through the whaling station at Grytviken and across a minefield towards the British Antarctic Survey base. As they approach, white flags are hoisted and the Argentines surrender without firing a shot.
Argentine marines holding Leith Harbour are notified of Grytviken's surrender by radio but Lieutenant Commander Astiz refuses to give up.
April 26 HMS Endurance and HMS Plymouth sail to Leith Harbour. The Argentine detachment surrenders ending the fighting on South Georgia.
1985South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands cease to be dependencies of the Falkland Islands and become a United Kingdom Dependent Territory in their own right.

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