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Occupation of Chiloé (Great White South)

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Occupation of Chiloé
Landing in the coast Santiagan troops landing in Chiloe.
Date:

February - April, 1974

Location:

Southern Chile

Result:

Santiagan Occupation of provinces of Chiloe and Llanquihue

Belligerents

Flag of Chile Chilean Armed Forces

Flag of Santiago (Great White South) Santiagan Armed Forces

Commanders

Flag of Chile Gral. Nilo Floody Buxton
Flag of Chile Bruno Siebert
Flag of Chile Rubén Rojas Román †
Flag of Chile Alfredo Rehren Pulido †
Flag of Chile Eduardo Ibáñez Tillerías †

Flag of Santiago (Great White South) Guillermo Montemayor

Strength

Flag of Chile III Army Division 5.000

Flag of Santiago (Great White South) Santiagan Army 4.500
Chilean Rebels: 1.000

Casualties and Losses

Chilean Military

  • 300 dead
  • 250 wounded or captured

Santiago:

  • 90 dead

Rebels:

  • 150 dead
  

The Occupation of Chiloe, also known as the Southern Chile Campaign or Llanquihue Campaign, was a theatre of operations during the South Pacific War.

Prelude

After a coup in 1973 overthrew the socialist Salvador Allende from power in Chile, and installed a military junta in place, the remaining leaders of Unidad Popular's government managed to convince the Government of Santiago (an old ally from Chile and of Allende's government) to intervene militarily in Chile and support an organized revolution to overthrow the new regime led by General Augusto Pinochet. The plan was that while Santiago's forces were dealing with Chilean troops in the south, the guerrillas would take over the rest of the country, including the national capital, overthrowing the Junta de Gobierno. The date of commencement of operations was set for February 12, 1974.

Operations

Invasion of Chiloé

The attack force, composed by some ships and dozens of transport boats, and that had started -secretly- from the Santiagan ports a few days before, finally arrive near to the coast of the island of Chiloe little before dawn on February 12. Soon, the soldiers proceeded to land in the points -agreed with the Chilean rebels- in the west of the island, where after eliminate the few Chilean guards that were patrolling, both groups were found and began the raid on Chiloe. The rapid and silent Santiagan advance took the Chilean troops by surprise during the early hours of the start of the invasion, and allowed to the Santiagan forces to begin to spread out strategically on the island. By the time the Chilean forces were reorganized and managed to communicate the situation to the officers in the continent, the Santiagan Army was already fully established on the island and ready to start the next phase: invade the continent.

Battle of Puerto Montt

With the attacks in Chiloe having been confirmed, and while the Chilean government formally declared war on Santiago on February 14, in the city of Puerto Montt, the Chilean troops were prepared to go to the aid of their comrades who defended Chiloe. However, a large number of rebel attacks paralyze all units in the province, paving the way for the forces Santiaganas, which landed in the village of Calbuco, and then they began an offensive to Puerto Montt. On February 18, the first fightings in the city began and spread until the city fell under control of the Santiagan troops a week later.

Offensive to Osorno

The Santiagan Army gained complete control of Chiloe in early March, establishing there his command center, from which the Montemayor directs the operations on the continent.

Despite to being outnumbered, the Chilean forces failed to organize a solid front to stop the Santiagan advance in the province of Llanquihue due to the actions of rebel groups with hundreds of attacks and sabotages. Only the Chilean Air Force have achieved success against the forces invading the south, but soon the situation level out a bit against the arrival of the first Santiagan planes to the base in Chiloe. Several dogfights occurred. Meanwhile, troops approached Osorno, backed by rebel cells. The city became a center of heavy fighting until the Santiagans forced to the Chilean army to abandon it on 22 March.

Siege of Valdivia

After being defeated in Osorno and other localities, the Chilean army regrouped in Valdivia, where the General Floody could organize better his troops and establish a defensive line set to face the enemy. Meanwhile, with the help of the rebels, the Santiagan Army consolidated its positions occupied in the provinces of Llanquihue and Osorno, where citizens did not put much resistance for the time being.

On 28 March, the first clashes began in the vicinity of Valdivia. While initially, the Santiagan troops succeeded in pushing the defensive lines into town, after a few days, the resistance shown by Chilean troops and the increased air support by the Chilean aircraft, managed to stop the impulse of the Santiagan offensive, stalling the fight in the city.

Aftermath

The successful occupation of the Chiloe island and province of Llanquihue by Santiagan forces was an great victory specially for the war supporters in the Santiago's government, because allowed them to increase his backing to his cause against "El Dictador" Pinochet. The military losses during the beginning of the campaign were kept inside the awaited margin. However, the original plan still was that the chilean rebels were who should overthrow to Pinochet, and with passing of the weeks as this did not happen yet, the Santiagan casualties continued increasing, even more than estimated.

The battle of Valdivia and the end of the Santiagan advance to the north, marked a crucial point in the war, as the Chilean Army under the command of General Floddy, now had a opportunity for repels to the enemy.

See also

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